The Jerusalem District Court ruled in [April] that women praying at the Western Wall with prayer shawls and tefillin does not constitute a violation of "local custom" or a provocation, and therefore, no justification exists for detaining and interrogating women who engage in these practices. [Haaretz] Poet Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff's response arrives in verse:
Women wearing tefillin and talit at the Western Wall. Photo: Michal Patelle.
Jerusalem Knows My Name
I can pray,
I can dance
While wearing purple and gold
In the shadow of King David's Tower,
Because this City of Gold
This City of Peace
This Jerusalem, is
Its stones are smooth from my caress.
Recognize my footsteps.
Know my name.
The Shekhina sings from my heart
In a voice soft and strong and round...
I have not forgotten Thee,
I have not forgotten Thee.
My City of Gold,
My City of Peace....
You have kept me, and
You have remembered.
You have remembered me.
Two Jewish women, Anna and Fran Simon, both of Denver, Colo., became the first same-sex couple to be issued a Civil Union, license at a midnight ceremony on May 1 in the Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder. Rabbi Steve Booth participated in the rite, as well, having long-served beside them as an activist in this cause. In fact, it wasn't the Simons' first marriage ceremony.
Steven Page, musician, and former lead-singer, guitarist and principal songwriter for the internationally acclaimed pop band the Barenaked Ladies (BNL), grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, feeling like he was the only Jew in the neighbourhood, and thus an outsider. He began his search into his ancestry with the goal of uncovering why his Jewish identity has played such an important part of his life.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced yesterday that Ira Forman will serve as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. Forman, a graduate of both Harvard and Stanford Universities, previously served as Director of Congressional Relations for the Office of Personnel Management during the Clinton administration. He led the National Jewish Democratic Council for fifteen years. Secretary Kerry made the announcement as he released the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report.
Response after the jump from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
According to an article in eSefarad ,"A decision by the ultra-orthodox rabbi Nissim Karelitz recognizes that the Chuetas of Mallorca, who were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition and remained a distinct group within Mallorcan society until the 1970s, had the right to call themselves Jews." How do Sephardic Jews view this?
Some in the Sephardic community ask themselves, "who is this Ashkenazi rabbi to make that decision?" They believe that the Chuetas of Mallorca never stopped being Jews. Even if they did not practice Judaism, they preserved the Jewish identity by avoiding intermarriage at all. Mallorcan Secret Jews (Xuetas) are halachically Jewish, since they did not intermarry for centuries.
Imagine that you are walking through the desert for 40 years. Day after day, week after week. You and 20,000 of your closest friends and tribe's members move through the wilderness, in hopes for a better life.
You get hot, and then cold, and then hungry, and then tired. Shelter comes and goes. Everything appears to be wide open. The uncertainty of the wilderness seems disorienting, yet exhilarating. To restore some order and structure to the wide-open landscape, you — well, all 20,000 of you — try to build a holy space in the desert using specific measurements and materials, and lots of detail. "Much as we may wish to make a new beginning, some part of us resists doing so, as though we were making the first step towards disaster," explains English Professor Dr. William Bridges in his book "Transitions: Making sense of life's Changes."
Throughout its history, Simantov International, which is based in Frankfurt, Germany, has successfully advised and guided thousands of Jewish singles in their quest for a true life partner. Founded by traditional matchmaker Denise Kahn with the goal to help Jewish singles across Europe meet, marry and rebuild European Jewry, the service is today proudly helmed by matchmaker Jose Weber, who is personally responsible for hundreds of successful matches and marriages.
Judging from the titles in the general and academic press, you would surmise that American Jewish women were not active in the biggest social movements of the 20th century. And you would be wrong. The paucity of scholarship in this area led Melissa Klapper, a historian at Rowan University, to a six-year odyssey that culminated with her latest book, Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: American Jewish Women's Activism, 1890-1940 which highlights the role of American Jewish women in three social movements for suffrage, birth control, and peace.
It is difficult to believe that over a decade has passed since the 9/11 attacks, in which nearly 3,000 innocent people died in four coordinated suicide attacks perpetrated by al-Qaeda. The United States reacted by invading Afghanistan and declaring war against the Taliban, an extremist Islamic terrorist movement, which had harbored al-Qaeda.
One of the more extraordinary aspects of the attacks is the connection with Israel. In 2004, al-Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden blamed the United States' support of Israel as one of the causes for the movement's terrorism. However, the fact that the majority of the Taliban, who make up the backbone of al-Qaeda, themselves claim Israelite origin, is relatively unknown.
Since 2006, the United States has recognized the month of May as Jewish American Heritage Month. For the last three years, President Obama has hosted an annual reception to mark this occasion. However, because of the budget sequester, the White House will not be holding a Jewish History Month event this year. In addition, White House tours have been eliminated and the President and many members of his staff have taken pay cuts.
Official Presidential proclamation marking Jewish Heritage Month:
In his second year in office, President George Washington wrote a letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island — one of our Nation's first Jewish houses of worship — and reaffirmed our country's commitment to religious freedom. He noted that the Government of the United States would give "to bigotry no sanction [and] to persecution no assistance," and that all Americans are entitled to "liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship." Those words ring as true today as they did then, and they speak to a principle as old as America itself: that no matter who you are, where you come from, or what faith you practice, all of us have an equal share in America's promise.
Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, "The Hope of Israel," is the oldest Jewish congregation in the city of Philadelphia, and the second oldest congregation in the United States. It dates its roots back to 1740 when Nathan Levy, upon the death of his child, applied for a grant of land at 9th and Spruce Streets from Thomas Penn, Proprietor of Pennsylvania, to consecrate as a Jewish burial ground.
Ameinu, the leading progressive Zionist membership organization in North America, welcomes the decision rendered by the Jerusalem District Court ruling that there is no basis for the detention of women for praying at the Western Wall.
Members of Women of the Wall — an organization devoted to achieving the right for women to pray, wear prayer shawls and read from the Torah at the Western Wall — have previously been arrested for trying to exercise this religious right.
"This ruling is an extremely positive step towards greater religious pluralism and inclusiveness in Israel," said Ameinu President Kenneth Bob.
(JSPAN) The Jewish Social Policy Action Network strongly supports federal and Pennsylvania state
legislation as well as municipal ordinances designed to reduce the incidence of gun violence in our state and nation.
Each year more than 30,000 Americans die from senseless gun violence. Each day men, women and
children - mothers, brothers, sisters, children, family, neighbors, and friends - are taken from us as a
result of our inability to advance common-sense firearms regulations.
More after the jump including video of the 20/20 Special "If I Only Had A Gun"
Over 1200 members from the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India celebrated Yom Ha'atzmaut and the resumption of their Aliyah to Israel yesterday with a festive celebration in the town of Churachandpur in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur.
The gathering, which was sponsored and organized by the Shavei Israel organization, was the largest in the Bnei Menashe community's history. Just last October, the Israeli government lifted a five-year ban on the Aliyah of Bnei Menashe in a unanimous decision. Since then, over 270 Bnei Menashe have been brought on Aliyah by Shavei Israel.
The Festival will also recognize and present the short film The Earthquake by a local new filmmaker Danielle Lessovitz. New Filmmakers Weekend will be hosted by Dan Friedman, Managing Editor of The Forward.
As I reflect on the events of the past 24 hours, my thoughts and prayers are with the 130 people who have been injured, to greater or lesser degrees, by the bombs that exploded in Boston. May they be granted speedy and complete recoveries. May G-d strengthen the hands of those who tend to their injuries and wounds. May those in need be granted healing, both physical and spiritual. I know that you join me in extending heartfelt sympathy and prayers for comfort to the families of the three victims who died from their wounds. I pray that those whose job it is to find and apprehend those responsible are successful in their work. May those who are guilty be brought to justice and be held accountable for these heinous crimes.
Nashirah, the Jewish chorale of Philadelphia, under the artistic direction of Jonathan Coopersmith, will hold its annual Spring Concert at Society Hill Synagogue on Sunday, April 21, 2013.
Nashirah is the only auditioned community-based chorale in the Greater Philadelphia area that performs exclusively Jewish and Jewish-themed music. The 90-minute program, "Sabbath Variations," will celebrate the Jewish Sabbath service as performed from the seventeenth century through today, and from Yemen to Israel to the United States.
Over 100 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States and Panama, including a delegation from Philadelphia, were accompanied by over 50 IDF officers as they toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland as part of the ten-day FIDF "From Holocaust to Independence" journey to Poland and Israel.
The delegation visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which was the largest of the Nazi's Concentration Camps. The delegation also listened to the personal story of a Holocaust survivor from Israel, Asher Aud, in Auschwitz 2-Birkenau, where mass exterminations of Jews took place throughout the war.
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
Nearly four decades ago, in 1975, the Union for Reform Judaism recognized the need for legislation that would limit and control the sale and use of firearms. Since the adoption of that resolution, the URJ's first calling for the regulation of firearms, more than one million Americans have been killed as a result of gun violence. The URJ has spoken out repeatedly and passionately on gun violence and continues to insist that gun regulation is a vital necessity.
The CAPCHTA exhibition in the Bernhard Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem has an interesting exhibit: an Enigma machine used by Israel prior to its establishment in 1948.
Enigma was originally invented by Arthur Scherbius for business purposes, but was not successful. During World War II, the German Army, Air Force and Navy used the machine for the encryption and decryption of secret messages.
The Enigma had to undergo the process of conversion to the Hebrew Alphabet which has only 22 letters as against 26 letters in the original. The four letters filling the empty spaces on the Hebrew keyboard were replaced by the letters F, X, Y and V. The Hebrew version did not have the "end letters" on the keyboard. However, it still has still the original instruction in German on the back panel.
Marian Rejewski and the Polish Cipher Bureau were the first to break Germany's Enigma ciphers, already in December 1932. Before the outbreak of the second World War they gave their findings to the British and French, but the ultimate breakthrough was made by the British: in March 1941, when the German armed trawler 'Krebs' was captured off Norway complete with Enigma machines and codebooks, the German naval Enigma code could finally be read. The work of the code breaking, called Ultra, was performed in Bletchley Park.
The bill proposed in North Carolina that would assert that states are not bound by the separation of church and state is very alarming to those of us who understand the utmost importance of this constitutional value, including American Jews. If this bill is seriously considered or becomes law, it will have consequences for all Americans and those who believe that government should not be making laws that show preference to some religions over others. We call for this bill to be completely rejected in North Carolina and withdrawn from consideration.
Jews in Auschwitz being seperated to go to either labor or gas chambers
— by Marta Fuchs, MLS, MFT
I am a member of a generation that wasn't supposed to have been born, living proof that Hitler's Final Solution to whatever "Questions" he had about the Jewish people didn't succeed completely. I am also the grateful daughter of loving parents whose sense of optimism and belief in people miraculously prevailed despite it all.
I'm filled with gratitude for my parents' love and protection; for giving me a sense of family connection and continuity by telling me about life and people before; for recounting the sorrowful details of their Holocaust past while also honoring the individuals who showed them human kindness in those abandoned days.
Tomorrow, on an isolated island tucked away deep in the Atlantic Ocean, some 600 miles from the European continent and 300 miles away from Africa, a most unusual Passover Seder, sponsored by Shavei Israel, will be taking place. Thirteen Jews, many of them Bnei Anousim — descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism more than 500 years ago — will gather in Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt. It will be the first public Seder held in centuries in a region that once had a thriving Jewish population until the Inquisition arrived, even in this remote location, so far from the mainland.
The Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) has issued its 4th Haggadah Supplement entitled Welcoming the Stranger to the Land. According to JSPAN Vice-President and Philadelphia Jewish Voice board member Kenneth Meyers:
We were immigrants in Egypt. And we have been immigrants many times since then, until we achieved citizenship on American soil. The Seder is a time to reflect on our experience and the plight of others who have not yet achieved their freedoms here. Millions of undocumented immigrants have no path to citizenship or the full freedoms we take for granted. Consider what their status forever does to their lives, and how we can help them and America fulfill our common aspirations.
Links to JSPAN's previous issue oriented Haggadah supplements follow the jump.
For the first time since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, a Passover Seder is being hosted in Ribadavia. Ribadavia is a town in northwestern Spain, which during the Middle Ages had a thriving Jewish community. Some of the buildings from the old Jewish quarter are still standing, including its synagogue.
Ribadavia's Centre for Medieval Studies and its tourism department are embarking on a project to reclaim and teach about the town's Sephardic heritage. This year, they are organizing a kosher Passover Seder. Historian Dr. Abraham Haim, whose specialty is the Sephardic world, is conducting it. The Seder will be preceded by a lecture entitled The Jewish Passover and Jesus's Last Supper.
Sometimes a book becomes a mitzvah because it's just what you needed to better understand how to deal with a difficult situation. My spouse and I struggle greatly with relating to our family's baal teshuvah branch — those who have chosen ultra Orthodoxy and become passionate adherents of its stringencies as their path to self-realization. Conversely, there are those who, like Yisroel Eichenstein, autobiographical author of The Rebel and the Rabbi's Son, are born into ultra Orthodoxy and ultimately choose to leave that path in order to attain the freedom to be themselves. This slender, courageous volume helped us to better appreciate how to relate to our very religious children and grandchildren, and the extremely important role grandparents of all backgrounds and practices may have in such scenarios.
Omer calendars for Israel and Diaspora courtesy of Judaica artist Jonathan Kremer.
— by Carol Towarnicky
As Passover approaches, an increasing number of modern Jews are preparing not only for their annual seders but also for “Counting the Omer,” an ancient practice of blessing each of the 49 days between Passover and the holiday of Shavuot.
An Omer is a measure of barley. In Biblical times, the Counting of the Omer marked the time between the barley and wheat harvests. Every night during that period, farmers would wave an Omer to plead for an abundant crop. Over time, the agricultural ritual was replaced by liturgy, and the counting became a way to mark the Israelites’ journey from bondage in Egypt to revelation at Mount Sinai. For the Kabbalists, the Jewish mystics of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Counting of the Omer became a time of spiritual exploration and cleansing, a way to prepare the soul for revelation. The mystics divided the time into seven weeks, with each week containing a specific spiritual quality. On each of the 49 days, two of the qualities intersect with each other, making each day is unique.
After the jump: Rabbi Yael Levy's book on the subject
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered remarks yesterday at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) priorities, including reforming our nation's immigration laws, DHS' continuing engagement with the Jewish community, as well as the challenges posed by the ongoing sequestration.
"I'm very proud of the work we've done together with the Jewish community to strengthen and deepen our collaboration on many issues of mutual interest and concern," said Secretary Napolitano. Noting America's history as a nation of immigrants, She said we need to fix a "system that does not work the way it was intended to."
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