10 Years Later: Returning to My Old ‘Shtelar’ in Oradea, Romania

Written by Yitz Szyf on . Posted in Features

Those who know me may have heard me joke that I was once the Chief Rabbi of Transylvania (everyone was stunned to hear that Dracula needed a rabbi!). The truth is that it’s not a joke at all. Exactly 10 years ago, as part of a joint program between Yeshiva University (YU) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), I completed my official shimush (internship) for YU’s rabbinical program in Oradea, Romania. At the time, I was not just the Rabbi of Oradea, but the only rabbi in all of Transylvania.

On Eagle’s Wings: A Very Special Seder in Korea 1953

Written by Deborah Scheinberg on . Posted in Features

On Sunday morning, March 26, before Rabbi Yehoshua Singer’s class on Pesach, I met with Stanley Schwartz at Am Hatorah in Bethesda to discuss some pictures he wanted to show me. The amazing pictures that Stan carefully removed from a very old discolored envelope were of a seder he attended in Munsan, Korea in 1953 as a 21-year-old marine from Brooklyn, New York. The pictures were a remarkable historical reminder for Stan of the “most memorable seder” he had ever attended.

Building Bridges: Israel’s ‘Project Community’ Sends Delegation to DC

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Features

On the trip, Israeli public figures learned about American Jewish perspectives on Israel, Jewish identity, and other important issues.

Twenty Israeli leaders — including eight mayors, top Israeli TV and radio journalists, heads of nongovernmental organizations, and a former Olympic athlete — recently came to Greater Washington to familiarize themselves with American Jewry and learn how Israel can best relate to Jews abroad.

Running for a Cause

Written by Ellie Guberman on . Posted in Features

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to run with a team of Berman Hebrew Academy students in the Jerusalem Marathon in support of the Shalva organization. Our team included sophomores Shlomit Bernstein, Aliza Goldschlag, Ruthie Vogel, and Eliana Werbel and freshman Judah Guggenheim.

“Shalva is an incredible organization that truly cares for children with special needs, making sure they are fully included in society,” said Guggenheim. “They develop close relationships with the children and their families, allowing them to live their lives feeling happy and at home.”

A Pomegranate Grows in Fairfax

Written by Rachel Kohn on . Posted in Features

When you are starting a newspaper, you can count yourself lucky if people pitch lots of stories for you to cover. Some of them are obvious choices, while others come from out of left field, but you have to keep an open mind. When Kol HaBirah’s publisher, Hillel Goldschein, asks me if I can head out to Fairfax, Virginia, to talk to realtor Dorit Paz about her pomegranate trees, I am a little skeptical there is a story to tell — and so is Dorit.

Investment Advice From the Oracle

Written by Rabbi Jonathan Gross on . Posted in Features

In 2006, Warren Buffett made his first-ever investment in a company headquartered outside of the United States. He paid four billion dollars for an 80 percent stake in a company called Iscar, located in Northern Israel. He closed the deal on July 5, 2006. One week later, on July 12, Hezbollah started what came to be known as the Second Lebanon War. Thousands of rockets were fired from Lebanon and rained down on Northern Israel. Iscar’s main facility is located less than eight miles from the Israel-Lebanon border.

Alternative Paths to Jewish Education

Written by Natasha Nadel on . Posted in Features

Jewish parents may choose to send their child to a secular school, whether public or private, for any number of reasons. The cost of private school is high; transportation can pose challenges; perhaps their child is gifted, has a special need, or even both. Non-Orthodox American Jews have a long history of sending their children to Sunday school and Hebrew school, generally until their bar or bat mitzvah, but sometimes beyond. For Orthodox parents who choose to send their children to any school other than a full-time Jewish day school, there is pressure to ensure that their children still receive a Jewish education.

Proudly Jewish and Zionist, at AIPAC I Am Not Alone

Written by Rena Wolinsky on . Posted in Features

For me, going to American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference (AIPAC) meant taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity: an opportunity to learn and be challenged, and an opportunity to feel accepted by the Zionist community.

My favorite session of the first day was Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campus Perspectives. The panel was made up of the StandWithUs President Roz Rothstein — an AIPAC campus fellow who has fought against a strong BDS community at the University of Michigan — and a staff member from Hillel International. Hearing them speak about how they have tirelessly fought against BDS and are having success gave me hope and ideas that I could apply when I go to college. They give me the courage to stand up for what I believe in, knowing I have a strong community to support me in my Israel advocacy. It was especially nice to see that protesters were properly handled so that conversations could still happen and everyone felt safe.

Israel Engagement Fellowship: Equipping Teens With the Knowledge and Skills They Need Today

Written by Meirav Steinlauf on . Posted in Features

I go to a rather large public school with only a small number of Jewish students, so often I am the only Jew in a room. I love being able to educate my peers about stuff I’ve grown up learning. Unfortunately, there was one aspect of being a modern-day Jew that I had trouble answering questions about.

It’s hard to be a Jew today without hearing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so being the only Jew in a room full of curious, educated non-Jews, I heard lots of questions about it. The problem was that I only knew the very, very basics.

‘Fake News’ in the 1967 War — And Today

Written by Rafael Medoff on . Posted in Features

The upcoming 50th anniversary of the Six Day War will generate much commentary on Israel’s capture of territories and the various conflicts and negotiations that followed. But the 1967 war also was the occasion for an early instance of what is now called “fake news.”

Arab leaders could not come to grips with the reality of their defeat at the hands of Israel. Throughout their lives they had believed and preached the notion that the existence of a Jewish state violated the laws of nature and therefore must be only a temporary phenomenon. 

Summer Camp Names Tell a Surprising Tale

Written by Rafael Medoff on . Posted in Features

You’d be surprised what you can learn about American Jews—and about Palestinian Arabs—from the names of their respective summer camps.

Just as Jewish communities often name synagogues and schools after donors, some of their summer camps, too, have memorialized those who signed the checks. That was the case with, for example, the first Reform Jewish summer camp, the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, in Wisconsin (founded in 1952), and Camp Lehman, a Jewish summer camp for adults in upstate New York whose facility was donated in the early 1900s by the family of future New York Governor Herbert Lehman. It was later renamed Camp Isabella Friedman, after another benefactor.