Lens

The JW's weekly photo feature, often showcasing the work of photographer Michael Datikash.

Interfaith, Inter-species Blessings

12/20/2011
Staff Writer

Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, senior spiritual leader of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue, has blessed uncounted congregants during his decades as a pulpit rabbi.

One recent afternoon he had the chance — for the first time — to bless some dogs and cats. And other animals.

Rabbi Rubinstein lent an interfaith aspect to the annual Blessing of the Animals at Christ Church on the East Side, sponsored by the ASPCA, Live Oak Bank and newspaper columnist/animal lover Cindy Adams.

Photo By Getty Images

A Magic Time In Orlando

12/13/2011
Staff Writer

Fifty Jewish kids with cancer spent a few days in Orlando, Fla., last week under the auspices of Brooklyn-based Ohr Meir (ohrmeir.org), an 18-year-old organization named for Meir Friedman, a child who lost his life to leukemia. Ohr is Hebrew for “light.”

But last week’s trip could be called Ohr Mickey. As in Mickey Mouse.

Photo By Benji Weintraub

An Ethiopian Celebration in Jerusalem

12/06/2011

The roots of the Ethiopian Jews’ Sigd holiday — it may date back to the sixth or 15th century — are shrouded in mystery, but its celebration now is contemporary. Marked 50 days after Yom Kippur in remembrance of the date, according to Ethiopian belief, when God first revealed Himself to Moses, Sigd was observed in Ethiopia with fasting and praying on a mountaintop.

Photo By Getty Images

A Branch Of Russian Culture In Queens

11/29/2011
Staff Writer

Its official name is the Forest Hills Spa, but to most of the people who come to the small building on a Corona side street for a massage or a shvitz, it’s the Russian banya.

That’s Russian for steam bath.

The spa, one of a half-dozen such vestiges of the former Soviet Union in New York City, is a reminder of home for the émigrés who grew up with frequent visits to a banya, where they would lie on wooden benches while steam rose from water poured over hot rocks and a masseuse would flay away with leafy branches.

Photo By Michael Datikash

Friday Night In Isfahan

11/22/2011
Staff Writer

Murray Koppelman, a money manager who lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, visited the Iranian city of Isfahan recently on a “pleasure trip,” went to the city’s main synagogue for Friday night Shabbat services and photographed this scene of Iranian Jewish life shortly before sundown.

At the bima, in the traditional Iranian sanctuary of the Yaakov Synagogue, one of three Jewish houses of worship he visited in Isfahan, stands a young member of the congregation.

Photo By Murray Koppelman

A Historic Day In Germany

11/15/2011
Staff Writer

A college town/industrial city in western Germany, Speyer has a Jewish history that is about a thousand years old. Its Jewish community, one of the primary sites of Jewish settlement during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, experienced pogroms and expulsions, refuge and rebirth.

Last week Speyer Jewry made history again.

With the president of Germany in attendance, the city’s small Jewish community of a few score people inaugurated a new synagogue, replacing a building destroyed on Kristallnacht 73 years ago.

Photo By Getty Images

High-Tech Competition In White Plains

11/08/2011
Staff Writer

The students of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester typically excel in such intellectual areas as chess, Moot Beit Din (a program in which students adjudicate legal cases using Jewish texts) and the National Merit competition. This week the school went high-tech, conducting its first Robotic Competition. Under the leadership of teacher Daniel Aviv, teams of students in the Westchester School designed and built small robots that can perform a specific task. The creations can move and turn — but they have not yet learned to play chess or argue a legal case.

Photograph By Michael Datikash

New Life For Dead Sea Scrolls

11/01/2011

Twenty centuries after they were written in near-isolation, by unknown authors, in the Judean desert, the Dead Sea Scrolls are being seen by millions of people.

A new exhibition named “Dead Sea Scrolls” opened last week in the Discovery Times Square center (discoverytsx.com), but the true nature of the show is found in its subtitle: “Life and Faith in Biblical Times.”

Photo By Michael Datikash

A Somber Anniversary

10/25/2011
Staff Writer

In Berlin, Gleis 17 (railroad platform 17) means more than a transportation site.

It’s where part of the Final Solution began.

The first deportations of Jews from the capital of the Third Reich started 70 years ago last week on Track 17 of the Berlin Grunewald station, with 1,000 people bound for the Lodz ghetto in Poland. The date was commemorated with a ceremony in which Holocaust survivors, leaders of the current Jewish community and German politicians took part.

Photo By Getty Images

New Brand, But Still Green

10/25/2011
Associate Editor

Even diehard “reduce, reuse and recycle” proponents have to get something new occasionally.

Just before Rosh HaShanah, the 18-year-old beacon of Jewish environmentalism, the Teva Learning Center, acquired a new website, new logo and new name: Teva Learning Alliance. A few weeks later, it became one of 50 nonprofits included in the seventh annual Slingshot: Resource Guide for Jewish Innovation.

Nili Simhai, Teva Learning Alliance’s co-director, says community could use “deeper rootedness in Jewish ecological literacy.”
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