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Bill to make Israel a Jewish state: a solution in search of a problem

Many people are surprised to discover that Israel doesn’t have a formal constitution. Basic Laws, passed by the country’s parliament (known as the Knesset), serve as a working constitution for the courts and government. Last week, one third of Knesset members introduced a bill to recognize Israel as a Jewish state that would become the nation’s newest Basic Law if passed. It seems …

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IU student missing: Parents fly from New York to search for their daughter, Lauren Spierer

Lauren Spierer, a 20-year-old IU student, has been missing since 4:30 a.m. Friday. The Bloomington Police Department, family, friends and local residents continue to search for her.  Spierer is 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighs between 90 and 100 pounds and has blue eyes and blonde hair just below the shoulder, according to fliers posted throughout Bloomington.

She is from Westchester County …

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Women’s Liberation and Jewish Identity: Bringing it home

Last week, I had the great privilege of attending the conference “Women’s Liberation and Jewish Identity: Uncovering a legacy of innovation, activism, and social change.” (JWA was a conference sponsor, and you can check out Judith Rosenbaum’s response to the conference  here !) As a research intern for Professor  Joyce Antler , the conference convenor, this past summer, I spent …

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The Lost Daughter

Esther Heller

Publisher: Feldheim

On her deathbed, a mother reveals to her daughter the true secret of her adoption, and Nicole’s life will never be the same. From the luxurious yet incongruous mens’ shelter in the Oasis hotel to its extraordinary owner, Rabbi Israel, will Nicole’s frantic and convoluted search result in tragedy or victory? This well-written, absorbing novel weaves …

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The Search Committee: a novel

When the leader of a venerable Torah academy passes away, a search committee begins to investigate two candidates, both serious and committed Torah scholars. However, the resemblance ends there. One, the previous leader’s son, is a staunch traditionalist determined to keep to the old ways, while the other is a university graduate with a modern, open-minded perspective. The candidates hold …

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Lost and Found

A young girl brutally separated from her parents and twin sister as World War Two approaches; a new lifestyle, a new identity. And then comes the pain of rejection and loss as a child abandons the carefully constructed secular world her parents embraced and turns, instead, to Orthodox Judaism. An elite French family, also struck by the same stinging slap as their son–the future …

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Switched Identity

Who will be left to tell the tale?}}The scene opens in Berlin in the early 1930′s, where two physicians are fast friends despite their differences in background. Meyer Schwartz, a Jew, and Wilhelm Kohlmann, a German, are even so similar in appearance that they can be mistaken for one another. Yet when World War II breaks out, they find themselves on opposite sides, each desperate to survive …

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Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People

Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People

Jon Entine

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Could our sense of who we are really turn on a sliver of DNA? In our multiethnic world, questions of individual identity are becoming increasingly unclear. Now in ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN bestselling author Jon Entine vividly brings to life the profound human implications of the Age of Genetics while illuminating one of today’s most …

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HaLaila HaZeh — A New Israeli Haggadah in Hebrew

HaLaila HaZeh is a truly Israeli pluralist family haggadah. Based on the concept Noam Zion and David Dishon’s A Different Night: The Family Participation Haggadah (1997, sold over 125,000 copies), we created a parallel haggadah reflecting, Israeli culture. This is not a translation but a new creation.

In the Haggadah:

The full Traditional text in both Ashkenazi and Edot HaMizrach nusach, …

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Does the World Need the Jews? Rethinking Choseness and American Jewish Identity

Daniel Gordis

Publisher: Scribner & Sons

What would happen if the world woke up one day and there were simply no Jews left? Would the world be worse off? In Does the World Need the Jews?, Rabbi Daniel Gordis suggests that on the eve of the twenty-first century, one of the chief sources of malaise among contemporary Jews is that many cannot answer this critical question. Though many …

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The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations

Jonathan Sacks

Publisher: Continuum

The year 2001 began as the United Nations Year of Dialogue between Civilizations. By its end, the phrase that came most readily to mind was ‘the clash of civilizations.’ The tragedy of September 11 intensified the danger caused by religious differences around the world. As the politics of identity begin to replace the politics of ideology, can …

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Crisis, Covenant and Creativity

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Publisher: Urim Publications

Crisis, Covenant and Creativity deals with some of the most widely discussed issues in contemporary Jewish religious life.

How do religious people deal with tolerance when they are convinced that their religious beliefs carry the truth and that others are mistaken? To what extent should the modern application of “Halachic decision …

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Gonzo Judaism: A Bold Path for Renewing an Ancient Faith

Niles Goldstein

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson transformed his field with an audacity that did not always sit well with his publishers. Gonzo Judaism embraces that same spirit, challenging today’s Jews to reclaim their rebel roots, even if the consequences of their actions are disquieting to the leaders of a largely complacent Jewish establishment.

Rabbi …

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A People Who Live Apart: Jewish Identity and the Future of Israel

Els Van Diggele, Jeannette K. Ringold (translator)

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Fifty years after the founding of the state, the question still remains where the balance between Israel as Jewish state and Israel as democratic state can be found. The Jews returned to Palestine to found a Jewish state, whatever that might mean, but not to establish a pluralistic country or a haven for the …

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Journey to the Vanished City: The Search for the Lost Tribe of Israel

Tudor Parfitt

This book answers the question, “Are the Lemba people of Southern Africa really Jewish?”

A unique blend of academic research and personal exploration, biblical (Old Testament) accounts, living oral histories, and South African history have resulted in this fascinating story of the author’s search for the Lemba, a lost tribe of Israel, and their original city of Sena. …

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Caught in the Crack: Encounters With the Jewish- Muslims of Turkey-A Spiritual Travelogue

Caught in the Crack: Encounters With the Jewish- Muslims of Turkey--A Spiritual Travelogue

Reuven Alpert

Publisher: Orot Inc.

In 1666, the mystic Shabbetai Zevi of Izmir (Smyrna) convinced most of the Jewish world that he was the righteous Messiah come to redeem his people Israel. Much of the Christian world, particularly Protestants in Western Europe, were equally fascinated by the tidings from the East (though they might have cast Shabetai Zevi in the role of Antichrist). All …

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A Sabbath Life: A Woman’s Search for Wholeness

Kathleen Hirsch

Publisher: North Point Press

This is the story of a journey of awakening and change. My intention is to share with other women my efforts to achieve in my middle years a new wholeness that I did not know (and didn’t care to find) as a younger woman. Simply by listening to my inner soundings, and to the many inspiring women whom I have met over the past few years, I have …

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Me and Shakespeare: Adventures With the Bard

Herman Gollob

Publisher: Doubleday

One man’s post-retirement passion for the works of history’s greatest literary genius becomes an inspiring intellectual and spiritual adventure–and a lesson in the ageless wisdom to be found in literature.

In the twilight of a successful career as a book editor, Herman Gollob attended a superb Broadway production of Hamlet with Ralph Fiennes. The …

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A Spiritual Life : A Jewish Feminist Journey

A Spiritual Life : A Jewish Feminist Journey

Merle Feld

Publisher: SUNY

Explores the complex facets of a Jewish woman’s spiritual coming-of-age, capturing the emotional and spiritual reality of contemporary Jews as well as religious seekers of all types.

A unique memoir that interweaves poetry, narrative, meditation, and social history, A Spiritual Life explores the complex facets of a Jewish woman’s spiritual coming-of-age, …

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At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land

At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land

Yossi Klein Halevi

Publisher: William Morrow

Yossi Klein Halevi’s first book, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, a remarkable coming-of-age story, was lauded by the New York Times as being “of burning importance … a drama central to the very soul of Jewish life.” Now, in At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden, Haleví describes his unprecedented and extraordinary spiritual journey to …

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The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography

Joanna Lindenbaum, Ilan Stavans, Susan Chevlowe (editor)

Publisher: Yale University Press

While American Jews are commonly considered a homogenous ethnic group, the reality today is far more complex. Conversion, adoption, intermarriage, and immigration have transformed the fabric of Jewish communities, as they have the United States as a nation. This fascinating book explores questions of …

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The Search for the Stones

The Search for the Stones

By Shmuel Blitz (Author) Miriam Zakon (Author) Marc Lumer (Illustrator)

Four stones have been stolen. Four stones must be found.

A quiet family vacation in Jerusalem turns into high adventure as Ilana and Ari Goldreich set out on an unforgettable quest through time. Sent on this mission by a mysterious man in white, and pursued by an evil man in purple, they must face danger – and …

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Catskill Hatzolah thanks Ulster first responders

Catskill Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance Corps lauded state and local officials for their cooperation and assistance on a daily basis and in particular for their efforts in the July 13 search for a boy who went missing from a camp in Dairyland.

Moshe Dresner was located several hours later on Staten Island.

Rabbi David Dresner, the boy’s father, praised the authorities for making the …

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Destruction of Unity – The Three Weeks

Chazal say that the second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinat chinam-baseless hatred. In Hebrew there is only one word for love, ahavah-feeling empathy and identity with another person. The opposite of this is sinah-purposely distancing oneself from someone with whom you would ordinarily have a close relationship. For example, if you would normally say hello to someone and you …

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Achdus in the Midst of Tragedy

Everyone’s minds and hearts are still with the Kletsky family. How can one absorb such a terrible, brutal and senseless crime commited by another member of our community?

How could G-d let a thing like this happen to a young innocent child?

That is a question that we cannot deign to answer but what be important is to consider not one crazed murderer but the thousands of Jews from …

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Gay, Jewish New Yorkers: Mazel tov to the newlyweds!

Gay, Jewish New Yorkers: Mazel tov to the newlyweds!

Maybe you’ve heard: As of last Sunday, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of New York. The law, which passed in June, went into effect over the weekend.

Let’s recap some of the Jewish highlights this new law brought about, shall we? There are quite a few of them!

At the stroke of midnight on Sunday morning, as soon as the law went into effect, Patchogue, N.Y., couple Dee …

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Jewish Summer Camp: A Father’s Reflection Upon His Son’s First Time at Sleepaway Camp

May you find learning and growth of all kinds.A few days before my oldest child ventured off to summer camp for the first time, I read a beautiful prayer by my colleague Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. On her “Ima On (and Off) the Bima” blog, she shared her prayer as her son embarked on his second summer away at camp. Titled “A Mama’s Prayer for Summer Camp,” she offered the following words: …

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Who is Frida Kahlo?

Tomorrow we celebrate the 104 th birthday of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist known for her striking self-portraits. Kahlo’s work was largely influenced by pain after a bus accident left her with permanent disabilities, making her an inspirational figure from a disability point of view.

In 2006, conceptual identity performance artist Maya Escobar (@mayaescobar) created a Youtube video …

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Jewish Names

Parshat Shemot begins, “V’ele shemot bne yisrael habaim mitzrayama“-These are the names of the people of Israel who came to Egypt. The Baal Haturim notes that the first letters of this verse spell out “sheviye“-imprisonment. Even when the Jews were imprisoned in exile, they stood out. They maintained their identity by keeping their Jewish names, language, and dress.

Tosfot is …

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Israel refuses citizenship for gay man married to Jewish immigrant

Israel refuses citizenship for gay man married to Jewish immigrant

The Interior Ministry is refusing citizenship and new immigrant status to a homosexual married to a Jewish new immigrant, despite the law’s stipulation that the child, grandchild and partner of a Jew are entitled to Jewish immigrant rights.

Joshua Goldberg and Bayardo Alvarez, both American citizens, immigrated to Israel two weeks ago. Goldberg, who is Jewish, received an Israeli …

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