In August, she joined 240 other North American olim, or new immigrants, on an El Al flight chartered by Nefesh B' Nefesh (Soul to Soul), arriving to an emotional welcome in Israel.
In 2005, Italian filmmaker Davide Ferrario decided to mark the 60th anniversary of Primo Levi's liberation by retracing the route of the writer's journey in January 1945, from Auschwitz to his hometown of Turin, with a camera crew. The result is Ferrario's documentary "Primo Levi's Journey". Intercutting footage from the 2005 journey with Levi's earlier observations on the same places, the film is disorienting in the beginning. Only gradually does it become clear that Ferrario is contrasting how much -- and how little -- has changed in the 60-year interval.
The Eastern Europe-Israel Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Conservative movement's United Synagogue Youth.
Los Angeles photographer Naomi Solomon capped off her informal summer presentation series "Settlers: A Photographic Journey of the Life and Disengagement of the Jews Living in Gaza" at Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills last week, drawing more than 150 people.
Unlike my Pesach in Argentina, where we had to walk through metal detectors to enter the five-star hotel in Patagonia, this Rosh Hashanah service was open to anybody and everybody, bringing together quite an eclectic mix of travelers.
Bible Storyland must have a guardian angel. Dissolution by the clergy, dormancy for 45 years and a fatal fire were not powerful enough to erase the plans for this Bible-based theme park from history.
Witnessing glaciers calving into crystal blue waters, humpback whales fluking their magnificent tails and clouds weaving cottony billows around the tips of waterfront spruce forests are all in a day's work for the average Alaskan cruise-goer.
The subject of women in their late 30s and early 40s deciding to become pregnant through artificial insemination isn't new. Feminist writer Wendy Wasserstein, who died in January, had a baby that way in 1999. And Lori Gottlieb, The Journal columnist whose words appeared in this very space, chronicled her artificial insemination journey in "The XY Files" in September's Atlantic magazine. (Mazal Tov to Lori, who gave birth to a boy in December!)
"In the beginning, I didn't want to go to Jerusalem because I was scared of the journey," confessed Shirva Goyto'om, one of the lone Jews remaining in the province. Shirva lives in a small town about 30 miles west of the city of Shire, which itself has but one paved road.
After more than 20 years at Valley Beth Shalom, Rabbi Ed Feinstein recently was named senior rabbi at the Encino synagogue, succeeding Rabbi Harold Schulweis. Recently, Rabbi Feinstein, 51, began teaching an adult education course called "Knowing God: The History of the Jewish Spiritual Journey."
"Truthfully, my grandfather really was the catalyst for the journey," Brian Bain said in a phone conversation from Dallas, where he relocated after his New Orleans home was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. He was referring to Leonard Bain, a retired traveling hat salesman and silent film editor who was 99, in 2002, when the film was made. The elder Bain has since died at the age of 101.
Each of us lives a spiritual journey. One of greatest tasks in life is to know our journey, to understand its contours and what it demands of us. The Torah teaches us these journeys, these paths into our center.
The three-part "Walking the Bible With Bruce Feiler" follows the recent documentary trend of sending a charismatic host to a series of dangerous or hard-to-get-to places. Accompanied on occasion by archaeologists, scholars, Egyptologists, and theologians, Feiler tracks his way through places in the Middle East where the biblical stories of Genesis and Exodus are assumed to have occurred.
Couples who have created a partnership and life together consistently talk of the effort involved. Yes, some relationships seem easier than others, but all say it takes time, energy and a true willingness to face whatever comes along on their journey together.
Schlitt spent the past five years transforming a midlife crisis, a professionally disastrous trip to India, and his burning and failed ambition to make a movie about that disaster into a one-man show called, "Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure."
"The Journey That Saved Curious George : The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey.
For Israeli Shifra Fyne, 83, this week’s journey to Los Angeles will be her first time leaving Israel in 56 years, and her first trip ever on an airplane.
Yehuda Goldstein is making the same trip. He hopes to reconnect with John Gordon, an L.A. resident he met last year in Israel. They think they grew up in the same pre-World War II neighborhood in Budapest.
Before she inspired her father's debut film, "Smile" -- a feature about an American teenager who goes abroad to help children with facial deformities -- Katie Kramer was a normal, popular student at Malibu High School.
A few months ago, I scribbled out a Web site, bought a camera, hired a director, raised $42,000 and embarked on a journey across
the United States.
"I'm looking for true love," I told my father, "even if she's husking corn in Iowa."
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the psychiatrist who wrote the pioneering work, "On Death and Dying," in 1969, was not Jewish. But Jewish survival through the Holocaust provided the transformative idea that would establish the career of Kubler-Ross and would ultimately revolutionize medical care for the dying.
Madonna's just-completed visit to Israel has been called a lot of things: scandalous, threatening, inspiring, encouraging, cheap.
To celebrate 100 years of offering interest-free loans to the needy, the Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) has put together a traveling photo exhibit that chronicles its growth from bit player to an integral part of the city's Jewish philanthropic network.
"Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew" by Neal Karlen (Touchstone, $23). Like Bob Dylan a decade before him, writer Neal Karlen turned up on Rabbi Manis Friedman's doorstep in St. Paul, Minn., in desperate search of his soul.
For Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, "Brooklyn Boy" represents both a return and a departure.
Sean Samuels, a Beth Jacob board member, was instrumental in the quest to erect Irvine's eruv, which should be operational by Rosh Hashanah.
Grief erases all regular rules. All the logic that has ever seemed to govern one's life suddenly seems useless. More than useless, it seems pointless.
Barbara Boyle has come full circle. When she first entered UCLA in 1957, she was one of four female law students in a class of 140.
After extensive research, campus tours, a detailed application and an interview, Aidan Buckner was recently accepted into the school of his choice. While his parents may have done the legwork, it is Aidan who will enter kindergarten at the Ronald and Trana Labowe Family Day School at Adat Ari El in Valley Village this fall. The 5 1/2-year-old seems unfazed by the upcoming transition, but for his parents, the news marks the end of a long journey.
Nearly 60 years ago, out of the ashes of the Holocaust, thousands of Jews came with not much more than the shirts on their backs to a land recognizable only as a collective and distant memory.
Jennifer Rosen's height felt all the freakier because Jews are generally more vertically challenged than, say, Swedes.
At a time when the world shunned them, an estimated 20,000 Jewish refugees from Russia, Germany, Austria and elsewhere made their way to Shanghai before World War II.
Once upon a time, Joel ben Izzy worked as a mime -- until he injured his hip in a car crash.
Then he became a storyteller who lost his voice.
"If I could market irony, I'd be rich," said the wry, rueful performer.
Ben Izzy -- who eventually regained his speech -- recounts the journey in a moving new book, "The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness" (Algonquin, $22.95). Woven into the memoir are 15 multicultural folk tales, including the Talmudic legend of how King Solomon achieved wisdom after temporarily losing his empire.
This month, as I started my work with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), my wife's father, Sol, celebrated his 90th birthday with his friends at Leisure World of Laguna Woods. Like many of us, Sol is a transplant to Orange County from Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and finally reaching this day at Leisure World.
We are a people that move as life changes. For Sol, this has been a fortunate journey, and he has his community to support him. For the rest of us, finding our place in a community of transplants can be a challenge.
Lately, more people than ever have been staring at my chest. But it's not what you think.
"I knew this could be a good story because so many different things had happened to people," said Dan Klores, sounding more like an introvert than a schmoozer. "You have a group of guys, and one is homeless, one wins a $45 million lottery, two lose their children and one lives without electricity or running water in Woodstock, N.Y."
The question is not if we are we safe, but what can each of us do to be safer? The idea is to find the balance between alert and alarmed, between giving in to our fears (and to fear mongers) and giving up.
Through many years of rabbinic traveling and teaching, I've been blessed to serve congregations from Long Island to Maui and from Canada to Australia. I've prayed in shuls from Transylvania to Argentina, and I've discovered that in all the world Juneau's community is unique. The fusion of Alaskan life and Jewish tradition never ceases to amaze me.
When rabbi and author Jan Goldstein was suddenly faced with the news that his 12-year marriage was ending -- leaving him with primary custody of his three children -- he felt his life was ruined, until he learned to make sense of his pain.
Pride in American Jewish life, from the ivory towers to the country club greens, has centered on "Making It," as longtime Commentary Editor-in-Chief Norman Podhoretz unabashedly titled his 1968 memoir. More recently, popular oversized books like "Great Jewish Men" and "Great Jewish Women" adorn coffee tables and assure us that, though we disembarked from refugee ships, we have arrived. For the last 50 years, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg has railed that we ought to busy ourselves less with how many of us sit in the Senate or nab Nobel Prizes -- and more with how many can read a page of Talmud. Hertzberg notes that Podhoretz's memoir includes not a single reference to the Holocaust and that we have "made it" to a better than 50 percent intermarriage rate.
With less than 5,000 Jewish residents, Japan certainly is not a Jewish country. Yet, Japan is a special destination for the Jewish traveler, at once safe and familiar, exotic and different.
Gebürtig, Austria's entry into the competition for Best Foreign Film in the upcoming Oscar race, is a clever and mostly engaging movie that goes after the big questions: Is the Holocaust best told as documentary or fiction?
Yuval Rotem, Israeli consul general for the Western United States, delivered these remarks at a Feb. 1 dinner for Pressman Academy,
honoring him and his wife, Miri, at the Airport Westin Hotel.
"Girl Meets God: On the Path to Spiritual Life" by Lauren Winner (Algonquin Books, $23.95).
Lauren Winner's spiritual memoir, "Girl Meets God," is a passionate and thoroughly engaging account of a continuing spiritual journey within two profoundly different faiths.
Winner, the child of a Reform Jewish father and a "lapsed Southern Baptist" mother, was raised as a Jew in the South. Told she was not really Jewish, since Jewish law dictates that Judaism passes through the blood of the mother, she chose to convert to Orthodox Judaism at the end of high school, following her parents' divorce. By the end of her senior year at college, she decided that while in graduate school in England she would convert again, this time to evangelical Christianity.
This week's Torah portion, Shemot, finds us studying the Book of Exodus for the first time this year. Probing the text, I began to think about the Hebrew word tevah (ark) that is found only twice in the Torah -- in parshat Noah and in this one.
Every week I go on two walks that I absolutely treasure. Each Sunday, my husband and I walk through a different section of Los Angeles. We have no destination, but our purpose is to exercise. We could choose other forms of exercise. We could be on a treadmill, moving in place without moving in space. Yet this is not as gratifying as walking outside. The walks along the beach or in the hills around the city create another dimension of being.
Excerpted from "Common Prayers: Faith, Family and a Christian's Journey Through the Jewish Year" by Harvey Cox. (Houghton Mifflin, $24).
Against the Dying of the Light: A Father's Journey through Loss" by Leonard Fein (Jewish Lights Publishing, $19.95)