Special Sections

A Shul Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Growing up as the rabbi’s son at the only synagogue in town.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

One Yom Kippur day during my teen years in Annapolis, Md., just after the Musaf service, an elderly member approached me in the lobby of the synagogue.

She wanted to know how old the youngster was who had just joined his father and uncle for the first time in blessing the congregation with the Birchat Kohanim, the priestly benediction.

“He just had his bar mitzvah,” I told her.

1953 graduation:Rabbi Morris Rosenblatt, the author¹s father, served four decades as a chaplain at the U.S. Naval Academy.

In My Father’s Synagogue

A Conservative woman rabbi grapples with her Syrian family’s gender-stratified customs.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

Like virtually all Syrian Jews, my father was a staunch traditionalist. A faithful synagogue goer every Shabbat, he would never have considered Reform or Conservative Judaism as an option for himself or for his family. Instead, clean-shaven, in a dark suit and doused with cologne, he would attend Shabbat services every Saturday morning at the traditional Syrian congregation near our home in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood — and later on go to work.

Magen David Synagogue, Brooklyn, New York, 1984. PHOTOS by Judith Helfand

The Search for Ten Good Men and Women

A rabbi reflects on why American Jews need the minyan now more than ever.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

Depictions of American Jews on television are often a barometer for the way in which Jewish writers, and presumably Jewish viewers, understand their Jewish identity. The 1990s series “Northern Exposure” featured the character of Joel Fleischman, a young Jewish doctor from New York who moved to rural Alaska to practice medicine as the town’s only physician. In one episode, when Joel receives word that his uncle Manny has died, he seeks a minyan with whom to say Kaddish. (Never mind that one is not obligated to say Kaddish for an uncle.)

ANDREA STRONGWATER, Great Synagogue of Lodz (built 1881-1887), 2008, painting.

Unearthing the First Shuls

Excavations from Israel over the past 50 years suggest that synagogues may be older than we initially thought.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

The discovery of the Byzantine-period synagogue at Beit Alpha with its wonderful zodiac mosaic and naïve artistic style, and its subsequent excavation by Eliezer Lipa Sukenik, father of Yigael Yadin, in 1929 put synagogue archaeology on the map.

Jerusalem-facing wall at Nabratein in Galilee with Torah shrine at right.

Editor’s Note

05/23/2011 - 20:00

When we celebrate Shavuot in two weeks, we’ll commemorate the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Our synagogues are the places we go throughout the year to continue to find echoes of that revelation. But transcendence aside, we also seek out synagogues for community, ritual, learning and shared history — and in some places, the trademark shul with a pool.

JANE TRIGÉRE,Women of the Balcony 3, 2008, collage. PHOTO by Penny Leveritt

Text Context May 2011

Synagogues are places of meaning, sanctuaries for the soul, magnets for community. This month, we look at their history, both ancient and modern; art and architecture; ritual and prayer. And, we feature several personal stories about synagogues and their
05/23/2011 - 20:00
Text Context May 2011

‘An Emissary For My Community’

The first Israeli Arab woman to become a plastic surgeon feels the pressure of her pioneering role.
Israel Correspondent
05/16/2011 - 20:00

Jerusalem — It was early May but Dr. Rabnia El Khatib was so busy studying for an important exam, scheduled for June, that she could not find time for a face-to-face interview. “I’ve taken the week off from work to study,” she explained apologetically.

The first Israeli Arab woman to become a plastic surgeon in Israel, El Khatib feels particularly driven to succeed, not only for herself but for her community.

Beyond nip and tuck: Dr. Rania El Khatib says many people don’t realize that “plastic surgeons deal with wounds, trauma".

Trauma Care Expanding As Need Grows

New round of violence puts focus on ways to cope with terror for children and adults.
Israel Correspondent
05/16/2011 - 20:00

Sderot, Israel — Last autumn, Ronith Gil, a kindergarten teacher in Kibbutz Zakim, near the Gaza border, attended five workshops offered by the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) on how to help children cope
with fear and trauma. On Dec. 21, soon after the fifth class, Gil was forced to put her new training to use when a Kassam rocket landed just 15 feet from her kindergarten.

“I was on my way to school when it hit,” Gil recalled. “Despite the loud boom, I was in total denial until I saw a rocket sticking out of the ground.”

In Sderot, where roughly 10,000 rockets from Gaza have landed during the past 10 years, bus stop bomb shelters are common .

The Summer The Rabbi Got Thin

A California congregation does some belt-tightening — with mindful eating, surgery and exercise.
Special To The Jewish Week
05/16/2011 - 20:00

Rabbi Nat Ezray is no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop. Neither are his wife and children, his colleagues, nor his congregation, now that he has undergone life-changing bariatric surgery to help him lose weight and restore his health following several cardiac events.

Having learned the hard way the importance of mindful eating and a healthy, balanced lifestyle, he has made these not only a personal priority, but also a top agenda item at his synagogue.

Since his bariatric surgery, Rabbi Nat Ezray spends at least an hour a day exercising.

The ‘Skinny’ On Eating Disorders

Novel weighs in on the connections between hunger, longing and love.
Jewish Week Book Critic
05/16/2011 - 20:00

Gray Lachmann was one of those women who kept a running tab of how many calories she had consumed so far each day. Always dieting, she would cease all eating when she got to 1,600: No more food until the following day. She’d brush her teeth and silently repeat, “You’re done,” even as she kept thinking about food.

“Skinny” is set in a weight-loss camp. The camps are, Spechler says.
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