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The German Teens Who Sang and Danced Their Nazi Resistance

Teens - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
By Abby Sher for Jewniverse

In a time of rising authoritarianism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and fear, a group of young people insisting on their freedoms expressed themselves through dance.

Donning checkered shirts, shorts and stockings, and signature edelweiss floral badges, this group of teenagers in Nazi Germany called themselves the Edelweiss Pirates.

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For Transgender Jews, The Ritual Bath Is Fraught With Questions About Inclusion

LGBT - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
by Lauren Markoe for The Jewish Week

Converting to Judaism about a year ago, a transgender man in Washington, D.C., asked his rabbi a pointed question about the last step in the process, which calls for dunking naked in a ritual bath.

Could he locate a transgender man to serve as the required witness for this immersion?

Dozens of Jewish leaders in the region, including Rabbi Laurie Green, got the email asking if they could produce such a witness, who, according to Jewish law, would have to be Jewish.

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Turning Israelis From Voyeurs To Congregants

Traditions - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
Orli Santo for The Jewish Week

Programs to lure Israeli-Americans to synagogue are popping up, but it’s a slow road to shul membership.
Is it really happening? Are Israeli-Americans, the longtime refuseniks of Jewish-American institutional life, finally coming to shul?

The answer today is yes, at least in the physical sense.

For several years now, some synagogues around New York have been independently hiring Israeli directors to develop the kind of Hebrew-centric, culturally relevant programming that would lure Israeli-Americans. Their efforts have been hugely amplified by the work of the juggernaut Israeli-American organization IAC (Israeli American Council), which for the past two years has been conducting its own programs in partnership with synagogues, with the specific aim of getting Israelis to physically walk into the building. It’s safe to say that today most Israeli-American cultural life, from kids’ activities in Hebrew to holiday parties, takes place inside synagogues. So you can lead an Israeli to shul, it seems — but can you make him drink?

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Gad Elbaz just united the City of Jerusalem in the most beautiful way

Jewish Music - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
From israelvideonetwork.com

In a stunning video that includes sweeping footage of the Old City of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, Israeli superstar Gad Elbaz is the voice of the Jewish people, expressing a longing for the day when Jerusalem will no longer be divided but will be a single united city.

Elbaz is joined by well known Israeli musician Meron Williams and the two walk the streets of the Old City, accompanied in song by Israelis of all ages who are eager to embrace the thriving Jewish communities that have begun to flourish all around the Kotel area.

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4 Things I’m Determined To Do This Summer With Or Without My Kids

Family - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
Maurie Backman for Kveller


If there’s one thing I love about living out in suburbia, it’s that summertime offers a host of family-friendly activities that are easily accessible from my very own driveway. And so every summer, I compile a list (usually just in my head) of things I want to do before Labor Day rolls around (because as we all know, no matter how old we are, summer just seems to fly by).

But here’s the problem: While these activities always seem like fun in theory, they tend to be less so in practice. And a big reason has to do with the kids—well, my kids. And not so much my toddler, as my twin infant daughters, who are a handful (though my toddler can be quite demanding in his own right).

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Raised with miracle of parents’ survival, author writes magical Holocaust tales

Jewish Books - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
With the X-Men and vampires as her influences, Helen Maryles Shankman brings ‘fabulist’ realism to Wlodawa, Poland
By Matt Lebovic or The Times of Israel
   
It took a story about a partisan with a knife jumping out of a tree to convince a young Helen Maryles Shankman that “Jews fought back” during the Holocaust.

As she grew up in Chicago during the 1960s and 70s, Shankman’s survivor parents — the late Brenda and Barry Maryles — often told her “vivid stories” about wartime Poland.

Almost all of her parents’ friends had lived through the Shoah, and the author recalls thinking of them, “they didn’t know how to be American. My parents were not like the people in ‘Dick & Jane,’” she told The Times of Israel in an interview.

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Why We’ll Never Forget What This Irish Catholic Woman Said to Us About Being Jewish

Interfaith - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
Jennifer Weiss and Lauren Franklin for Kveller
We met 30 years ago at the University of Michigan as freshman—two young women from different parts of the country, but with similar enough families, worlds, and lifestyles that it was as if we had grown up on the same block. We had a friend in common, but soon gravitated to each other when we mutually came up with the idea of finding a Friday night service to attend.

We knew that when you come to a “foreign” place (in our case, college), it’s important to find your grounding—and a synagogue seemed to fit that bill. The fact that we knew there would be wine and cute boys only influenced our decision slightly.

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Patrilineal Descent

Holidays - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
The Reform movement's watershed resolution said you do not need a Jewish mother to be considered a member of the Tribe.
By Dana Evan Kaplan

On March 15, 1983, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Reform movement’s body of rabbis, passed a resolution prepared by a committee on patrilineal descent entitled “The Status of Children of Mixed Marriages.” The CCAR resolution stated that “we face, today, an unprecedented situation due to the changed conditions in which decisions concerning the status of the child of a mixed marriage are to be made.” Contrary to nearly 2,000 years of tradition, the resolution accepted the Jewish identity of children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers under certain circumstances.

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How Did Yiddish Words Make Their Way into German?

Feature Article - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
Philologos for Mosaic

A centuries-old tale of complicated, ambivalent, and, sometimes, covertly intimate relationships between a largely anti-Semitic Christian society and its Jewish minority.
Mysteriously, a newly published book was delivered to me by courier mail the other day with no indication of who sent it. Written by the German linguist Christoph Gutknecht, it’s entitled Gauner, Grosskotz, Kesse Lola: Deutsch-Jiddische Wortgeschichten (“Gauner, Grosskotz, Kesse Lola: German-Yiddish Word Histories”), and in it are over 60 entertaining mini-essays by the author about West European Yiddish-derived words in the German language and the complex stories of what happened to them there. (West European Yiddish, substantially different from the more familiar East European dialects that developed from it, was once spoken by Jews in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and elsewhere.)

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Song Of Life

Teens - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
Lauren Ishay for Fresh Ink for Teens

Childhood came, only to so quickly disappear
Time rolled unremittingly on, with each passing year
But my time of youth, always remembered oh so well
And in the remembering there is a story to tell

My days of being young were mostly happy and carefree
Blissfully ignorant of life, were my friends and me
From chasing butterflies and picking flowers at 3 years old
To a trip to the doctor discovering my first cold

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Is Anti-Zionism on Campus a Passing Nuisance, or a Fundamental Threat?

Students - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
Suzanne Garment for Mosaic

The answer might come down to how well America can resist the influence of European-style anti-Semitism.
“The subject is gloomy, but the food will be good—and the music spectacular.”

Thus, in late January, spoke Alvin Rosenfeld, a professor at Indiana University and director of its Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism. He was describing a four-day international scholars’ conference scheduled for late spring on the university’s Bloomington campus. In the event, the conference did not disappoint in its food, its music—or its gloom, which rose like a miasma from the days-long rehearsals of the varied and abundant forms of anti-Semitism, particularly in the form of anti-Zionism, in today’s world.

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What happened when an Orthodox Jewish congregation went to a gay bar to mourn Orlando

LGBT - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
By Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld for The Washington Post

When our synagogue heard about the horrific tragedy that took place at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it was at the same time that we were celebrating our festival of Shavuot, which celebrates God’s giving of the Torah.

As Orthodox Jews, we don’t travel or use the Internet on the Sabbath or on holidays, such as Shavuot. But on Sunday night, as we heard the news, I announced from the pulpit that as soon as the holiday ended at 9:17 p.m. Monday, we would travel from our synagogue in Northwest Washington to a gay bar as an act of solidarity.

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Learning Doesn't Have to Stop Just Because It's Summer

Kids - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
Social Studies for Kids
Find lots of Jewish facts on many different topics that you and your child can learn together. These include the following and more.


The first monotheistic (one God) religion, Judaism traces its roots back thousands of years. Find out more about this ancient religion, which is still thriving today.

Major Jewish Holidays
Find out more about the major holidays of this religion, including Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, and Purim.

The Jewish Calendar
The Jewish Calendar is based on the movements of Earth's Moon. Find out more about this ancient and long-running calendar.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
One of modern Judaism's most precious possessions is the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of more than 30,000 fragments that together make up nearly 1,000 documents written by Jewish people nearly 2,000 years ago.

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Maybe We Should Give Up On Tolerance…

Traditions - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
By Rabbi Alana Suskin for MyJewishLearning.com    

A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine — another rabbi, who is a friend of my current havruta [Jewish study partner] — was sitting with us at lunch, and astonishedly mused, “How is it possible that you two have been havrutas for over a decade?”

He shook his head at us, since he considers me the leftist of lefties, and considers my havruta, as he often says, “to the right of Attila the Hun!”

I just laughed at him.

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Bob Dylan’s forgotten pro-Israel song, revisited

Jewish Music - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
By Gabe Friedman for JTA
“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” Bob Dylan sang in 1964’s “My Back Pages.”

Reverse-aging or no, the legendary Jewish folk singer turns 75 on Tuesday.

While Dylan’s Jewishness has been examined and reexamined over the years, relatively little attention has been paid to his 1983 song “Neighborhood Bully” — a rare declaration of full-throated Israel support by a mainstream American rocker.

The lyrics (posted in full here) equate Israel with an “exiled man,” who is unjustly labeled a bully for fending off constant attacks by his neighbors.

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Moroccan Chickpea and Lemon Couscous Soup

Jewish Cooking - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
From ToriAvey.com

Lick Your Plate: A Lip Smackin’ Book for Every Home Cook was written by two sisters, Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat. Their mission was to create a cookbook that would serve as a kitchen sidekick. I first learned about the book from their mother, who I’m working with on the Einstein Legacy Project. More on that project in a future post… it’s a truly exciting venture that I’m thrilled to be a part of. I started exploring Julie and Lisa’s cooking website, Bite Me More (gotta love the cheeky title!), and was so impressed by their sense of humor and their laid back approach to cooking. Julie and Lisa are ladies that would be welcome in any kitchen; they do a terrific job of presenting simple recipes in an easy, understandable way. The pages of Lick Your Plate are filled with recipes for everyone, no matter your level of cooking expertise. The ingredients can likely be found in your refrigerator and pantry at any given time and no special equipment is required. I also love that their recipes delve into all types of world cuisine. In one book we’re introduced to a colorful variety of “lip smackin'” dishes, from Easy Teriyaki Cocktail Meatballs to Fresh Tomato & Whipped Feta Polenta Crisps (yum!) to Baja Fish Taco Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing. There is no lack of variety here!

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13 Weeknight Dinners You Can Prep in 30 Minutes or Less

Family - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
By Shannon Sarna for Kveller

Dinner on weeknights can just be the worst, right?

Some people spend their Sundays prepping meals for the week, and while that might work on some weekends (for some people), other people want to enjoy their time away from the hectic-ness of the week.

But you can still throw together a family-friendly dinner with just a little menu planning and less than 30 minutes of prep time, even on the busiest nights. And I’m not talking about opening a box of pasta and dousing it in butter and parmesan, although sometimes that’s fine, too.

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As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner

Jewish Books - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
Review by Philip K. Jason for Jewish Book Council

There is no shortage of books focused on Jewish family life, but Elizabeth Poliner’s stands apart as an instant classic. It is an inspired literary exploration of the tension between personal and family identity, between masculine and feminine models of achievement, between tradition as habit and tradition as choice, between love that gives and love that demands.

Though the novel examines an extended family and its world over three generations, its point of focus is the summer of 1948, immediately following modern Israel’s birth and, for the Leibritsky family, the trauma of its youngest member’s accidental death. Spatially and culturally, its main arena is a place informally named Bagel Beach: the family vacation area on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound that constitutes a summer Jewish beachfront neighborhood in the midst of other ethnic enclaves.

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Defining the Modern Orthodox Approach to Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
Revisiting Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s seminal 1964 essay “Confrontation,” which sets out parameters for interfaith dialogue—forbidding some kinds and encouraging others—Meir Soloveichik investigates its underlying theological argument that Jews are destined to constant tension between their identity as “a people apart” and their obligation to engage with the surrounding world. He then discusses the essay’s impact and its implications in light of American notions of religious freedom. (Interview by Eric Cohen; audio, about 1 hour.)

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A Second Chance for a Jewish Education

Holidays - Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
By Olivia Gordon for Tablet Magazine

As a child, I hated the classes at my synagogue’s cheder. Now I send my own children there—and I’m falling in love with Sunday school for the first time.
When I first walked my children into Sunday classes at the synagogue in Oxford, England, it felt like coming home after a long journey. The building had changed in the 22 years I’d been away, but the plastic curtains and utilitarian seats in the bleak, post-modern shul were still there.

I never thought I’d come back to Sunday school. Growing up, I hated cheder. Really, truly hated it. One of my clearest memories of childhood is of sitting in the classroom at the Oxford synagogue, aged 7, gazing at that plastic curtain, which separated my small group from the children a year above. “It’s 1986, and I am bored,” I imprinted on my mind, telling myself to remember this uninteresting moment for the rest of my life.

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