Stories written by Jasmin Sasin

Jews Celebrate Canadian Town’s First Torah


The Jewish community of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, and specifically the members of Chabad of Okanagan, got to take part in a once in a lifetime experience to help complete a Torah, something all members of the Jewish faith hope to do at some point during their life. “The Torah is the […]

Brooklyn’s ‘Crazy Chicken Lady’ and the 20-year Fight Against the Kapparot Ritual


For years, Rina Deych was treated like she was crazy. Fighting the Yom Kippur ritual of kapparot, she was told things had always been this way and if she kept up the battle, she would only incite anti-Semitism. Year after year, people would kindly suggest she find another hobby. Cats, maybe. But today, the Brooklyn […]

Protesters Try to Stop Kaporos in Crown Heights


A small but determined group of demonstrators gathered at Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights yesterday to protest the Kaporos ceremonies that take place in Orthodox Jewish communities the week before Yom Kippur. The ritual requires that the chickens be held by their wings and swung three times in small circles over the heads […]

Syria Crisis Highlights Rift Running Through J Street


Among the many political fault lines unearthed by the debate over American military intervention in Syria, one touched directly on the internal rift running through J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby.   The group has prided itself in the past for “having the president’s back” as he seeks to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. But in this […]

$5 Chickens for Kaporos at NCFJE


Subsidized chickens for the traditional Kaporos ritual will once again be provided for Crown Heights residents by the NCFJE. The discounted $5 price tag is made possible by a generous contribution from diamond mogul Morris Gad for the eighth consecutive year. He is joined by local landlord and developer, Rabbi Dovid Fischer, as co-sponsor. Chickens will be available […]

Op-Ed: An Average Crown Heights Voter’s Thoughts on Today’s Election


Today is primary day in New York City. Each party will be picking their candidates for the general election, which will be held November 5th.   Some of my friends have been asking me, whom I think they should support in the Democratic primaries. I thought it would be nice to share my view on the primary election from the perspective of an average voter in Crown Heights. […]

The Story of a Mysterious Jewish Holiday Phrase: ‘The Book of Life’


Kotvenu b’sefer he-ḥayyim, “Inscribe us in the Book of Life,” Jews pray in the days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. “May you be written down and inscribed for a good year,” they say to each other. No concept or phrase is more associated with the High Holy Days than that of a divine “book” […]

Jews and Politics: Why Vote?


In a day’s time New York City will settle one of the most interesting mayoral races we have seen in a while. As a community, we must come together and support a candidate for mayor and city council. The 35th city council district has seen a wide variety of candidates as well, all of whom […]

How an Asian Convert to Judaism became Unlikely Leader of Unusual Synagogue


What do a Japanese rabbi, a Korean church and a Chinese restaurant have in common? For Temple Isaiah of Great Neck, on Long Island, N.Y., the answer’s no punch line. The three components have all played a crucial role in the congregation’s colorful 46-year history. For 37 years, this Reform congregation held the majority of […]

Jewish Giving: Then and Now


What is an ideal Jewish society? One in which giving is unnecessary? In which giving comes naturally? If a society is truly ideal, then tzedaka (righteous giving) should be unnecessary because there shall be no needy: “There shall be no needy among you…” (Deuteronomy 15:1) But not even Deuteronomy – with its endless directives preparing […]

How to Make a Shofar for High Holidays


One of the most pinnacle points of the Jewish High Holidays is the blowing of the shofar, which happens no less than 100 times during Rosh Hashana alone. So Jewish News One went to the Golan Heights to one of only three shofar factories in the world to discover how a kosher shofar is created. […]

President Barack Obama’s Rosh Hashanah Greeting


U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday issued a video greeting to the Jewish people in honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. “As the high holy days begin, it’s a chance not just to celebrate with family and friends, but to ask some of life’s most piercing questions,” said Obama. “Am I treating strangers […]

For Venezuelan Jews, a New Home for Rosh Hashanah


In Venezuela, Fanny Hausmann celebrated Rosh Hashanah by cooking honey-and-apple cakes, visiting the elderly and gathering with family and friends. This year the customs will be quite similar: She will attend service at the synagogue Wednesday to bring in the Jewish New Year and then host a big dinner for more than two dozen relatives. […]

61% of Israelis: Separate State, Religion


The past Jewish year included an ongoing attempt to draft yeshiva students, emotionally charged Chief Rabbinate elections, the exclusion of ultra-Orthodox parties from the government, an attempt to impose the core curriculum on haredi schools, a dramatic High Court decision against the operation of businesses on Shabbat and an unprecedented ruling by the Jerusalem District […]

Mishpacha Propaganda


When you live out of town, you don’t get the frum magazines until months down the line. You might absentmindedly walk out with the shul’s edition, the one that says DO NOT REMOVE written across it in black marker, and it’s such a relief to have new Jewish reading material in this outpost of frumkeit […]

Is Google Glass Jewish?


Even though the last name Glass is often associated with Jews, no, Google Glass is not Jewish. Google Glass is a shiny piece of technology and as such does not have a personal religious affiliation. But the fine folk at Rusty Brick software are busy at work developing JewGlass – apps for Jews who use […]

Rosh Hashana: The Sound of the Shofar


What is the essence of our faith, the purpose for which the Jewish people have been placed in the world? Fascinatingly enough, the answer is to be found within the central prayer of our Rosh Hashana liturgy: the three blessings, uniquely found within the Additional (Musaf) prayer of Rosh Hashana, of “Malchuyot” (kingship), “Zichronot” (remembrances) […]

Shana Tova and a Sweet New Year from Arutz Sheva


The sonorous call of the ram’s horn – the Shofar – will herald the start of Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) and the festive Hebrew month of Tishrei on Wednesday evening. This year the two days of the Rosh HaShanah holiday, Thursday and Friday, are followed by the Sabbath (Shabbat), creating a three-day weekend for Jews […]

Jewish Students Find a Second Home at Chabad


Every Friday night, Rivka Gurary serves a $1,000 meal. She spends two to three days preparing dishes of chicken, soup,challah, gefilte fish, rice, salads and desserts – from scratch. The meal is not only for her immediate family – her husband, Rabbi Moshe Gurary and their five children – but also the entire Jewish community at the University of Buffalo. […]

Chief Rabbi Lau Urges Better Treatment for Chickens in Kapparot Ritual


Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, David Lau, called for better treatment of the chickens used in the pre-Yom Kippur kapparot ritual. Lau in a letter addressed to ritual organizers and participants wrote that causing the chickens to suffer before and during kapparot would be a “mitzvah through a transgression,” which he said “was not the intention […]

Why is Everyone Suddenly Anti-Uman?


Hey Hesh, Just wondering if you’ve seen all of the anti-Uman stuff as of late, as if suddenly the entire frum community has woken up to something that’s been going on peacefully for many years already. Why all of the animosity? No one seems to have a problem with folks going to kever rochel, maaras […]

Prinz, Persecution, and the Pursuit of Justice


I’ve been working at the Jewish Women’s Archive since the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2011. In my almost-three years here, I have learned one thing above all else: in order to understand ourselves, to know our past, and to build our future, we must tell our stories. And this past week […]

Rabbi David Lau: Prevent Animal Suffering


The Jewish New Year is just around the corner, but animal rights organizations are already dealing with the Kapparot ritual which is conducted during the days leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, to transfer one’s sins to a chicken. The Let the Animals Live association has appealed to Israel’s new Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi […]

Chief Rabbi Lau Urges Prayers for Pollard’s Release


Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau has urged worshippers to pray for the release of Jonathan Pollard in services to be held over the Jewish New Year.   Pollard has been imprisoned in the U.S. where he has served over 27 years of a life sentence.   Rabbi Lau, Israel’s newly elected Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi called on communities to pray to […]

A Jewish Thought on Labor Day


It’s Labor Day once again, which brings up some very important questions: Where is the best Labor Day sale? Where did I put my dark hats? Labor Day has been around since 1882; after 129 years, perhaps it’s time to dust off the holiday, shine some light on it and figure out what it’s all […]

Obama has Pre-Rosh Hashanah Conference Call with Nearly 1,000 Rabbis


President Obama reflected on the High Holidays and offered New Year’s greetings in a conference call with nearly 1,000 rabbis. Obama in the call on Friday afternoon extended the greetings on behalf of himself and the first lady for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year. He noted that the Jewish High Holy Days provide […]

Is Sex Expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer Jewish?


Yes, sex expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a Jew, a holocaust survivor and a former Israeli Haganah scout and sniper. Wikipedia reports: Westheimer was born Karola Ruth Siegel in Wiesenfeld (near Karlstadt am Main), Germany, the only child of Orthodox Jews Irma (née Hanauer) and Julius Siegel. In January 1939, she was sent to Switzerland […]

Rosh Hashanah 2013 – 5 Things You Should Know


Here is my “5 Things You Should Know About Rosh Hashanah” article, originally published in the AOL/HuffingtonPost Patch.com in 2011: The Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew, meaning “the head of the year”) begins this week on Wednesday evening and lasts until Friday. Here are five things that everyone should know about the holiday. […]

Canadian Province to Ban Kippa in Public


As part of the Charter of Quebec Values that is being developed these days in the Canadian province, employees of the public service will not be allowed to put on or wear religious symbols or garments. These include wearing a Star of David or a cross, or putting on a yarmulke, burqa or Sihk turban […]

Top-Level Meeting Ahead of Jewish Pilgrimage


Rabbis and organizers from the Breslov hassidic stream met with top officials in the Ukrainian government Monday, as well as the commanders of police and secret police in the Cherkasy Province, ahead of the annual mass pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The meeting took place at the World Breslov Center in […]