In Jewish lore, Hadrian, a Roman emperor 20 centuries ago, was bad news. He built a large temple to the goddess Venus in Jerusalem, and another one dedicated to the worship of Jupiter on the ruins of the destroyed Second Temple. He abolished circumcision and brutally quashed the Bar Kochba revolt, continuing to persecute Jews and Judaism.
So starts Yevgeni Yevtushenko’s epic 1961 poem about the then-unknown killing field near Kiev.
The world largely did not know that the Nazis, aided by compliant Ukrainian police, slaughtered 33,771 Jews in a ravine during two days at the end of September 1941, the largest number of Jews who lost their lives in a single Final Solution operation.
On Sukkot this week, if you were looking for a standard sukkah, the place to go was Union Square. Chabad Loft, which serves part of downtown Manhattan, put up a 500-square-foot wooden hut, above, with cedar branches atop, where volunteers from the Lubavitch chasidic movement provided meals and snacks and the chance to shake the Four Species.
No, those aren’t watermelons that the couple at the Western Wall plaza are shlepping.
They’re etrogs, and the man and woman are among thousands of Israelis who flock to the Western Wall — the Kotel in Hebrew — at Sukkot each year. One of the shalosh regalim, the trio of biblical pilgrimage holidays, the Jewish harvest festival still attracts visitors and worshippers.
As in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the Four Species of Sukkot were often a rare, and valued, item in the Jewish communities of Northern Africa. Often several families would share a lulav and etrog. As recently as the middle of the last century, when the Jewish population of Morocco had started to decline, there was one lulav per synagogue.
Depending how you look at it, the fish off the coast of Israel are the world’s best fed, or the most sin-bearing, this time of year.
On Rosh HaShanah, the start of the Jewish Year, one of the most-observed traditions, next to hearing the shofar and eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, is Tashlich, the symbolic throwing away of one’s sins.
On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh HaShanah — day two if day one is Shabbat — Jews head to the nearest body of water, carrying small pieces of bread that are thrown into the water.
Musician-songwriter Phillip Namanworth has performed on Broadway, in concerts, in nightclubs.
During these weeks before Rosh HaShanah, he does a gig each morning for an audience of two — himself and God. During the month of Elul, which precedes the holiday-laden month of Tishri, he blows the shofar every weekday morning in his Manhattan apartment.
In many Jewish communities, shofar blasts come before the Days of Repentance, as a spiritual wake-up call.
The Amsterdam tree that reminded Anne Frank of life ended its life on Monday.
The 150-year-old, 65-foot-high horse chestnut, which was rotted and weakened by moths and a fungus for more than a decade, collapsed in heavy wind and rain.
“It broke off like a match,” a spokesman for the Anne Frank House, in whose hidden annex the young writer hid for 25 months, told Reuters. The Anne Frank House, now a museum, was not touched, but the tree crashed through several gardens, damaging a brick wall and several sheds.
Raphael Luzon was bar-mitzvah age when he left his home and his homeland. Along with most of Libya’s 7,000 remaining Jews, Luzon’s family fled, virtually empty-handed in 1967, after anti-Jewish riots threatened the Jewish community following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War.
Luzon settled in England, but his heart stayed in Libya.
A group of Jewish runners jog a few miles in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park every Wednesday night for their health. On July 28, they were joined by a few dozen more runners on a much longer route. For someone else’s health.
Sixty runners, all men, took part in the first 200K (20 kilometers is 12.4 miles) relay race from Brooklyn to upstate Sullivan County, sponsored by the newly formed JRunners organization. The participants raised more than $100, 000 for the medical expenses of a neighbor of a JRunners founder who has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.