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  • For Jewish campaign staffers, a welcome respite at Iowa Shabbat dinner

    2 weeks ago

    Some 50 presidential campaign staffers and volunteers, journalists and local movers and shakers from this capital city’s Jewish community munched on house salads inside a stately ballroom at the downtown World Food Prize building last Friday night as Aliza Kline welcomed...

  • Conservative Judaism — many options, unlimited possibilities

    January 11, 2016 | 4:07 pm

    When I was a law student, I took a course by a renowned professor who warned that if a prosecutor ever told us that our client only had two choices, we should walk away from the bargaining table. His point: There are always more options.

    In a recent JTA Op-Ed, law professor...

  • Star Wars and Jewish Cosmic Wars

    December 31, 2015 | 11:02 am

    I made a bet with myself that I could resist using the Star Wars craze as an analogy to write something about the state of the Jewish world. The moment I lost that bet was when I discovered, in Terror in the Name of God, Mark Juergensmeyer’s landmark book about religious extremism,...

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  • The Force is strong with Conservative movement teens

    December 28, 2015 | 2:05 pm

    No spoilers here, but you must have noticed by now that “Star Wars” is everywhere. With the recent release of “The Force Awakens,” everyone from die-hard to casual fans are analyzing all aspects of the movie, from the posters to the cameos.

    The big questions fans are asking: Will...

  • Why transgender inclusion is a Jewish imperative

    December 16, 2015 | 1:22 pm

    Just when the LGBT community thinks it has taken another step toward full equality and inclusion, along come the Dennis Pragers of the world to remind us how far we still have to go.

    In his most recent opinion pieces in the Journal (“The Torah and the Transgendered,” Dec. 4, and...

  • White House Chanukah

    By Esther D. Kustanowitz

    December 16, 2015 | 10:00 am

    For years, I watched as friends and colleagues posted photos of the White House Chanukah party. The exclusive gathering brings together prominent rabbis, politicians and Jewish communal leaders, as well as young Jewish innovators with a certain hipness factor. 

    Still, no one is...

  • Deluge of letters to Prager shows inability to discuss serious issues

    December 15, 2015 | 3:24 pm

    The deluge of letters vilifying Dennis Prager for his Jewish Journal column, “The Torah and the Transgendered,” is yet another manifestation of too many Jews’ inability to amicably, or merely intellectually discuss important, serious issues without dismissiveness and ridicule.

    In...

  • Why I take personally chief rabbi’s criticism of non-Orthodox school visit

    December 14, 2015 | 2:01 pm

    At the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly this year, it was made clear that a healthy Jewish community does not have to have unanimity on all issues, but we do need to be unified and, above all else, have civility in our discourse.

    It was obvious this week that...

  • After San Bernardino, don’t let fear change our daily routines

    December 7, 2015 | 10:57 am

    With the recent shooting in San Bernardino, television and social media have yet again brought images of fatalities and injuries and the grief of those directly affected into our homes. For many Americans, and in particular the Jewish community, the constant streaming of these...

  • To be a Jew means ‘I love you’

    November 23, 2015 | 4:29 pm

    On Thursday last week, a suicide bomber murdered forty three human beings in Beirut and injured two hundred and forty. On Friday last week, a suicide bomber murdered nineteen human beings in Bagdad and injured thirty three. In Paris, seven men murdered one hundred twenty three...

  • Jewish leader in Germany suggests cap on number of refugees

    November 23, 2015 | 2:57 pm

    The head of Germany’s main Jewish organization has suggested capping the number of refugees allowed into the country, so Germany can do a better job of integrating those already there.

    At issue are attitudes toward Jews, women and gays in the home countries of many refugees, said...

  • White House seeks menorahs with stories for this year’s Chanukah party

    November 16, 2015 | 1:16 pm

    The White House is looking for menorahs with unique stories for its Hanukkah celebration this year.

    Matt Nosanchuk, the White House liaison to the Jewish community, on Nov. 11 posted an entry on the White House website soliciting ideas for menorahs, noting it was the first time...

  • Outside the tent or in—what would Matriarch Rebecca have said?

    November 12, 2015 | 12:56 pm

    This past week I have been reflecting on something important. Is there a red line that propels someone beyond the pale and out of the tent if they cross it? It is a fundamental question for all of us, and particularly for a rabbi, whose job as a representative of Judaism is to...

  • Five questions for the first woman to chair the Union for Reform Judaism

    November 10, 2015 | 9:34 am

    Last week was a big one for Daryl Messinger. A resident of Palo Alto, Calif., and an active board member of several organizations, Messinger was installed as chair of the Union for Reform Judaism, becoming the first woman to hold that post. And she chanted Torah for the first time...

  • Embracing the Broken in Our Communities

    By Beit T'shuvah

    November 3, 2015 | 10:51 am

    The one thing I surely know about myself and the Jews that I serve is that we are Americans.  Yes, we love baseball, apple pie, and Hollywood.  We have unequivocally benefited from all of the rights and security that America has granted, and we appreciate them.  And, in a way,...

  • Skip college — embrace Judaism and learn a trade

    October 30, 2015 | 9:51 am

    The conventional profile of American Jews is that they tend to be highly educated and work in professions like medicine, finance, law and the academy.

    Jews, of course, “value education,” as the trope about the “People of the Book” goes. And American Jews, since they started...

  • Pope Francis: Attacks on Israel are anti-Semitic

    October 30, 2015 | 9:46 am

    Pope Francis said that attacks both on Jews and the State of Israel are anti-Semitic.

    “To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism,” the pope said in a private meeting at the Vatican with Jewish leaders on Wednesday,...

  • On eve of biennial, 9 things to know about Reform Judaism

    October 27, 2015 | 10:50 am

    Some 5,000 Reform Jews will gather Nov. 4-8 in Orlando, Florida, for the biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism. With about one in three American Jews identifying as Reform, the movement constitutes America’s largest Jewish religious denomination. Read on for...

  • Ron Wolfson: A precious gift from his Zayde and Bubbe

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    October 21, 2015 | 3:49 pm

    The Jewish community in Southern California is richly blessed with high-profile pulpit rabbis, and we tend to turn to these influential women and men when we want to know about Jewish identity and practice. But respect must be paid, too, to those whose teaching takes place outside...

  • At Israeli-American Council’s second national conference, more people and less politics

    By Jared Sichel

    October 20, 2015 | 1:43 pm

    As about 1,300 Israeli Americans convened from Oct. 17-19 in Washington, D.C., for the Israeli-American Council’s (IAC) second annual national conference, anxiety and anger over the recent wave of Palestinian stabbings in Israel was a much-discussed topic during a weekend that was...

  • Steve Gutow’s 10-year crusade for Jewish civility ending on bitter note

    October 13, 2015 | 12:06 pm

    For the past 10 years, Rabbi Steve Gutow has been trying to get American Jews to be more civil to each other, especially in debates about political issues.

    But a decade on, as he prepares to step down from the helm of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the community seems...

  • Reconstructionists to accept rabbinical applicants with non-Jewish partners

    October 1, 2015 | 9:14 am

    The Reconstructionist movement will accept rabbinical applicants who have non-Jewish partners.

    A ban on such applicants, last reaffirmed in 2002, was revoked by the Reconstructionist Religious College following a faculty vote last week, the seminary said in a news release...

  • The backyard pilgrim

    By Rob Eshman

    September 30, 2015 | 12:14 pm

    Just after I built our sukkah this year, my wife and I sat on the swing bench that faces it and admired my handiwork.

    As far as I know, there is no blessing to say when a husband who isn’t especially handy builds a sukkah, but there ought to be. The one I always recite in my head...

  • Israeli ministry pursues World Jewry, despite shortfalls

    September 30, 2015 | 10:12 am

    With a budget reaching $300 million, it was conceived as a broad partnership between the Israeli government and leading Diaspora Jewish groups. Its goal: to create a stronger connection between global Jews and Israel.

    But nearly two years after its launch was announced with much...

  • Washington scandal reveals politics behind European Jewish memorials

    September 21, 2015 | 9:45 am

    A small government agency for preserving European historical sites has been accused of criminal malfeasance, roiling Jewish community officials who say the agency has played a critical role in memorializing Europe’s Jewish past.

    The controversy surrounding the U.S. Commission for...

  • Israeli artist’s stained glass creations bring life, light to community

    By Gerri Miller

    September 16, 2015 | 3:49 pm

    Inside the sanctuary at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA), a transdenominational seminary located in Koreatown, the atmosphere is rather dark and somber. Except, that is, for the brightly colored ner tamid above the ark.

    Made of stained glass, the 60-pound...

  • Pesos from Heaven: A High Holy Days message

    September 16, 2015 | 3:23 pm

    I haven’t seen or spoken to my parents for years now. This isn’t because of negligence or lack of caring, it’s that they’re no longer in this world.

    Nonetheless, we keep in touch. I guess you could call it a “long-distance” relationship.

    With that in mind, I’d like to share...

  • Bubblehood vs. Peoplehood

    By David Suissa

    September 10, 2015 | 11:18 am

    The most overused and abused word in the Jewish world must surely be “community.” Here in Los Angeles, we’re often told that we’re all part of some grand “Jewish community,” but deep down, we know better. If by community we mean a group of like-minded people whose company we enjoy,...

  • Paying to pray? Not quite

    September 9, 2015 | 3:13 pm

    We’ve all heard this story, and some of us have lived it: A Jewish individual or couple, new in town or newly seeking to reconnect with the Jewish community, walks into a worship space just before the start time of a High Holy Days service and starts to enter the sanctuary, only to...

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