In one of the last weeks before he leaves office, a tenure marked by controversy during the last three years, Israeli Prime Ehud Olmert this week toured the Western Wall and the adjacent excavations in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Areas that also have been the center of controversy.
There was something new and something old at the Manischewitz plant in Newark last week.
New: a production run of 500 cases of kosher-for-Passover shmura matzah. Following the move in 2007 from the kosher food manufacturer’s plant in Jersey City, its home for 76 years, to the state-of-the-art factory in Newark, the new plant produced its Passover goods as usual. But it was not prepared to make shmura (Hebrew for guarded) matzah, which requires that the wheat be supervised from the time of harvesting.
‘Musically inclined,” Dr. Paul Brody learned to chant the Scroll of Esther, or at least part of the Megillah, while studying at Yeshiva University several decades ago. He picked up the basics at the school’s Cantorial Training Institute. Then his grandfather, Rabbi Jacob Brown, convinced him to learn how to layn the gantze Megillah, the entire scroll.
No, the kids outfitted in crowns and capes aren’t real monarchs — just a pair of young members of the Vizhnitz chasidic community listening to the Megillah reading on Purim this week in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv.
Throughout the country — and Jewish communities in the diaspora — Jews of all ages and all religious affiliations attended Megillah readings, dressed up in costumes, attended parties, drank copious amounts of distilled brew and took part in festive parades.
Separate groups representing Sephardic Jews around the world have for the first time come together to form the World Sephardic Congress, a united voice to advocate for reparations on behalf of Sephardic Jews forced to flee Arab lands.
Sephardic philanthropist Sami Shamoon, president of the Sephardi Federation of the United Kingdom, was named interim president of the new WSC, which was launched at a gathering last Sunday at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.
The home page of the University of Colorado Web site reveals a scene of striking beauty: an exquisitely designed red-brick, neo-Gothic building set against the rugged peaks of the Rockies.
But for Jewish students on the Boulder campus, the idyllic scene of the American West belies their experience on the front lines of a new kind of anti-Semitism playing out in recent years at American colleges and universities spurred by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kleinmachnow, Germany: Ron Brown suddenly became nervous. The Reform rabbi from Merrick, L.I., for weeks had been pondering how his delegation of 11 American rabbis should dialogue with a classroom of German teenaged students over such hot-button topics as the Holocaust, the state of anti-Semitism today, Israel and now the looming American invasion of Iraq.
Berlin: It was a scene dripping with historical irony. On a street in this transformed former capital of Nazi Germany, a German man this week approached Philadelphia Rabbi Jacob Herber, here as part of a delegation of American spiritual leaders, and advised him to remove his kipa, fearing for his safety.
"He said, 'Sir, do you have to wear that,' " Rabbi Herber related. "It's very dangerous here because of Muslims."
"I was surprised," the rabbi said. "The fact that a German is protecting a Jew from a Muslim was unexpected."
Israel's Ministry of Interior for nearly two years has refused to grant or renew visas for Christian clergy and other religious officials, an apparent violation of international religious freedom agreements, The Jewish Week has learned.
Critics of the policy, which has prompted rising anger and frustration among Christian leaders, are blaming Shas, the fervently Orthodox Sephardic political party, which has been running the Interior Ministry.