In many ways Tunisia is unique in the Arab world. Tunisia's president promotes education and protects Tunisian Jews from the chaos and religious extremism enveloping much of North Africa. Tunisia has also played a very constructive and positive role in the Middle East peace process. However, stability in Tunisia -- for its Jews and for the country as a whole -- has come at the expense of democratic rights.
It's 7:55 a.m., and parents are dropping off their kids in front of the Ben Gamla Charter School along busy Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Fla. Amid a noisy melange of languages -- English, Spanish, Hebrew, French and Russian -- the uniformed children say their goodbyes and rush off to class at one of the nation's first Jewish-oriented charter schools.
When it comes to spirituality, Safed lacks nothing. But the Israeli mountain town (also spelled Tzfat) has been struggling economically since last year's war with Hezbollah. That's why local tourism authorities are hoping a Rosh Hashanah visit by the Material Girl will bring real material benefits to its 30,000 residents. Madonna, returning to Israel for the first time since September 2004, plans to visit Safed - the world center of Jewish mysticism - along with Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and other points of interest as part of a tour being organized by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre.
When the school year starts Aug. 20, Schorr's daughter and Barnett's daughter will be among the 430 or so students attending the new Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood, Fla. The taxpayer-funded institution says it will offer two hours of instruction a day in Jewish-related topics but not religion.
With the distant booming of Katyusha rockets becoming louder and more frequent, only a few brave souls ventured out - and when one boom sounded particularly close, everyone rushed back into the shelter, some in near-hysteria.
Think of New Orleans music and you don't usually think of Hebrew or Yiddish song. But Hebrew, Yiddish and English tunes filled the ears of nearly 1,000 music lovers last weekend as a variety of acts -- ranging from New York pop singer Gershon Veroba to Moldovan crooner Efim Chorny -- converged on New Orleans for a two-day benefit concert.
Major Jewish organizations have raised more than $30 million to house, feed, educate and relocate thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.
In addition to Hillel, other Jewish groups were active in Mississippi relief work. Shortly after Katrina struck, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement dispatched a group of emissaries to Biloxi to assist with emergency search-and-rescue efforts.
Guarding the entrance to Bodegas Barberis, a family-owned winery in western Argentina, is a small ceramic statue of the Virgin Mary, known locally as the Virgen de la Carrodilla.
At San Juan's Congregation Sha'are Zedeck, religious services are conducted from a bimah graced -- on special occasions -- with the flags of the United States, Puerto Rico and Israel. Yet 90 percent of the congregation's 255 member families trace their heritage to a fourth country -- Cuba.
With up to 2,300 Jewish inhabitants, Puerto Rico has both the largest Jewish community in the Caribbean and the richest. It also is the only Caribbean island on which the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements are represented.
Care for an authentic Cuban mojito at the L'chaim bar? How about Israeli salad, matzah ball soup and cheese blintzes?
They're all now on the menu at the Hotel Raquel, Cuba's first boutique hotel catering specifically to adventurous Jewish tourists.