Judaism

How a coming-of-age ritual for Jewish girls aided the rise of women's rights

March 1, 2022

A century ago, Jewish American girls gained the right to come of age ritually as their male counterparts do: with sheer terror delivering speeches and chanting biblical Hebrew in their squeaky voices before family, friends and entire congregations. Like bar mitzvah boys, they too could receive the sorts of gifts “you’ll appreciate when you’re older,” like trees planted in Israel in their names.

Today bat (or bas) mitzvahs are commonplace — and occasions for...

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Simeon Maslin, influential rabbi, national Reform leader, and author, dies at 90

March 1, 2022

Simeon Maslin, 90, of Philadelphia, senior rabbi emeritus at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and an influential author and speaker on Jewish life, died Saturday, Jan. 29, of cancer at home.

As senior rabbi at Keneseth Israel from 1980 to 1997, Rabbi Maslin spoke often and wrote extensively about his faith and its collision with modern issues. A teacher and mentor to many in the...

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Doug Emhoff highlights Black interfaith contributions as new project launches

February 24, 2022

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff lauded the interfaith work of Black religious communities for “saving lives” through distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and for continuing efforts to get out the vote when he spoke at a midweek Black History Month event.

“Over the past year, Black faith communities have been working as trusted voices in their communities and getting the right facts and information out to their neighbors,” he said in remarks Wednesday (Feb. 23) at an online event co-hosted by the White House and the Black Interfaith Project. “This has led to millions upon...

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Boston area college in turmoil after weeks-long string of antisemitic and racist incidents

February 22, 2022

For nearly a month, a small liberal arts college just miles outside of Boston has been roiled by a spate of hate incidents, including antisemitic graffiti and threatening racist language, prompting the school to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved.

The incidents at Curry College, located in Milton, a suburb south of Boston, began Jan. 27, when International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed worldwide, with reports of drawings of swastikas and discriminatory and hateful language.

Numerous other...

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Ohio bill would require colleges to allow student accommodation for religious observance

February 21, 2022

The Ohio House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on a bill on Feb. 15 that would require colleges and universities in the state to provide accommodation for students when there are conflicts between class assignments, exams and religious observances.

A number of Jewish organizations, including dozens of Hillels, Chabad Houses, historically Jewish fraternities, Jewish Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils, are supporting the legislation.

The bipartisan ...

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Health care provider pays $75,000 in 'scrub skirt' religious bias suit

February 2, 2022

A Tennessee-based health care provider will pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit involving an Apostolic Pentecostal nurse who wanted to wear a “scrub skirt” to work. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the company denied the nurse’s right to religious accommodation.

Wellpath LLC hired Christian nurse Malinda Babineaux in 2019 to provide health services at Central Texas Correctional Facility in San Antonio. After accepting the Texas job offer, Babineaux informed the company’s human resources team that her religious beliefs required her to...

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A Jewish Teacher Criticized Israel. She Was Fired.

February 3, 2022

Last summer, Jessie Sander had been on the job at a Jewish school in Westchester County for less than a month when a meeting with her boss took an unexpected turn. Was she comfortable working at a Zionist institution? he asked.

Her boss, Rabbi David E. Levy of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, N.Y., had come across a recent blog post she had written that renounced Zionism and sharply criticized Israel, Ms. Sander, 26, said in a lawsuit filed on Jan. 25. The rabbi had...

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Rabbi tells lawmakers about hostage ordeal and calls for more funding for security

February 8, 2022

The rabbi who escaped a hostage takeover at his synagogue last month testified before Congress for the first time on Tuesday about his ordeal, detailing why he opened the door for the attacker and how he and others were able to flee after the hours-long standoff.

On the morning of January 15 when the gunman arrived, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of the Congregation...

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Biden's pick to combat antisemitism finally gets hearing

February 8, 2022

Describing herself as an “equal-opportunity foe of antisemitism,” President Joe Biden’s pick to monitor and combat prejudice against Jews around the world finally got her day before the Senate committee that will evaluate her nomination.

Biden had nominated Deborah Lipstadt to lead the State Department’s office for combating antisemitism in late July. A hostage standoff last month at a Texas synagogue brought about new calls for the Senate to act on her nomination.

“We’ve seen a spike of antisemitism here at home and abroad, making this position exceedingly...

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Jewish Federations eye security improvements for communities

February 1, 2022

A year before the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, a security director from the city’s Jewish federation came to the house of worship to train its religious school staff and rabbi on how to respond to violent situations. At the time, Stephen Weiss thought it was unnecessary.

But Weiss, then a teacher at the synagogue’s religious school, attended the training, where he was taught to avoid being easily seen by an active shooter and strategies to get away from dangerous areas. Both lessons proved useful in 2018 when a gunman entered the synagogue and killed 11...

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First rabbi chosen to lead Essex County social justice group

February 3, 2022

For much of the past two decades, Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin has worked on the front lines of campaigns to secure fairer treatment and greater opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Now, the veteran activist has a new opportunity to put those organizing skills to work as the next leader of the Essex County Community Organization.

ECCO, a faith-based grass-roots organization that fights for racial and social justice, named Ronkin its new executive director effective Jan. 15. The Jamaica...

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Planned alternative yeshiva in D.C. is hit with stop-work order

January 31, 2022

D.C. officials have halted work on what its founder hopes will be the city’s only yeshiva, or stand-alone Jewish study center, after regulators found a two-story building under construction — not the “enlarged family room” for which the city had given a permit.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld announced late last year that he was leaving his longtime pulpit, Ohev Sholom, the District’s largest Orthodox synagogue, to found Yeshivas Reb Elimelech on a quiet residential street in the Northwest Washington neighborhood of Shepherd Park.

...
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