Last Tuesday evening there was a presidential debate and a Yankees playoff game. But more than 250 people turned out at Park Avenue Synagogue to hear, and participate in, a discussion on “The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Judaism,” a major work published last spring by the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinic arm of the movement.
In Israel, you don’t have to look at a calendar to know that Sukkot is approaching.
You just have to look around.
In the Jewish state, the Jewish festival of booths — the literal meaning of Sukkot — makes its presence felt in every street, in every courtyard, in every field, on every rooftop. In every empty space that is open to the sky.
For members of a synagogue, the preparation for the High Holy Days season starts weeks, if not months before Rosh HaShanah.
In some congregations, there are the daily selichot prayers that are recited during the month of Elul that precedes Tishrei, and additions to the daily worship services. There is increased giving of tzedakah and the performance of good deeds. For some, a new machzor; for others, a new outfit.
For rabbis, sermons to write.
For cantors and choirs, melodies to rehearse. For the synagogue itself, there’s also a period of preparation.
For a century, the city of Mulhouse, in eastern France, was best known for its role in a sad part of Jewish history. It is the birthplace of Alfred Dreyfus, the assimilated French Jewish soldier who was the victim of anti-Semitism.
This week, the Jewish community of Mulhouse made the news in a better fashion — the Grand Synagogue, damaged in a fire two years ago, was rededicated.
Participants in the ceremony included France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim and Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
Jewish Heritage Day at baseball games have a long list of established traditions that sometimes occur — the singing of “HaTikvah” on the field, kosher food at concession stands, an opening prayer by a rabbi, the ceremonial first pitch thrown by a member of the Jewish community. Always, there is an increased number of Jewish fans in the stands.
The New York Mets on Sunday established a new tradition — the game-winning, bottom-of-the-ninth, walk-off home run by a Jewish player.
On 62 acres in southwest Jerusalem, you can see sights that are rare in the rest of Israel. Near-extinct animals coming back to life. Penguins sauntering and oryxes roaming. Secular Jewish Israelis, haredi Israelis and Arabs peacefully coexisting.