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Ashkenazim and the Sephardic Pronunciation of Hebrew – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Part 1

This piece will focus on how and why some Ashkenazic Jewsboth religious and (later) secularadopted the Sephardic pronunciation of Hebrew because they deemed it superior to the Ashkenazic one.

In the last two decades of the 18th century, concurrent with the rise of the chasidic movement in Eastern Europe, a pietist group was emerging in Germany. It was led by Rabbi Nathan Adler of Frankfurt. Rabbi Nathans followers regarded him as a man of God and a miracle worker. Under his influence they studied Kabbalah, demanded extreme standards of abstinence and self-purification, and conducted separate prayer service according to a special rite based on the prayer book of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria.

R Adler was a very controversial figure in the Frankfurt Jewish community and was eventually excommunicated in 1779 and again in 1789. A booklet entitled Maaseh Tatuim was published anonymously in 1790 (a copy of which I have in my collection) that attacked the actions of Adler and his followers. Some of the chief accusations against Adler included the complaint that they introduced substantial changes in both the text and the conduct of prayers: praying in the Sephardic rite known as Siddur HaAri and (unlike the chasidim) also of using the Sephardic pronunciation in prayer.

The historian Simon Dubnow now doubted the existence of a direct link between the formation of Adlers circle and the emergence of chasidism, and most other scholars who have considered the question agree. Some reconsideration of this position is now required, as the scholarly world has recently revised its view of the spiritual nature of early chasidism and embarked on a new assessment of its religious and social features. The new approach studies the beginning of chasidism in the context of the religious awakening then taking place in the world of kabbalistically oriented pietistic groups active in 18th-century Europe. We are therefore justified in attempting a reassessment of the link between the different manifestations of religious pietism appearing at the same time in Eastern and Central Europe. The Frankfurt pietist circle and the chasidic groups in Eastern Europe were established at approximately the same time: the early 1770s; both trends looked to the same sources for inspiration and sought to create a new ritual expression for new spiritual currents; both used the Hebrew term chasidim; they recognized the power of charismatic leaders and their authority to innovate new practices and there was a striking similarity between the two in prayer rites and other customs as well as in the nature of their deviations from accepted norms in their respective communities. (Elior, Rachel: Rabbi Nathan Adler and the Frankfurt Pietists)

The Jewish Enlightenment Looks to Sepharad as A Positive Model

The literature abounds on the subject of the Reform movement in Germany, using Sephardic Jewry as a positive model of what progressive Jewry ought to look like. Interest in all things Sephardic was all the rage among the Wissenschaft crowd in Western and Central Europe.

Todd Endelman writes in his article, Benjamin Disraeli and the myth of Sephardi superiority:

From the late 18th century, Sephardim throughout Western Europe, as well as Ashkenazim, deployed the myth to promote their own cultural, political and social agendas The pioneers of Wissenschaft des Judentums and the leaders of the Reform movement constructed an image of Sephardi Judaism that stressed its cultural openness, philosophical rationalism, and aesthetic sensibilities in order to criticize what they disliked in their own traditions, i.e., its backwardness, insularity and aversion to secular studies. In France, Austria, Germany, Hungary and the United States, communal and congregational boards erected imposing synagogues of so-called Moorish design, assertive symbols of their break with the unenlightened Ashkenazi past.

Before the end of the century, the myth of sephardi superiority was widely disseminated and available for appropriation by Jews and their enemies alike In their battle against racial myths about Jewish deformities, Jewish anthropologists drew on the Sephardi mystique to create a counter myth of their own: that of the well-bred, aesthetically attractive, physically graceful Sephardi, a model of racial nobility and virtue. In their work, John Efron notes, the Sephardi served as the equivalent of the Jewish Aryanthe physical counterpart to the ignoble Jew of Central and Eastern Europe.

This Ashkenazic sense of inferiority was obviously something new. As Ismar Schorsch put it: There is little doubt that beyond the worldwide influence of Lurianic Kabbalah (of which Adlers group and the chasidim of Eastern Europe are one exampleJ.D.), the religious culture of Spanish Jewry held but slight allurement for a self-sufficient and self-confident Ashkenazi Judaism in its age of spiritual ascendancy.

In fact, until the 16th century, Ashkenazi culture enjoyed higher status than the Sephardi one, (perhaps since Ashkenazi Jews had not converted to any other religion, i.e., had not become Marranos). Around 1500, when the first scholarly Hebrew grammar books were published in Europe, the authors naturally took the language of Jews living in France and Germany, that is Ashkenazi Hebrew, as the basis of their work, and Sephardi was regarded as a curiosity. In the epoch making grammar book (De Rudimentis Hebraicis, 1506) of Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522), Ashkenazi Hebrew was the living language. It was only in the 17th century that European Hebraic scholarsthe so-called Christian Hebraistsdecided in favor of Sephardi reading. It was accepted by the great grammar (1817) of William Gesenius (1786-1842) as well, which formed the basis of modern Hebrew linguistics. Since the 17th century, everyone considered the Sephardi usage to be the scholarly standard and used it exclusively. Jewish scholarship (Wissenschaft) was now committed to Sephardi, and it became the ideal for the initiatives of the Reform movements.

With the advent of emancipation in Central Europe, German-speaking Jews gradually unhinged itself from the house of Ashkenazic Judaism. Inclusion in the body politic sundered a religious union born of common patrimony. Historians have tended to focus on the institutional expression of this rupturethe repudiation of the educational system, the mode of worship, and the Rabbinic leadership intrinsic to Ashkenazic Judaismwith special emphasis on the Western tastes and values that propelled the transformation of all areas of Jewish life With surprising speed, German Jews came to cultivate a lively bias for the religious legacy of Sephardic Jewry forged centuries before on the Iberian Peninsula without which they would have cut loose from Judaism itselfenabled them to redefine their identity in a Jewish mode.

The author is an independent scholar of history and translator of Hebrew text. Please contact [emailprotected] Check out Channeling Jewish History on Facebook for daily updates in your inbox.

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Ashkenazim and the Sephardic Pronunciation of Hebrew - Jewish Link of New Jersey

Sit or Stand When Placing the Tefillin Shel Yad – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Posted By on February 21, 2020

By Rabbi Haim Jachter | February 20, 2020 Yalkut Yosef vs. Divrei Shalom VeEmet

This is a hotly debated issue! Chacham Yitzhak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef (25:71) notes that our custom is for men to place tefillin shel yad while seated. However, Divrei Shalom VeEmet (1:41), an important work authored by Rav Shlomo Toledano that defends the customs of North African Jews, strongly responds that most Sephardic men stand when placing the tefillin shel yad. Moreover, he insists that this is the original custom of all Sephardic Jews!

The Rama (Orach Chaim 25:11) records a debate about this matter. He first cites the Agur who quotes the Zohar, which teaches that men should sit while placing the tefillin shel yad. The Rama then notes that the Ashkenazic practice, though, is to stand while placing tefillin shel yad.

Rav Yosef Karo in the Shulchan Aruch is silent about this matter. One may reasonably infer from this that he believes that one should stand while placing the tefillin shel yad. The bracha on mitzvot is typically recited while standing, following the teaching stated explicitly in the Talmud Yerushalmi. The silence of the Shulchan Aruch indicates that he believes that the bracha for tefillin shel yad is not different than the bracha for other mitzvot and should be recited while standing. This seems to support Rav Toledanos assertion that the original Sephardic custom is to stand while reciting the bracha on tefillin shel yad.

The Ben Ish Chai (Parshat Vayera, year one, number eight) notes that according to straightforward halacha, one should stand while reciting the bracha on tefillin shel yad. However, he notes that according to the Kabbalah one should sit. He writes that although the position of the Ari is not clear about this matter, the practice in his hometown Baghdad is to recite this bracha while sitting. Ben Ish Chai concludes that this is the proper practice.

The Kaf HaChaim (Orach Chaim 25:33) adopts an even stronger pro-sitting stance. He writes that the Ari believes that one should sit when reciting the bracha on tefillin shel yad. He also notes that this is the practice of the venerated Yeshivat Beit El for Mekubalim located in Jerusalem and the ruling of the important Sephardic halacha work Chessed LaAlaphim (25:4).

Thus, with the backing of the Ben Ish Chai and the Kaf HaChaim, Yalkut Yosef seems in a strong position to assert that the Sephardic practice is to sit while reciting this bracha. While normally Yalkut Yosef argues that Halacha trumps Kabbalah in case of conflict, in this case Yalkut Yosef sides in favor of the prevailing Sephardic custom, which follows the Kabbalah.

While Rav Toledano argues that the custom of North African Jews is to recite the bracha on tefillin shel yad standing (since Halacha should trump Kabbalah), the well-accepted Moroccan Siddur Darke Avot writes that it should be recited while sitting! Rav Mordechai Lebhar in his Magen Avot resolves this issue by noting that while the dominant practice among North African Jews is to sit while reciting the bracha, some do stand for this bracha. He adds that some make a compromise and recite the bracha standing but place the tefillin while sitting. Derech Abotenou (the compendium of Moroccan practices written by Dr. Adam Ohayon and Ariel Picillo) adopts this approach as well. The Moroccan members of Shaarei Orah confirm that this is a correct assessment.

Yalkut Yosef writes that a Sephardic Jew should place his tefillin shel yad while sitting even when visiting an Ashkenazic congregation. It would seem that an Ashkenazic Jew who visits a heterogeneous Sephardic congregation such as Congregation Shaarei Orah may stand while placing the tefillin shel yad since some Sephardic Jews follow this practice as well.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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Sit or Stand When Placing the Tefillin Shel Yad - Jewish Link of New Jersey

In World Zionist elections, American Jews who care about Israel get their say – JTA News

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Its election season, and American Jews are turning out in large numbers to vote with Israel on their minds.

No, were not talking about the U.S. presidential election or Israels upcoming Knesset elections, but elections for the World Zionist Congress the only genuinely democratic body in which Jews from around the world get a say in how some $1 billion per year is allocated to projects in Israel and around the world through some of Israels largest national institutions.

When the last World Zionist Congress elections were held five years ago, some 56,000 American Jews voted and 11 parties were in the running.

This time, more than 54,000 votes have been cast since the voting period began on Jan. 21 about double the pace compared to the 2015 election and rising as the March 11 voting deadline approaches. In all, 15 party slates featuring 1,800 candidates are vying for 152 seats from the United States.

American Jews want to have a voice, said Herbert Block, executive director of the American Zionist Movement, which organizes the U.S. elections. The high turnout is a strong sign of the renewed interest in the U.S. Jewish community in Israel and Zionism.

To participate, voters must register online and pay the $7.50 fee ($5 for those 18 to 25).

That money, which covers the cost of running the election and is down from $10 per vote last time, buys you participation in the worlds largest exercise in Jewish democracy. Founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897, the World Zionist Congress is the governing body of the World Zionist Organization and the closest thing there is to a global Jewish parliament.

This is the only elected body for all of world Jewry, said William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The U.S. election to the World Zionist Congress allows a direct and tangible opportunity for American Jews to participate in decision-making for the Jewish community in Israel and worldwide, regardless of their ideology.

As the largest Diaspora Jewish community in the world, American Jews will elect more than a third of the congress total of 525 elected delegates. The balance will be divided between Israeli political parties, who will be allocated seats in proportion to their representation in the March Knesset elections, and Diaspora communities outside the United States. In addition, the congress includes about 200 unelected delegates representing a variety of international Zionist organizations.

Initially founded to promote the establishment of the State of Israel and support Jews who were settling there, the congress today determines funding priorities for the spending of some $1 billion annually. That money is channeled through beneficiary organizations, including the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

These elections will help determine how funding is apportioned to a range of communal priorities, including Jewish education, immigration and absorption, and various social projects in Israel.The congress will meet in Jerusalem in October to determine those priorities.

The World Zionist Organization remains in place to continue the narrative of establishing Jewish sovereignty, returning Jewish exiles to Israel and supporting the Jewish people in their homeland, said Michael Siegel, the board chairman of the Jewish Agency. The WZO is the room where it happens. For me, its a privilege and an honor to be in that room.

In the past, elections were comparatively sleepy affairs (the 56,000 voters last time amounted to less than 1% of American Jews). But this years contest, for the 38thCongress, is shaping up to be the most fiercely contested in memory.

The 15 American slates run the gamut of American Judaism. There are slates that represent Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews. There are slates for Russian Jews, Israeli expats living in the United States and Sephardic Jews. Some oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank and some want to ensure that money keeps flowing to them. (Platforms and candidate lists for all the slates are available at

A big driver of the energy around the elections is the emergence of the anti-occupation Hatikvah slate, which took an aggressive approach to this years contest, partnering with well-known Jewish groups and recruiting some high-profile candidates such as the liberal journalist Peter Beinart.

Were at this turning point where theres a possibility that the Israeli government is going to try and annex parts of the West Bank, or certainly theres continual settlement expansion, said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, which is running as part of the Hatikvah slate. Some of that is paid for by money thats either from American Jews or other Jews around the world, or thats allocated by them.

On the flip side are groups with platforms committed to resisting any territorial concessions to the Palestinians, like Eretz Hakodesh and Herut.

Not one inch, said Karma Feinstein-Cohen, the executive director of World Herut and Herut North America. I want peace but theres no partner, so the best situation now is status quo.

Morton Klein, the longtime president of the Zionist Organization of America, is heading a slate comprised of more than two dozen Jewish organizations that also oppose territorial concessions.

We are putting more effort than we have in all the years Ive been president of the ZOA, Klein said. Unlike other years, were having many events around the country with significant speakers that attract a crowd.

Not all the slates are focused on questions of war and peace.

The Orthodox Israel Coalition-Mizrachi (an ideology based on Torah values as the heart and soul of Zionism) devotes much of its platform to ensuring continued financial support for Orthodox educational institutions in Israel and around the world.

The Reform and Conservative movements (the slates Vote Reform and Mercaz USA, respectively) are focused on working toward full equality for liberal Judaism in Israel.

The Russian Jewish slate, American Forum for Israel, hopes to use pro-Israel activism as a means to ensure greater integration for Russian-American Jews into the mainstream Jewish community.

Kol Yisrael, a slate led by the Israeli American Council and StandWithUs, wants to encourage bold, new Zionist ideas and foster participation from Jews of all backgrounds.

Other slates in the running include Israel Shelanu, Vision: Empowering the Next Generation, Dorshei Torah VTziyon, Ohavei Zion: World Sephardic Zionist Organization, Americans4Israel: Peace, Unity & Security and Shas Olami.

Elections are held online with an option for paper ballots and are open to any American Jewish resident over age 18, as long as theyre not also voting in Israels upcoming Knesset elections. The only other restriction is that voters must ascribe to The Jerusalem Program, which asserts that Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people and calls for ensuring a Jewish and democratic Israel.

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In World Zionist elections, American Jews who care about Israel get their say - JTA News

The Hammer of Gods, Latin grass and $13 Buds – Durango Telegraph

Posted By on February 21, 2020

We came. We saw. But the event kicked our ass. On Saturday, Uncle Steve and I took young Otto to his first-ever NHL game, nearly 40 years after I saw my first NHL game when the L.A. Kings skated against the Colorado Rockies at McNichols Arena in Denver.

The drive sucked (my buddy David Smith lives 5 miles away, but the drive home to his house was nearly two hours). The weather was cold (32 at opening faceoff, 25 by games end). The lines were long for both concessions and bathrooms. Beers cost $13 each (your choice, 24 oz. of Bud or Bud Light!) Two of our top players suffered injuries. And the Avs blew it against the worst team in the Western Conference, allowing the game-winning goal with 55 seconds remaining.

But it was worth it. We made new friends and rekindled old friendships. Sharing the day with my boy at the United States Air Force Academy was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

KSUT Presents opens its busy 2020 season with Grammy-nominated Che Apalache at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Henry Strater Theatre. Che Apalache has quickly become a festival favorite around the country for its fusion of Appalachian old-time and bluegrass with the Latin sounds of Argentina and Mexico. The group was started by North Carolina-born multi-instrumentalist and former Town Mountain fiddler Joe Troop, who moved to Argentina in 2010. There he taught bluegrass and old-time for a living and soon met Pau Barjau (a banjo player from Mexico), Franco Martino (guitarist from Argentina) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin, also from Argentina), who became three of his most dedicated students. They quickly became picking buddies, and in 2013 decided to form a band. The group dropped its debut album, Latin Grass, in 2017 and its follow-up, Rearrange My Heart, two years later. Bla Fleck produced the latter, which melds Uruguayan murga, candombe, flamenco and Spanish Sephardic Jewish music with mountain gospel, old-time string band music and Stanley Brothers-style bluegrass harmonies. They dont shy from revolutionary lyrics, either, with tunes like The Dreamer and The Wall attacking Trumpian politics head-on.

Zoso The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience returns to the Animas City Theatre on Wednesday. Formed in 1995, Zoso is much more than a tribute. Its members touch a golden era in music, capturing the live energy of Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham. Each Zoso member was carefully selected to portray both the appearance and playing styles of their Led Zeppelin counterparts. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for those anxious to swing their own hammer of the gods early.

Magic Beans and special guest Cycles plays the ACT Sunday night. The Boulder-based group led by Scott Hachey (guitar, vocals), Chris Duffy (bass, vocals) and Casey Russell (keyboards, vocals) have burst onto the national scene in a remarkably short period of time. Their combination of funk, soul and rock quickly set them apart from the pack of Colorado jam bands, making their Red Rocks debut last April. Their latest record, Off Leash, dropped last June. Doors open at 7:30.

The Actors Gang Theatre stages a powerful production, The New Colossus, at the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Directed by Academy Award winner Tim Robbins, the play reflects on Americas immigrant history as the ensemble of 12 tells its ancestors stories, struggles and journeys from oppression to freedom. The New Colossus celebrates the courage and character of the refugees who have come to this country over the last 300 years.

It must be unofficial songwriters week up in Telluride. Two legendary folkies Shawn Colvin and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne perform the second of two sold-out nights at 8 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Feb. 20) at the Sheridan Opera House. In whats billed as Sharing Songs and Stories, expect two guitars and a combined eight decades of literate, moving lyrics and music. Tickets still remain, though, for Saturdays Donavon Frankenreiter show, which begins at 9 p.m. His Record Player Tour finds Frankenreiter tapping into more than a dozen full-length records, hundreds of songs and 20 years on the road.

The Four Corners Musical Theatre Co. presents DISASTER! A 70s Disaster Movie Musical at the Farmington Civic Center nightly through Sunday. Straight from Broadway and set in the wildest decade ever (sorry, Millennials), DISASTER! delivers earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and unforgettable 70s hits like Knock on Wood, Hooked on a Feeling, Sky High, I Am Woman and Hot Stuff. Crowds and critics alike have gone wild for this hilarious homage to the era of bell bottoms, platform shoes and the hustle. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Durango Celtic Festival (March 12-14) hosts a whiskey tasting fundraiser at 6 p.m. Friday at the Irish Embassy Pub. The $50 ticket includes six high-end whiskey samplings with appetizers.

San Juan Symphonys Elegance & Intensity season continues with a Beethoven@250 program on Saturday (7:30 p.m. at the Henderson Performance Hall in Farmington) and Sunday (3 p.m. at the Community Concert Hall). The SJS will perform Beethovens monumental Eroica symphony, his Leonore Overture played side-by-side with student musicians, and the world premiere of Something Deeply Hidden, written by David Biedenbender to honor Ludwig on his 250th birthday.

Seasons hosts its annual Burning Down the House fundraiser from 4-9 p.m. Saturday. The annual event benefits Durangos emergency responders through the 100 Club, which provides financial assistance to families of law enforcement and firefighters who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. In February 2008, a fire in the 700 block of Main Avenue destroyed three businesses, including Seasons. One year later, Seasons reopened and owners Karen & Wayne Barger have hosted the anniversary fundraiser every year since 2010. Executive chef Shane Lovelady and his team will maintain the fire theme by creating a special smoky and spicy menu. Space is limited, and reservations can be made over the phone or through Seasons website.

Elsewhere: Robby Overfield strums and sings at Ska Brewing at 5 p.m. tonight; Sunny & the Whiskey Machine return to Durango Craft Spirits at 6 p.m. Friday; the Badly Bent trek over to Mancos Brewing at 7 p.m. Friday; the Smelter Mountain Boys play Ernies 11th Street Station at 7 p.m. Saturday; and the Dolores River Brewery celebrates its 18th anniversary at 7 p.m. Saturday with live music from Middle Ground.

They storm the crease like bumblebees? Email me at chrisa@gobrain

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The Hammer of Gods, Latin grass and $13 Buds - Durango Telegraph

Bring Your Family and ‘Discover West Orange’ – Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Tzvi, Davita and Ella Robinson.

Jonathan Newcombe, Arielle, Max, Haddie.

Lipman family: (l-r) son-in-law Gary; daughter Dalia; daughter Julia; parents Matthew and Daveda; son Eli.

According to Essex Ed, Turtle Back Zoos groundhog, everyone should gear up for an early spring. Theres no better place to start than the warm West Orange Jewish community at its annual Discover West Orange shabbaton. Discover West Orange, including the shabbaton, is a partnership between two of the communitys Modern Orthodox shuls: Congregation Ahavas Achim Bnai Jacob and David (AABJ&D) and Congregation Ohr Torah. This year, members of the community will be on hand to welcome visitors during Shabbat Zachor, March 6-7.

Plans are underway for a banner weekend. Michael Diamond, from Ohr Torah, and Esti Buskin, a recent West Orange homeowner and member of AABJ&D, are shabbaton co-chairs representing their respective synagogues, both located along Pleasant Valley Way, of Pleasant Valley Sunday fame. They are looking forward to greeting visitors and speaking more about the community they love.

Diamond noted, This is my sixth or seventh year running the shabbaton. Whats amazing is that we have so many shabbaton committee members from families who discovered West Orange on a previous shabbaton.

West Orange is still an undiscovered gem for a lot of people on the other side of the Hudson. The shabbaton is an amazing opportunity to ensure more young families from the greater NYC area can experience the warmth of the West Orange community and make the all-important decision as to whether this is where they want to raise their family, he continued.

Buskin agreed, adding, Two years ago, after spending one Shabbat in West Orange, my family and I decided to move here. Fast forward to today and we are part of a close-knit community where we have the ability to impact the lives of everyone around us.

With all that West Orange has to offer in a warm, welcoming Jewish community, within a diverse area nestled in the Watchung Mountains, its no wonder there has been a growth spurt within the township over the past few years. Updated indoor and outdoor sports facilities; entertainment and cultural establishments in and around town, including the renovated Turtle Back Zoo complex; and easy travel and close proximity to New York City are just a sampling of the amenities. The housing market offers a wide range of possibilities, with affordable housing within walking distance to the many shuls around town.

Buskin added, West Orange offers so much for families of all ages. The Lauren Elise Bier Nursery School, housed in the AABJ&D synagogue, has been taking care of and teaching preschool children in West Orange for over 50 years. Starting next year, we are excited to announce that the nursery will offer a new infant program starting at age 6 weeks!

Some of the most recently transplanted families who now call West Orange home discussed their welcome into the community:

Tzvi and Davita Robinson revealed, Having lived on the Upper West Side for years, we craved the opportunity to be a part of a community and West Orange has been a significant improvement! Despite having lived in West Orange for less than six months when we had our first child, Ella Pearl, the West Orange Jewish community stepped up with a meal train that has lasted for months to help us during this wonderful but tiring time. We even received multiple meals from members of the community we had never met but who wanted to help us and welcome us to West Orange.

Arielle and Jonathan Newcombe remarked, What initially drew us to West Orange was the warm and welcoming community. When we visited AABJ&D one Shabbos, we were greeted by a number of young families who were excited to talk with us about the area, the shul and the preschool for our 4 and 1 year olds, now 5 and 2 . The community is very diverse and we love the option of being able to go to Ohr Torah sometimes as well! Arielle grew up in West Orange and said, The town has changed since I moved at age 16, and very much for the better, with young families living all across the town! We belong to AABJ&D and sometimes walk to Ohr Torah, where my parents belong, and we also have friends.

The preschool at AABJ&D was another big draw, according to Arielle. Having our kids classmates and friends just blocks away [allows] them to form wonderful, strong and hopefully long-lasting friendships! The biggest benefit to living as a Jew in West Orange, she said, is hands down, the community. The group of friends we have made, and even our neighbors and fellow shul members who we dont know so well yet, have really come together to support us in a big way since we moved in last January. (And Arons Kosher Supermarket!!!)

Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, religious leader of AABJ&D, remarked that the children who grow up in West Orange are different than other kids. They are conscious of their responsibility to the Jewish community and to mankind. There is a commitment to Torah and mitzvot and just a good overall feeling.

Daveda and Matthew Lipman moved to West Orange from Riverdale, New York, in August of 2018. They were attracted to West Orange by the vibrant Jewish community and exemplary reputation of JKHA/RKYHS. We found that West Orange offers a variety of reasonably priced housing options and several options for daily commuting into Manhattan.

Over the years, they said, we have been told that it is easy to identify a young person who has grown up in West Orange. Their values and middos make them stand out among their peers and we have found this to be very true. Under the leadership of Rabbi Zwickler and Rabbi Sharbat, AABJ&D offers a variety of learning, youth and family program opportunities. In West Orange, we have discovered that the community really values each family; this allows us the opportunity to become involved in shul, school and local community activities.

Rabbi Marc Spivak, spiritual leader of Ohr Torah, commented, West Orange is really growing. Whats special is that we are close-knit as a community; we do a lot of programs that include all the community shuls.

The rabbis from more than a handful of shuls within the boundaries of West Orange, including Rabbi Mendy Kasowitz of Chabad of West Orange and Rabbi Yosef Sharbat, the spiritual leader of the Sephardic minyan at AABJ&D, said that they enjoy the community spirit. They pointed to the fact that they have members who belong to more than one synagogue in town, who eagerly participate in the various activities the different shuls have to offer. While the communitys religious life is geared to make the most observant families feel welcome, including a kosher mikvah and a regularly checked, widely encompassing eruv, West Orange prides itself on being welcoming and non-judgmental, with something for everyone.

Rabbi Sharbat added, We have a number of families where one spouse is Ashkenazic and one is Sephardic, and they want to hold on to both traditions. We offer that inclusiveness.

All corners of West Orange are remodeling and making room for families searching for a vibrant community with a proven history of menschlichkeit. For more highlights about West Orange history, Jewish life and amenities, visit the Discover West Orange website at There you can learn about the communitys New Family Incentive program, which offers $50,000 or more in financial advantages when you move to the township, join a shul and send your child to a local shul nursery school or yeshiva.

Buskin noted, And for those who grew up or live in Bergen County, our malls and stores are open on Sunday!

A typical Friday in West Orange might find residents shopping in town until two hours prior to Shabbat. They can stop at the West Orange Bake Shop for the freshest baked challahs, including their newest recipe, not yet named, plus delicious sweet treats. From there, its easy to head around the corner to Arons for one-stop kosher grocery needs, prepared food and more baked goods.

Freshly-made kosher sushi can be found at several establishments around town, including Arons, which celebrated its first anniversary in the fall of 2019. While running Friday errands, be sure to pick up a copy of The Jewish Link at any of these or other local kosher establishments, including ShopRite, the MetroWest JCC, Judaica shops like the Lubavitch Center and CBL, or any of the West Orange synagogues or local area yeshivas, to enjoy reading before your Shabbat nap.

Buskin concluded, Over the last few years, West Orange has been growing fast as more people realize something special is going on and want to be a part of it. Few if any communities can boast the luxuries we want in a tri-state community with the size and connection that lets everyone be a part of it. In West Orange, there is an opportunity to get involved, to make a difference, and to build something special for the future.

Move over, Essex Ed; while your forecast of an early spring may be questionable, the warmth of the West Orange Jewish community is a sure thing. For questions about the Discover West Orange shabbaton weekend or to reserve your spot, visit http://www.discoverwestorange.comor email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By Sharon Mark Cohen

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Bring Your Family and 'Discover West Orange' - Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut

Hotovely to ‘Post’: Likud-led gov’t will better serve Diaspora Jewry – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Tzipi Hotovely made history last month, when she became Diaspora affairs minister.Not only did she become the first-ever Orthodox woman to serve as a cabinet minister, she also gave the much-maligned ministry a boss devoted to nothing but the Diaspora.In an interview with The Jerusalem Post at her office at the capitals Malha Technological Park, Hotovely revealed that she is seeking to remain in the post after the next government is formed.That is not something to take for granted, because the Diaspora Affairs Ministry has been joined together with other ministries in recent years and has not been given a full-time minister.Hotovely says Post readers around the world should see her appointment as a commitment by her Likud government to serve the Diaspora better. But in order to do that, she says, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud must be allowed to form the next government.To that end, she reached out to Post readers in Israel who have the right to vote in the March 2 election, explaining how the Likud could win, form a government and put an end to the political stalemate.Hotovely indicated that she has learned a lot since angering Diaspora Jews with her November 2017 comment complaining about them never sending their children to fight for their country. She had plenty to say about how Israel and Diaspora Jews can understand each other better.Netanyahu has been saying Gantz cant form a government without the Joint List. How can the Likud?We have maps of all of the cities where our people didnt vote in Likud places in the periphery and the Center. There are 300,000, and we even know them by name. Netanyahu told me our mission is to get the Likuds million voters to bring the 300,000. Thats more than three mandates [of voters] who didnt come last time, out of frustration. There are 64-65 seats on the Right without Yisrael Beytenu, and we have to maximize them.There is a massive gap between Right and Left. Most of the public thinks were correct and backs annexation. The Right has waited 52 years for this moment where we can get international backing for expressing sovereignty.Its also important not to waste votes on Otzma Yehudit. We cannot afford to even have a seat or two thrown in the trash.How do you explain to Diaspora Jews why Netanyahu is campaigning so hard against the formation of a minority government with the Arab Joint List, without looking racist?There is no connection between how we see the Arab sector and the Joint List. We do favor increasing funding for the Arab sector. The Joint List opposes Israel being a Jewish state. We dont rule out Arabs in the government, but we do rule out MK Heba Yazbak, who thinks terrorist Samir Kuntar is a national hero.To go to battle in Gaza, Benny Gantz would need permission from those who oppose Israel, who are anti-Zionists. Gantz has been selling a bluff, saying he can form a government with the Likud but without Bibi. He told the public he can form a liberal unity government, but rejected it when given the chance, because Netanyahu would initially head it.Blue and White is a public relations party. Everyone knows there is no connection between the ideology of MKs Yoaz Hendel and Yael German and between MKs Zvi Hauser and Ofer Shelah. They are tricking the public. Gabi Ashkenazi is hiding his role in the serious Harpaz Affair, and the Likud is pushing for revealing all the tapes in the case. Lapid hid his relationship with [Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon] Mozes.Are you not bothered in any way by your party leader being under three criminal indictments?Clean governance is important to me. Netanyahu was indicted for an unprecedented crime of media bribery. There must be equality under the law. Yair Lapid advanced aggressively closing a paper in Israel, which would have been very undemocratic. Everyone who supported the bill to close down Israel Hayom got positive coverage in Yediot Aharonot. There were many articles portraying Lapid as the next prime minister. Where is the equality? Its a scandal to indict Netanyahu for positive coverage. Its undemocratic. It hurts the basic right of politicians to deal with the press.Before we get to the English-speakers abroad that you are dealing with as Diaspora affairs minister, what would the Likud do to help English-speakers here?Our government has initiated professional workshops and helped with recognizing professional documents to allow doctors and dentists to work here. There was no reason for them to go through such bureaucracy. We are always trying to improve our immigrant absorption. We have had an Anglo campaign, which emphasized that those who come from countries with a two-party system need to understand that the way to power goes through the largest party.What is your primary focus and goal in the ministry?The most important programs regarding the Diaspora in recent years have been Birthright and Masa. I very much appreciate and value these projects.The values that are missing, in my opinion, which we are emphasizing today, are to build a program that connects between Israel and Jewish identity and the Jewish story. This is the innovation we want to undertake.Olami attracts students who come from a totally non-Orthodox background and far from Judaism and offers textual studies programs for Bible and Talmud to learn what it means to be Jewish.One of the goals I have is boosting Jewish identity, and the final objective is preventing assimilation. It is important in my eyes that Jews preserve the Jewish family unit with Jewish partners, and you cannot achieve this without education towards Jewish identity.One of the holiest things in Judaism is the Jewish family. You cannot marry a Jew if you are not connected to the bigger Jewish story and do not want to be part of this chain. You need to choose to marry a Jew.People should also feel proud to be Jewish. Jews are very attracted to tikkun olam and human rights, in the truest way, not just in the American sense. This is part of our religion and our heritage. The ethos of the exodus from Egypt, human freedom, redemption from slavery this is all very Jewish.Human rights discourse is something Jewish. People should know their sources, and be more connected to this issue.One issue pertaining to the Diaspora which has risen of late is that of the Law of Return. In January, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said the Law of Return should be changed because of the high percentage of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who in recent years are not Jewish according to Jewish law but are still eligible for Israeli citizenship.The Law of Return will not soon be changed. It is one of the most important laws of the Jewish people, and if changes were to be made, it would have to be in cooperation with world Jewry.It is really a foundational law, which establishes the idea that the state is a home to all Jews as they are, and for their relatives.These people are part of the fabric of Israeli life. The Nativ army [conversion] program does very good work, and we need more people to enter conversion programs, because they have joined with us in our covenant of fate, they serve in the army, and we should provide for them a conversion path so that they can be part of the Jewish people.We need to find how to make conversion programs more welcoming, and there are enough religious-Zionist rabbis who can do this. We need a conceptual change for how to relate to these people. And at its basis, people who already here and are partners who want to be part of the Jewish people should be allowed to do so.

Hotovely to 'Post': Likud-led gov't will better serve Diaspora Jewry - The Jerusalem Post

To woke Portlanders on Black History Month (pt. 2) – The Portland Mercury

Posted By on February 21, 2020

The views expressed in these submissions are from anonymous, unverified sources and do not necessarily represent those of the Portland Mercury.

(see pt 1)

We Black Americans are Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Jewish, and Atheists. Our first languages are French, Spanish, Arabic, English, Swahili or Portuguese. Or another language entirely.

We may be the descendants of enslaved people. We may be the descendants of people who have *always* been free.

Still, African American or not, Black people in America are all subject to the same racist beliefs and systems that led to the enslavement of *some* of our ancestors in the first place. That is the reality of having visually perceivable African ancestry in the U.S.

It is also true that Black Americans reap the benefits of the sacrifices and contributions made by our African American brethren. African American people have paid an innumerable price for the freedoms and dignity that theyve continuously demanded and that all Americans Black or otherwise enjoy.

I havent always had strong feelings about being called African American. Growing up where I did, I was indifferent to it. There, it was understood even to people outside of the Black community how diverse the African diaspora can be. Nigerians, Haitians, Jamaicans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans first and second-generation Black Americans were prevalent and their distinctive cultures celebrated.

These are my opinions. Ask another Black person and they may believe something different. They may even be angry by what I say. I dont speak for all Black people.

But, as this city matures and attracts all kinds of new people, we must, as a region, resist the urge to shed our cultural identities for simplicitys sake. We should encourage newcomers to retain some degree of connection to their heritage regardless of their race.

This mindset of acceptance will attract the diverse perspectives and innovative thinking our region needs to tackle its most vexing problems.

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To woke Portlanders on Black History Month (pt. 2) - The Portland Mercury

20 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend – The New York Times

Posted By on February 21, 2020

T. REX: THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR at the American Museum of Natural History (through Aug. 9). Everyones favorite 18,000-pound prehistoric killer gets the star treatment in this eye-opening exhibition, which presents the latest scientific research on T. rex and also introduces many other tyrannosaurs, some discovered only in this century in China and Mongolia. T. rex evolved mainly during the Cretaceous period to have keen eyes, spindly arms and massive conical teeth, which packed a punch that has never been matched by any other creature; the dinosaur could even swallow whole bones, as affirmed here by a kid-friendly display of fossilized excrement. The show mixes 66-million-year-old teeth with the latest 3-D prints of dino bones, and also presents new models of T. rex as a baby, a juvenile and a full-grown annihilator. Turns out this most savage beast was covered with believe it! a soft coat of beige or white feathers. (Farago) 212-769-5100,

WORLDS BEYOND EARTH at the American Museum of Natural Historys Hayden Planetarium (ongoing). This new space show is a bit like being thrown out of your own orbit. Surrounded by brilliant colors, the viewer glides through space in all directions, unbound by conventional rules of orientation or vantage point. Dizzying spirals delineate the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. At one point, museumgoers are taken along a journey from the perspective of a comet. In illustrating the far reaches of our solar system, the show draws on data from seven sets of space missions from NASA, Europe and Japan, including the Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and still-active ones like Voyager. With a sense of movement and scale that only a visual presentation could convey, Worlds Beyond Earth makes an unforced point about the dangers of climate change. Another celestial body might have an alien sea that contains more liquid water than all the oceans on Earth, as its narrator, Lupita Nyongo, states. But Earth itself, she adds later, is the only place with the right size, the right location and the right ingredients an easy balance to upset. (Kenigsberg) 212-769-5100,

NOAH DAVIS at David Zwirner (through Feb. 22). The 27 canvases in this exhilarating show the largest yet for this ambitious figurative painter who died in 2015 at the age of 32 showcase a more than promising talent. Davis accomplished one of the most moving, effective fusions of paint handling, narrative and symbolism in recent American art. Ostensibly traditional but actually unbelievably subtle and rich, the paintings make everything count, from the gestures and expressions of their subjects to tiny touches of color. Daviss goal was to show African-Americans in normal scenarios. He did this, and more, creating images that speak to the human condition. (Roberta Smith) 212-727-2070,

MAKING MARVELS: SCIENCE & SPLENDOR AT THE COURTS OF EUROPE at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through March 1). This exhibition brings together nearly 170 elaborately crafted objects, many never seen in the United States: the mesmerizing 41-carat Dresden Green, an ornate silver table decorated with sea nymphs, a clock with Copernicus depicted in gilded brass. Some, like a chariot carrying the wine god Bacchus, are spectacularly inventive Bacchus can raise a toast, roll his eyes and even stick out his tongue. Some, like a charming rhinoceros, a collage created from tortoiseshell, pearls and shells, are merely lovely. The show could have been simply a display of ornamental wealth for the one percent of long ago, an abundance of gold and silver that was meant to be shown off in any way possible. But Making Marvels is about more than that. (James Barron) 212-535-7710,

NICOLAS MOUFFAREGE: RECOGNIZE MY SIGN at the Queens Museum (through Feb. 23). More exceptional than this artists background was his art form: embroidery. As a gay man who openly embraced his sexual identity, Moufarrege happily took up needlepoint after discovering its potential, he said, when repairing an old pair of jeans. Moufarrege was in the vanguard in a sadder way, too. Among a close-knit group of East Village artists he was one of the first to succumb to the AIDS epidemic in the mid-1980s. This rewarding retrospective reveals Moufarreges impressive range, progressing from the small tapestries he made with a lap loom as a young man in Beirut to the scroll-like horizontal panels of his final years in New York, which combine Spider-Man, Santa Claus, and figures from Japanese prints and Picasso paintings. (Lubow) 718-592-9700,

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20 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend - The New York Times

Report: Iran Threatens to Destroy Tomb of Esther and Mordechai – The Jewish Press –

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Photo Credit: Adam Jones / Wikimedia

Iranian authorities allegedly threatened to destroy the historic tomb of Esther and Mordechai in the city of Hamedan, and convert the site to a consular office for Palestine, according to ARAM, the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities in Iran.

The organization said Sunday in a statement posted to the Twitter social networking site, members of the Iranian Basij attempted to raid the historic site yesterday in an act of revenge against the Israelis Palestinian peace plan by President Trump.

There is no way to independently confirm the report, but if it is true, it would not be the first time the site has been threatened.

Past Threats to the TombThe mausoleum of the Biblical Esther, Queen of Xerxes I, and her cousin Mordechai, is the most important Jewish pilgrimage site in Iran. The tomb is visited by numerous people every year as Iran remains home to the largest Middle East Jewish community after Israel.

The Tomb was added by Iran to its National Heritage List on December 9 2008, where it was to be under official government protection and responsibility. But that didnt last long.

In December 2010, a group of Islamists threatened to destroy the tomb claiming there were fears Israel might damage the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, according a report by Irans Mehr news agency.

Muslims beware they have started the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque while their second sacred site in Iran, the Esther and Mordecai tomb is at peace and no Muslims make a sound, the protesters were quoted as saying by the agency at that time. We, the student basijis warn Zionist regime leaders if they assault the Al-Aqsa mosque in any way we will destroy the tomb of these lowly murderers.

Those who threatened to destroy the tomb were Basij members from the Abu Ali Sina University. (The Basij [Persian for mobilization] is a large paramilitary organization acting as the eyes and ears of the Islamic regime in schools, universities, state and private institutions, factories and ethnic tribes throughout the country.)

Less than a year later, in September 2011, Iranian authorities downgraded the status of the shrine, removing an official sign at the mausoleum that declared it to be an official pilgrimage site.

Iran also took the opportunity to officially blame Esther and Mordechai for the massacre of tens of thousands of Iranians even though the Islamic Republic of Iran was far from being formed at that point.

The Iranian FARS news agency said in a statement that Iran had chosen to ignore for the time being the responsibility of Esther and Mordechai for the massacre of 75,000 Iranians, which the Jews celebrate at Purim.

Threats But Probably No Destruction YetAccording to a report by the Iran Christian News Agency dated February 7, The Council for the Exploration of Student Mobilization of Hamadan Universities said in a statement to the United States, Israel and the Arab countries in the region that they will turn the tomb into a Palestinian Consulate if any action is taken.

The statement was made in retaliation for the unveiling of the Palestinian-Israeli peace plan, dubbed the Deal of the Century, described by the Basij as a vicious act of treachery, threatening, You will no longer find the tomb of Esther and Mordecai in the land of Hamadan.

According to the report, Ali Malmir, director-general of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism of Hamadan province told ISNA the statement showed a lack of awareness: This shrine is nationally registered and has no affiliation with the issue of the Palestinian consulate, or anything elsewhere, he said.

The invasion and destruction of sacred and ancient sites of religious minorities in Iran, especially those of Christians and Jews, has a long history, according to Mohabat News, an agency that appears to be affiliated with minority groups.

Part of this destruction is for the benefit of the pursuit of antique objects, but most of the destruction is organized and based on extremist Islamic ideologies, the news outlet said, adding that last month an ancient Armenian cemetery was attacked in Isfahan, with a large number of graves desecrated. No group claimed responsibility.

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Report: Iran Threatens to Destroy Tomb of Esther and Mordechai - The Jewish Press -

Leaving Orthodoxy: personal stories of gender and Hasidism – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on February 21, 2020

Books coverage is supported by a generous donation from Anne Germanacos.

For most of us, our gender is such a given that we may not be able to imagine the experiences of those for whom it is a source of struggle.

Two memoirs from the tail end of 2019, both of which are written by former members of Hasidic communities, help attune all of us to the inner worlds of people whose gender identity is at odds with their assigned sex.

In Becoming Eve, Abby Chava Stein recounts the experiences leading to her becoming the first openly transgender person to emerge from the Hasidic world.

Stein was born in 1991 in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn to a respected rabbinic family descended from the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Hasidic Judaism). As the familys first son, Yisroel Avrom Stein was expected to assume a leading role in the community. And on paper, Steins first two decades looked much as one would expect: by the age of 20, Stein had been ordained as a rabbi, and had become a husband and father.

But Steins interior life was at odds with the fulfillment of these roles.

From her earliest years, Yisroel felt that she was a girl. At the age of 11, she composed a bedtime prayer asking God to allow her to awaken in a girls body.

Steins unhappiness led to acting out in school and depression. It also led to a spiritual search, which would include finding mystical texts that actually spoke to the disconnect she was experiencing.

Eventually, Stein felt that she could no longer be part of her community, and her marriage also came to an end. She moved to Manhattan, was accepted to Columbia University and began living as a woman with a new name.

One thing distinguishing Steins experience from that of most transgender people is that the above occurred without access to the outside world, as most Hasidic communities forbid television, the Internet and secular media (and Stein was doubly isolated because, although born in Brooklyn, she was a native Yiddish speaker not yet fluent in English).

Stein assumed that she was the only person to experience this split between her biological reality and her identity. Finally, already married, she got use of a smartphone and did a search in Hebrew, and found out that she was not alone.

Mimi Lemays What We Will Become also focuses on gender identity, but from the perspective of a parent.

Lemays middle child, Em, identified as a boy at a very early stage, and Lemay and her husband, Joe, struggled with how to respond. As it became clear that the child was suffering emotionally from being pushed to live as a girl, they eventually decided to support Ems gender transition at the age of 4.

Em entered kindergarten with a new name, Jacob, that he had chosen. Lemay records her own initial lack of confidence in the move. Concerned that adopting a male name would make it harder to shift course if Em chose not to live as a male, Lemay attempted to convince Em to take the name Yonah, which doubles as a male and female name. But Em was set on becoming Jacob.

Lemay intersperses this narrative with chapters recollecting her own earlier life. Lemay grew up in Hasidic communities in Israel and the United States, and spent a number of years in a seminary program in the isolated Orthodox community of Gateshead in northern England.

Frustrated by her teachers attitudes towards women and worldly knowledge, and scarred by a broken engagement, Lemay opted to return to the U.S. to attend college. Once outside the insular ultra-Orthodox world, she gradually shed her life of observance.

Both Stein and Lemay contend with two seismic shifts in their lives. One is coming to terms with gender-related issues, and the other is a struggle with Orthodox Judaism. In fact, Stein began a blog titled The Second Transition with the first transition being her exodus from Orthodoxy, and the second being her gender transition.

These two dramatic changes are closely linked, however. Stein writes that to live an authentic life, I would have to leave the community the most egregious offense imaginable. And, writing of herself in the third person, Lemay notes how that world, one of rarefied ultra-Orthodox Judaism, began to collapse in on her when she discovered the price she would have to pay to live an authentic life.

Both Stein and Lemay experience living in the Hasidic world in which members submit themselves both to Jewish law and to their communities expectations as incompatible with expressing their true selves, and, in the case of Lemay, with being the parent she needs to be.

Lemay comes to see leaving Orthodoxy as what created the possibility of responding to her childs needs: My Jacob, my son, could not have survived the world that I escaped. His light would surely have been diminished or worse, put out.

For such communities, conflicts between collective standards and individual needs are inherent challenges, to which they may respond with flexibility, rigidity or sheer denial. And the family is often the arena in which these questions are played out.

When Stein finally comes out as transgender to her father, he informs her of the possibility that he may never speak to her again. Lemays relationship with her mother carries much tension and pain, but also the possibility of evolution.

Although not part of such a community, I am left with the mystery of how I would respond as a parent to a child like Yisroel Stein or Em. Its a question that is impossible to answer, but reading both of these books has opened my heart further.

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Leaving Orthodoxy: personal stories of gender and Hasidism - The Jewish News of Northern California

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