Judaism

A Black and Jewish Bible scholar will lead Reconstructionist rabbinical school, in a first for American Jewish movements

June 18, 2021

(JTA) — The Reconstructionist movement has chosen a Jew of color to lead its rabbinical college, a first for a major American Jewish movement.

Hebrew Bible scholar Amanda Beckenstein Mbuvi, who is Black, will lead the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside of Philadelphia, the movement’s umbrella organization Reconstructing Judaism announced this week. She will become vice president of academic affairs, the school’s highest post, and report to Reconstructing Judaism CEO Rabbi Deborah Waxman.

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Religious institutions step up to help after Surfside tragedy, special mass to be held Friday

June 25, 2021

SURFSIDE, Fla. – The South Florida community is eager to help the victims of Thursday’s condominium collapse in Surfside, including religious institutions.

Local 10 News has learned that many people who lived in the Chaplain Towers South building regularly attended temple at The Shul of Bal Harbour.

And just four blocks away from the collapse, donations are pouring in to The Shul Jewish Community cCCenter.

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EEOC Condemns Antisemitism in Unanimous Resolution

May 27, 2021

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has unanimously approved a resolution condemning the recent violence, harassment, and acts of bias against Jewish individuals in the United States, the agency announced today. The resolution reaffirms the Commission’s commitment to combat all forms of harassment and discrimination against members of the Jewish community, and to ensure equal opportunity, inclusion, and dignity for all in the workplace.

“Hatred, bigotry, and antisemitism violate our nation’s core principles and impact all of us,” said EEOC...

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Jewish groups condemn Arizona's potential use of gas executions

June 14, 2021

Janice Friebaum can trace family members who were murdered at the Nazi death camp of Treblinka — two grandparents, three great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and countless cousins — among the millions of Jews killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

The politicization of the Holocaust amid the coronavirus pandemic has only undermined the barbarity inflicted on the victims of genocide, she said, adding that Americans may become "desensitized by false analogies" like equating mass murder with mask-wearing mandates.

But when she learned her home state of Arizona...

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Pittsburgh Judaism is undergoing a renaissance. Young queer Jews are leading it.

June 8, 2021

Centuries ago, Tu B’Av was a Jewish holiday for matchmaking. Today, if celebrated at all, the vibe tends to be more Valentine’s Day-esque: it might involve singing, dancing, cards or flowers. 

Or, at Moishe House Pittsburgh, reading queer Jewish love poems.

Moishe House is part of an international organization with communal houses in many cities. It subsidizes Jewish millennials’ rent, and they in turn plan events for Jewish young adults.

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White House science adviser to be sworn in on a 500-year-old Jewish text

June 2, 2021

WASHINGTON (RNS) — When Vice President Kamala Harris’ office reached out to Eric Lander, the new director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to ask what book he planned to use during his swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday (June 2), he was stumped.

“I confess I had not thought about the question until they asked,” Lander told Religion News Service. “But once they asked, I had to think deeply about it, because when you choose a text you’re choosing values, or history, or other meaningful things.”

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Alaska Jewish museum, gay bar tagged with swastika stickers

May 27, 2021

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A tall, thin man wearing a hood and a mask was caught on a security camera plastering Nazi stickers on a Jewish museum in Alaska’s largest city early Tuesday.

He drove a scooter to the Alaska Jewish Museum, placed one sticker on the door and jumped to place three more symbols of hate on windows before driving off, Rabbi Yosef Greenberg, the president of the museum’s board of directors, said of what their video cameras showed happening at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

About 45 minutes later, another sticker was placed on the main entrance door to Mad Myrna...

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Swastika found scratched into Salt Lake City Jewish center

May 17, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A swastika was found scratched into the door of a Jewish community center in Salt Lake City Sunday morning.

Salt Lake City police received a call reporting the vandalism at the Chabad Jewish Community Center Synagogue around 8:30 a.m., according to the department.

In a tweet posted that morning, Chabad Rabbi Avremi Zippel shared photos of the swastika and wrote, “We will not cower in fear.”

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Interfaith efforts strained by Israeli-Palestinian violence

May 14, 2021

The escalation of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dismaying American Muslims and Jews who’ve been working to build bridges between their communities and are now struggling to quell fear and anger in their own circles.

“We’re heartbroken,” said Muslim attorney Atiya Aftab, the New Jersey-based co-founder of a major interfaith group, the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. She added that the situation threatens to derail the group’s work.

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Across faiths, US volunteers mobilize for India crisis

May 11, 2021

Volunteers at Hindu temples, Muslim groups and Sikh relief organizations across the United States are mobilizing to support India as the world’s second most populous country struggles to handle a devastating surge of the coronavirus.

From coast to coast, faith groups tied to the Indian diaspora have collected hundreds of oxygen concentrators and electrical transformers to ship to overwhelmed hospitals, raised millions for everything from food to firewood for funeral pyres and gathered in prayer for spiritual support for the Asian nation.

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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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