Lens

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

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.”

Standard Sukkah, Unusual Setting

10/18/2011

Like any sukkah, the 10-by-10-foot tarpaulin hut put up by the Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale last week attracted people committed to religious tradition.

In the case of some who ate and studied in the AJR sukkah, it’s the Catholic tradition.

The nondenominational rabbinical school is located on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, a Catholic institution that is also the home of nuns affiliated with the Sisters of Charity.

Photo By Helene Santo And Irwin Huberman

‘A Lulav And Etrog Shuk’

10/11/2011
Staff Writer

One of New York City’s busiest — and briefest — shopping centers made its annual appearance this week.

Between Sunday, the day after Yom Kippur, and Wednesday, erev Sukkot, a stretch of several blocks along the south side of Main Street in Queens’ heavily Jewish Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood, became a pre-holiday bazaar. At wooden tables set up along the street, Sukkot supplies went on sale.

Available were Four Species sets and materials for family sukkahs. And, in once-a-year storefronts, ready-to-assemble sukkahs themselves.

Photo By Michael Datikash

Enduring Anti-Israel Sentiment At St. Andrews

10/11/2011
Staff Writer

Chanan Reitblat, a Lithuanian-born and American-bred post-graduate student at Yeshiva University, went to Scotland’s historic St. Andrews University earlier this year to study chemistry and learned a lesson in contemporary politics.

Chanan Reitblat: Donates compensation from bias incident in Scotland to family of terrorist victims.
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