Jewish Journal

Joe Berkofsky

  • Heeb Teens Get Zine of Their Own

    October 7, 2004 | 8:00 pm


    For years, young Jews have voted with their feet after their bar or bat mitzvahs, with about half of those in non-Orthodox synagogues' religious schools leaving before the 12th-grade confirmation.

    Some synagogue schools are starting new, nontraditional programs to bring...

  • Are Sex Abuse Guidelines Working?

    June 17, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    A lengthy battle over how the Reform movement should handle a charge of sexual misconduct against a California rabbi is coming to a head.

    On June 20, the board of trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the movement's rabbinical arm, is expected to decide...

  • Was Berg Targeted for Being a Jew?

    May 13, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    The world may never know for sure if Nicholas Berg's religion played a role in his grisly execution at the hand of terrorists in Iraq.

    But many, including his family, are speculating that it was a factor in the terrorists' decision to kill the American Jewish civilian who had gone...

  • When Should Holocaust Day Be?

    April 15, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    At a small, suburban New Jersey synagogue next week, a pair of Holocaust survivors will pray, bar mitzvah children will recite the poem, "Butterfly," by a teenage death camp inmate and a choir will sing the "El Maleh Rachamim" blessing of God's compassion.

    Jeff Marder, a keyboardist...

  • Is Religious School Tuition Deductible?

    April 1, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Paying taxes may be one of life's great certainties, but there's a bit more wiggle room when it comes to tax deductions.

    Michael Sklar, a California accountant and Orthodox father of six, will appear in a federal Tax Court in Los Angeles in October as he pursues a long legal...

  • Conservative Death Prophecy Draws Fire

    March 4, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    A top Reform rabbi is predicting the death of Conservative Judaism, drawing protests from the Conservative movement's leadership.

    The objections surfaced this week in response to an essay by Rabbi Paul Menitoff, executive vice president of the Reform movement's Central Conference of...

  • Summit Focuses on Recruiting Teachers

    February 26, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Joseph Kanfer deftly wrapped wires and affixed pieces of material to a truncated test tube. Then he glued the Hebrew letter "shin" to the creation, producing a mezuzah.

    While the scene resembled a preschool project, it signified much more. Kanfer, former chairman of the Jewish...

  • Gay Jews Line Up to Wed

    February 19, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Rabbi Yoel Kahn originally married 13 years ago, but on Monday he tied the knot again -- to the same man.

    Kahn, who leads a congregation in Sonoma, first wed his longtime partner Dan Dellm under a chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy), but on Monday they finally secured a marriage license...

  • Will Jesus Film Poison Christian-Jewish Ties?

    January 29, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Jesus will appear on the Christian holy day of Ash Wednesday -- thanks to Mel Gibson.

    The Hollywood star directed and financed the $25 million epic "The Passion of the Christ," which is emerging from a nearly yearlong media storm and is due to hit 2,000 screens nationwide Feb. 25.


  • Bill Tackles Life Insurance Blacklist

    January 22, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    New York state legislators are trying to prevent insurance companies from blacklisting travelers to Israel so that they cannot obtain life insurance coverage.

    Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York Assembly, and Assemblyman Peter Grannis unveiled a bill Jan. 15 that would bar state...

  • Evolution of Reform Judaism Progressing

    November 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    At Temple Congregation Ohabei Shalom in Nashville, Tenn., congregants newly trained in the ancient skill of shofar blowing sounded the ceremonial ram's horn for the first time this past Rosh Hashanah. It was the first time a lay member of the 150-year-old synagogue had blown the...

  • Yoffie Emphasizes Need to Forge Links

    November 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Reform Jews cannot go it alone.

    That was the message at the Reform movement's 67th biennial in Minneapolis last week.

    Despite numerically dominating the North American Jewish landscape, Reform Jews must reach out to other Reform Jews in Israel and Eastern Europe and fight...

  • Jewish Charities Get Favorable Rating

    October 9, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    If you're concerned that the money you donate to Los Angeles Jewish charities is eaten up by administrative and fundraising costs, fear not.

    Most Jewish charities in Los Angeles have a favorable rating for the amount of dollars spent on their projects compared to dollars spent on...

  • Soldiers Celebrate High Holidays in Iraq

    October 2, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    When Rabbi Mitchell Ackerson blew the shofar this past Rosh Hashanah, it reverberated throughout one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. More than 100 Jewish members of the U.S. forces stationed in Iraq attended the High Holiday services at the former Iraqi dictator's Baghdad...

  • American Jewry By Numbers

    September 11, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    The National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 2000-01, dubbed "Strength, Challenge and Diversity," offers key findings on demographics, intermarriage, Jewish "connections" -- that is, communal behavioral trends -- and such "special" topics as the elderly, immigration and poverty.


  • Rising Intermarriage,  Fewer Jews

    September 11, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    The Jewish population is aging and shrinking, its birthrate is falling, intermarriage is rising and most Jews do not engage in communal or religious pursuits.

    Yet a majority attend a Passover seder and celebrate Chanukah, Jewish education is booming, and many Jews consider being...

  • Gibson Film Causes ‘Passion’ to Rise

    July 3, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    The ghosts of virulently anti-Semitic nuns may haunt Mel Gibson's new film about Jesus' final days, some Catholic and Jewish scholars are warning.

    The growing hype concerns charges that "The Passion" blames Jews for Jesus' death. Gibson denies any anti-Semitic intent, and little...

  • Do the Jews Need Geraldo

    May 29, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Geraldo Rivera has rediscovered his Jewish roots, and he declares the Jews "need" him back.

    Rivera, 59, the flamboyant TV reporter, recently announced to the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post that he is planning to marry TV producer Erica Levy, 29, in a Reform ceremony...

  • Political Fight Wages Over Abbas

    April 17, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    The capture of Mohammed "Abu" Abbas may advance the U.S. war on terror, but it also could set off a political time bomb.

    Less than a day after U.S. Special Operations Forces in Baghdad nabbed the mastermind of the infamous 1985 Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking, parties ranging...

  • Marine Becomes 1st Jewish War Death

    April 10, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    As a young boy, Mark Evnin insisted on wearing a yarmulke to the Boy Scouts and later talked of enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces.

    Now, even without his body, the family of the first known Jewish casualty of the Iraq War is sitting shiva at their home in Burlington, Vt.


  • They Also Serve Who Wait and Worry

    April 3, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Rabbi Mordechai Finley of Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Los Angeles has devised a strategy to help his two young daughters cope with having their big brother, Kayitz, fighting in Iraq.

    Kayitz, 21, is a corporal with a front-line combat unit, the 1st Battalion of the 4th U.S. Marine...

  • Holocaust Exploited

    March 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    An emaciated death camp survivor stares blankly alongside a gaunt steer. "During the seven years between 1938 and 1945, 12 million people perished in the Holocaust," the image declares. "The same number of animals is killed every 4 hours for food in the U.S. alone."

    The poster...

  • Giving to the Future

    February 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Financial wizard Michael Steinhardt is blunt in assessing the future of North American Jewry.

    The next generation is "mostly Jewish ignoramuses," Steinhardt said. "We haven't convinced the general Jewish population of the value of a Jewish education."

    Steinhardt's bleak...

  • Do Film Festivals Build Jewish Identity?

    February 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    One Sunday in November, 1,200 people at the vintage Cooalidge Corner Cinema in Brookline, Mass., nibbled Jewish-flavored barbecued wings. Film screenings sandwiched around the chicken, coleslaw and cornbread included "Shalom, Y'all," and "Kinky Friedman: Proud To Be an Asshole From...

  • On the Sixth Day—Clones?

    January 30, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Was Eve the first clone?

    "If cloning was the way we were supposed to be fertile and replenish the Earth, as the Bible said, who needs Eve?" asked Rosalie Ber, an international lecturer on bioethics and head of the Medical Education Department at Haifa's Technion -- Israeli Institute...

  • Man With a Plan

    December 12, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Students from Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life gathered one night during the recent General Assembly of the Jewish federation system and confronted Richard Joel.

    The students peppered Joel, Hillel's president and international director, with criticism that events during...

  • Jewish Survey Missing Data

    November 14, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Much-anticipated parts of the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) will not be released as expected next week because some of the data has been lost.

    The United Jewish Communities (UJC), which is funding the $6 million study, is canceling all events pertaining to the 2000-01...

  • Censoring Mr. Spock

    October 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Naked women covered in ... tallitot and tefillin? The black-and-white photographs in "Shekhina" (Umbrage Editions, $39.95) a new book by Leonard Nimoy -- a.k.a. "Star Trek's" Mr. Spock -- have ignited a debate in the Jewish community over art and censorship.

    The storm over "Shekhina"...

  • Population Study Poses New Challenges

    October 10, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    America's Jewish population declined by 5 percent during the past 10 years, according to a new survey, a trend that is likely to continue given the community's aging population and low birth rates.

    The number of Jews now stands at 5.2 million, down from 5.5 million in 1990, even as...

  • Findings Reveal Demographic Shift

    October 10, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    This is the American Jewish world, by the numbers, as revealed in the just-released National Jewish Population Survey 2000-2001 (NJPS)

    The Jewish population now stands at 5.2 million, down 5.45 percent from 5.5 million in 1990.

    Jews represent 2 percent of...

  • The New Portrait of U.S. Jewry

    October 3, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    American Jews soon will see the fullest picture of their community ever developed. The initial results of the much-anticipated National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 2000 will be made public Oct. 8, nearly 12 years after the last survey. If the 1990 survey is any indication, the...

  • Pro-Israel Ads Hit the Airwaves

    October 3, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Ads trumpeting Israeli democracy and the country's cultural and political similarities to America came to TV sets nationwide.

    But not without a fight.

    CNN rejected requests to run the pro-Israel ads nationally, leaving the two Jewish groups behind the ads scrambling to buy air time...

  • The Clergy of 1,000 ‘Faces’

    September 26, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    "Rabbis: The Many Faces of Judaism," by George Kalinsky (Rizzoli International, $39.95).

    It was 1962, and Marilyn Monroe had just died. So George Kalinsky did what he always did when something important happened -- he visited a rabbi.

    Kalinsky, now 60, recalled listening to a...

  • Tragedy’s Challenge

    September 5, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Typically an outspoken political activist, Rabbi Avi Weiss struggles for the right words when it comes to talking about Ground Zero.

    "I can't go down to that place anymore," said Weiss, the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute in the Bronx, N.Y.

    On that fateful Sept. 11, the...

  • Poll: College Kids Back Israel

    August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    U.S. college students back Israel over the Palestinians by a 4-1 margin, according to a new survey.

    The mid-July survey of 300 students found that 43 percent of respondents called themselves supporters of Israel, while only 11 percent backed the Palestinians. Another 29 percent did...

  • Terrorism Won’t Stop HUC-JIR

    July 18, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    When Mark Miller walks in downtown Jerusalem these days, he leans away from the street whenever he sees an oncoming bus.

    While he rues the "insidious" way terror "gets under your skin" in Israel, Miller says trying to shield himself from potential bus bombings is just one way life...

  • Sex-Abuse Conviction Closes Chapter

    July 18, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    The recent sex-abuse conviction of Rabbi Baruch Lanner for groping two teenage girls closed a highly disturbing chapter for the centrist Orthodox world. But it remains to be seen how deeply the controversy will transform the community.

    Lanner was found guilty June 27 in a Monmouth...