Judaism

Hoboken’s first Sikh mayor is on the front lines of fighting antisemitism

May 5, 2021

When Ravi Bhalla moved to Hoboken, N.J., he was a recent law school graduate thinking he’d stay for a few years and save on rent by not living across the river in New York City. “I was a bachelor,” said Bhalla. “Hoboken checked all those boxes [for] a young, single person wanting to have access to Manhattan, but also being a Jersey boy like myself, wanting to stay in New Jersey.” 

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Iowa City school board takes historic vote, adds days off for Eid al-Fitr, Yom Kippur

April 14, 2021

In a historic move for the state, Iowa City school district officials on Tuesday approved two days off next school year to accommodate Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday, and Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday.

It all started with one student's advocacy. Reem Kirja, 13, has been petitioning the district to change the calendar since she was in elementary school. In her three years of emails and discussions with district leadership, she has argued that allowing days off for Eid recognizes the diversity of the district, breaks down stereotypes about...

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Houston synagogue files federal lawsuit claiming city violating its religious rights

April 5, 2021

A synagogue in Houston has filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming that it is violating its right to free exercise of religion by denying the right to worship in a residential neighborhood.

In a court filing last week, the Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston, also doing business as Heimish of Houston with a separate building, and property owner Michael Winkler alleges the city is trying to enforce a "residential-use deed restriction" on the property, which would force the synagogue to close.

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Religious holidays arrive for the faithful as pandemic restrictions rolled back across U.S.

March 31, 2021

For Christians across the United States, Easter services on Sunday will reflect an extra measure of joy as the nation experiences rising optimism after a year of pandemic. Even if still observing restrictions, many churches may draw the largest numbers of in-person worshippers in months.

It’s a season of major holy days for other faiths as well, occurring in a brighter mood than a year ago. Jews are observing Passover this week, and Muslims will enter the holy month of Ramadan in about two weeks.

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Members of many Covid-weary Vermont faith communities are staying online

March 30, 2021

A year after moving to online offerings, some Vermont spiritual communities are returning to in-person services this Easter, Passover and Ramadan, while others continue to restrict gatherings to virtual ones.

“If you recall, none of our churches were open for the Easter celebrations last year as we began the initial struggle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne said. “Unlike last year, Easter this year is a bit more festive, a bit more celebratory.”

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Duxbury Residents Tell Select Board That Anti-Semitism Must Be Addressed

March 30, 2021

A number of Duxbury residents told their Board of Selectmen at a meeting Monday night that anti-Semitism has been an ongoing problem in their community. The comments came as an independent investigation continues into the use of anti-Semitic language on the field by the high school football team.

Long-time Duxbury High School coach Dave Maimaron, who apologized last week for what he called “insensitive, crass and inappropriate language” by his team, was fired on March 24.

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Religious Life at BU Is “Resilient and Resurgent,” despite Pandemic

March 30, 2021

In spring 2020, the 104-year-old widow of a former BU professor became one of Marsh Chapel’s first congregants to die from COVID-19. “We have not been able to gather” to memorialize her or others lost during the pandemic, as on-premises gathering remains suspended, Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Allan Hill laments one year later.

Yet while the virus forced what Hill calls “worshipping...

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Brandeis University Celebrates Passover for First Time

March 23, 2021

(JTA) – To prepare for Passover, Sam Greene is deep-cleaning his dorm room in keeping with the standards of his Orthodox Jewish family.

Lena Ben-Gideon is compiling readings about immigration to supplement her haggadah.

And Juliana Sherer is casting her friends in a dramatic performance of “Had Gadya,” the song that plays a prominent role in her family’s Seders.

In a typical year, the three Brandeis University students would be heading home to spend Passover with their families in Cleveland,...

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Pittsburgh religious leaders offer prayers, comfort and encouragement during COVID memorial service

March 19, 2021

Out of grief and sheer frustration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rev. Karie Charlton of Third Presbyterian Church in Shadyside admitted that she cried herself to sleep at several points throughout the past year.

In sharing her story of grief and vulnerability, Rev. Charlton said she hopes others may feel inspired to make themselves vulnerable to their loved ones as well during such a difficult time.

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From Walla Walla to Kansas City, how small Jewish communities survived the pandemic

March 19, 2021

The lone synagogue in Walla Walla, Washington, is housed in a repurposed convenience store and run by volunteers. The synagogue, Cong. Beth Israel, has never provided the array of programs available at those in larger cities, but for decades it’s been the only Jewish institution serving a vast swath of the state and parts of neighboring ones.

“We’ll get people from two hours away who say, ‘Hey I’m Jewish but I’m kind of disconnected because I’m out here in rural Oregon,’” said Evan Heisman, the synagogue’s board secretary.

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School Board Directs FCPS to Draft New Calendar Ahead of Vote

March 9, 2021

Inundated with messages from staff and community members on proposed changes to the 2021-22 calendar, Fairfax County School Board members directed Superintendent Scott Brabrand to redraft it.

During a work session on Tuesday (Mar. 2), the board told staff to consider ways to add flexibility through floating holidays. They said the calendar...

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Bar and bat mitzvah dates have been locked in for years. When the pandemic changed everything, families got creative.

March 2, 2021

Most mortals have lost track of time as the pandemic spills into year two. But God — assume for the purposes of this article there is one, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-everything — loses track of nothing and nobody, including the generation of Jewish children who, during the time of covid, turned 13.

On that occasion, these children become adults in the eyes of their religious community. Their bar or bat mitzvah day (b’nai mitzvah is the plural) is the culmination of significant preparation; children are typically assigned b’nai mitzvah dates...

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Religious Groups Keep Faith During Pandemic, Remote Academic Year

February 23, 2021

D. Anthony Alvarez ’21, a member of the Harvard Latter-day Saints Student Association, has attended religious services at the same congregation off campus since he arrived at Harvard as a freshman.

This semester, Alvarez said he still attends services at that same congregation. Amid Covid-19, though, he must sign up to attend ahead of time, don a mask, and eschew singing, which can spread infectious particles.

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