Page 12«..11121314..2030..»

So, whats up with all that kissing in synagogue? (No, not the people the Torah!) – Forward

Posted By on September 25, 2022

A man kisses a Torah during the official opening ceremony of a new synagogue in Speyer, Germany. Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

By Angela HimselSeptember 23, 2022

The first time I attended synagogue was as an adult. I left confused and bemused. It was an Orthodox synagogue so men and women were seated separately. Rapid-fire, rote, muttered Hebrew prayers were punctuated now and then by a loud Ah-men! People shuffled in and out of the sanctuary at will.

Throughout the service, for no readily explicable reason, you stood, then sat again, stood, bowed forward and back, and swayed in a motion called shuckeling, which made me think of shucking corn in the cornfields back home in Indiana. Unlike in the doomsday Christian cult I grew up in, there was nary a mention of salvation, Satan or the End of Times. And congregants did not listen quietly.

What felt utterly foreign to me was the rampant kissing. Jews kiss the prayer book and Bible before they put it away. They kiss the curtain of the ark before opening it and taking out the Torah. Then, after reading from the Torah, some man totes it around the synagogue while one after another, the men lift the tzitzit (fringes) of their prayer shawls, press them against the Torah mantle, and then kiss the shawl. The Christian God I grew up with was a shusher, not a kisser.

I understood that kissing the Torah is an expression of devotion to Gods words, though personally, it seemed to border on a fetishization of the physical Torah. It was also a bit too much of a public display of affection for me. I recoil from handholding, unless its a child under the age of 6 who needs help crossing the street.

But beyond the kissing itself, I found it curious that the men (most, not all) specifically used their prayer shawl instead of, say, their prayer books, which women held out to touch the traveling Torah and then kissed. What was that all about? Over the years, I have asked various people, including Orthodox rabbis, why the prayer shawl and tzitzit are used. The answer: Custom. Tradition. Yes, but where did the custom come from? No one seemed to know.

Recently, I was in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, a museum that is unique in placing the Biblical narrative within the context not only of ancient Israel, but also of the lands surrounding it, and I found the answer to the question that had plagued me these many years. I was ecstatic. (Not that I was showing it.)

One of the exhibits, The Seal in the Bible, using Akkadian legal texts as its basis, explains that in ancient times, holding the hem of someones garment symbolized ones attachment to a king or god, while the fringe of the garment served as an individuals personal identification.

According to the museum exhibit text, It has been suggested that the practice followed in the synagogue to this day of pressing the edge of the tallit to the Torah may be a survival of the ancient custom of using the fringe of a garment as a seal and as a symbolic act the seal as well as the fringe was a symbolic representation of the individual and served to commit him as well as identify him.

I sort of got it. But not quite. So I contacted Dr. Yigal Bloch, a curator at the Bible Lands Museum, to clarify.

There is evidence, Bloch said, that some time in the second millennium B.C.E., people pressed the fringes of their garment against a raw clay tablet recording some sort of transaction as a mark of authorizing the transaction in such a case, an imprint of the fringe would be seen on the tablet after it dried.

Ah ha! Not a fetish. The practice dates back thousands of years to when the Israelites were influenced by their Akkadian (modern day Iraq, roughly) and Babylonian neighbors. Pressing the tzitzit to the Torah may have originated as a physical affirmation of ones commitment to observe the Torah.

There are numerous other parallels between ancient Near Eastern stories and practices, and those recorded in the Bible. For example, the Bible has Moses, and the Akkadians have Sargon, whose mother, it is said, placed him in a basket of rushes sealed with tar, and sent him down the river, where he was saved by the kings gardener Akki.

But whatever the similarities, there are striking differences. One of them, of course, is that while I am sitting and standing and shuckeling in synagogue observing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, no Akkadian or Babylonian will touch his tallit to the Torah and kiss it. Long ago, the Akkadians and Babylonians were absorbed into other nationalities and left the world stage as an identifiable people.

Identity hangs by a thread, something I am surely aware of. As a Jew, I no longer concern myself with getting my own butt saved and making it into the next world, which was something that preoccupied me throughout my Christian childhood. Instead, my understanding of how to be a Jew and there are as many understandings as there are Jews is to commit in words and in deeds to do my small part to save this world, as Gods partner in creation.

Angela Himsel is the author of A River Could Be A Tree. She lives in New York City. She can be reached at[emailprotected]

The rest is here:

So, whats up with all that kissing in synagogue? (No, not the people the Torah!) - Forward

The Top 10 Secrets of the Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum in NYC – Untapped New York

Posted By on September 25, 2022

In 2007, the Eldridge Street Synagogue on New Yorks Lower East Side completed its renovation after a 20-year, $20 million effort. However, its history began more than a century before that. Opened in 1887, the Eldridge Street Synagogue was one of the first erected in the United States by Eastern European Jews. In 1987, local residents and urban preservationists joined forces to save the stunning architectural marvel from the verge of collapse. In September 2022, the synagogue is celebrating its 135th anniversary. Below are 10 of our favorite secrets about this stunning historical space.

Secrets of the Lower East Side Tour & Tasting

Many visitors find this fact shocking today, but for decades, the main sanctuary of the Eldridge Street Synagogue sat in a state of abandonment. NYU professor Gerard Wolfe rediscovered the sanctuary in the 1970s as he was writing his book,The Synagogues of the Lower East Side. Eldridge Street was one of the spaces he desperately wanted to visit and when finally got access,this is the scene he wrote, I found the doors of the sanctuary warped shut. I pulled them open and stepped inside, and my hair stood on end. It was like the Twilight Zone, like going into the past.

Upon the sanctuarys discovery, the dust inside was so thick one could write in it, and cobwebs hung between the pillars. There was extensive water damage to the dome, with water pouring in from the openings. Pigeons had taken root in the balcony. Empty windows sat where stained glass once let in light, and fragments of walls were missing. As the Museum at Eldridge Street describes in their interactive exhibition, Prayer books and prayer shawls were scattered on benches, as if waiting for services to resume.


The Top 10 Secrets of the Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum in NYC - Untapped New York

Police increase patrols at Long Island synagogues, temples ahead of High Holy Days – CBS New York

Posted By on September 25, 2022

LONG BEACH, N.Y. -- Police on Long Island have increased patrols at synagogues and temples ahead of the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

There are no credible threats of violence, but police are working with congregations.

"We will be going into each and every house of worship. We know when they're going to be holding services. We'll be walking right into the synagogue itself. The congregants will know that we're there," said Long Beach Police Commissioner Ronald Walsh.

"People know that their synagogues and their rabbis and their lay leaders are taking all the precautions necessary together with their local police departments," said Rabbi Eli Goodman, with Chabad of the Beaches.

In recent months, there have been incidents of antisemitic flyers placed at dozens of homes in Nassau County.

The CBS New York team is a group of experienced journalists who bring you the content on

Original post:

Police increase patrols at Long Island synagogues, temples ahead of High Holy Days - CBS New York

Pandemic’s aftermath and economic crisis have some synagogues rethinking their membership fees – eJewish Philanthropy

Posted By on September 25, 2022

As a policy, Manhattans Congregation Beit Simchat Torah doesnt sell tickets for services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. To charge for High Holidays, says synagogue President Sabrina Farber, is just not in our DNA.

But this year, two years of pandemic-driven challenges and a recent economic downturn have made sticking to that policy more difficult for CBST, an LGBTQ+ multidenominational synagogue in midtown Manhattan.

People have left jobs, people have moved, people have suddenly downsized in a way that obviously impacts giving, Farber, whose synagogue instead asks for dues on a sliding scale, told eJewishPhilanthropy. Im not gonna lie, were in a tough spot.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can overwhelm synagogues in every way. Staff and volunteers are swamped. Some synagogues rent extra space, while others rent chairs or additional equipment. Organizing services can cost congregations exorbitant amounts of money. For many congregations, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are some of the only days members attend services. Because of that, congregations often depend on High Holiday appeals, ticket sales to non-members and annual membership dues generally paid during the High Holiday season that support the synagogue all year. Many synagogues told eJP that they need a ticket system simply because there is just not enough space to accommodate everyone.

But this year, congregants and synagogues across the country are stretched thin, whether they have voluntary dues, set dues, negotiated dues or a tiered payment system. When congregants have less money to spend, will synagogue membership still be on their radar?

For most synagogues in the Conservative movement, budgets, including staff contracts and membership fees, have already been set for the year, Linda Sussman, the interim director of synagogue consulting for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, told eJP. Recent economic shifts, she said, would certainly not [be] something that could affect anything in terms of [determining what this years] membership dues would be. That would be next year.

While synagogues may have saved money on serving food and hiring security while they were closed due to COVID-19, Sussman said that the pandemic hasnt lowered expenses for most synagogues. Staff salaries generally remain their biggest expense.

When the pandemic began, many Conservative synagogues anticipated to take a massive hit in terms of synagogue dues, expecting membership payments to drop off as much as 20%. But instead, Sussman said, It was much, much, much lower, more like maybe 3 to 5% of the drop. According to internal studies conducted by USCJ, she said, donors stepped up too, understanding that synagogues were under financial stress and needed extra support. Whether that will happen this year again, I dont know, she said.

But as synagogues begin to consider next years budget, Barry Mael, the senior director of synagogue affiliations and operations for USCJ, told eJP that an increasing number of synagogues are considering moving from fixed to voluntary dues.

Im getting more calls in the last several months about synagoguesevaluating if their dues model was the best dues model for them, he said. Sometimes coming out [of] something like a pandemic, where so many things have been upended, its a good time to evaluate and say are we generating our revenues and supporting the community in the best way?

For those who made the jump to voluntary dues, overall they feel good about it, Mael said. Sometimes its a matter of culture, that people dont have to ask for a dues level. They make a pledge, and therefore that whole awkward process of some people needing to talk with others about what they can give disappears. But no matter the dues model a synagogue chooses, he said its important for congregations to make sure theyre not confusing the dues model as the answer to their financial challenges versus looking at their overall financial sustainability. Instead, he said, they need to focus on cultivating a culture of philanthropy by strengthening their relationship with members.

Rabbi Aaron Melman of Congregation Beth Shalom, a conservative synagogue in Northbrook, Ill.,serving more than 1,000 member families, told eJP that he avoids the term dues completely, instead using the word commitment.

The word dues maybe doesnt sit as well with people as it once did, he told eJP. So he stresses the concept of recognizing that there is a commitment to being part of congregational life. Like most congregations across movements, Beth Shalom wont turn members away if they cant pay.

We try to really work with people, Melman said. There are people in the congregation who pay more than their commitment amounts to help offset those people who arent able to pay. We call it pay it forward.

COVID and the economy have accelerated the way synagogues think about the economics of the High Holidays, Amy Asin, the Union for Reform Judaisms vice president of congregational engagement and leadership experiences, told eJP, but a lot of these trends were happening before. Synagogues were realizing that even though their own costs were increasing, she said, they needed to see the High Holidays as an opportunity to engage their communities, not close budget gaps.

On the other hand, they do need revenue, Asin said. From their perspective, if they could charge, Im sure that they would. Im sure that they would want to raise prices. Theyre balancing a lot. And many of them, even before the pandemic, had started to lower their prices or not charge. Theyre balancing their own economics, their own structure, the effect of their costs going up And at the same time, they want to lower barriers to participation in Jewish life, and they want to deliver something thats deeply meaningful and transformational for the people who attend.

Rabbi Jill Maderer of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Philadelphia with 1,000 members,told eJP that while many members are not able to give as generously as they did in the past, more members are contributing smaller sums.

Were really pleased to see people who are really showing their commitment, but its not easy, she said. The synagogue has a three-tier system for dues based on how much a member can afford. The synagogue also organizes a weekly food pantry and has hosted a diaper drive.

Synagogues are also searching for new ways to support themselves. Asin said that some Reform synagogues have planted cell towers on their buildings while others sold their buildings and rented space for less money. The Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism holds a yearly golf tournament and bark mitzvah with pet vendors, food trucks, music, a chew toy giveaway and a dog blessing given by Rabbi Steve Gross, who described the day as a festival for dogs. Manhattans CBST has been seeking grants. All the while, synagogues try to support their congregants even as they struggle themselves.

Every clergy person has a discretionary fund, Asin said. And I guarantee you that those rabbis, those cantors, are using their discretionary funds to support congregants in need and the community.

The synogages that eJP spoke to said that they havent had to cut staff, often thanks to federal pandemic loans that were quickly forgiven, but they also havent been able to grow programs and initiatives as they would like to. Farber said retaining staff is something that weve worked very, very, very hard to preserve because, if anything, going virtual just made our work more difficult, more confusing and required a whole new set of skills.

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, an Orthodox synagogue on the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan with around 1,200 members, sees itself as a community center, fulfilling its congregants religious and social needs even giving its members space to throw birthday parties.

Especially in Manhattan and a big city where things can feel impersonal community doesnt just happen on its own, said Associate Rabbi Roy Feldman. Community has to be built.

Mael believes that COVID forced all of us to be more relational in our connection to our members because the doors were closed. If synagogues stay focused on meeting their members needs, , he said, members will will feel connected and committed to supporting the community, even in tough economic downturns. But if people dont feel connected, synagogues, unfortunately, sometimes, are one of the places [where] people make a choice whether or not to spend their money.

See original here:

Pandemic's aftermath and economic crisis have some synagogues rethinking their membership fees - eJewish Philanthropy

‘Exactly the spiritual leader that we wanted’: Rabbi Meeka Simerly to lead her first Rosh Hashana at Havre de Grace’s Temple Adas Shalom – Baltimore…

Posted By on September 25, 2022

As a child in Haifa, Israel, Meeka Simerly grew up in a secular Jewish family.

What it means is that we never really did anything religious whatsoever other than celebrating the staple holidays, Simerly said.

Because of this, she felt like something was missing for her. When she turned 30, Simerly moved to the U.S. and began attending a Reform Jewish synagogue for the first time in Santa Cruz, California.

The minute I stepped into the synagogue, and I could sing in Hebrew and in English my soul just started to soar, she said. I felt so incredibly fulfilled [on] so many different levels.

This was the beginning of a path for Simerly, which eventually led her to become the newest rabbi at Temple Adas Shalom, a Reform congregation in Havre de Grace.

It really does feel so good and so right to be here, said Simerly, who will lead her first Rosh Hashana service at sundown Sunday at Adas Shalom. Rosh Hashana is the celebration of the Jewish New Year.

The synagogue, celebrating its 67th anniversary next month, draws families from Harford County, eastern Baltimore County, Cecil County and northwest Delaware. It serves approximately 140 Jewish and interfaith families.

Part of what drew Simerly to Temple Adas Shalom is its openness to LGBTQ+ rights.

Im dying to wed a gay couple, she said.

Another draw for her is being able to work with children. On Thursdays, she leads children in songs in both Hebrew and English to preach tolerance of all faiths while playing her guitar. The children attend the synagogues Early Learning Center, a preschool open to the general community.

Simerly has an extensive background in music. While in Israel, she played in punk, rock and bluegrass bands. She also studied music education in college. She said she enjoys how music allows people to be silly with themselves.

There is something that allows our spirit to really soar with the music, she said, with the way that people are so comfortable with one another without being judgmental.

When she plays guitar, Simerly communicates a lot with her facial expressions, she said, because Im holding the guitar and I cant really direct or conduct or say, so I emote with my body. I emote with my facial expressions sometimes the children imitate me and I see what they do and it looks really funny.

On a recent Thursday, Simerly also blew the shofar, a rams horn used during Jewish holidays, particularly Rosh Hashana. The children were served grape juice and challah bread, and Simerly went around to each child to offer a fist bump and a Shabat Shalom, a wish for a peaceful Sabbath.

A gig leading a youth choir is what first brought her to the synagogue in Santa Cruz and Reform Judaism. A voice kept telling her to go further, she said, so Simerly became a cantor, who sings while guiding congregations through prayers during religious services. Simerly studied to get her masters in Jewish music, and then she and her husband, David, moved to San Jose, where she served as a cantor at a synagogue for about 10 years.

Simerly realized she wanted to continue her education and become a rabbi. Once she became one, she moved to Wayne, New Jersey, to serve as rabbi at Temple Beth Tikvah for about six years before coming to Temple Adas Shalom.

When Rabbi John Franken left Temple Adas Shalom earlier this year to move to Israel, Simerly was found by a rabbinical search committee made up of the synagogues congregants, including Ashira Quabili.

I really feel like we are blessed to have found someone who aligns so well with who we are as a community because [Simerly is] genuine and full of light and love, and that is exactly the spiritual leader that we wanted, Quabili said.

The comment nearly brought Simerly to tears. She called it bashert, the Yiddish word for destiny, for her and Temple Adas Shalom having found each other.

Nobodys pretentious here, Simerly said. There is a level of kindness here and sincerity and welcoming that really doesnt exist anywhere else.

Simerly, who lives in Whiteford, said she has received that same welcoming feeling from the Harford County community.

Its like living in a kibbutz [a communal style of living], she said. Even though here, every farm and every family unit really takes care of themselves, there is a sense of community regardless.

While Simerly hasnt been with the synagogue very long, having started as rabbi Aug. 10, she already fits in well.

Its been wonderful, said Mark Wolkow, Temple Adas Shaloms president. It hasnt been very long but definitely refreshing.

Simerly did not always see herself on this path, however.

If you asked me 30 years ago, what am I going to do when I grow up, and you told me, I think youre gonna be a rabbi, I would just, like, roll on the floor laughing my tuchus off, she said.

As a child, she rarely stepped foot in a synagogue, partially because she did not want to be separated from her father since men and women are traditionally apart in orthodox synagogues.

When one leaves a place to go and live somewhere else it means that there is some unrest and agitation from the inside that really moves us towards our path, Simerly said.

Reform Judaism allows for more of an individual path for a person to take and also allows for greater liberty with gender equality and overall inclusiveness in ways that orthodox Judaism does not, she said.

Simerly said that Reform Judaism in Israel currently is very small. The main two sects of Judaism are secular and orthodox.

Its really a dichotomy in Israel, Quabili said. You have secular Jews and you have religious Jews, and theres not much of a middle ground there.

Theres all of these different ways to be Jewish in America, and so it is a lot more accommodating to find yourself a path to your own Jewish identity.

Simerly has four goals in her new role as rabbi: caring for her congregants; reaching out to the greater community; connecting with local interfaith representatives; and connecting with hospitals, retirement homes and other organizations to provide spiritual and emotional care, with the help of her guitar and her Bernedoodle, Oreo.

Heading into the Jewish New Year, Simerly hopes to see people coming together again. Shes seen how people have been vastly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes to see people begin to move forward from it.

Im really hoping that people will really let go of their fear of coming together, she said. My hope is that those that are really terrified will feel a sense of solace on their inside somehow.


Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the

If people still dont feel comfortable returning to synagogue, Simerly hopes they will let us know how we can help to support them so they dont feel isolated anymore.

She also hopes that people who have been driven apart due to political differences can find their way back to one another.

It is people before politics, always, she said.

Simerly said her congregants know her humor she cracks herself up. For instance, instance, she flapped her arms like a bird when discussing having to fly from New Jersey to Los Angeles once a week while in rabbinical school.

As a leader, she tries not to come from a place of being a leader.

For me, it is about teaching everybody and giving different opinions, Simerly said. My job is to make sure that you make your own educated decision. And thats how I lead.

Visit link:

'Exactly the spiritual leader that we wanted': Rabbi Meeka Simerly to lead her first Rosh Hashana at Havre de Grace's Temple Adas Shalom - Baltimore...

After 30 years, Or Shalom of S.F. finally has a home of its own J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on September 25, 2022

Three decades after its founding, Or Shalom Jewish Community has finally purchased property of its own.

San Franciscos first and only Reconstructionist synagogue, it has operated out of living rooms, rented spaces and the occasional park since the community was established in 1991.

But now Or Shalom has closed on a parcel of land that includes three buildings on Cortland Avenue, in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Leadership hopes to be able to hold services in the new space by late spring 2023.

Establishing a permanent location for the community has been in the works for seven years, said Amy Mallor, the synagogues executive director. We have been wandering Jews, Mallor said.

Indeed, for nine years, Or Shaloms home was at Congregation Ner Tamid in the Sunset District.

Then, starting in 2014, members were able to call Congregation Beth Israel Judea home, and it was at that location on Brotherhood Way where Or Shalom celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. (Beth Israel Judea synagogue has since merged with Congregation Bnai Emunah and been renamed Am Tikvah.)

Just before the Covid-19 pandemic started, the wandering continued: Or Shalom vacated its shared/rental space at Beth Israel Judea and only recently established a new indoor meeting place next door, at the Brandeis School of San Francisco.

Further complicating matters, longtime Rabbi Katie Mizrahi stepped down in April, leaving the community without a spiritual leader for the first time in 15 years.

So the decision to buy the property in Bernal Heights has indeed been a galvanizing moment, according to Matthew Rudoff, president of Or Shaloms board.

I think its really making people feel very positive about the outlook for Or Shalom, and the potential for not just our sustainability, but our growth, Rudoff said.

Finding the property was kismet, or fate, Mallor said, as the listing agent was a congregant and member of the board. The new address will place Or Shalom in the center of Cortland Avenues bustling commercial corridor, between a religious-themed bar called Holy Water and the laundromat Bernal Bubbles. Of the three buildings the synagogue will own, one is a back cottage that Mallor hopes can be used to house visitors. The other two, both storefronts, will house worship and office space.

The purchase was made possible by a building fund campaign started by members nearly a decade ago. Knowing that the rental/share situation at Beth Israel Judea would last for only six years, congregants have been donating to the campaign all along, Mallor said, and the synagogue has been trying to save money, as well. Soon, a Cortland Campaign will be launched to raise additional funds for improvements and upkeep.

Rudoffs hope is that the new space will help to establish the synagogue as a staple of San Francisco Jewish life and attract new members who may be unfamiliar with Or Shaloms history and principles.

Weve been known as the best-kept secret, Rudoff said. Were hoping to become a little wider-known secret.

Or Shalom began when Rabbi Pamela Frydman wanted a space to teach children, including her own, the fundamentals of Judaism in an egalitarian setting. The community, which is now some 200 families strong, prides itself on diversity and acceptance.

According to the website description: We are Jewish, non-Jewish and its complicated; straight, gay and its complicated; single, married and its complicated, old and young and in between. All are welcome.

The synagogue identified itself as independent until 2008, when congregants voted to join with the Reconstructionist movement.

Founded on the ideals of 20th-century thinker Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, Reconstructionist Judaism submits that Judaism is an always evolving religious civilization.

Today, Or Shalom is deeply committed to social justice work. One of its main social justice programs is Sanctuary Or Shalom, a congregation-wide initiative to support immigrants in California.

Or Shaloms new home is just one part of the community rebuilding after the pandemic and Mizrahis departure, Mallor said. Leadership recently brought in an interim rabbi, Rabbi Chaya Gusfield, who has also served at Kehilla Community Synagogue, a Renewal congregation in the East Bay.

Its important for the community to know that we are here, Mallor said. And were not only here, but were survivors.

See the original post here:

After 30 years, Or Shalom of S.F. finally has a home of its own J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

Timeline of Jewish history in the US – What’sUpNewp

Posted By on September 25, 2022

One of the most compelling reasons for early settlers to immigrate to the Americas was to exercise their right to religious freedom. As a result, members of several minority religions, including Judaism, were some of the first to brave the journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Jewish Virtual Library has records of the Jewish population in the United States dating back to 1654 when there were just 25 Jews. Today, the Jewish population has grown to more than 7 million people, comprising a range of Jewish subgroups from Orthodox to Reform. Though there can be drastic differences between how individuals practice and express their Jewish culture and beliefs, Jews in America remain largely liberal and the communitys population has steadily grown more diverse in race and ethnicity.

In lockstep with American history, the journey of Jews in the U.S. is riddled with struggle, yet consistently illustrates the resilience and success of the Jewish community. In honor Rosh Hashanah, Stacker compiled a list of 30 important events that occurred in American Jewish communities since the 14th century.

Keep reading to discover some significant events in American Jewish history.

You may also like: Greatest speeches of the 20th century

Gans was a Czech Jewish mining engineer and metallurgist. He was invited by Sir Walter Raleigh to accompany an expedition to the Virginia territory that was funded by Queen Elizabeth I. Gans was chosen due to his astounding innovations in the copper smelting process, which reduced the purification time from 16 days to four.

A 1655 letter from the Reverend Johannes Megapolensis provides a record of these refugees, stating that last summer some Jews came [to New Amsterdam] from Holland.At the time, the Dutch occupied significant stretches of what is now the Brazilian coast, which is why Megapolensis referred to it as Holland.

Though the congregation of Shearith Israel was established in 1654, they did not build a synagogue until 1730. The building was located in lower Manhattan next to a nearby spring, which was used for various religious rituals. Since 1730, Shearith Israel has worshipped at five separate locations around New York City.

In order for Jews to be considered naturalized citizens of the British colonies, they had to live there for at least seven years. Although this was better than the predicament of Jews in England, who could never be considered full citizens, simply surviving for seven years in the British colonies was no small feat due to harsh living conditions and scarce resources.

Just like any other demographic, there were Jews on both sides of the Revolutionary War. As the leader of the Shearith Israel congregation, Seixas declared a public day of fasting and prayer on May 17, 1776. Part of the prayer he wrote asks God to send the Angels of mercy to proclaim Peace to all America and to the inhabitants thereof.

You may also like: Best-run cities in America

Due to the separation of church and state outlined by the U.S. Constitution, Jews were considered full citizens of the newly minted country and could run for any public office they wanted. However, this constitutional right did not eliminate the stigma against Jews that still persists in some forms today.

Myers began his study of medicine at the age of 15, earning his medical degree from Edinburgh University in 1789 before returning home to South Carolina. He married Frances Minis, and they had eight children together while Myers practiced law and pursued politics. Tragically, a hurricane hit South Carolina in September 1822, destroying Myers home and killing him, his wife, and four of their children.

The subtitle of The Jew explained the publications purpose: a [defense] of Judaism against all adversaries, and particularly against the insidious attacks of Israels Advocate. Israels Advocate was a Jewish missionary journal that was moderately popular at the time. Despite its newspaper format, The Jew was hardly a source for hard news, as its content primarily consisted of dismissals of other media and descriptions of scandals within various Jewish organizations.

Not only did Jackson publish the first Passover Haggadah in America, but he was also the first Jewish printer in New York City. Because he had fonts with both English and Hebrew characters, he could typeset and print books in both languages, making him very popular with various Jewish congregations in the city.

Yulees father was Moses Elias Levy, a businessman who had made so much money manufacturing lumber in the Caribbean that he bought 50,000 acres of land in Florida to create a new Jerusalem for American Jews. When Yulee left home to marry the daughter of a former Kentucky governor, he adopted a Christian lifestyle but was subject to anti-Semitic attacks for the entirety of his career.

You may also like: Most dangerous countries for journalists

The Board of Delegates of American Israelites first met in New York City on November 27, 1859. Their primary goals included educating American Jews, tracking statistics about the American Jewish population, ensuring the civil rights of American Jews, and building and maintaining lines of communication between their organization and other Jewish organizations around the world.

In addition to his invocation to the House of Representatives, Raphall was a prominent rabbi, teacher, and religious writer in Europe before coming to America. He published the first Jewish periodical in England and, with the help of a partner, produced the first translation of parts of the Mishnah from Hebrew into English.

Before 1862, only Christian chaplains were allowed to serve in the military and provide religious support to soldiers. However, in December 1861, soldiers and civilians alike launched a campaign to expand the position to include support staff from other religions as well. Congress added a sentence to the law which explained that Christian could be interpreted as any religious denomination.

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations still exists today, though it underwent a name change in 1959and is now known as the Union for Reform Judaism. This change occurred due to the divergence of different sects of Judaism, each of which has a different set of religious practices and beliefs, though core beliefs and the primary religious text of the Torah are consistent across all sects.

Pogrom, a Russian word meaning to wreak havoc, is typically used in reference to the anti-Semitic violence perpetrated by Russian authorities beginning in 1881 and extending throughout both World Wars. These sprees of destruction, assault, and murder extended beyond Russia throughout Eastern Europe and included events like Kristallnacht in Germany. It is estimated that some 2.5 million Jews were displaced by the pogroms.

You may also like: Political cartoons from the last 100 years

Brandeis was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson. During the vetting process, political opponents of Brandeis painted him as a radical, rooting their accusations in anti-Semitic sentiments. Before serving on the Supreme Court, Brandeis gained a reputation as the peoples attorney due to his extensive pro bono work.

Now known as AJCongress, the American Jewish Congress was born out of dissatisfaction with another prominent Jewish organization of the time: the American Jewish Committee. Those that seceded from that group to form the American Jewish Congress desired to focus more on humanitarian aid and the establishment of a diverse Jewish community, believing that the American Jewish Committee had been dominated by aristocratic German Jews.

The Immigrant Acts of 1921 and 1924, also known as the Emergency Quota Act and the National Origins Act, placed the first explicit quota on the number of immigrants that could come into the U.S. The 1924 legislation strengthened what had been passed in 1921, defining exactly how many immigrants from each country could receive visas to the U.S. in order to keep undesirable ethnic groups at bay.

The National Conference of Christians and Jews was originally founded due to a flurry of anti-Catholic sentiment that appeared when Al Smith ran for the 1928 Democratic presidential nomination. Its founding members included Jane Addams and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughs. Though at first the organization only extended aid to Christians and Jews, it underwent a name change during the 1990s and is now the National Conference for Community and Justice, serving individuals of all religions.

On September 5, 1939, German troops invaded Piotrkow, Poland, scouring the nearly deserted city for Jews and murdering them on the spot. This behavior continued throughout the region as World War II raged. News of the brutality of the Axis powers was consistently published in American newspapers.

You may also like: Oldest national parks in America

With the Immigration Act of 1924 still in place, the vast majority of Jews displaced by World War II were unable to immigrate to the U.S. Because they could not come to America, many refugees had to find new homes in Europe or risk being sent back to their home country, where supporters of the Axis powers still lived.

On May 14, 1948, what was previously the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed itself a new State of Israel. President Harry S. Truman and the United States recognized the State of Israel as the de facto authority of the Jewish state that same day.

The modern Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations brings together 51 Jewish organizations to advance a set of common goals. The conference is rooted in pro-Israel sentiment, and many of its explicit goals support the advancement of the State of Israel as well as the promotion of interfaith relationships, especially with Muslim communities.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Jews involved themselves as both leaders and foot soldiers of the civil rights movement. Henry Moscowitz, Kivie Kaplan, and Arnie Aronson were prominent Jews who helped to found the NAACP. Additionally, Jews accounted for a disproportionate number of the white people active in the civil rights movement, making up half of the young people who participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964.

As with most identity-based groups, the vast majority of Jewish organizations are peaceful; however, the Jewish Defense League is an exception. Now considered an extremist group by many law enforcement standards, the Jewish Defense League aims to protect Jews by whatever means necessary, even resorting to violence. Its beliefs are founded on the rhetoric of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who painted American society as an inherently hostile environment for Jews.

You may also like: How well do you remember 1969?

Riding the wave of 1960s feminism, Rabbi Sally, asPriesand was known, was a deeply spiritual woman who entered a joint program between the University of Cincinnati and the Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion in 1964. After graduating with a degree in rabbinical studies, Priesand worked in various congregations as an assistant rabbi for nearly two decades until she was finally able to find a congregation to lead at the Monmouth Reform Temple in New Jersey.

After Sally Priesands ordination as a rabbi under the Reform sect, widely considered the most liberal form of Judaism, the pressure was on for more conservative institutions to follow suit. The Jewish Theological Seminary was one such institution. Two years after the vote to admit women, Amy Eilberg graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Praised as a living memorial to the Holocaust, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is located among many other Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The museums programming serves as a way to remember those who were murdered during the Holocaust and seeks to educate individuals about the causes of genocide to help prevent future tragedies.

Lieberman served as a senator in Connecticut from 1989 to 2013. Though he originally aligned himself with the Democratic Party, he began running as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary. A graduate of Yale University, Lieberman was an active participant in the civil rights movement and eventually ran on the Democratic presidential ticket alongside Al Gore.

On October 27, 2018, a gunman opened fire on Jews observing Sabbath services at the Tree of Life synagogue in the historic Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. Six people were injured and 11 were killed, prompting national outrage and panic among Jewish communities. The gunman admitted to police during the shootout, I just wanted to kill Jews. In response, the Tree of Life community and other groups across the U.S. held vigils and repeated the traditional Jewish sentiment: May their memory be for a blessing.

You may also like: 50 ways the news industry has changed in the last 50 years

This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to aCC BY-NC 4.0 License.

This post was originally published on this site


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Read the rest here:

Timeline of Jewish history in the US - What'sUpNewp

Traces of local Jewish history found by native of Lancaster – Lancaster Eagle Gazette

Posted By on September 25, 2022

LANCASTER A history of Jewish tradition in Lancaster has been discovered by Lancaster-native Austin Reid. Through his research, Reid is attempting to inform the public of a once-forgotten part of the city's past.

Reid has been doing this research in a volunteer capacity as a hobby, working in collaboration with multiple historical societies. Instead of making his discoveries as part of a job, he does it out of a passion for the work.

"I think there are really two goals I have in my mind," said Reid. "The first was I hope these pieces are engaging for a broad audience including non-Jewish readers. I think many people don't know much about Judaism and I think sometimes there's this impression that Judaism is a religion that is only found in big cities but there's a really long history of Jewish life in small towns as well and I hope these histories are an accessible way for individuals to learn a bit about a community that has a long presence in many parts of Ohio. It is an important piece of local history."

"The second goal is for the descendants of these families who are now living in various areas," said Reid. "I'm hoping this can be a valuable genealogical resource for them to learn about their forebears and how they made contributions to small towns."

While much of this history is not well recorded, Reid has found his ways of digging up information.

"The primary resource I'm using is newspaper archives," said Reid. "A lot of these are digitized on a website called Ohio Memory that is run by the state library of Ohio and Ohio History Connection. You can also find the Eagle-Gazette archives on a website called In addition to the newspaper archives I'm also looking at Jewish newspapers from across Ohio, particularly in Columbus and Cincinnati. Even though these newspapers aren't based in Lancaster, they often carry reports from smaller communities."

Reid originally decided to follow Lancaster's history with Judaism because of traces he noticed while living in the area. Although he does not live in the area anymore, those signs stuck with him and pointed him towards his research. One of those traces was the site of the former B'Nai Israel synagogue, which stopped serving as a place of worship in 1993.

"On 131 East Chestnut Street you can still see the former B'Nai Israel synagogue," said Reid. "Now it's a private home and it's been a private home since 1994, but it was originally built by a Lutheran congregation and was converted into a synagogue in 1927. So I think, look I'm in a historical Facebook and every few months it seems like there's someone who asks about this building. You can tell it used to be a place of worship, but there's not a congregation meeting there now and I think it gets people curious about what the building was used for."

Among the most interesting stories of Jewish history that Reid found in Lancaster included a fire at B'nai synagogue in 1961, in which two members of the congregation, Clearance Epstein and Jacob Molar, ran in to save Torah scrolls.

Another story of interest that stood out to Reid was the Jewish Welfare Society, which earned itself a shoutout in the book 'Fairfield County in the World War' by Van Snider. He said this was significant because despite the Jewish community never totaling more than 100 people, they made enough of an impact to be put in Snider's book.

"(Snider) mentions in this book that this Jewish Welfare Society was very active with volunteering with the Red Cross and helped to raise funds for literary loans, so despite being a really small community, it still made a big enough impact that this author noted it in his book about Fairfield County in World War One," said Reid.

With Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, on Sept. 25, Reid believes that this is a perfect time for readers to be exposed to Lancaster's rich history of Judaism.

For readers interested in learning more about Lancaster's forgotten Jewish past, Reid's full article is available online through the Columbus Jewish Historical Society:

Continued here:

Traces of local Jewish history found by native of Lancaster - Lancaster Eagle Gazette

Torah Sisters bond to piece together Jewish history – The Boston Globe

Posted By on September 25, 2022

In retrospect, the three women Sheila Pallay, Judith Weinberg, and Marlene Yesley were destined to team up; it was beshert, to use the Yiddish word. All three belonged to synagogues with Czech Torahs. And all three had honed skills in retirement that together would ensure the success of their NewBridge project.

Their partnership is embodied in a new quilted cover Something beautiful to dress this Torah after all it has been through, said Weinberg, 71, who spent more hours than she can count stitching the mantle at her Pfaff sewing machine.

The Torah and other scrolls were among more than 200,000 Jewish artifacts confiscated by the Nazis and brought to specialists from the Jewish Museum in Prague to be cataloged and labeled. When the specialists were finished, they were deported to death camps; only a few survived. Meanwhile, the artifacts were warehoused in Prague. After the war, the Czech communist government moved the Torahs to a derelict synagogue for 20 years, and then sought buyers.

In 1964, the British philanthropist Ralph Yablon purchased 1,564 of the Torahs, which were then shipped to a London synagogue. Some were found to have been pierced by bullets and stained by blood. Tucked inside many were notes with messages like Save us, save us.

The Memorial Scrolls Trust was established soon after to preserve the Torahs and loan them to synagogues around the world. Over the last six decades, at least a thousand have found homes with American congregations, including one at Temple Sinai in Sharon and that is where the story of the Torah Sisters begins.

At 75, Sheila Pallay carried the Czech Torah around Sinais sanctuary as she celebrated her bat mitzvah. That same year, the retired high-tech marketing executive obtained a certificate in digital photography from the Rhode Island School of Design after completing a project documenting the restoration of a 17th-century Czech scroll by Rabbi Kevin Hale, a Torah scribe based in Western Mass.

Pallays interest in the Torahs deepened in 2019 when she traveled to the 132 Czech towns that the Nazis used as collection points for Jewish artifacts. Photographs from the trip appear in Light Beyond the Shadows: The Legacy of the Czech Torah Scrolls and the Renewal of Jewish Life in Czechia, which she cowrote with Julius Mller, a Czech genealogist who was her guide and translator. The Memorial Scrolls Trust published the book in 2020.

Jews first settled in Czechoslovakia 1,000 years ago. Before World War II, the nation was home to 354,000, but nearly three quarters died in the Holocaust. Most of the rest emigrated. Today, the Czech Republic is home to about 4,000 Jews.

When Pallay moved to the Hebrew Senior Life community last September, she dreamed of bringing a Czech Torah there to celebrate her upcoming 80th birthday.

While visiting the campus as a prospective resident, she met Weinberg, 71, who had moved to NewBridge in May 2021. They discovered that they had both visited Sobslav, the original home of the Czech Torah on loan to Weinbergs synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom of Needham.

I mean who goes to Sobeslav on vacation? she said of the town 70 miles south of Prague. The fact that we had both been there was an immediate connection.

After retiring as a Needham special education teacher, Weinberg pursued fabric art. When Pallay subsequently told her about her plans for obtaining a Czech Torah for NewBridge, she jumped at the chance to sew its cover.

The last piece of the partnership fell into place in March, when Pallay met Marlene Yesley, 83, in an art class. A longtime educator including decades teaching at Newton North Yesley turned to painting in her retirement and had moved to NewBridge four years before. She had visited the Czech Republic after her synagogue, Temple Israel of Boston, obtained one of the Torahs.

Based on Pallays concept of the tree of life, Yesley set to work designing the Torah cover. An old copper beech tree in a NewBridge courtyard served as her inspiration. She modified the image so that the branches would encircle the Torah, protecting it.

I started with a much more realistic design, and with Sheila and Judys input abstracted it more and more, Yesley said.

The tree has five roots to represent the Five Books of Moses, which make up the Torah. Yesley delineated the patterns of bark on the trunk and limbs, referencing the bark-like doors of NewBridges ark. After 50 hours of penciling and erasing on ever larger sheets of graph paper, Yesley inked the final drawing on sewing tracing paper and turned it over to Weinberg.

Rabbi Judi Ehrlich, the communitys chaplain, wanted the cover to coordinate with two already at NewBridge. Those have a burning bush design and were made from microsuede, a quarter-inch-thick synthetic fabric that is now hard to find.

The Torah Sisters made do with remnants of the other covers, ranging from inches to yards in size. Piecing them together was like assembling a puzzle. Wed look at it and look at it, said Weinberg, who had not worked with the material before. I would not take a stitch until I checked in with them.

To complete the tree, they trimmed to size velvet leaves of assorted colors that were part of a fabric found appropriately enough by Beverly Sky, who had designed NewBridges other Torah covers. While Yesley already had inked in the leaves, the trio together decided on which color to place where.

It wasnt so much a formula like a coloring book, as what we thought looked lovely, Weinberg said.

Overall, the look is autumnal, fitting for a congregation whose members are in the autumn of their lives. The ground beneath the tree bears the Hebrew inscription ldor vador (from generation to generation), the responsibility to pass on values and cultural traditions.

As the women collaborated on the project, they shared their own stories and talked about their families. Playing Jewish geography, Weinberg and Yesley realized their brothers had been friends as children in Dorchester.

The trio also bonded over their feelings about the Torah. Weinberg said, I was the crier when we would get emotional about the Torah, just knowing that this was 250 years old and what it means to the Jewish people and knowing people whose family have gone through the Holocaust, including some of my husbands family.

Pallay said, We can emphasize that it survived the Holocaust, but for me I like to think about the 13-year-old boy in the 1800s who read from this Torah at his bar mitzvah.

Pallays connections with the scrolls trust expedited the process. She and her husband, Herb, drove to New Jersey to pick up a Torah that had been returned by a synagogue that had closed. Like those at two synagogues in Sharon Temple Sinai and Temple Israel the scroll comes from Petice, a town 70 miles southwest of Prague.

Its just amazing that these three Torahs are together again, Pallay said.

The Torah and its cover made its NewBridge debut June 4 on Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the five books of Moses on Mount Sinai. When the curtain opened, Pallay said, there were joyous gasps across the congregation. People started crying. The three of us were so thrilled.

Meanwhile, back in Petice, a church is preparing to display Pallays photographs of Czech Torahs, a sacred relic of the towns past.

Steve Maas can be reached at

See the original post:

Torah Sisters bond to piece together Jewish history - The Boston Globe

Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley: September 30-October 6, 2022 –

Posted By on September 25, 2022

Shalom and greetings from the Rabbi, Board of Directors, and congregation of the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley.All the services, classes, and programs are listed on the synagogue website.Visitors are welcome to attend services. Special uplifting weekly messages for the Hebrew month of Elul recorded by Rabbi Magal are posted on the synagogue website.

On Friday, September 23, a Friday evening Erev Shabbat service, led by Rabbi Alicia Magal, begins at 5:30 pm both in person and on Zoom, and livestreamed for members and their invitees. Congregants participate by lighting candles, doing a reading, or having an Aliyah for the Torah service. Verses from the Torah portion will be chanted:Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9 30:20) as Moses speaks to the new generation of Israelites before they enter the Promised Land, and reminds them of the Covenant which is binding upon all of them, as well as on all the generations to follow for all time. The Torah will be theirs as much as if they had personally received it at Sinai.Blessings for those who are ill, and a Mazal Tov for those celebrating a birthday or anniversary will be offered at the Kabbalat Shabbat service. Kaddish, the Mourners prayer, will be recited in memory of those who passed away either recently or at this time in past years. Shabbat offers a time out from work and worry, an opportunity to be grateful for our lives and the bounty with which we are blessed.

Sunday night, September 25, we will usher in Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year 5783 that begins the High Holy days. Services continue on Monday, September 26, including hearing the blasts of the shofar to wake us up and help us ask for forgiveness for when we have missed the mark of our highest intentions over the past year. Rabbi Magal and Cantorial soloist Marden Paul will lead the services, which will be both in person and livesreamed and through zoom. The full schedule is on the synagogue Second Day Rosh Hashanah services will be on Tuesday, September 27 on zoom only.

Wednesday morning minyan begins at 8:30 a.m. on September 28 on zoom. Join the group to offer healing prayers, and to support those saying the mourners prayer, Kaddish, for a loved one who has passed away. Every person counts and is needed!

On Wednesday at 4:00 pm Rosalie Malter and Rabbi Magal will lead a class on Jewish meditation on Zoom. Each session focuses on a different tool or aspect of Jewish meditation practices.

On Thursday, September 29, at 4:00 pm, Torah study, led by Rabbi Alicia Magal, will be held on Zoom. The Torah reading for that week is Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1 31:30) telling of the appointment of Joshua by Moses to be his successor as leader of Israel. Moses faces his own mortality nad entrusts the Torah to the Kohanim, priests, and the Elders of Israel. The Torah was not to remain the specialty of the priests but was to be heard and to become familiar to all of the people.

The Social Action Committee is continuing to collect food for the local Sedona food pantry. Please drop off cans or boxes of non-perishable foods in the bin which will be inside the foyer of the synagogue through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, October 5.

The Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, located at 100 Meadow Lark Drive off Route 179 in Sedona, is a welcoming, egalitarian, inclusive congregation dedicated to building a link from the past to the future by providing religious, educational, social and cultural experiences. Messages to the office telephone at 928 204-1286 will be answered during the week. Updated information is available on the synagogue website

Read more here:

Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley: September 30-October 6, 2022 -

Page 12«..11121314..2030..»