News

A Breakthrough Bat Mitzvah

02/18/2000
Staff Writer
Jamie Hertz jumps off the school bus one recent afternoon, runs into her house, whisks by Danny, her 11-year-old brother, and heads to the refrigerator. "Where's the soda?" she asks her mother. A can of soda and a bag of candy in hand, Jamie runs upstairs. She is agitated. Her shoulder-length brown swings in the air as she shakes her head. A bribe of more sweets entices Jamie downstairs. A hug calms her. Arms around her mother, Jamie sits on a couch in the living room of their Rye Brook home.

Giving Life To Deserted Shul

02/04/2000
Staff Writer
During a stroll in the summer of 1993, Gabor Baross noticed a crumbling building in southeast Hungary. Baross, director of the National Hungarian Choral in Budapest, was leading a first-time musical festival in Kunszentmarton, a farming village of 11,000. The two-story building was the Kunszentmarton synagogue, not used as a Jewish house of worship for some 30 years. The grass outside was as tall as him.Baross went inside. "The roof was broken. Everything was down. Only fragments remained intact." Baross decided to renovate the building.

Slow And Steady

01/21/2000
Staff Writer
Valerie Leibler was a new member of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in the early 1970s, and she heard occasional remarks about the women's role in the Conservative synagogue. The congregation allowed women to open the ark and read some English prayers from the bima, innovations at the time. "There was a very, very quiet push for women to do more ritually in the shul," she says. Not an organized campaign: "it was pre-feminism."

'Fairy Tale' Reunion

12/24/1999
Staff Writer
Just a loaf of bread. That's all the four members of the Slawin family wanted when they knocked at the door of a farming family in the Polish countryside one night in November 1942. "We were cold. We were hungry. We were afraid of being discovered," says Leo Slawin, who was then 11, fleeing for a week with his parents and older sister since their shtetl, Dunilowicze, was liquidated by the Nazis. "We wanted to ask for a piece of bread." Instead, Celina Anishkewicz, a devout Catholic, took the four Jews into her home.

'I'm Happiest When I'm Giving'

12/17/1999
Staff Writer
Pearl Resnick's father immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine before World War I, intending to send soon for his pregnant wife and three daughters. But the war broke out, there was a ban on American visas, and Resnick's family was not reunited here for nearly a decade.

A Havurah Grows In Brooklyn

12/17/1999
Staff Writer
'Chag sameach," said the rabbi, standing at a baby grand piano, surrounded by a living room packed with children and parents. "Happy holiday!" "Chag sameach," shouted the three dozen kids, seated on the floor around the rabbi. It was the Sunday night of Chanukah. The rabbi was Miriam Ancis, 1987 graduate of Hebrew Union College. The site was a brownstone in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, downtown, in the shadow of Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

A Place For Everyone

04/07/2000
Staff Writer
By the time Jonathan Nierenberg walked into the Young Israel of Woodmere one recent Saturday morning for shacharit in the main sanctuary, the men's section, seating about 375, was nearly full. He was a few minutes late: his 3-year-old son, Benji, had tripped on the way. In the coatroom Nierenberg exchanged Shabbat greetings with congregants arriving for a second shacharit down the hall in an already crowded study hall: and with members coming for the "Not Just for Beginner" introductory service in the gymnasium/social hall.

The Lie That Nourishes

09/24/1999
Staff Writer
In an unnamed Polish ghetto in 1943 or 1944, a former potato pancake restaurateur is feeding the Jews hope instead of food. Jakob Heym has (he says, falsely) a hidden radio, punishable by death at Nazi hands. He fabricates and whispers, at his forced labor job, reports of the advancing Red Army, boosting the spirits of the doomed ghetto residents. And he tells Lina, an 8-year-old orphan he has surreptitiously taken under his care, happy-ending fairy tales. Jakob is a liar. And Robin Williams, the master of thespian overkill, is an understated Jakob.

Holocaust Humor, Take 2

09/17/1999
Staff Writer
The Yiddish accent, some Jewish jokes, Jewish history at his fingertips: Robin Williams plays the role of a Jew well. Ask him about his latest movie, in which he plays one Jewish role (Jakob Heym, ghetto prevaricator) and he will tell you about Jews in Poland in 1997.

JNF Exec Samuel Cohen, 66

09/17/1999
Staff Writer
Rabbi Samuel Cohen, executive vice president of the Jewish National Fund for 20 years, died this week of pneumonia in Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 66. A resident of Lawrence, L.I., Rabbi Cohen was credited with enhancing the image of JNF before leaving in 1997 in the wake of a controversy over how the charity was spending its money. "He was a dedicated Jew ... a very good administrator," said Sam Bloch, former director of the World Zionist Organization publications department. "There is hardly any Jewish charity he did not support."
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