The Jews of Poland may be mostly long gone, murdered by the Nazis or escaped to the safer confines of Israel or America, but the echo of their civilization remains, frozen in time for all to see.
Founded with the express purpose of "ingathering of the exiles" -- but with no more large groups of Jews to save -- Israel is facing the end of the era of mass aliyah.
Hillel centers on university campuses were viewed not long ago as little more than the local Jewish hangout, a place where students could come for kosher meals or socialize with other Jews. But in a move that Hillel leaders say has been forced upon them by this generation's altered social landscape, the organization is throwing open its doors to everyone, designing programs that appeal to Jews and non-Jews and hyping its contribution to university -- not only Jewish -- life.
We have been having a conversation in the Jewish community about gender for more than three decades. During that time there have been some remarkable changes: the ordination of women rabbis, the proliferation of egalitarian prayer services and bat mitzvah as a rite of passage.So why do we still need to talk about gender? Because in a critical aspect, the gender gap still persists in the Jewish community.
Purim is a time to dull our senses with drink and cloak our identity by dressing in costume. We do so in order to confront a troubling part of our history and the threats to Jewish life and continuity in the Diaspora.
Three new scholarly reports on intermarriage argue for increasing Jewish educational opportunities, encouraging Jewish behaviors among both intermarried and inmarried Jews and opening the doors even further to intermarried couples and their children.
By the end of the Professional Leaders Project gathering in Santa Monica, I walked away with three things: a stack of business cards, some good stories and a condom from KinkyJews.com in a package that featured an Israeli flag on the front and an off-color, yet highly creative tagline we can't print here.
In Jill Rappaport's book, "Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories" she interviews 21 celebrities as they describe how the b'nai mitzvah experience brought them to where they are today. With the photographic help of her sister, Linda Solomon, Rappaport provides a joyfully contrasting image of the celebrities and their familiar adolescent counterparts.
The bar and bat mitzvah is traditionally viewed as an entry point into the adult Jewish community, but for many, it's also seen as the door out of both Jewish education and the synagogue. For those who become congregants, Los Angeles synagogues are trying to help b'nai mitzvah students and families understand that the ceremony and its preparation symbolize one point on a continuum of Jewish life and learning. Their goal is to strengthen the communal ties of their marginally committed congregants.
Kirshenblatt's canvasses, together with a stunningly vivid text -- the product of four decades' worth of interviews with his daughter, noted New York University folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett -- have now been reproduced in a handsome volume by the University of California Press, and the result is a marvel: With his scrupulously recalled images, Kirshenblatt has managed to do no less than create a new visual language for describing pre-war Eastern European life. In stark contrast to the black-and-white record that has made up our vision heretofore, Kirshenblatt's paintings are untainted by the horrors to come. They offer a picture not of Polish Jewish life as it was before tragedy struck, but simply as it was. If Chagall was the shtetl's mythmaker, then Kirshenblatt is his antithesis: a shtetl anthropologist.
As South African Jews continue to emigrate, many to Australia, the community they leave behind is struggling to adapt.
Kiril Alexandrovich's Cafe Hillel, which was expected to open last week, is the first effort in Odessa at co-branding undertaken by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. The partnership aims to transform Jewish youth organizing in the former Soviet Union, leaving behind the club model and heading out into the cities, where young Jews work and play.
Over the past couple of decades, the Conservative movement has been in a steady decline. A couple of years ago, one of the leaders, in his outgoing speech, described the movement as suffering from "malaise" and a "grievous failure of nerve."
Every human being is on a special journey; the secret, however, is to realize it. This, perhaps, is the Torah's message when it recounts the details of how the first Jewish house of worship, the Tabernacle, was constructed and dedicated.
Anyone who cares about the future of Jewish life in Los Angeles eventually explodes in frustration over the community's inability to tap its own enormous wealth.
When Dr. Rick Hodes prepares a to-do list, it doesn't look like anybody else's.
The following is an excerpt from the speech President Bush gave on Sept. 14 at the national dinner celebrating 350 years of Jewish life in America at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
"Derech Hashem -- The Way of God" by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (Feldheim, 1997).
Quietly studying a page of the Talmud on a crowded plane, the great Orthodox teacher and thinker Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was interrupted by a passenger in the next seat.
"Pardon me. What is that you are studying?" the man asked.
Soloveitchik explained the nature of the Talmud, and that he was a professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University.
The man was incredulous. "Do you mean that people spend their entire lives thinking about religion?" he asked. "Why, I thought that all of religion could be succinctly summarized as 'Do unto others what you would have them do unto you'!"
On the third night of Chanukah my true love gave to me, an Olympic swim cap signed by Lenny Krayzelburg, a game of Horse with the Houston Rocket's Bostjan Nachbar and a chance to be on the set of ESPN's Cold Pizza.
Thanks to the Center for Sport and Jewish Life's online Chanukah auction (www.CSJL.org), gift giving just got more interesting.
On any given day, Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus in West Los Angeles is a hub of activity. Built seven years ago for $30 million, the campus attracted new members like a magnet. They came flocking to enroll their children in day school or religious school or attend the many other activities the campus offered.
Now it wants to repeat its success in a part of town that is far less congruous with Jewish life than the Westside: Koreatown. The temple is planning on spending $30 million to revamp its Wilshire Boulevard property and to turn it into a major Mid-City Jewish destination.
The two men walk as one -- in steady step, shoulder to shoulder, their words a torrent of Yiddish.
There is much to catch up on since the former neighbors and schoolmates last met. That was more than 60 years ago, when the transports, fear and separations that characterized Jewish life during World War II reached their Polish hometown.
Abraham Spiegel, a survivor of four concentration camps, who built a new life in America as a successful businessman, philanthropist and ardent supporter of Jewish life in the United States and Israel, died April 10 in his home at the age of 97.
Among his major legacies are the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, the Spiegel Family Building at the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv and the Spiegel Family Park, also in Tel Aviv.
Now that we've just finished two seders celebrating our escape from Egypt, a new exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center demonstrates that not every Jew got out of Egypt -- or wanted to.
The eight stark photographs show scenes from a decaying mansion in West Adams, where a homeless parent and child "squat" amid dust and detritus. A microwave oven sits on a peeling bureau; a wall has crumbled between the toilet and living room.
The images -- featured in "Still Listening: 150 Years of Jewish Family Service" -- are photographer Albert Winn's present-day response to an old Jewish Family Service (JFS) case history. The 1934 report describes an impoverished family living in squalor behind a tin shop.
"The Jewish Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Around the World" by Clarissa Hyman (Interlink Books, $29.95)
Clarissa Hyman's new cookbook, "The Jewish Kitchen," is alive with miracles -- stories of Jewish life and war-torn Jewish communities, bringing with them their glorious history, rich culture and a cuisine passed through the generations, itself a story of miraculous survival.
This award-winning author crisscrossed the globe, visiting eight families in nine months, recording their stories and recipes.
Larry King is as known for sitting hunched over a microphone, schmoozing with everyone who is anyone, as he is for wearing big black glasses and suspenders over shirt sleeves. But as the TV icon approaches the big 7-0 (his birthday is Nov. 19), he's increasingly wearing something else on his sleeve: his Judaism.
Today, just steps away from USC's fraternity row -- which has historically been a symbol of the university's typically all-white culture -- lies the new site of the campus Chabad House. The 6,500-square-foot Victorian home, which Chabad is in the process of renovating, will be the third site that the organization will occupy since outgrowing its first two locations in the past three years.
When Rabbi Mark Diamond asked seven Westside rabbis last summer to nominate emerging lay leaders for the Board of Rabbis' new Synagogue Leadership Institute (SLI), many of the rabbis countered with another request. Rather than potential leaders, they wanted to send current leaders -- presidents, executive board members and committee chairs.
For Jewish life in the Deep South to overcome the twin plagues of attrition and assimilation, American Jewish culture must change, argues Macy Hart, executive director of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute for Southern Jewish Life.
The announcement that Richard Joel has been named as president of Yeshiva University (YU) is an important and salutary development in American Jewish life. Joel is a gifted leader, able spokesman and prolific fundraiser. He has been able to establish the national Hillel organization which he heads as a "big tent" for American Jews -- one that embraces unaffiliated and under-affiliated Jews at a vital stage in their lives (college), while also serving the most committed Jews who enter its buildings to eat, study, pray and socialize with other Jews.
Sitting on a plane traveling from Israel, via Canada, to Los Angeles, I couldn't help but over hear the conversations
floating on the air around me. I had been living in Jerusalem the past three years and was returning home to Southern California. My friends in Israel warned me I should prepare myself for a dose of culture shock. I had no idea it would start before the plane had even touched ground.
Adolph and Sam Frankel are the official poster boys for "Jewish Life in the American West: Generation to Generation," one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever mounted by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. The exhibit opens to the public on Sunday, June 23.
Orange County. At least 60,000 Jewish residents creating over 20,000 Jewish households spanning 800 square miles. Within the borders of this vast area, we can find about 25 synagogues, great Jewish day schools, numerous Jewish organizations ... and you.
In May, The Jewish Journal of Orange County launched its premier issue. As the "numbers" person for The Jewish Journal, I know that the statistics listed above mean a target market for advertisers. But far more importantly, I believe they prove that O.C. Jewry deserves an independent Jewish news source that facilitates your connection to Jewish life.
In the solar system of Jewish life, Irv Rubin is Pluto.
The theme of this year's Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans was "2001: A Space Fallacy," and the Jewish contingent, masked as the Cohenheads, hora-ed its way through the French Quarter behind the Mothership Yentaprise, tossing out a thousand Star of David-emblazoned bagels to the hungry masses.
At my college newspaper, new writers all received the same encouraging spiel. "We want you to start writing for us immediately," the editor would say. "We're not like the Harvard Crimson, where you have to scrub floors all semester before anyone even talks to you."
NOW THAT THE HIGH HOLY days are over, we can begin to appreciate how the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington may alter American Jewish life.
"Finding Each Other in Judaism: Meditations on the Rites of Passage From Birth to Immortality" by Harold M. Schulweis. (UAHC Press, $12.95)
"Finding Each Other in Judaism" distills decades of those quiet, private moments when a curious, wounded or concerned congregant asks the rabbi: "What do I do now?"
Woven into many Jews' seders when they sit down to celebrate Passover this year will be a spate of new traditions.
A prayer and study center honoring Jewish life has opened near the place that for more than half a century has been the paramount symbol of Jewish death.
The socialist experiment may have failed and the kibbutz movement may be struggling, but communal living is alive and well at the Westwood Bayit. Part of Jewish life at UCLA since 1974, the Bayit (Hebrew for house) is a cooperative living setup where young men and women commit to participating in Shabbat, kosher group cooking and dining, and Jewish programming.
Over the next few months, Jewish life is going to get a lot more interesting than most of us would like. It's summer, and we're in for a hot one.
I arrived in Miami Beach one morning last week on a mission: to find the last kosher hotel in South Beach, an ultra-hip area of restaurants, clubs and shops that used to be the hub of Florida Jewish life.Today you can drive along Ocean Drive (inch along is more like it) and see scores of suburban teenagers and sophisticated European tourists sitting at Art Deco restaurants and hotels, sipping their lattes and looking to be seen, but you won't find many Jews. South Beach is where Gianni Versace was murdered on the steps of his mansion and where Gloria Estefan, Madonna and Sylvester Stallone all have had multimillion-dollar homes at one time or another.
More than 220 Jewish environmental activists gathered in Malibu last weekend for this year's Mark and Sharon Bloome Jewish Environmental Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL). Professionals from Jewish educational, environmental and outreach institutions came from as far as Canada, Europe and Israel.
It's finally happened. Marketing gurus have gottentheir hands on Shabbat, taking it off dining-room tables and throwingit up onto billboards across the nation -- in the hopes of bringingit back down to more tables.
If a Jew yells in Indiana, will a Jew in Los Angeles pay attention?
For six days in mid-November, 4,400 mostly bright, all intenselycommitted Jews gathered in Indianapolis to wrestle with the toughissues of contemporary Jewish life. And, if you're like the bulk ofLos Angeles Jewry, you probably couldn't care less.