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Sephardic Jewry |

Posted By on July 13, 2018

From the recent ruling in Spain allowing the return of Jews expelled in 1492 to differences in pronunciation and changes to tradition over time, below is a selection of the Institute's articles and books on Sephardic Jewry.

Spanish Passports for Sephardic Jews? a Blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel -The Spanish government has indicated that it will offer Spanish passports to individuals of Spanish Jewish/Sephardic heritage. The ostensible motive for this gesture is the desire to redress a historic sin: Spains expulsion of Jews in 1492. Now, more than five centuries after this nefarious expulsion, Spain wishes to reach out to descendants of those Jewish victims and welcome them back home in Spain. Read more

A Sephardic Passover Haggadah -Ktav Publishing House has just issued a limited printing of Rabbi Marc D. Angel's popular Sephardic Haggadah. Originally published in 1988, it includes the Hebrew text of the Haggadah with Rabbi Angel's English translation, as well as an ongoing selection of commentaries drawn from a wide range of Sephardic sages. Read more

Sephardic Rabbis in Ashkenazic Garb!!! -"Does it bother anyone else that Sephardim have begun wearing the funeral dress of Ashkenazim- the blackhats. suits, and other "garb" of Eastern European Jews ? Even Rabbi X, a well-respected Sephardi Hakham, has succumbed to this garbage. I fear for the future of Sephardi customs and traditions !!" Read more

Is "Sephardic" a Name Brand? -We're addicted to branding. By we, I mean Americans, but it's probably true of most people, and for good reason. Seeking out name brands may be a simple and effective survival tactic. Pick a good brand (olive oil, car, university) and you feel confident you will live and be well, otherwise, who knows? Conversely, we don't just buy brand names, but sell them. For success in business, or in the arts, college graduates were told at a recent convocation, you must brand yourself, figure out and highlight the one key brandable thing you have to offer, and name it in a way that sparks recognition and interest. Read more

Models of Sephardic Rabbinic Leadership -In the early 1970s, shortly after I had begun my rabbinical service to Congregation Shearith Israel, the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City, I attended a shiur, a lecture, at Yeshiva University given by the recently elected Rishon leZion, Rabbi Ovadya Yosef. As a young Sephardic rabbi, I was eager to hear the words of this prominent and erudite Sephardic rabbinic leader. The message of that shiur made a great impression on me and has remained with me to this day. Read more

1939 in the Sephardic World - The Nazi menace decimated European Jewry, and its tentacles of hatred and violence reached even to North Africa and the Middle East. Jews of all backgrounds were victimized, and many stories about murdered family members remain as the heritage of Jews throughout the world. In our family-whose roots were in the Sephardic community of the Island of Rhodes-we also have a story. Read more

Saf, Taf, Loshon HaKodesh, and Pronunciation of the Prayer for the State of Israel, Guest Blog By Alan Krinsky -In my Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist synagogue, when we sing and recite Avinu ShebaShamayim, the prayer for the State of Israel, we pronounce the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet as taf, and not saf, despite the fact that the Rabbi and most members of the congregation are of Ashkenazi descent.[1] In truth, the synagogue has no set pronunciation rulesthe Ashkenazim are more or less split on taf and saf in their davening and our regular baal koreh uses tafbut lately I have been wondering about the proper pronunciation of the Avinu ShebaShamayim prayer for otherwise saf-saying Ashkenazi Jews. Read more

What All Jews Can Learn From Great Sephardic Rabbis of Recent Centuries -To limit Sephardic tradition to those of Sephardic ancestry is like limiting Shakespeare to Englishmen. While persons born in the British Isles may rightfully take pride in their illustrious countryman, his genius is relevant to all people, and is not contingent upon his place of birth. So too, with regard to central values and religious orientations found in the writings of Sephardic rabbis of recent centuries: their import extends beyond Sephardim by birth, to all Jews attempting to chart a course for a personal and communal life in which authentic Judaism and humanity go hand in hand. Read more

Conversations, Issue 13: Insights from the Sephardic Experience -The spring 2012 issue of Conversations features articles relating to Sephardic approaches to Jewish law; kabbala; Judeo-Spanish tradition; Sephardic identity and more. It also includes an article on late medieval Italian Jewry, and an essay dealing with the Benei Israel of India. Read more

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Sephardic Jewry |

Who Are Ashkenazi Jews? | My Jewish Learning

Posted By on July 13, 2018

Ashkenazi Jews are the Jewish ethnic identity most readily recognized by North Americans the culture of matzah balls, black-hatted Hasidim and Yiddish. This ethnicity originated in medieval Germany. Although strictly speaking, Ashkenazim refers to Jews of Germany, the term has come to refer more broadly to Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. Jews first reached the interior of Europe by following trade routes along waterways during the eighth and ninth centuries.

READ: Ashkenazic Cuisine

Eventually, the vast majority of Ashkenazi Jewsrelocated to the Polish Commonwealth (todays Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus), where princes welcomed their skilled and educated workforce. The small preexistent Polish Jewish communitys customs were displaced by the Ashkenazic prayer order, customs, and Yiddish language.

Jewish life and learning thrived in northeastern Europe. The yeshiva culture of Poland, Russia, and Lithuania produced a constant stream of new talmudic scholarship. In 18th-century Germany, the Haskalah movement advocated for modernization, introducing the modern denominations and institutions of secular Jewish culture.

Although the first American Jews were Sephardic, today Ashkenazim are the most populous ethnic group in North America. The modern religious denominations developed in Ashkenazic countries, and therefore most North American synagogues use the Ashkenazic liturgy.

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Who Are Ashkenazi Jews? | My Jewish Learning

That the World May Know | He Went To Synagogue

Posted By on July 12, 2018

He Went To The Synagogue

The New Testament records more than 10 occasions on which the ministry of Jesus took place in the synagogue. The Gospels record that "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues." Yet the Christian reader rarely ponders the significance of such an apparently common structure so central in Jesus' ministry.The synagogue provided a ready platform for the teaching of Jesus and later the apostle Paul. In that way, it proved to be a significant part of God's preparing exactly the right cultural practices for his Son's ministry. But more than that, Jesus, his disciples, and Paul (as well as most early Jewish followers of Jesus) went to the synagogue to worship. The synagogue was not simply a place to share God's Word, but also an important part of the Jewish people's relationship to God. It might surprise modern Christians to discover that many church practices are based on synagogue customs that Jesus followed. Understanding the synagogue and its place in Jesus' life and teaching is an important step in hearing his message in the cultural context in which God placed it.


There are many theories of the origin of a gathering place called synagogue. The Greek word means "assembly" and is used in place of the Hebrew word meaning "congregation" or "community of Israel." Originally, it probably referred to the gathered people and over time came to refer to the place of assembly as well. It is never used to refer to the Temple, which was God's dwelling place and not primarily a place of assembly for the community. No one but Levites and priests could enter the Temple. All members of a Jewish community could participate in the community life of the synagogue.

Some Jewish traditions hold that there were places of assembly for the study of Torah during the time of the Temple of Solomon. At the most, the Old Testament indicates that the practice of prayer, with or without sacrifice, which was to be so central to the synagogue, had already begun (Ps. 116:17; Isa. 1:11,15; 1 Sam. 1:10ff).

The beginning of the assembly of people for the purpose of study and prayer (the Jewish way of describing worship) appears to be the Babylonian exile after the destruction of the first Temple. Jewish scholars believe Ezekiel's reassuring promise that God would provide a "sanctuary" (11:16) for his people is a reference to the small groups that gathered in their homes during the exile to recall God's covenant, his law, and especially the redemptive promises of the prophets. It is likely that these godly people, having learned a hard lesson about the importance of obedience to God, assembled regularly to study his Torah to prevent the sins of their ancestors from being repeated. A group of experts in the law and its interpretation taught and studied in small associations at humble locations called "houses of study." These places of study, and the reflection on the need to be obedient, are the roots of the synagogue, a sanctuary to inspire obedience to God.

In spite of the later emphasis on prayer and study in the place of assembly, it is likely the main focus of the early gatherings of Jewish people was simply the need to maintain their identity as a people living in a foreign and pagan country. That the synagogue began as the center of the Jewish social life is confirmed by the fact that it was the community center in the first century as well. The synagogue was school, meeting place, courtroom, and place of prayer. In some towns, the synagogue may even have provided lodging for travelers. It was the place where small groups of Jewish students assembled for Scripture reading and discussion of the Torah and oral tradition. This meant that worship and study, friendship and community celebration, and even the governing of the community were all done by the same people in the same place.

It appears that the early church patterned itself after the synagogue and continued the same practice of living and worshiping together as a community, often in private homes (Acts 2:42?47). The modern "assembly" of Jesus' followers would do well to remember that the roots of the church are in a community living and worshiping together. Worship (prayer) was a natural extension of the life of the community.


By the first century, a synagogue was found in most of the towns and villages of Galilee. The Gospels specifically mention those of Nazareth (Matt.13:54) and Capernaum (Mark 1:21). Archaeological evidence is scant for those early synagogues, though later ones left much more substantial remains. Typically, they were built on the highest point in town or on a raised platform. As long as the Temple stood in Jerusalem, synagogues apparently did not face Jerusalem.

In some cases, the front facade had three doors. Inside there were benches on three sides of the room. There was a small platform where the speakers or readers would stand, and it is possible that a small menorah (a seven-branched candlestick), like the one in the Temple, stood on that platform. The floor was usually dirt or flagstones, and common people probably sat on mats on the floor, while the important people sat on the stone benches (Matt. 23:6). In later synagogues, elaborate mosaics with a variety of designs covered the floor (none exist from Jesus' time).

There was a seat for the reader of the Torah called the Moses Seat (or the Seat of Honor), because the Torah recorded the words of Moses so the reader was taking Moses place (Matt. 23:2). The Torah scrolls and the writings of the prophets were either kept in a portable chest and brought to the synagogue for worship or were kept in the Synagogue itself in a permanent Torah cabinet (called the holy ark). Outside was a Mikveh (ritual bath) for the symbolic cleansing required for entrance into the synagogue.

Local elders governed the synagogue, a kind of democracy. While all adult members of the community could belong to the synagogue, only adult males age 13 or older could be elders. A local caretaker (unfortunately sometimes called "ruler" in the English Bible), called the hazzan, was responsible for maintaining the building and organizing the prayer services (Mark 5:22, 35?36, 38; Luke 8:41-49, 13:14). The hazzan was sometimes the teacher of the synagogue school, especially in smaller villages. He would announce the coming Sabbath with blasts on the shofar (ram's horn). Although the hazzan was in charge of worship services, the prayer leader, readers, and even the one who delivered the short sermon could be any adult member of the community. All were recognized as being able to share the meaning of God's Word as God had taught them in their daily walk with him. In this way, the community encouraged even its youngest members to be active participants in its religious life. (Jesus' encounter with the wise teachers in the Temple courts was unusual not so much because of his age, but because of the wise questions he asked, see Luke 2:41-47.) The hazzan also cared for the Torah scrolls and other sacred writings and brought them out at the appropriate times (Luke 4:1-20). Priests and Levites were welcome to participate in synagogue life, including worship, but they had no special role except that only priests could offer the blessing of Aaron from the Torah (Num. 6:24?27) at the end of the service.


While the synagogue building functioned as a community center, school, court, and place of study during the week, on the Sabbath it served as the place where the assembly met for prayer (1). When the first three stars could be seen on Friday evening, the hazzan blew the shofar to announce that the Sabbath had begun. The people gathered at twilight to eat the Sabbath meal in their homes. All the food was already prepared because no work was permitted during this time in most traditions.

The following morning, the community gathered in the synagogue building. The service began with several blessings offered to God. The congregation recited the Shema: "Hear, 0 Israel: The LORD our God, the Lord is one"(Deut. 6:4). The Torah scrolls would be brought out by the hazzan and would be read in several portions, sometimes as many as seven. Different people were scheduled to read a portion each week. The readings were determined according to a set schedule, so the reader would have no choice of the passage read.

Following the Torah portion, a section from the prophets (called the Haphtarah) would be read by the same or another reader. After all readings, a short sermon would be offered, often by the reader of the Torah or Haftarah. Any adult member of the community was eligible to speak the sermon called the derashah. The sermon was frequently quite short (Jesus spoke only a few words, Luke 4:21). The service ended with a benediction using the Aaronic blessing found in the Torah (Num. 6:24-26), if a priest was present to offer it.

Jesus spent much time in synagogues (Matt. 4:23). He taught in them (Matt. 13:54), healed in them (Luke 4:33-35; Mark 3:1-5), and debated the interpretation of Torah in them (John 6:28-59). Clearly, he belonged to the community of the synagogue, because when he visited Nazareth, he was scheduled to read the Haphtarah (Luke 4:16-30) and may have read the Torah as well as he concludes with a provocative derashah. This is a remarkable example of God's preparation, as the passage Jesus read was exactly the passage that he used to explain his ministry.

The early Christians continued to attend synagogues, though with a new interpretation of the Torah, now that Jesus had been revealed as Messiah (Acts 13:14).

The new community of Jesus was born out of the synagogue. Believers were to become assemblies, not single individuals seeking God alone. We address God as "our Father" because we are his assembly. We are one body because we are made that way through Jesus (1 Cor. 12:12-13). In our fractured, broken world, with all its self-preoccupation, the model of the synagogue, the picture of the community of God, presents an alluring message. We would do well to understand the synagogue of Galilee.


Boys and girls went to school in Galilee though boys continued till they were 15 if they displayed unusual ability while the girls were married by that time. Students probably attended school in the synagogue and were taught by the hazzan or a local Torah Teacher. Study began at age five or six in elementary school, called bet sefer. The subject was the Torah and the method was memorization. Since the learning of the community was passed orally, memorization of tradition and God's Word were essential.

At first students studied only the Torah. Later they began to study the more complicated oral interpretations of the Torah. Question-and-answer sessions between teacher and student were added to the memorization drills. The more gifted students might continue after age 12 or 13 in beth midrash (meaning "house of study," or secondary school). Here began the more intense process of understanding and applying the Torah and oral tradition to specific situations. The truly gifted would leave home to study with a famous rabbi to "become like him" as a talmid (disciple). Although their discussion and study might be held in the synagogue, these disciples would travel with their rabbi, learning the wisdom of Torah and oral tradition applied to the daily situations they faced.

By the time a person was an adult, he knew most of the Scriptures by heart. If someone recited a passage, the audience would know whether it was quoted accurately or not. Jesus, in keeping with his culture, would simply begin with "It is written ..." knowing his audience would recognize an accurate quote.

The Mishnah (the written record of the oral traditions of Jesus' time and after) recorded that the gifted student began study of the written Torah at age five, studied oral traditions at age 12, became a religious adult at 13, studied the application of Torah and tradition at 15, learned a trade at 20, and entered his full ability at 30. Although this was written after Jesus, it represents the practice of his time. It is significant that he came to Jerusalem at age 12, already wise; then he learned a trade from His father until his ministry began at age 30. His life seemed to follow the education practices of his people quite closely. He surely attended the local school of Nazareth and learned from great rabbis as well. Being addressed as "Rabbi" certainly indicated someone who had learned from a rabbi. He certainly selected a group of students who followed him, learning as they went. And everywhere his audience had the knowledge of the Bible on which Jesus so often based his teaching.


(1) Christians describe the church activity of formal interaction with God as "worship." Jews describe the same activity in synagogues (or, in Bible times, in the Temple) as "prayer." In Jesus' parable, the tax collector and Pharisee go to the Temple to pray (Luke 18:10). Their activity certainly included prayer, for going to the Temple to pray meant going at the time of worship and sacrifice. The Temple is called the House of Prayer (Isa. 56:7; Luke 19:46), meaning "the place of worship."

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That the World May Know | He Went To Synagogue

Torah versus Talmud?: Chumash –

Posted By on July 11, 2018

The first thing to know is that the Torah consists of two parts: The Written Torah, and the Oral Torah.

The Written Torah totals 24 books, including the Five Books of Moses and the prophetic writings e.g. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Psalms, Proverbs, etc.

The Five Books of Moses comprised of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy was written down by Moses in 1273 BCE, and includes all 613 commandments (mitzvahs).

Perhaps part of the reason for your confusion is that the Five Books of Moses has many names. It is referred to as the Bible (meaning "book" in Greek), the Chumash (Hebrew for "fifth"), the Pentateuch (Greek for "five scrolls"), or generically "Torah" Hebrew for "instructions," because its purpose is to instruct. (Jews consider it insulting to call it the Old Testament, as this implies a New Testament, which Jews reject.)

But whatever the name, it refers to the best-selling, longest-running book in the history of mankind.

So what is the Oral Torah? Its name derives from the fact that it was not allowed to be formally written down but had to be taught orally. It contains the explanations of the Written Torah. One cannot be understood without the other.

In 190 CE, persecution and exile of the Jewish people threatened the proper transmission of the Oral Torah. Therefore, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi compiled written notes on the Oral Torah called the "Mishnah" (Hebrew for "teaching"). Rabbi Yehudah arranged the Mishnah into six sections: Laws of Agriculture, Festivals, Damages, Marriage, Purity, and Offerings. Rabbi Yehudah wrote the Mishnah in code form, so that students would still require the explanation of a rabbi since this information was meant to remain oral.

In 500 CE, the Jewish people again suffered an uprooting of their communities, and two Babylonian rabbis Rav Ashi and Ravina compiled a 60-volume record of rabbinic discussions on the Mishnah, called the "Gemara." Together, the Mishnah and Gemara comprise what is commonly called the "Talmud."

The Oral Torah also includes the Midrash, an explanation of the Written Torah, comprising both ethical and legal components. Much of this material is also contained in the Talmud.

The Oral Torah also includes the works of Kabbalah, a tradition of mystical secrets of the metaphysical universe received by Moses at Mount Sinai. It was first published as "The Zohar" by R' Shimon bar Yochai (170 CE), and elucidated by the Arizal (1572 CE).

Torah is not to be regarded, however, as an academic field of study. It is meant to be applied to all aspects of our everyday life speech, food, prayer, etc. Over the centuries great rabbis have compiled summaries of practical law from the Talmud. Landmark works include: "Mishneh Torah" by Maimonides (12th century Egypt); "Shulchan Aruch" by Rabbi Yosef Karo (16th century Israel); "Mishnah Berurah" by the Chafetz Chaim (20th century Poland).

I hope this helps solve your confusion. Now only one thing remains to go out and learn the entire Torah!

Due to limited resources, the Ask the Rabbi service is intended for Jews of little background withnowhere else to turn. People with questions in Jewish law should consult their local rabbi.Note that this is not a homework service!

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Torah versus Talmud?: Chumash -

The 5 Most Common Ashkenazi Genetic Diseases

Posted By on July 11, 2018

According to current estimates, as many as one in three Ashkenazi Jews, those with Eastern European descent, are carriers for certain genetic diseases, including Gaucher disease. Researchers think Ashkenazi genetic diseases arise because of the common ancestry many Jews share. While people from any ethnic group can develop genetic diseases, Ashkenazi Jews are at higher risk for certain diseases because of specific gene mutations.

Scientists call this propensity to developing disease the Founder Effect. Hundreds of years ago, mutations occurred in the genes of certain Ashkenazi Jews. The carriers of these newly mutated genes were unaffected by them, but their descendants were at greater risk for developing genetic diseases as a result of inheriting mutated genes. Over the course of Jewish history, many mutated genes, including the gene responsible for Gaucher disease, GBA1, were passed on from generation to generation.

For a child to develop one of the genetic diseases prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews, they must inherit two mutations for the same disease. In every living person, genes are paired in each pair, one gene comes from the mother and the other comes from the father. For recessive inheritance of a genetic disease to occur, both genes in a pair must be abnormal.

If two parents that carry a mutation in the same gene have a child, several outcomes are possible:

Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, a genetic counseling instructor and executive director of the JScreen Jewish Genetic Screening Program based out of Emory University School of Medicine explains, Two people who are carriers for the same disease can each pass the mutated gene to each child they have together. If a child inherits two copies of the mutated gene, one from each parent, he has no protection against the disease and will be affected.

Certain genetic disorders are more common in Ashkenazi Jews, and carrier frequencies for these diseases are higher in the Jewish population than in other groups. Carrier frequency is a measure of how often a mutated gene appears within a certain population group; with each disease, the carrier frequency is represented by the proportion of Ashkenazi Jews who have a copy of a mutated gene.

Because of mutations in certain genes and high carrier frequencies, five diseases are especially common among Ashkenazi Jews:

The most common Ashkenazi genetic disease is Gaucher disease, with one out of every 10 Ashkenazi Jews carrying the mutated gene that causes the disease. Doctors classify Gaucher disease into three different types, resulting from a deficiency of glucocerebrosidase (GCase) within the body. Type 1, which is treatable, is the most common form among Ashkenazi Jews.

Normally, cells in the lungs and digestive system produce a thin, slippery mucus as part of normal physiological processes. In people with cystic fibrosis, this mucus becomes much thicker and stickier, which damages internal organs, especially the lungs. It is possible to manage this condition with medications and daily care, but those who develop this disease have shortened life spans, typically only living into the mid- to late 30s.

Certain mutations on the HEXA gene cause Tay-Sachs disease, which is characterized by progressive deterioration of nerve cells (neurons) in both the brain and spinal cord. This destruction results from a shortage of an enzyme required to break down fatty substances in the body. There is currently no cure for Tay-Sachs disease.

Typically, symptoms of this disease are already present when a baby is born. Familial dysautonomia is characterized by changes to nerves in the autonomic nervous system. These nerves are responsible for many involuntary bodily functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion. While there has been progress in developing effective treatments for this disease, people with the condition usually have shortened lifespans.

There are several different types of this disease, but all affect the control of muscle movement due to a decline in the number of specialized nerve cells, called motor neurons, in both the spinal cord and brainstem. Life expectancy varies widely depending on the type. There is no cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, but treatment may be effective at managing the symptoms and complications.

In 2016, NGF and JScreen, a national community-based public health initiative based out of Emory University School of Medicine, launched a collaborative carrier screening program to increase awareness of and screening for Gaucher disease and other genetic diseases common to Jews. The initiative ensures the first 1000 people who sign up through December 31, 2017 can obtain an at-home testing kit that screens for more than 200 genetic diseases that affect people from all ethnic groups, including diseases that are most common among the Ashkenazi Jewish population.

The first step in the process is to complete online registration and consent forms. Then, JScreen faxes an order to your healthcare provider notifying them of your intent to pursue genetic testing and asking them to acknowledge and approve the request. Ms. Grinzaid says, Unlike some of the direct-to-consumer services, were making sure a medical team is involved throughout this process.

JScreen will then mail a saliva collection kit to your home. You collect a small saliva sample and send it to a laboratory for testing. Genetic counselors review the results of your test and invite you to take part in a genetic counseling session. You wont be charged any additional fees. The purpose of the counseling session is to provide you with more information and resources to help ensure the best possible outcome for any children you might have.

Even though the screening initiative has been successful, both NGF and JScreen are committed to raising awareness of the importance of genetic screening so that people in high-risk groups are better able to plan for their families future. In many cases, couples in high-risk ethnic populations are only offered carrier screening after pregnancy has already occurred.

Ms. Grinzaid says, We want people to understand that most conditions were screening for are inherited in an autosomal recessive way. In order for a child to be affected, both parents need to be carriers for the same disease. Each time they have a pregnancy, theres a 25 percent risk. In almost 80 percent of cases where a baby is born with one of these genetic conditions, theyre born to a couple with no family history of this condition. When people dont see anything in their family history, they think they dont need to worry so they dont pursue testing or think its important. Couples with Jewish heritage would benefit from genetic testing before beginning a family.

The only two ways to know youre a carrier are to have an affected child, because that would prove youre a carrier, or to undergo screening, which is what were trying to encourage, says Ms. Grinzaid.

The main goal of the JScreen and NGF collaboration is to offer as much information as possible to populations with higher prevalence of Gaucher disease, like those with an Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. The hope is that more people will take advantage of genetic screening in order to be more informed of their chances of being affected by Gaucher and of available treatments.


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The 5 Most Common Ashkenazi Genetic Diseases

About Jewish American Heritage Month –

Posted By on July 11, 2018

On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month. The announcement was the crowning achievement in an effort by the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders that resulted in resolutions introduced by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania urging the president to proclaim a month that would recognize the history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolutions passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the Senate in February 2006.

Since 2006, JAHM programs have taken place across the country. In Washington, D.C. alone, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have joined in raising national consciousness about the contributions of Jewish Americans to our country's heritage.

The JAHM Coalition was formed in March 2007 and convened by United Jewish Communities (now The Jewish Federations of North America), The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS). The JAHM Coalition was composed of the directors of major national Jewish historical and cultural organizations including the AJA, AJHS, Jewish Women's Archive, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum of Florida, and the Jewish Historical Society of Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2010 JAHM incorporated as a tax exempt public charity with a Board of Directors and oversight by the JAHM Advisory Committee.

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About Jewish American Heritage Month -

Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters …

Posted By on July 10, 2018

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Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters ...

Rashida Jones Ethnicity of Celebs | What Nationality …

Posted By on July 8, 2018

Birth Name: Rashida Leah Jones

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: February 25, 1976

Ethnicity:*African-American, with some English, Scottish, and Welsh (father)*Ashkenazi Jewish (mother)

Rashida Jones is an American actress, writer, and producer. She is the daughter of music producer Quincy Jones and actress and model Peggy Lipton. She is famous for her roles, Karen Filipelli on The Office and Louisa Fenn on Boston Public. Her sister is actress Kidada Jones.

Rashidas father is mainly of African-American (West African/Central African) ancestry, with some English, Scottish, and Welsh, heritage.

Rashidas mother is Jewish (of Russian Jewish and Latvian Jewish descent). Rashida was raised Jewish, studied Hinduism, and is now a practicing Jew.

Rashidas paternal grandfather was Quincy Delight/Delightt Jones (the son of Caesar Jones and Susannah/Susanna Burgess). Rashidas grandfather Quincy was born in South Carolina, and was a semi-pro baseball player. Caesar and Susannah were both black. Susannah was the daughter of West Burgess and Adele, or of Osborne Burgess and Elizabeth.

Rashidas paternal grandmother was Sarah Frances Wells (the daughter of Love Adam Wells and Mary Belle Lanier). Sarah was born in Mississippi. Love, who was black, was the son of Nelson Wells and Sarah Campbell. Mary Belle Laniers father, James Balance Lanier, was caucasian, and had mostly English, as well as Scottish and Welsh, ancestry. Mary Belles mother, Cordelia Dickson, was black.

Rashidas maternal grandfather was Harold Arlen Lipton (the son of Max Lipschitz and Alice Goldfarb). Harold was born in The Bronx, New York City. Max and Alice were Russian Jewish emigrants, Max from Slutsk and Alice from Brest. Max was the son of Harris/Harold Lipschitz and Rebecca Leah Pitovsky/Witkowsky. Alice was the daughter of Aaron Goldfarb and Frieda/Freude Bass/Bab.

Rashidas maternal grandmother was Rita Hetty Benson/Rosenberg (the daughter of Hyman Rosenberg and Jeanie Jane Benson). Rita was born in Dublin, Ireland. Hyman was a Russian Jewish emigrant, who was born in Saga, the son of Marko Benjamin Rosenberg and Sarah Hahn. Jeanie was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, to Jewish parents from Latvia and/or Kaunas, Lithuania, Benjamin Joseph Bensohn/Benson, from Kovno, and Sophia Winestein/Weinstein.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Rashidas fathers, Quincy Joness, genetic ancestry is:

*66% Sub-Saharan African*34% European

In his 2009 book about the show, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote that Quincys African DNA matches the Tikar people of Cameroon, the Sukuma people of Tanzania, the Tonga people of Mozambique, and the Fang people of Equatorial Guinea.

Sources: Genealogies of Rashida Jones https://www.geni.com

Genealogy of Rashida Jones (focusing on her mothers side)


Tagged as:African, African American, Ashkenazi Jewish, Belarusian Jewish, Cameroonian, English, English Jewish, Fang, Guinean, Irish Jewish, Jewish, Latvian Jewish, Lithuanian Jewish, Mozambican, Russian Jewish, Scottish, Sukuma, Tanzanian, Tikar, Tonga, Welsh


Rashida Jones Ethnicity of Celebs | What Nationality ...

Hasidic Judaism –

Posted By on July 6, 2018

The Hasidic movement started in the 1700's (CE) in Eastern Europe in response to a void felt by many average observant Jews of the day. The founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (referred to as the "Besht," an acronym of his name) was a great scholar and mystic, devoted to both the revealed, outer aspect, and hidden, inner aspect of Torah. He and his followers, without veering from a commitment to Torah, created a way of Jewish life that emphasized the ability of all Jews to grow closer to Gd via everything that we do, say, and think. In contrast to the somewhat intellectual style of the mainstream Jewish leaders of his day and their emphasis on the primacy of Torah study, the Besht emphasized a constant focus on attachment to Gd and Torah no matter what one is involved with.

Early on, a schism developed between the Hasidic and nonHasidic (i.e., Misnagdim, lit. "opponents") Jewish movements, primarily over real or imagined issues of halachic observance. The opposition was based on concern that the Hasidim were neglecting the laws regarding appropriate times for prayer, and perhaps concern about the exuberance of Hasidic worship, or a concern that it might be an offshoot of false messiahs Shabbtai Zvi or Jacob Frank. Within a generation or two, the rift was closed. Since then, many Hasidic practices have influenced the Misnagdim, while the Misnagdim, in turn, moderated some of the extremes of early Hasidism. Nevertheless, the dispute between particular groups of Hasidim and Misnagdim continues to this day, especially in Israel.

Today, Hasidim are differentiated from other Orthodox Jews by their devotion to a dynastic leader (referred to as a "Rebbe"), their wearing of distinctive clothing and a greater than average study of the inner aspects of Torah.

There are perhaps a dozen major Hasidic movements today, the largest of which (with perhaps 100,000 followers) is the Lubavitch group headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. Other groups include the Bobov, Bostoner, Belzer, Gerer, Satmar, Vizhnitz, Breslov, Puppa, Bianer, Munkacz, and Rimnitz. In Israel, the major Hasidic groups besides the Lubavitch include: Gor (Gerer), Viznitz and Bealz (Belzer).

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Study Estimates Ashkenazi Jewish Womens Risk of Having …

Posted By on July 6, 2018

About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by mutated genes passed from parent to child.

Genes are short segments of DNA(deoxyribonucleic acid)found in chromosomes. DNA contains the instructions for building proteins. And proteins control the structure and function of all the cells that make up your body.

Think of your genes as an instruction manual for cell growth and function. Abnormalities in the DNA are like typographical errors. They may provide the wrong set of instructions, leading to faulty cell growth or function. In any one person, if there is an error in a gene, that same mistake will appear in all the cells that contain the same gene. A genetic error that causes harm is called a mutation.

Many inherited breast cancer cases are associated with two gene mutations: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two).

The average woman in the United States has about a 1 in 8, or about 12%, risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Women who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (or both) can have up to an 80% risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. Breast cancers associated with an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene tend to develop in younger women and occur more often in both breasts than cancers in women without these abnormal genes.

Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation also have an increased risk of developing ovarian, colon, and pancreatic cancers, as well as melanoma.

You are substantially more likely to have a genetic mutation linked to breast cancer if:

Ashkenazi Jewish women have a much higher risk of having one of three founder mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. This is part of the reason why Ashkenazi Jewish women have a much higher-than-average risk of breast cancer.

A founder mutation is a specific gene mutation in a population that was founded by a small group of ancestors that were geographically or culturally isolated. Because the population was isolated, the rate of founder mutations in descendants is much higher than it would be if the population were larger and comingling with more genetically diverse people.

Still, there are some Ashkenazi Jewish women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer who test negative for one of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 founder mutations. Researchers wondered if offering Ashkenazi Jewish women comprehensive genetic testing for all mutations linked to breast cancer would be beneficial.

A study suggests that offering comprehensive genetic testing for all mutations linked to breast cancer to Ashkenazi Jewish women, rather than simply testing for only the three BRCA1 or BRCA2 founder mutations, would help prevent breast cancer in this high-risk population.

The study was published online on July 20, 2017 by the journal JAMA Oncology. Read Genetic Predisposition to Breast Cancer Due to Mutations Other Than BRCA1 and BRCA2 Founder Alleles Among Ashkenazi Jewish Women.

Mary-Claire King, professor of medical genetics at the University of Washington, is one of the authors of the study. Dr. King is the scientist who discovered that mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 were linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

To do the study, the researchers did genetic testing on blood samples from 1,007 women in the New York Breast Cancer study. The blood samples were tested for all known genetic mutations linked to breast cancer.

The New York Breast Cancer Study was started in 1996 to identify all the genes responsible for a higher risk of breast cancer among Ashkenazi Jewish women. Between 1996 and 2000, women who experienced a first diagnosis of breast cancer and who identified themselves and all four grandparents as Ashkenazi Jewish were invited to participate. The women were treated at 12 major cancer centers in the New York City metropolitan area and continue to be followed.

The genetic testing results showed that:

Of the 903 women without a BRCA1 or BRCA2 founder mutation:

Only four of the seven women with a different BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation had a family history that suggested that they might have a higher than average risk of breast cancer.

Of the 31 women with a mutation in a gene other than BRCA1 or BRCA2:

Of the 29 CHEK2 mutations:

Overall, about half the women with a genetic mutation linked to breast cancer had no close family history of breast or ovarian cancer:

According to this study, an Ashkenazi Jewish woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer who doesnt have a founder BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation has about a 1% risk of having a different BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. If the woman was diagnosed before age 40, this risk increases to about 3%. The risk that an Ashkenazi Jewish woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer who doesnt have a founder BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation has a CHEK2 or other mutation linked to breast cancer is about 3% to 4%.

Among [New York Breast Cancer Study] participants, approximately half of the patients with a damaging mutation in any breast cancer gene did not have a family history suggesting inherited predisposition, the researchers wrote. Mutations in these families were likely inherited from fathers, and the combination of small family size and chance in genetic transmission yielded few female relatives carrying mutant alleles. Therefore, to limit genetic testing to patients with a suggestive family history is to miss about 50% of patients with actionable mutations. The most recent national screening guidelines recommend genetic testing for all Ashkenazi Jewish patients with breast cancer. This recommendation is fine, but testing women only after they develop cancer severely limits the power of precision medicine. To discover a mutation only after cancer is diagnosed is a missed opportunity to have prevented that cancer.

If you are an Ashkenazi Jewish woman, you may want to talk to your doctor about this study and ask if having a comprehensive genetic test for all genetic mutations linked to breast cancer makes sense for you and your unique situation.

For more information on genetic and breast cancer risk, visit the Genetics page in the Lower Your Risk section.

Published on July 26, 2017 at 12:03 PM

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Study Estimates Ashkenazi Jewish Womens Risk of Having ...

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