The JW Q&A

A weekly interview with notable figures and names in the news.

Trying To Make Vegetables Sexy

11/18/2014
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Janna Gur’s “The Book of New Israeli Food” has sat on my kitchen counter with my other favorite cookbooks for years, and I frequently pull it out for friends and family who are unfamiliar with Israeli cuisine, saying, “This is the book you need to buy to understand food in Israel.”

Janna Gur: “For us, vegetables are not a punishment, they are something exciting.” JTA

Coming To Terms With ‘Reality’ Of Jerusalem

Expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations analyzes rising tensions in the City of Gold.

11/12/2014
Staff Writer
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Daniel “Danny” Seidemann is founder and director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, a non-governmental organization launched in January 2010 that monitors Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem. Regarded as a leading expert on contemporary Jerusalem, he was born in upstate Syracuse and made aliyah in 1973. A lawyer, he was interviewed by phone from his home in Jerusalem. This is an edited transcript.

Terrestrial Jerusalem’s Daniel Seidmann: Jerusalem not a united city.

4,000 Years, 10 Jokes

Jewish history is like the waiter who asks the table full of retired ladies, 'Is anything all right?'

11/04/2014
Staff Writer
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Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, is a veteran of the Jewish community’s communications world, with previous stints at The Forward and CLAL. He’s also a maven on Jewish humor. He’ll talk about “The History of the Jews in Ten Jokes” at Temple Emanu-El’s adult education Skirball Center on Nov. 19, Dec. 3 and 10. The Jewish Week interviewed him by email. This is an edited transcript.

Andrew Silow-Carroll: “There’s Jewish humor, and there’s Judaism humor.”

Muslim Bridge Builder Takes Post At JTS

Yasin Meral, assistant professor of history of religions at Ankara University, is the seminary's first visiting Muslim scholar.

10/28/2014
Staff Writer
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The Jewish Theological Seminary last week appointed its first Muslim visiting scholar. Yasin Meral, assistant professor of history of religions at Ankara University, will conduct post-doctoral research at JTS this year. Meral, whose Ph.D. dissertation was on “Islam and Muslims in the Writings of Maimonides,” has done post-doctoral work on end-times issues in the Jewish and Islamic traditions. The Jewish Week interviewed him by email. This is an edited transcript.

Yasin Meral, scholar from Turkey, brings rich history of ties with Jews to his work this year at JTS.

Hoping To Sell The Hebrew U. Brand

10/21/2014
Staff Writer
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Beth Asnien McCoy was appointed national executive director of American Friends of The Hebrew University in May, becoming one of the only women to head a major Jewish organization in the United States. McCoy sat down with The Jewish Week to discuss the challenge of reaching a new generation of philanthropists, how fundraising differs in various organizations and her advice to other female professionals about how to get to the top.

AFHU’s Beth Asnien McCoy: One of only a few women to head a major Jewish organization.

Teaching Young People To Get To Know Israel

10/14/2014
Editor And Publisher
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Tuvia Book, the new core educator for Write On For Israel, The Jewish Week program that educates students about modern Israel in advance of their college years, has lost count of how many teen and young adult tours to Israel he has led. He may well be the longest-serving Birthright Israel tour guide, dating back to the pilot program in December 1999. And as part of his work in Jewish education, both formal and informal, he has climbed Masada more than 200 times. It’s never routine, though, because “I get to see it each time through the eyes of those who are there for the first time,” he says.

Tuvia Book: The key to countering anti-Israel propaganda on campus “is to be proactive, not reactive.”

BRCA And Beyond At Shaare Zedek

Dr. Jonathan Halevy has been the director-general of the medical center in Jerusalem for the past 26 years.

09/24/2014
Staff Writer
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Dr. Jonathan Halevy, whose specialty is liver diseases, has been the director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for the past 26 years. He is also chairman of the Israel Health Basket Committee, which determines which drugs, medical procedures and technology will be approved and subsidized by the national health care system. Shaare Zedek made news this month when breast cancer researchers there found that women who carry the BRCA1/2 genes are prone to breast and ovarian cancer — even if they have no family history of the cancers. Halevy was interviewed during a recent visit here.

Dr. Jonathan Halevy, director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

An Obama’s Jewish Connection, And Multicultural Journey

09/16/2014
Culture Editor
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At first glance, the resemblance is unmistakable — the diction, gestures, cadences of the deep voice of author Mark Obama Ndesandjo seem uncannily similar to his brother, President Barack Obama. In fact, with his shaved head, Ndesandjo looks like a younger, hipper, more smiling version of the President. But as he shows in his just-published compelling memoir, “An Obama’s Journey: My Odyssey of Self-Revelation Across Three Cultures” (Lyons Press), he’s very much his own person, exploring issues of identity, race and family, along with his Jewishness. The two men share a father, Barack Obama, Sr., but they were born to different mothers; the president is the son of the second wife and Ndesandjo is the son of the third, a Jewish woman named Ruth Beatrice Baker. (Ndesandjo’s parents divorced when he was 7, and he later took on the name of his stepfather, only to reclaim the Obama name in recent years.)

Mark Obama Ndesandjo: Pays tribute to his Jewish roots in new memoir. Lyons Press

Ukranian Jews Seen Looking To The West

Mark Levin of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry says about 20 percent of Ukraine's Jews live in conflict areas.

09/09/2014
Staff Writer
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Mark Levin: Anti-Semitism is a constant in Ukraine, but the government is working to counter it.

God Talk

How can we move past 'post-traumatic God disorder?' Rabbis David Ingber and Alfredo Borodowski discuss.

09/02/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Editor’s Note: David Ingber is spiritual leader of Romemu, a popular congregation on the Upper West Side whose motto is “Judaism for the body, mind and spirit.” Rabbi Ingber grew up in a Modern Orthodox home and attended a number of yeshivas. His long and diverse spiritual search led to his ordination by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of Renewal Judaism. 

Rabbi David Ingber: “It is innately human to seek.”
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