April 7, 2015 |
What was Naomi L. Adler thinking? A year ago, she held a job she loved, heading the United Way of Westchester and Putnam in suburban New York. Her husband served as senior rabbi of a Reform temple. Even so, Adler uprooted her family to take over the troubled Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia - its first female leader. Giving lagged behind that at other Jewish federations and the group chewed up leaders - with four changes at the top since the 1990s. Question: What was the situation when you came?
January 4, 2015 |
AMONG THE central tenets of Judaism is Tikkun Olam , a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world. " For the folks at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Spring Garden, it is a driving force. A food desert in North Philly? They opened a weekly farmers' market to assure that residents can get fresh produce. Racial unrest sweeping the nation? They are hosting a "Race in America" community conversation. Bigots citing religion to discriminate against gays? They revel in diversity and woo worshippers of all sexual orientations - and all faiths and races - to their services.
October 1, 2014 |
THERE IS no "typical" Shabbat service at Society Hill Synagogue. One week, Rabbi Avi Winokur might include the works of Sufi mystics and Muslim spiritual giants. The next might feature writings by Christian leaders, noted intellectuals or Jewish religious thinkers. One way the synagogue describes its open approach is by citing an old joke: "Two Jews, three opinions. " That is to say, different people celebrate their faith in different ways. "It's very eclectic," said Winokur, who has led the congregation for 13 years.
November 24, 2013 |
When Debbie and Bob Fleischman were considering where they might live as young marrieds, they surveyed the entire East Coast, looking for a city with vibrancy and culture - and a home in that city that was within walking distance of a synagogue. The couple, who met as Yale undergraduates, live Judaism fully and joyfully, and when they chose Philadelphia as their hometown in 1984, they also became affiliated with Beth Zion-Beth Israel Synagogue in Center City. Predictably, their first home was on Addison Street, near the synagogue.
January 2, 2013 |
In March, on the way home from a national conference about Israel, psychologist Bernie Albert talked to his wife about a suggestion made by one of the conference speakers: Host Sabbath dinners for fellow Jews - including strangers - who would then become hosts themselves. The exponential growth of hosts would mean that, Shabbat after Shabbat, more people within a community would come to know one another. Such a simple concept - such powerful ripples. "We should do something about that," Albert said to his wife.
December 20, 2009 |
On Friday evenings in Jerusalem, after the sun lies down to rest, the Jewish people close their shops and restaurants in preparation for Shabbat. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, technology and labor cease, and rest and religion commence. I was brought up in a very secular household, and tradition and rituals like this never played an important role in my life. So when Friday evening arrived on my first visit to Jerusalem, I'd forgotten how sacred the Sabbath is to religious Jews.
April 16, 2009 |
You could say chef Michael Solomonov was destined to bring an intimate taste of Israel to Philadelphia. He was born south of Tel Aviv, and raised in Pittsburgh. But before Solomonov, 30, opened Zahav (Hebrew for "gold"), his stone-floored, big-windowed homage to the soul foods of his homeland, he cooked his way through some of the top kitchens in town - Striped Bass, Vetri and Marigold Kitchen. To refresh his culinary memories he took his Zahav staff on a whirlwind tour of Israel's skewer shops, markets, and bakeries, and the kitchens of Jewish mothers.
December 31, 2007
Bill Bonvie's Dec. 24 commentary, "Christmas: The whole schmear," about being Jewish and celebrating Christmas, brought strong reactions from readers. Here is what four people had to say: Bill Bonvie wrote that choosing to view Christmas as a holy day should be purely a matter of individual choice, and thus, celebrating Christmas is an option for Jews. I suggest that most Christian clergy would disagree. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, who is viewed by Christians as the Son of God and the Messiah.
August 10, 2007 |
There was a time in Rachel Vassar's life when cutting a carrot was as simple as, well, cutting a carrot. "But now I find myself saying, 'I want to eat a carrot. Can I use a meat knife? Do I need a meat-cutting board?' " Her two housemates, sitting alongside the 23-year-old Vassar on their living room sofa, laughed and nodded knowingly. They, too, are learning the intricacies of keeping kosher. Sorting out ways to live Jewishly in a big city - and sharing their experience with other young adults - has just brought Rebecca Karp, 25, and Becky Coren, 23, together with Vassar in a Center City townhouse they will share for at least a year.
April 16, 2005 |
At a time in life when many Jewish children are preparing for their bar mitzvahs, Stephen Michaels was mourning the death of his parents, killed in a plane crash in England. Although his parents were very active in their Highland Park, Ill., synagogue, they did not believe in religious rituals, so the developmentally disabled 12-year-old skipped the adolescent rite of passage. But Michaels grew into a man who lives a full and active life, despite some mental and, more recently, physical challenges.