Spending a week in Florida on the eve of a presidential election has become a habit for me — one I cherish. Meeting the elderly women who suddenly become interested in politics; attending synagogues, to which the candidates flock in droves to speak.
A Conservative synagogue in Hackensack, N.J. was defaced by anti-Semitic vandals.
Treating him like a rock star, the crowd mobbed 70-something Eshaghian, seeking an autograph or photo op during the May 20 launch party for his Persian-language memoir, "A Follower of Culture."
"A lot of people went to Israel when the country was new and bought Yemenite art, but they didn't tell you it was Yemenite," said the museum's director and founder, Norma Kershaw. "Ancient or modern, whatever people have" would be welcomed.
One depicts six grandchildren. Another is gold-plated and marks the 50th anniversary of Israel. Yet another was smuggled out of Russia and made its safe passage through Ellis Island in a brown paper bag.
A funny thing happened on the way to the synagogue: A rabbi and an Egyptian American, both professional comics, teamed up to perform "One Arab, One Jew, One Stage" this week at Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village and Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo.
"It sounds like a joke, especially as violence is escalating in the Middle East" says Bob Alper, 57, who bills himself as "the only practicing rabbi in the country doing standup -- intentionally." "But the point is to diffuse the tension and to humanize our two groups."
The humor is nonpolitical, says Ahmed Ahmed, a 31-year-old actor who turned to standup after being typecast as cabbies and terrorists.
A chapter is about to close for the Reform movement. After 30 years, Rabbi Allen Freehling is retiring from University Synagogue. As of June 30, Freehling, 70, will turn over the Brentwood synagogue's spiritual leadership to incoming Rabbi Morley Feinstein from Temple Beth El in South Bend, Ind.