Short Takes

An Unorthodox Pesach Celebration

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

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

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

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

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.

QB Gets His Hall Pass

Staff Writer
More than 70 years ago, a young quarterback named Benny Friedman was dubbed “the greatest football player in the world” by the renowned Daily News sportswriter Paul Gallico. Last week the Pro Football Hall of Fame certified that Friedman, who played for the New York Giants and three other NFL teams, ranks among the sport’s greats. On the eve of the Super Bowl, the hall announced that Friedman was among four 2005 inductees.

Back To Budapest

Staff Writer
On a family vacation in Israel last year, the Silbermans of Bayside started discussing the forthcoming bat mitzvahs of twins Naomi and Giselle. They didn’t want a ceremony, a typical gaudy American-style ceremony, back in Queens. They ruled out Israel. Too traditional. Caryn Silberman, the girls’ mother, suggested Budapest — and the decision may have marked a first in post-Communist Budapest. Caryn, an attorney, and her husband George, a retired social worker, have roots in Hungary. The Silbermans had visited Budapest a few years earlier.

Out Of The Ashes

Staff Writer
Some l’chaims. A few speeches. A little dancing. The ceremony for the opening of an afternoon drop-in center for Russian Jews yesterday at the Young Israel of Brighton Beach seemed ordinary. Only one thing was extraordinary. Chamah, the independent cultural and educational organization that is sponsoring the new Russian Club, suffered a fire that destroyed its international headquarters in Lower Manhattan barely two months ago.

Quick, Do Your Verse!

Staff Writer
In Jewish tradition, Passover is known as the time of freedom. In some Jewish circles this year, it will be the holiday of free verse. Two prominent Jewish poets will compose original works, on a Pesach theme, on the Internet, on deadline, as part of, a Web site that describes itself as “a cutting contest, a linguistic jam session, a series of on-the-fly compositions.”

Hoop Dreams, Sabra Style

Staff Writer
Basketball, an urban game, was known as a Jewish game in its early decades, as scrappy Jewish athletes came out of the ghettos for places on professional rosters. It’s happening again — but the cities the players are coming from are Tel Aviv and Ranaana.
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