Judaism

The Complex Reality of Black–Jewish Coalitions in Georgia

January 26, 2021

At a Jeiwsh Democratic Council of America virtual election celebration on January 17th, newly elected Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock reminded the audience about “the longstanding relationship between the African American community and the Jewish community, our shared values, our sense of justice and struggle for peace in the world,” citing the connection between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had once been a pastor at the Atlanta church where Warnock now presides, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. His fellow Georgia senator-elect, Jon Ossoff, offered a similar...

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Georgia’s Black-Jewish campaign is the latest chapter in an old story

January 4, 2021

Not since Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder teamed up to save Rock Ridge from the bad guys in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles" half a century ago has there been a Black-Jewish buddy story like Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s joint runoff campaign in Georgia.

It’s about a Black Baptist preacher and the young Jewish go-getter the preacher calls “my brother from another mother” who, in a scenario that rivals any in American political history, have the eyes of the nation on them as they seek to oust two Republican incumbent senators and give control of Capitol Hill to the Democrats....

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Anti-Semitic flyers warning of Jewish ‘war’ on white people found around Staten Island

January 5, 2021

A white supremacist group from New Jersey posted more than a dozen anti-Semitic flyers on Staten Island.

The flyers, found over the weekend in the New York City borough, are emblazoned with a Jewish star and falsely claim that Antifa, the loose anti-fascist network, is a Jewish organization that is anti-white.

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How alliances between Black and Jewish voters are reshaping one New York district

December 22, 2020

“There’s a perception out there — and for good reason — that the Orthodox community is monolithic,” said Sasha Kesler, who identifies herself as a Modern Orthodox Jew. “And becoming increasingly conservative. But it’s not.”

“I know what I know about my community,” continued Kesler, who lives in Riverdale, New York, and attends the Hebrew Institute, one of the major synagogues in the Bronx neighborhood. “My friends, the rabbis, the leaders: We are progressives. We look to the Torah and the texts we have to teach us the lessons of our obligation to care for others.”

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This year, American Jews are taking Hanukkah outside

December 9, 2020

Jewish tradition teaches that the story of the Hanukkah miracle of light over darkness should be publicized.

It’s the reason some Jews put a menorah (sometimes called a “hanukkiah”) in the window or by the door. Lighting the nine-branched candelabrum is the central ritual of the eight-day holiday, which begins Thursday (Dec. 10).

But for the most part, American Jews have kept the December holiday an indoor celebration among family and friends. Unlike the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when Jews crowd synagogues en masse, Hanukkah has always been a...

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Column: Naperville family’s Hanukkah light display as much about religion as celebrating diversity

December 4, 2020

Is it my imagination or are the holiday lights burning a little brighter this year? Are the trees in downtown Naperville sparkling a little more? When you spot your neighbors’ Christmas tree in the window, does it look a little more bedazzled?

Is there finally an actual light at the end of the dark tunnel that is 2020?

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FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: Local resident finds outpouring of support for new holiday installation

December 4, 2020

Sometimes, seeing the world thorugh the eyes of a child brings about the most profound insights. This is what happened to local resident Allison Bloodworth last December when her son, then age 6, started asking some important questions.

"He asked me while we were driving around town, 'Why aren't there any Hanukkah lights?'" said Bloodworth.

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In Chicago, an LGBTQ Talmud study center gets a pandemic boost

November 30, 2020

Before becoming a rabbi, Benay Lappe wanted to be a Buddhist monk.

While Jews have often been drawn to Eastern traditions, few dedicate nearly a decade to becoming a devout Buddhist in Japan. Lappe is hardcore. But before making her final commitment, she consulted with a rabbi in Tokyo who gave her a copy of “Pirkei Avot.”

This little Jewish book of wisdom “messed me up,” she said, and she had the realization that Jews were indeed as wise as Buddhists.

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Muslim, Sikh and Jewish groups seek inclusion in California’s new ethnic studies curriculum

November 19, 2020

LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Religious groups are urging California education officials to include their histories and cultures in a model ethnic studies curriculum being developed for high schools in the state.

The proposed curriculum, which the Department of Education has been planning since 2018, centers on Chicanos and Latino Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans. It is intended to serve as a guide as schools design the ethnic studies courses that could be mandated for graduation beginning later this decade.

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The Other Side of the Pandemic

November 19, 2020

For 40 years, Judie Cotton has volunteered at the Valley Beth Shalom Counseling Center, an independent nonprofit staffed by 25 trained counselors and housed at Valley Beth Shalom, a 1,500-member Conservative congregation in Encino, California. This year she has noticed increased call volume both at the counseling center and her private therapy practice, particularly among adults under 40 suffering from depression and anxiety.

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Jews, Hindus and Buddhists host event to discuss the meaning of the swastika

November 11, 2020

A major New York Jewish organization co-hosted an event in New York this week to debate a subject that most in the city assume has long been settled — whether the swastika is good or bad.

While the notorious hooked-cross symbol has long been associated with the evil of Nazism and hate, it has for even longer been revered by Hindus and Buddhists, who argued Monday that swastika was misused by Hitler and its image should be rehabilitated.

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Hate Has No Home In Ithaca, Local Faith Leaders Say

November 11, 2020

Following several racist and anti-Semitic incidents in Ithaca, local faith leaders are doubling down on ongoing anti-racist programming. While their approaches vary, they have a common message: Hate has no home in Ithaca.

In recent months, local religious leaders have invited speakers on anti-racism, organized anti-racist reading groups and have sought to...

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Vote, pray, wait: Faith leaders reassure congregations, call for full vote count as election remains uncertain

November 5, 2020

As the first polls began to close Tuesday (Nov. 3), the Rev. Cara Tanis logged off.

Instead of obsessing over election returns as they trickled in throughout the night, she went for a walk.

Tanis was joined by 50 to 70 people who attended “Walking for the Common Good” around Seattle’s Green Lake, carrying battery-operated votive candles and praying that every vote cast in the 2020 presidential election would be counted.

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Displays of devotion: Art reflects faith in northwest Ohio homes

November 2, 2020

Lord Ganesha greets visitors to the home of Jagdish and Shobha Patel in Holland.

A figurine of the deity is positioned prominently in an altar set into a wall just off the kitchen, depicted as is traditional with the body of a man and the head of an elephant. One of several such depictions that the couple displays in their home, this one in porcelain and in the characteristic style of Lladró, it serves a purpose both spiritual and artistic.

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An experiment in unity: Jews, Christians and Muslims mingle on shared campus

October 21, 2020

At a time when the nation feels more divided than ever, one unlikely group in Omaha, Nebraska, is trying to bring people together.

The Tri-Faith Initiative is a unique experiment in unity, sprawling across 38 acres on the edge of the city, almost smack in the center of America. There's a synagogue, a mosque and a church — and on Saturday, Tri-Faith introduced a new interfaith center, the final piece of a plan that was years in the making...

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