Sharon Nazarian has a mysterious quality about her. I’ve bumped into her occasionally over the years, but never long enough to have a real conversation. I always knew she was highly educated and a big lover of Israel, and that a few years ago she founded the groundbreaking Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA, where she also teaches political science.
As a linguist who studies Yiddish-influenced English, I’ve had a busy week. As soon as Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee with the word “knaidel,” the messages began to arrive. On facebook, through email, and in person, my friends, relatives, and colleagues wanted to know what I thought. Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked, along with my answers.
I know what happened with those three women in Cleveland, how one man was able to imprison and torture them in the middle of a residential neighborhood for 10 years, even though he had grown children, brothers, cousins who visited the house for hours at a time. It’s not a pretty tale, but we’ve all heard it, although to a lesser degree, countless times before.
I have spent much of my adult life working to bring Jews and Christians together. In particular, I have tried to explain to fellow Jews that traditional Christians are our best friends in the world today.
Conversion to Judaism is not easy. It requires a change in beliefs, actions and lifestyle. It involves extensive study, practice, a leap of faith, a shift in perception and some sacrifice.
Eden Bennun craved a taste of Israel. Growing up in Kfar Saba and Rishon LeZion as a child gave her a love of Israel’s smells, sounds and foods.
Rabbi Laura Geller is well known as a woman who does not shrink from a challenge. A senior rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, she stands as a pioneer among women rabbis, the third women ordained in the Reform movement and the first to lead a major metropolitan synagogue.
When Yityish Aynaw emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel at age 12, she was thrust into an Israeli classroom. An orphan lacking Hebrew skills, Aynaw says she relied on other kids and her own sheer ambition to get through.
Listening to Hebrew songs is officially frowned upon by many West Bank residents, but interest in learning the language of the “other society that is very close but still far away” is clearly picking up among Palestinians wishing to understand Israelis.
The following text is excerpted from “The Bronfman Haggadah,” written by Edgar Bronfman with illustrations by Jan Aronson (Rizzoli, 2012).
It’s been just two days since President Barack Obama touched down in Israel, and no doubt you’ve probably read and heard it all by now. The ribbing banter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Best Frenemy Forever.
The Israeli-Iranian singer Rita performed at the United Nations General Assembly Hall.
More than 103,000 people have signed a petition calling on President Obama to free imprisoned spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard.
Pesach - the Hebrew name for Passover-- comes from the Hebrew root PSH which means to skip over, to pass over. It appears first in the context of the ten plagues, in which God skipped over the homes of the Israelites while the rest of Egypt suffered.
The niece of American comedian Sarah Silverman will be allowed to attend a women's Megillah reading at the Western Wall despite being banned from the site.
A Hebrew version of Playboy magazine is coming to Israel.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has given a green light to a proposal for a dual-language charter elementary school to be located in Van Nuys offering classes in English and Hebrew.
Just before 1 o'clock on a sunny afternoon, students streamed out of the Amirim Public School and headed for home. But for their teachers, the workday was far from over.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked the Jewish Agency to come up with a solution for non-Orthodox women's groups that want to pray at the Western Wall.
The British government reportedly is planning to exclude Hebrew from a list of recognized foreign languages in the national education system.
“We are planting seeds — not me, but all of us.” With those words of hope offered to her fellow teachers, Lidia Turner, a seventh- and eighth-grade Hebrew teacher at the David Saperstein Middle School of Milken Community High School, accepted the Milken Family Foundation’s 2012 Jewish Educator Award during an assembly at her school on Sept. 21.
Moledet means “homeland” in Hebrew, and it’s no coincidence that it’s been chosen as the name of a pilot program aimed at maintaining the passion of recent Los Angeles Birthright alumni following their return home from Israel.
Six women were detained by Jerusalem police for wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall as more than 100 women gathered there for the monthly Women of the Wall service.
As a Jewish kid growing up in Israel, I never dealt with the issue of Tikkun Olam. Even though the words are in Hebrew, they say much more to Americans than to Israelis.
Throughout his conversion process, Michael Pershes claims he was an “obsessive superstar Jew.” The 42-year-old real estate developer and fashion designer studied Torah and the laws of kashrut, learned modern Hebrew at the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute, volunteered for the first time at Jewish Family Service, wrote monthly essays, celebrated Shabbat every week and joined his synagogue’s choir in the two-and-a-half years it took him to convert.
At a time when Jewish institutions across France resemble military fortresses for their security, entering the great synagogue and main Jewish center of this picturesque city on the Mediterranean coast is as easy as pushing open the front door.
The Jewish Agency for Israel's Facebook page was inundated with hundreds of explicitly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic messages.
When the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences (AEA) opened in August 2010, part of the draw for parents was the chance for students at the Santa Clarita charter middle and high school to study Hebrew. Since then, AEA backers have submitted petitions to set up elementary schools in the Newhall School District, Los Angeles Unified School District and Ventura Unified School District, without success. In August 2012, a revised version of its twice-rejected petition for an elementary charter was submitted to the Saugus Union School District in Santa Clarita. Among the changes in the newest version was eliminating offering Hebrew at the school, at least initially.
The City School, a new public charter school in the South Robertson neighborhood, has opened applications for the upcoming school year. Located on Robertson Boulevard several blocks south of Pico, the campus is open to sixth- and seventh-grade students only, and it plans to expand to grades six through 12.
My childhood best friend was Billy Thein. We met at Encino Elementary School in Mrs. Bernstein’s third-grade class, and were pretty much inseparable after that. Billy was funny and smart and cool — and in a public school packed with the striving, anxious, gawkward spawn of suburban Jewry, cool stood out.
The Tel Aviv City Council rejected a proposal to include Arabic on the city's official emblem.
French Olympic swimmer Fabien Gilot said the Hebrew tattoo on his left arm is a tribute to his late grandmother’s husband, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz.
The author of the “Color Purple” refused to authorize a Hebrew translation of her prize-winning work, citing what she called Israel’s “Apartheid state.”
In Jerusalem, where the cacophony of Hebrew, church bells and the muezzin fill the air, the hum of Tibetan bowls isn’t exactly a familiar sound. But its healing applications are gaining interest, thanks to a devoted Israeli practitioner.
After a 34-year translation project, the Hebrew Bible and New Testament were published for the first time this week in an Eskimo language.
When his family moved to Israel in 1998, Robert August-Dalfen probably never envisioned the day he would wear a banana costume.
Apple reportedly is developing add-ons for the Siri interface that will include support for Hebrew, among other languages.
When Myra Clark-Siegel, wife of Israeli Consulate General David Siegel, packed their things for their Los Angeles mission, she sacrificed a few items. But she couldn’t leave behind her children’s favorite books, no matter that they weighed down the suitcases.
The state of New Jersey for the third time has denied a proposal for a Hebrew-language charter high school in Highland Park.
Yossi Dresner has coached teens for their b’nai mitzvah at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) for 40 years. He has run the adult b’nai mitzvah program for 26. As ritual director, he also conducts VBS’ morning and evening minyans and coordinates holiday services.
When was the last time you stood on your head? If you don't practice yoga, and you're not a 2-year-old, it's probably been quite a while. Noting that my toddler couldn’t get enough of being upside down on his little sister’s infant seat, I understood the allure. Seeing the world in a completely unexpected way is titillating. Subverting the natural order of things is energizing.
Transgender pop diva Dana International will represent Israel at this year's Eurovision song contest. The Israeli music star won the chance to sing the Hebrew and English song "Ding Dong," written by Zvika Pik, during a contest Tuesday night broadcast on Israeli television, where viewers voted for their choice. She won Eurovision in 1998 with the song "Diva," also written by Pik.
The record book will say that the Maimonides School finished 20th out of 40 teams at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Atlanta, winning two trials and losing two.
Last week a handful of yordim (Israelis who “descended” to America) were given the rare opportunity to make aliyah; that is, to rise back up to Israel--and to stardom. Kochav Nolad (“A Star is Born”), Israel’s “American Idol” knock-off, came to Hollywood, literally, to scout talent for its seventh season.