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By Alexander Aciman for Tablet Magazine
Bookworm: Jacob M. Appel’s life-affirming elderly suicide novel ‘Millard Salter’s Last Day’ is a highwire act balancing tragedy and comedy
Hidden beneath a perplexingly nondescript book jacket is one of the best novels of 2017, Millard Salter’s Last Day by Jacob M. Appel. Millard Salter is a wry old New Yorker who after 75 mostly satisfying years wakes up on his birthday determined to leave the party fashionably early. With the exception of a single dodo son, Millard’s children are successful, his practice as a shrink is in good shape, and the state of his love life means he has likely contributed to the growing STI epidemic among senior citizens. What better moment to commit suicide?
By ISRAEL21c Staff
Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian environmental group wins European awards for its Program on Water Security and its Water & Energy Nexus project.
During November, two prizes were garnered by EcoPeace Middle East, a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists.
The Geneva Center for Security Policy chose EcoPeace Middle East’s Program on Water Security for this year’s Prize for Innovation in Global Security from among 114 entrees from 50 countries.
Members of the jury included the director-general of the United Nations Office at Geneva; former chief of the Swiss Armed Forces, head of the Division for Security Policy in the Swiss Directorate of Political Affairs and others.
By Suzanne Selengut for Tablet Magazine
Hispanic crypto-Jews use social media and DNA testing to reconnect with their heritage
When retired civil servant Carl Montoya arrives for prayers at Mikveh Israel Synagogue in Philadelphia, he has a routine. He expertly wraps tefillin, dons his Sephardic prayer shawl, and greets his many friends in the pews. The Hebrew prayers can be tricky for him, but he is slowly mastering them all, together with the rest of Jewish ritual life. As a convert to Conservative Judaism and an active member of an Orthodox synagogue, Montoya has definitely broken from his past as a Catholic with deep roots in New Mexico’s historic Hispanic community. But what makes his story truly remarkable is not just that he is a Jew by choice, but that he is a Jew by birth.
From challah covers to yahrzeit candles, what they are used for, how they look and where you can find them.
Jewish practice involves a number of special objects, referred to as ritual objects or Judaica. Many people like to use, or even collect, beautifully crafted objects, honoring the concept of hiddur mitzvah, beautification of the mitzvah.
The objects below are listed in alphabetical order. All can be purchased from most Judaica stores and online. (Prefabricated sukkah s and sukkah-building kits are available for purchase, although many people prefer to build their own.) Most of the objects listed — with the exception of the yad, shofar and Torah scroll, which are generally reserved for synagogue use —are commonly found in Jewish homes.
By Josefin Dolsten for JTA
On Thursday, The New York Times announced that its publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., 66, is stepping down at the end of the year and will be succeeded by his son, 37-year-old Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger.
The familial exchange of power wasn’t unexpected. The younger Sulzberger is the sixth member of the Ochs Sulzberger clan to serve as publisher of the prominent New York newspaper. He is a fifth-generation descendant of Adolph S. Ochs, who bought the newspaper in 1896 as it was facing bankruptcy.
The family’s Jewish history — Adolph Ochs was the child of German Jewish immigrants — has often been the subject of fascination and scrutiny, especially during and after World War II, when the paper was accused of turning a blind eye to atrocities against Jews.
By ELLEN BRAUNSTEIN for The Times of Israel
The latest addition near the Cubs' home celebrates Jews and America's pastime -- and helps special needs adults find meaningful work
Baseball gloves and caricatures of famous ballplayers adorn the walls of Milt’s Extra Innings — no surprise for a deli that’s a short drive from Wrigley Field, the fabled home of the Chicago Cubs.
But look closely and the picture becomes a little more unexpected: The memorabilia on the walls celebrate Jewish greats and not-so-greats like Sandy Koufax, Philadelphia Athletics first baseman Lou Limmer and the catcher and sometimes spy Moe Berg. And there among the collection of bobbleheads, right next to former catcher Brad Ausmus, is Moses — that Moses — gripping a set of tablets.
Genesis 47:28 - 50:26
Rabbi Laura Geller for myjewishlearning.com
Blessing Our Daughters
Why did Jacob not bless his daughters before he died?
Vayehi speaks of blessings, of a grandfather blessing his grandsons, a father blessing his sons. Imagine the scene at the end of the Torah portion: Jacob, whose name has been changed to Israel, calls his 12 sons to his deathbed and blesses each one of them. But his real concern, according to our rabbis, is that his sons will abandon his God after he has died. In the Midrash, his sons respond to this unstated fear with words that have become familiar to us: “Shema Yisrael (Listen, [Dad–whose name is] Israel!): Hashem is our God, only Hashem.” Hearing this, the dying patriarch sighs quietly: “Baruch shem k’vod malchuto I’olam va’ed (Blessed is the glorious Name whose kingdom is forever and ever)!” (Midrash B’reishii Rabbah 98-4).
BY JUDITH TYDOR BAUMEL for myjewishlearning.com
How this Hungarian Jew became a national heroine of Israel.
One of the more poignant songs included in many Holocaust memorial convocations held in Israel, is a short poem, set to music, known popularly as “Eli, Eli.” The four-line poem, actually entitled “Walking to Caesarea,” was written by one of the more mythological figures in contemporary Jewish and Israeli history, Hannah Senesh (Szenes), whose short life and death have propelled her into the pantheon of Zionist history.
Hannah Senesh was born in Budapest on July 17, 1921, to a wealthy, distinguished, and assimilated Hungarian Jewish family. Her father, Bela Senesh (1874-1929), who died when she was a child, had been a well-known writer and dramatist and her mother, Katharine, an elegant homemaker. Having been given a modern Hungarian education, Senesh was exposed to anti-Semitism during her high school years, propelling her to learn more about her Jewish origins. It was at that time that she discovered the Zionist movement, joining a Zionist youth movement and learning Hebrew in preparation for immigration to Palestine.
BY SHIRA HANAU for The Jewish Week
The unlikely journey of an Orthodox rabbi who lost a pulpit and an outreach post but gained a cause.
On the third day of Chanukah last December, Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, an outreach rabbi at Columbia University, received a text message from a transgender student.
“At the moment, it’s taking everything I’ve got to get through finals,” the student wrote, referring to the immediate academic pressure piled atop his struggle to feel accepted in the Jewish community because of his gender identity. “I’m in a hard place at the moment.”
Before the rabbi could respond, the student sent another message: “I’m really appreciating your existence.”
By Dennis J. Freeman for news4usonline.com
'SAMMY DAVIS JR.: I'VE GOTTA BE ME' GIVES US AN INSIGHT LOOK INTO THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF ONE OF BLACK HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST ENTERTAINERS
Sammy Davis Jr. was one of a kind. To be sure, there will not be another quite like him. For over six decades, Davis did thing on his own terms in the entertainment industry. The PBS American Masters produced film Sammy Davis Jr:. I’ve Gotta Be Me, which was recently showcased at the AFI Film Festival (AFI Fest), gives viewers an intimate look at the rarity of the triple threat entertainer that Davis was.
But more than the fact that he could act, dance and sing, Davis was a showman’s showman, according to the film’s depiction of him. His impeccable tap dancing skills was right up there with the famed Nicholas Brothers (Fayard and Harold). Impersonations of stars like Jerry Lewis and Humphrey Bogart became another gateway that helped cultivate his success on stage on the screen.
Trying to eat healthy? Start by opening your Bible to Deuteronomy 8:8, where the Israelites are promised "a good land… a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey."
The ancients might not have known the word "antioxidant," but they were onto something with this list of biblical "super-foods." Explore this gallery to find out exactly how on-target they were.
Are you looking for some great music and videos to share with your children? The same folks who brought free Jewish books into your home, PJ Library, now has PJ Library Radio. You'll find songs, videos, photos, profiles of your favorite artists and the ability to submit your own music.
Jewish Book Council
Today, Brenda Janowitz, author of The Dinner Party, tells us about the book that she couldn't put down.
When asked about my favorite books of all time, books that have moved me, books that I come back to over and over again, it’s a long list. After all, I love reading, and I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. In the second grade, I was dubbed “The Bookworm” by my teacher, Mrs. Pepper, and I can’t say that much has changed for me. I’m now the author of five novels, and I can still always be found with a book in my hand. Or on my desk. Or in my car. In addition to writing, I’m the PopSugar Books Consultant, so now, reading and recommending books is my job.
When someone asks me about my favorite books, there’s one book I always recommend. It’s a book that my best friend gave to me when I was in law school. At the time, I had my head firmly planted inside law books all day long and had very little time for pleasure reading. She asked me if I’d ever read Elinor Lipman before, and when I shook my head no, pressed a copy of The Inn at Lake Devine into my hands.
BY MAX SCHINDLER for JPost.com
Chinese money is increasingly flowing into Israeli hi-tech companies and is likely to overtake the US as the number one source of foreign investment for the Jewish state.
China is becoming an increasingly attractive market for Israeli start-ups seeking to raise funds, and it may soon overtake the US as its number one investor due to political and psychological factors.
“The Chinese don’t look at politics,” said Edouard Cukierman, chairman of Cukierman Investments House and managing partner at Catalyst-CEL. “The Europeans [and Americans] don’t always, in the geopolitical aspect, look favorably at Israel. The Chinese look at what Israeli innovation can do for their business, what’s in their interest.”
BY AMY SARA CLARK for The Jewish Week
Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom ramps up activism in response to growing anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim attacks.
When Sheryl Olitzky and Atiya Aftab started Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, it was before Donald Trump’s travel ban targeted predominantly Muslim countries. It was before hundreds of white supremacists carrying Tiki torches chanted “Jews will not replace us” during a rally in Charlottesville, Va.
It was before more than 100 tombstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, and before reports of mosques being vandalized and thugs grabbing hijabs off of women’s heads had become commonplace.
In Judaism, who or what is God?
There is no single Jewish conception of God. God has been described, defined, and depicted in a variety of ways in different works of Jewish literature and at different historical moments.
God is beyond human comprehension, but that has not stopped Jewish thinkers from attempting to describe God. The Jewish God is referred to with many names and euphemisms, though God’s scriptural names are traditionally only pronounced during religious activities. Belief in one God is one of Judaism’s defining characteristics. Nonetheless, some parts of the Torah seem less monotheistic than others. In addition, there are minor currents of thought within Judaism that play down the importance of belief in God.
By Brian Blum for Israel21c
Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies has one technology to stabilize plant root temps and another to irrigate farms with dew condensation.
Boaz Wachtel is best known in Israel for founding the Green Leaf (Ale Yarok) political party, which ran for Knesset several times on a platform of legalizing cannabis. Green Leaf never passed the voter threshold and Watchtel “retired” from the party in 2006. He has now transformed his passion for green into a different kind of initiative.
Wachtel is the founder of several Israeli agriculture technology companies. His latest – Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies – just went public on the Australian Stock Exchange, raising a modest $5 million.
Jews have been integrated into their various societies in the exile for thousands of years.
Thousands of Jews were more willing to die than convert out of Judaism, and they continued to pray for the redemption.
The idea of Jews working and trying to speed up the bringing of the redemption came and went over the generations.
Major debates occurred concerning the dawning of the messianic age.
This video is but one of many fascinating stories that dot Jewish history over the centuries.
Mosaic is inviting our most loyal readers to join us for a unique intellectual experience.
Michael Doran is one of Mosaic’s—and the country’s—most thoughtful and influential analysts of America’s role in the world, with particular emphasis on the Middle East.
We’re delighted now to announce a new Mosaic lecture series with Dr. Doran that will tackle—for the first time—an even more ambitious topic: how every American president, from Harry Truman to Donald Trump, has understood and shaped America’s strategic relationship with Israel.
Join by Exclusive Webcast
Genesis 44:18 - 47:27
BY RABBI ANDREW BACHMAN for myjewishlearning.com
Achievement And Action
Joseph teaches us to use our material success in the service of those who are needy.
In this week’s Torah portion, we encounter Joseph, at the peak of his ascent in Egypt, long after having been left for dead by his brothers and ransomed by desert traders. Joseph’s purpose, as Judah approaches him, seems to be concerned with wringing repentance from the siblings who abandoned him.
Now a Man
This once-precocious lad was too much for his brothers to bear in their youth; and now, unrecognizable by his brothers, Joseph has come into his own and made himself a man. He is described in rabbinic midrash as wise, learned, as Joseph the Righteous, and indeed the power he has gained over Egypt is deserved. For our generation of readers, Joseph represents a type of materially and morally successful Diaspora Jew.
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Beth El is raising funds for a new playground?
Beth El is getting a new playground! If you would like to donate towards this very worthy project, simply send your donations to Beth El Hebrew Congregation and notate "Playground." If you donate on line, the playground fund is first on the list!
Wednesdays during the school year
@ 7:00 PM
See calendar for exact dates and subjects
For more information about ALIVE! go to alive-inc.org.
Beth El House
For more information go to https://www.bethelhebrew.org/community/beth-el-house
Beth El House enables formerly homeless families to work toward self-sufficiency and confidence.
Please see calendar for baking dates
REELABILITIES FILM FESTIVAL
Sunday, February 25 at 4:00 PM
brotherhood interfaith dinner
Tuesday, February 27 at 6:30 PM
Beth El Lifelong Learning and JCCNV Joint Program
Sunday, March 18 at 2:00 PM
"Shattering Switzerland's Neutrality Myth: The Inside Story of
the Investigation of Swiss Banks and Stolen Jewish Assets
During the Holocaust"
2nd night passover seder
Saturday, March 31, 6:00 PM
There are activities, meetings, services and seminars at Beth El each week, ranging from service opportunities to Jewish learning and education, drawing members and guests from throughout the Washington, D.C. area.