Judaism

Long-hidden synagogue mural gets rehabbed, relocated

August 16, 2022

A mural that was painted in a Vermont synagogue more than 100 years ago by a Lithuanian immigrant — and hidden behind a wall for years— has been termed a rare piece of art and has been painstakingly moved and restored.

The large colorful triptych painted by sign painter Ben Zion Black in 1910 shows the Ten Commandments with a lion on both sides, the sun beaming down, and columns and rich curtains at the borders. Now known as the “Lost Mural,” it’s a rare representation of a kind of art that graced wooden synagogues in Europe that were largely destroyed during the Holocaust,...

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Teaching teachers about the Holocaust and its lessons for democracy today

August 10, 2022

At a seminar for schoolteachers on teaching the Holocaust, instructor Donna Tarney rolled through a list of antisemitic tropes about Jews throughout history.

In the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of poisoning wells and using human blood to make matzo.

In the early 20th century, automaker Henry Ford claimed Jews caused World War I, the outbreak of “thieving and robbery” — even, he said, the ...

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Boston's Jews are getting a 'Jewish tavern' to study religious text--and drink beer

August 9, 2022

A century ago, German philosopher Franz Rosenzweig spearheaded the revival of intellectual Jewish life in the city of Frankfurt am Main with the “Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus” — the Jewish House of Free Study.

As many as 1,100 adult students would attend lectures tailored to secular Jews and aimed at democratizing the kind of Jewish learning that was typically restricted to the beit midrash, or formal house of Jewish study.

Now, a Lehrhaus in the spirit of 1920s Frankfurt is coming to the Boston area. The brainchild of Rabbi Charlie Schwartz and Sefaria cofounder...

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A group of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn is reviving the golden age of cantorial music

August 3, 2022

Jeremiah Lockwood comes from a family of cantors, the spiritual leaders that guide Jewish congregations in prayer and song. His grandfather, the late Jacob Konigsberg, served as a cantor in several cities and performed in concerts outside of religious services, always hoping to inspire people with liturgical music.

It's no surprise that Lockwood would incorporate cantorial music in his own band, The Sway Machinery, and wrote his dissertation about Chasidic...

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An interfaith group in Oregon is behind one of nation's strictest gun control measures

July 26, 2022

Oregonians will be voting on one of America’s strictest gun control measures on the ballot this November.

If passed by voters, the gun safety initiative would ban the sale of magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds and would require permits and firearm safety courses to purchase any gun. Applicants would have...

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U.S. diplomat with antisemitic, racist blog still employed by State Dept.

July 28, 2022

Nearly a year and a half after a U.S. foreign service officer was revealed to be the author of a racist and antisemitic blog, he is still employed at the State Department — and he still posts on the website on a near-daily basis.

Fritz Berggren, who has worked with Afghan immigrants and in Bahrain, runs a website called BloodAndFaith.com that frequently assails the Jewish faith, members of the LGBTQ community and Black Americans, and argues that the United States should be a Christian nation-state. In February 2021, ...

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Do Jewish New Yorkers care about identity politics? Jerry Nadler hopes so.

July 19, 2022

Jerry Nadler was fishing for votes outside Zabar’s, that purveyor of bagels and babka on Manhattan’s West Side, when Carole Kaufmann stopped to take the congressman’s campaign flier.

“A heymisher man,” said Kaufmann, 86, using the Yiddish word for familiar as she admired the 75-year-old Democrat in his blue suit, red striped tie and sensible shoes. Nadler is Jewish, and Kaufmann likes that about him.

“I want him around,” Kaufmann...

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Kentucky GOP group blames hacker for calling new US firearms regulator part of a 'Jewish junta'

July 18, 2022

When Steve Dettelbach was confirmed last week as the director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he became the beleaguered bureau’s first head to pass a Senate confirmation in eight years. For some, the confirmation offered hope of a changing tide in America’s sea of mass shootings.

But a county Republican group in Kentucky saw a different story: that Dettelbach is part of a “Jewish junta” that “is getting stronger and more aggressive.”

The Bracken County Republican Party, representing a rural county with a population of around 8,400...

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Members of minority faith, belief communities have mixed responses to Supreme Court ruling in favor of football coach praying on field

July 8, 2022

Members of minority faith and belief communities had mixed reactions after the recent Supreme Court ruling that said the Constitution protected a high school football coach in Washington who prayed on the field after games.

Some worried the high court’s ruling isn’t necessarily...

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A Jewish camp is reassuring families amid a 'social media offensive' over its inclusion of trans children

July 8, 2022

A Jewish summer camp in southern California is reassuring families after a prominent anti-LGBTQ Twitter account, Libs of TikTok, called attention to a year-old “diversity and inclusion” statement on its website.

“Camp Ramah, which owns tens of camps across the country, announced they are housing kids according to their gender identity rather than birth sex,” the account tweeted Wednesday afternoon. It linked to ...

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Jewish, Islamic faith leaders say religion drives their abortion access views

July 7, 2022

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, some religious leaders celebrated the decision. Others denounced it. 

"It's just horrifying and frustrating and angering, and that feeling hasn't gone away and isn't going to go away," Rabbi Bonnie Margulis said. 

Margulis is the chair of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. She said she...

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Judges dismiss Jewish couple's suit alleging adoption bias

July 5, 2022

A panel of Tennessee judges has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a couple who alleged that a state-sponsored Christian adoption agency refused to help them because they are Jewish.

The lawsuit against the state challenged a 2020 law that installed legal protections for private adoption agencies to reject state-funded placement of children to parents based on religious beliefs.

Much of the criticism of the law had focused on how it allowed adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people...

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Leading Orthodox groups cheered the end of Roe v. Wade. Many Orthodox women are panicking.

June 30, 2022

Pam Scheininger and J. David Bleich have this much in common: They are Orthodox Jews who are preoccupied with Jewish ethics and teach at New York City law schools.

But when Scheininger looks at an American map, she sees 16 states where Orthodox Jewish women would not be able to have an abortion otherwise sanctioned by Jewish law. Bleich sees a different number — zero.

Disagreements among Jews over where Jewish and state laws intersect on abortion, once theoretical, have taken on urgency in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this week overturning Roe v. Wade...

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Boise High grad brings community together to counter local Baptist pastor

June 28, 2022

Lizzy Duke-Moe, a Boise High School graduate who is attending Brown University in the fall, was spurred into action last week to counter a local Baptist pastor who called for the death of all gay people.

Duke-Moe said in an email that her mom, Keely Duke, and stepmom, Sarah Seidl are married — “they got married in Idaho,” Duke-Moe said, and her mother had shown her an article about the pastor’s sermons. “And...

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LGBTQ youth of faith retell their stories to inspire others

June 27, 2022

Sabrina Hodak grew up in a Modern Jewish Orthodox family but only truly embraced Judaism at age 16, around the same time she understood she was bisexual.

It was an upsetting and confusing time, because the same religious mentors who helped her strengthen her beliefs kept saying her sexuality would conflict with her faith.

“That was very frustrating, because I also knew that a lot of other religious people believed that,” said Hodak, now a 19-year-old psychology major at Florida International University. In her journal, she kept asking, “Can I please just find...

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