Briefs

Beijing Star Lights Torch In Israel

07/17/2009
Staff Writer
At last summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, U.S. swimmer Jason Lezak was in the shadow of teammate Michael Phelps, despite Lezak’s record-breaking final leg in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay that kept alive Phelp’s quest for eight gold medals. At this summer’s  Maccabiah Games in Israel, Lezak is in the spotlight. During the 18th rendition of the so-called Jewish Olympics, Lezak, at 33 taking part in his first Maccabiah competition, is the most feted of some 8,000 athletes from 65 countries.

New Life For Dead Sea

07/24/2009
Staff Writer
The Dead Sea is still alive — in an international competition to name the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World.” The body of water, lowest in altitude on the planet and one of the highest in salt content, which borders on Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, is among 77 sites still under consideration for the Internet contest (new7wonders.com), following the Palestinian Authority’s agreement last week to co-sponsor the candidacy.

Seeing Other People’s Genocide

08/07/2009
Staff Writer
The faces staring at the photographs on the walls of Yad Vashem were black, the faces staring back were white, but the pain that united them knows no color. A group of African refugees, most from Sudan’s murder-ridden Darfur region, toured Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial center this week, where they were welcomed by Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem’s chairman, and learned the story of a genocide that preceded theirs, at the hands of an Islamic regime, by more than a half-century. For many of the visitors it was their first time in a museum.

A Vehicle For Education

10/27/2009
Staff Writer
Hazon, the New York-based Jewish environmental organization, is using a yellow school bus to send a green message. Actually, 11⁄2 yellow school buses. In a kick-off ceremony last week outside the United Nations, in honor of Jewish Social Action Month, a “Topsy Turvy Bus,” two chassis fused together, began a three-month journey across the country. The biodiesel-fueled bus, staffed by a few Hazon members, will stop at synagogues and Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions between New York and California to deliver its environmental message.

Remembered In Granite

10/06/2009
Staff Writer
Nearly 300 Jews who died 10 to 20 years ago without money, without mourners at their graveside, without a marker on their grave on Staten Island, got a gravestone the other day. On a cool, overcast Sunday morning, a crane unloaded 266 granite markers from Georgia at Staten Island’s Mount Richmond Cemetery. Over the next month, they will be set up at their respective graves as the latest installment of the 18-year-old Leave a Mark project of the Hebrew Free Burial Association.

Open Door Policy In Queens

09/30/2009
Staff Writer
The corner of Main Street and Jewel Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills is “on one hand a lousy location,” says Marvin Gruza, who has lived in the Queens neighborhood 20 years. Loud buses go by every few minutes. “On the other hand,” he says, “I’m in the perfect location.” A perfect location for doing chesed.

High Holy Days Come To Kabul

09/22/2009
Staff Writer
The entire Jewish community of Afghanistan celebrated Rosh HaShanah this week in a small side room of the lone synagogue in Kabul, the country’s capital. His name is Zebulon Simantov. Simantov, 57, a one-time owner of a small jewelry-and-carpets store in Kabul, returned a decade ago to Afghanistan, his homeland, after spending time in Tajikistan and Israel.

Dedicating A New Year At YU

09/15/2009
Staff Writer
Anew year, a new semester, a new building. This week was a week of many beginnings at Yeshiva University. Coinciding with the start of the academic year and on the eve of the High Holy Days, Yeshiva University opened the Glueck Center for Jewish Study, the first new edifice dedicated at the Washington Heights institution’s Wilf Campus in two decades.

A Lesson In Hebron

09/08/2009
Staff Writer
In Hebrew it’s Hebron, in Arabic it’s al-Khalil, and in modern Middle East history it’s a place of violence. The hilly city 18 miles south of Jerusalem, the largest city on the West Bank, ranks among the four holy cities of the Promised Land — Jerusalem, Tiberias and Safed are the others — but has been better known as a home of bloodshed and radicalism since Arab riots killed 67 Jews there 80 years ago last month, forcing all of Hebron’s Jews to flee after millennia of habitation.

Soup-er Sized!

08/14/2009
Staff Writer
Here’s how you make the world’s biggest matzah ball:  take 200 pounds of  matzah meal, 80 pounds of margarine, 20 pounds of chicken base, and 1,000 eggs, then boil for 20 hours, ending up with a kneidl – fluffy, of course – that measures 29.2 inches across and weighs 267 pounds. Are here’s why: you want to promote a basketball game.
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