Editor’s Note: Gabriella Kamran is the first recipient of The Norman E. Alexander Award for Excellence in Jewish Student Writing. The national contest, sponsored by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame and The Jewish Week Media Group, seeks essays by teens on Jewish Americans who have made significant contributions to humanitarian causes, social justice, medicine or science. It honors Norman Alexander, a prominent businessman and philanthropist who was a founder of The Jewish Week.
A native of Staten Island, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld has served for a decade as spiritual leader of Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., which bills itself as the city’s oldest Orthodox congregation. The rabbi, who was ordained by Yeshiva University and served for five years as associate rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has helped revive Ohev Sholom by conducting a high-visibility outreach to unaffiliated Jews. He also teaches a regular class on Judaism at the U.S. Senate.
Noting that a character’s first recorded words in the Bible reveal a great deal about his personality, Rabbi David Wolpe pointed out at a Jewish Week Forum here last week that as a youngster, the future King David’s first words in the Book of Samuel are, “What will be given to the man who slays Goliath?”
Steven Fine, a professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University and director of the school’s Center for Israel Studies, figured an article he published last year in Biblical Archeology Review about ancient tombstones in the Holy Land, would resonate with other archeology buffs.
They were stars of the new music world, or would soon be. Their inclusion in the 1927 festival in Baden-Baden, Germany, meant great things would happen. In less than a decade, they would all be in the United States, sought by the Nazis, who banned their music.
When Roger Bennett offered 54 accomplished young writers and artists a chance to comment on a portion of the Torah, each of them “leaped at the opportunity, like Michelangelo painting the Sistine chapel.” It all began at a networking event for Reboot, a Jewish outreach organization Bennett co-founded in 2002.
When Mitt Romney chose the Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate in last year’s presidential election, Ayn Rand, the atheist Jewish author whom Ryan credited with inspiring him to seek public service, was also suddenly vaulted to public attention. Rand, a political philosopher and best-selling novelist, glorified individualism and capitalism over governmental power and collective responsibility.
For 30 years, Hank Sheinkopf has been offering his advice to candidates and his analysis of the political landscape to the media. Now, he’s also fielding questions about halacha and offering comfort to the spiritually afflicted — as a newly ordained Orthodox rabbi.
Sheinkopf was granted smicha on July 5 from Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Yaroslavsky of Kfar Chabad, the Lubavitch enclave in Israel. Since the rabbi speaks no English, Sheinkopf completed his exam in Hebrew, which he has been studying at home on the Upper West Side.