Short Takes

Lag b’Omer High In Israel

05/11/2007
Staff Writer
The mountaintop city of Meron, in northern Israel, is the country’s second-highest spot, but for one day each spring it is the highest in religious passion. On Lag b’Omer, the 33rd day of the period between Passover and Shavuot, an estimated quarter-million people, from secular to haredi, ascend to the open grounds of the city that becomes Israel’s answer to the Kentucky Derby or the Indianapolis 500 — an annual Woodstock that attracts families instead of hippies. Pilgrims and tourists come days in advance, arriving by car and bus and van.

Conservative, Reform To Train Together

05/04/2007
Staff Writer
For the first time, rabbinical students at the leading American Reform and Conservative seminaries soon will be studying together in a formal program stressing the interfaith aspects of Jewish life they will encounter in their pulpits.

Passover, Samaritan Style

05/04/2007
Staff Writer
Mount Gerizim, in the northern West Bank halfway between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, holds a special place in Jewish tradition. It was the site where half of the biblical tribes were commanded to pronounce the blessings upon the Children of Israel after Joshua led them into the Promised Land. In Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim holds the highest position of honor.

Mourning Online

04/27/2007
Staff Writer
A few dozen friends of an elderly Jewish woman who died in February were not able to come to her funeral service at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel on the Upper West Side, but they joined the mourners, virtually, via the Internet. In cities across the United States and Europe, were the first people to take part in a new service: funerals carried live, or archived, on the Internet’s broadcasting, aka “streaming,” technology.

Remembering The Six Million

04/20/2007
Staff Writer
On Monday time stood still in Israel. For two minutes the sirens sounded, traffic stopped, and heads were bowed in memory of the Six Million martyrs of the Holocaust. Every year Yom HaShoah is marked by public displays of mourning and private recollections of loved ones who perished in occupied Europe. The theme of Yom HaShoah this year was “bearing witness,” a recognition of the diminishing numbers of Holocaust survivors. About 250,000 of them live in Israel, and 10 percent of that group dies each year.

An Unorthodox Pesach Celebration

04/13/2007
Staff Writer
When you think of Passover, you don’t usually think of bungee jumping, yoga sessions and reggae music.Unless you were at Nitzanim beach, near Ashkelon, this week. That’s where the ninth annual New Age festival, Boombamela, took place during three intermediate days of Pesach. Inspired by the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival, Boombamela draws ten of thousands of Israelis, most of them in their 20s, for 18-hour-a-day seminars with imported Indian gurus, performances by rock bands, and nude beaches. And sesame sumo bouts, roller skate courses and karaoke.

Seder Ethiopian Style

04/22/2005
Staff Writer
In Bizu, Riki Mullu’s village in the Gondar region of Ethiopia, Jews would bless each other with the greeting Enkwan bessalam adarressachew on the first night of Passover. It means, in Amharic, “Good God brought you to this time.” Some Ethiopian Jews, including Mullu, and some American Jews will exchange the greeting Saturday night. Chassida-Shmella, an Ethiopian Jewish organization that Mullu formed in New York a year ago, will sponsor what it calls “the first annual Ethiopian-Israeli seder” in a classroom on the Upper West Side.

Saul Bellow Dies At 89; Called A Literary Giant

04/08/2005
Staff Writer
Saul Bellow, the son of Russian Jewish emigres who became the most prominent member of a generation of Jewish-American writers to emerge from World War II, was remembered this week as a literary giant who did not want to be bound by the tag of Jewish writer. Mr. Bellow, often regarded as a “novelist of ideas” for the big themes he tackled, died Tuesday at home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.

New Year Debate Shining On Edison

03/18/2005
Staff Writer
Is Rosh HaShanah a one-day or two-day holy day? The answer divides American Jewry — Reform Jews keep one day, most other identified Jews keep two.

Lipstadt’s Ward Churchill Moment

02/18/2005
Staff Writer
Deborah Lipstadt watched the television coverage the other day of Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado scholar under fire for calling the 9-11 victims “little Eichmanns,” and something seemed familiar. Churchill had compared Lipstadt, the Emory University professor of Jewish and Holocaust studies who won a 2002 libel suit brought by a British Holocaust denier, to Eichmann, an architect of the Final Solution.
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