Judaism

Washington National Cathedral dedicates carving to Elie Wiesel, the first modern Jew memorialized in the building

October 12, 2021

Washington National Cathedral on Tuesday dedicated the fourth of the planned “quartet” of human rights carvings in the building’s vestibule, honoring the late Elie Wiesel with prayer and discussion of the Holocaust survivor’s legacy of pursuing justice, hope and faith in the face of humanity’s darkest crimes.

The dedication marked the first time a modern Jew has been memorialized at the huge, Gothic-style cathedral, which houses hundreds of images in its carvings, stained glass and other art inside and outside in an effort to be a...

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American Girl releases doll outfits for Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah celebrations

October 5, 2021

This holiday season, American Girl characters Samantha, Addy and Josefina can celebrate the Christian holiday of Christmas, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah or Diwali, the festival of lights observed by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs.

Next year, they’ll be ready for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, too.

The religious holidays are part of a capsule collection of doll clothes and accessories for six cultural celebrations and were released last week by American Girl, the popular line of dolls and books telling the stories of American girls throughout history to the...

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After tweaking rituals during the pandemic, a Jewish burial society in Pittsburgh has made amends

October 5, 2021

Tahara, the act of washing and purifying the deceased, is paramount to Jewish burial. So when the pandemic descended on the United States in March 2020, members of a Pittsburgh-based Jewish burial society devoted to the practice made a difficult decision.

Given fears of COVID-19 transmission, members of the New Community Chevra Kadisha stopped traveling to funeral homes and performing the sacred act of tahara in person. Instead of physically washing and purifying a body prior to burial, members gathered on Zoom for what they called a “spiritual tahara,” ...

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Sailors, Marines seek religious accommodation to wear beards

October 1, 2021

Shave or be Shaved. Aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, sailor Edmund Di Liscia faced a stark choice. According to his lawyers, he was told to either shave his beard voluntarily or be held down by his bunk mate and forcibly shaved. For Di Liscia, a practicing Hasidic Jew who had not shaved for more than two years, it was a choice between his loyalty to the U.S. Navy and his religious faith.

Di Liscia is one of several sailors and marines who are seeking religious accommodation to wear beards while in uniform.  

Earlier this year, Di Liscia, along with three...

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The Unorthodox Art of an Ultra-Orthodox Community

September 24, 2021

When Shoshana Golin-Cahn set her sights on attending fine-arts school almost 30 years ago, she did what many Orthodox Jews do when faced with a big decision: She called her rabbi. He told her the one limitation she would face was that she was not to draw live male nude models, because the rabbi felt that doing so would be immodest for a single woman.

Growing up in a large Orthodox community in Monsey, New York, Golin-Cahn, who’s 53, felt like an anomaly when she decided to pursue fine arts professionally; community members looked at her askance. “It was like art was too...

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"My heart is breaking:" Rabbi responds to metro Atlanta high school's bathroom defaced with Anti-Semitic images

September 13, 2021

Cobb County parents are concerned after bathrooms were vandalized with anti-semitic images at Alan C. Pope High School in Marietta Friday. 

 

Parents concerned after metro Atlanta high school's bathroom vandalized with anti-semitic images

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Religious organizations prepare for 'potential onslaught' of evictions

September 9, 2021

The Supreme Court’s Aug. 26 decision to end the federal eviction moratorium brings new challenges for religious leaders and organizations working to aid those at risk for homelessness. More than 3.6 million Americans say they could face eviction in the next two months, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We’re very, very nervous,” said Sarah Abramson, vice president of strategy and impact at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. “There is already a tremendous housing shortage in Boston. And we know from our data, and from the experience of our partners...

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For a Second Year, Jews Mark the High Holy Days in the Shadow of Covid

September 6, 2021

The leadership at Central Synagogue in Manhattan had big plans this year for the Jewish High Holy Days: After celebrating via livestream during the pandemic last fall, they rented out Radio City Music Hall for a grand celebration.

But the spread of the Delta variant has upended those plans. Now, they’ll still use the 5,500-seat music hall, but only at 30 percent capacity. And everyone must show proof of vaccination and wear masks.

“In some ways, last year was easier to plan because it was so absolutely clear we would be gathering virtually,” said Angela W. Buchdahl...

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This rabbinical school is moving into a Catholic university

September 2, 2021

The Academy for Jewish Religion California has rented space in several locations during its 21-year existence as a transdenominational seminary that trains rabbis and cantors.

For a while it was housed in an office building in downtown Los Angeles, then at Hillel, the Jewish campus organization at the University of California Los Angeles.

But beginning Oct. 1, in an arrangement both novel and pathbreaking, the academy will move to Loyola Marymount...

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Antisemitic and anti-Muslim content is flourishing on TikTok, report finds

August 27, 2021

Researchers analyzing TikTok for extremist content have discovered videos that portray Muslims as supporters of terrorism, clips supporting Holocaust denial and users glorifying the mass shooters behind the Christchurch mosque and Tree of Life Synagogue attacks.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based nonprofit that tracks extremism online, released a report on Tuesday (Aug. 24) that found TikTok “operates as a new arena for...

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Houses of Worship Struggle Back, and Tread Lightly on Vaccines

August 25, 2021

The weekly rhythms of Catholic life have started to return at Our Lady of Lourdes in Harlem. The pews are packed on Sunday mornings, prayer groups meet after work and the collection plate is almost as full as it was before the coronavirus pandemic began.

But parishioners are starting to worry about the virus again.

“For a little while everyone felt more free, not using masks and things like that,” said the Rev. Gilberto Ángel-Neri, the pastor. “But now that we hear all the news about the Delta variant, everyone is using masks again.”

Source:...

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Synagogues hoped to be in person this year. Now they're not so sure.

August 18, 2021

Two weeks ago, Rabbi Steven Engel and his staff at Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando, Florida, had a solid pandemic safety plan for the best-attended services of the year: Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The plan called for:

  • Doubling the number of services to allow the congregation’s 1,500 members to distance from one another.
  • Members only in attendance.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Outdoor-only services for unvaccinated children.
  • No members on the...
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Study: Jews of color love Judaism but often experience racism in Jewish settings

August 12, 2021

A groundbreaking study of the experiences of more than 1,100 American Jews of color finds many feel a strong sense of belonging to the larger white Jewish establishment but 80% said they have also suffered discrimination or racism in Jewish settings.

The study, the first of its kind, was undertaken by 16 scholars, many at...

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White House appoints liaison to Jewish community

August 6, 2021

(RNS) — The White House has tapped an Orthodox Jewish man who served as President Barack Obama’s Jewish liaison during his last year in office to fill that role again in the Biden administration.

Chanan Weissman, 37, currently director for technology and democracy for the National Security Council, will pick up his old job, the White House announced Friday (Aug. 6). Weissman has worked for the State Department for most of his career, more recently for the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Source: ...

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Marc Lieberman, Who Brought Jews and Buddhists Together, Dies at 72

August 8, 2021

Dr. Marc Lieberman, an ophthalmologist and self-proclaimed “Jewish Buddhist” who, when he wasn’t treating glaucoma, organized a dialogue between Jewish scholars and the Dalai Lama, and who later brought sight back to thousands of Tibetans stricken by cataracts, died on Aug. 2 at his home in San Francisco. He was 72.

His son, Michael, said the cause was prostate cancer.

Dr. Lieberman, who called himself a “JuBu,” retained his Jewish faith but incorporated aspects of Buddhist teachings and practices. He kept kosher and observed the sabbath, but he also meditated...

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