Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Josh Jipp Reviews John Gager on Paul and Judaism – Patheos (blog)

Theres a great review of John Gager,Who Made Early Christianity? The Jewish Lives of the Apostles Paul(New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Joshua W. Jipp, Is the Apostle Paul the Father of Christian Anti-Judaism? Engaging John GagersWho Made Early Christianity,HBT39 (2017): 83-92.

Gager offers a Paul within Judaism view, and I think Jipp is dead right in his critique, I argue similarly in myAn Anomalous Jew. Jipp says:

He compliments Gager: There is much to be said for Gagers claim that Pauls seemingly negative statements about Torah and circumcision stem from Pauls attempt to counter the program of missionary competitors who were trying to Judaize his gentile converts. But Jipp is right to insist that there is a problem with the Paul within Judaism school who fail to reckon with the shared anthropological problem facing Jews and Greek, namely, sin and its consequences. Jipp adds: Within Romans Paul speaks of both Jews and Greeks to be under sins (Rom. 3:9b). The problem is anthropological, as Paul presents a list of scriptural quotations that speak of Gods judgment upon all people (3:10a) for giving their body to injustice and wickedness (Rom. 3:10-18). What is surprising about Pauls argument is that most of the biblical texts in their original context make a distinction between the righteous and unrighteous. But Paul doesnotuse the scriptural texts to establish a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous; rather, as the heading to the catena makes clear, all of humanity is unrighteous (Rom. 3:10). And the conclusion to which Paul is driving are universal in scope: the entire world and all flesh is accountable to God (Rom. 3:19-20). This would seem to indicate that the revelation of Gods righteousness in Romans 3:21-31 is addressing a Jewish problem as well as a Gentile problem.

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Josh Jipp Reviews John Gager on Paul and Judaism – Patheos (blog)

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Conservative Judaism Extends A Hand To Interfaith Families – Forward

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavies research, analysis and essay on officiating at an interfaith wedding is interesting. It is clear that his proposal comes from a place of thoughtfulness and love of Judaism, the Jewish people and those connected to them. Rabbi Lau-Lavie, like all of us, is struggling with our generations most complex problem: how do we navigate a radically inclusive society in an authentically Jewish and dynamic way?

I have great respect for Rabbi Lau-Lavie and am curious to see how his experiment develops as he seeks to strengthen the relationships of non-Jewish partners to the Jewish community.

Will the institutions of Conservative Judaism embrace this approach? I can only speak for USCJ, which is the network of nearly 600 Conservative Jewish communities across North America our role is to strengthen communities, not to make halakhic decisions on behalf of the Conservative movement.

We believe a range of viewpoints and backgrounds religious, racial, ethnic, sexual, socio-political strengthens us all and will continue to partner with kehillot in our network, and others in the movement, to ensure we demonstrate what an authentic and dynamic Judaism looks like.

Rabbi Steven C. Wernick serves as the chief executive officer of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Conservative Judaism Extends A Hand To Interfaith Families – Forward

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

The Dance of Judaism and Science: Einstein and Beyond – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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Religion without science is Blind, Science without Religion is lame Albert Einstein

This observation by Einstein both captures quintessential insights as well as dispelling core misconceptions of the relationship between religion and science. There are apparent needs which religion addresses but not without a seeming conflict with scientific thinking as it is commonly understood. These relate to the needs for primarily security in the universe or plainly our own mortality as well as the need to find meaning in our lives. Religion provides some comforting answers, but finds itself challenged by many respected individuals armed with the cool light of reasoned thought within the world of science.

How can we reconcile scientific understanding with the wide gap found in the biblical accounts all familiar to us? Firstly, I believe one obstacle is an exclusive literal interpretation of the Torah (only peshat). If we take the bible strictly on a literal level we find that we must reconcile such prospects as the age of the earth, creation period and Noah ark dimensions and content with the bald opposing facts of science. However our tradition through other interpretive avenues found in Talmud and Kabbalah allow at least 3 additional ways of looking at matters in additional to literal namely derash, remez and sod, enabling us not shackled to such a devastating literal reading. These involve at times metaphorical interpretations guided however by rules and systematic approaches considering context and relationships. Derash deals with inferential interpretations, Remez with suggestive clues and sod with mystically driven interpretations.

Our religion teaches that creation provides order in nature, something that science requires in immeasurable degree. Genesis spells out an order and Job, Kohelet and the Psalms magnificently describe and glorify it. Take any such content as Psalm 96: Praise God, sun, and moon, all shining stars. Let them all praise Hashems glory at whose command they were created. At whose decree they endure forever and by whose laws nature abides. Appreciating creation is one core way of appreciating Gods goodness, something we are encouraged throughout our religious teachings and here again science arrives at the scene. Einstein described himself as a believer in Spinozas God and when we read Spinoza we find he speaks of a natura naturans or a creative energy beyond the physical driving the magnificent constant uniform and permanently established principles throughout the universe covering every moment. This certainly is goodness of a high order as Einstein recognizes and without some understanding our appreciation is limited and somewhat short of fullness. This goodness is further evidenced by Gerald Schroeders extension of this reasoning to life forms where he cites the probabilities of life forms or ingredients demonstrating it would require a universe much more ancient than our own to produce the kind of compounds and combinations that life demand. For example it require 90,000 times the number of carbon atoms to produce the forms needed or looking another way 90.000 time the age of universe to produce.

Moreover other scientists and mathematicians support this defiance of the odds required by a random universe, particularly George Wald, Nobel Laurette in uncovering the complex evolution of the retina, asserting and that underlying mind and intelligence was somehow involved but the time durations taking place were not sufficient to deliver these results on a random basis. . Time itself is often claimed to be the plot hero especially in this development but here is rejected. Roger Penrose the world famous mathematician and physicist , joint discoverer of black hole, computes a one in 10 ^123 probability for life through random processes is another Moreover the time for creation conventionally expressed as 5 1/2 days (to Adam) is reconciled well by Schroeder with the accepted 13.8 billion years when we consider relativistic considerations. . According to Einstein relativity asserts Schroeder there is a time dilation that occurs when heavy gravitational forces are involved and reflected in the expansion rate of the universe. Taking this into consideration in general relativity considerations Schroeder demonstrates we are faced with a factor of a million million or trillion in expansion dilation itself. When we consider the time differential applied to the 5 1/2 days to human creation by Einsteins relativity we find 5 1/2 days at the core of the universe when multiplied by the dilation factor of a trillion yields about 14 billion years from the time of creation which is well within a reasonable 1 % margin of uncertainty. Further the process itself by which this happens is amplified by Nachmanides in his anticipation of the big Bang and universe expansion by analyzing the introductory words of genesis and the use of the Hebrew term tohu vavou alluding to primordial substance condensed. The Rambam himself asserts that Judaism consistently respects the findings of science without abandoning its truth in his Guide (2:8) and reference to Talmudic sources (Pesahim 94 b)

However there is something still missing which Einstein does not completely capture. It is true that there is a goodness that is within this appreciation but is it enough provide us the rich meaning and answers we seek in life? Einsteins or Spinoza God is a totally impersonal God not intervening in human affairs. Nonetheless a form of intuition may be brought to bear that Einstein himself did not at all neglect in the world of science. In his theory about gravitation comparing it to acceleration this was evident and his use of conceptual simplicity in his thought process another example. The transition of such instances as Gods goodness here to that of human affairs is another example of something Gerald Schroeder identifies and amplifies through his intuitive sense. The suggestion that such goodness is extended is also linked by Schroeder by examining the connection between consciousness and matter or between wisdom and the physical. Schroeder expresses this connection by appeal to suggestive opening biblical language of Torah when precisely understood: With wisdom God created heaven and earth. Kabballah here itself recognizes the central role of intuition through the notion of chuckmah connoting a deeper wisdom in a flash (second sefaroit) while binah used in conjunction with it connotes a kind of induction and deduction inherent in day to day science.

In this connection particularly the intuition aspect the observation of Blaise Pascal the 17 the century mathematician who laid the foundation for modern probability theory may be relevantly noted. When Louis the 14 confronted him and inquired as the best evidence of a miracle or intervention of God in human affairs he replied why the survival of the Jewish people. Pascals the founder of probability theorys intuitive sense of probability considerations here led him to this mind boggling assertion. We find the same sentiment in the Talmud where it is asserted, The continued existence of the Jewish people is proof of Gods providence. (Talmud Balvi Yoma, 69 b).

When we look again at Einstein we find his intuitions operates against a background of experience or empirical input. It is not operative in a vacuum. Einstein was a great admirer of the philosopher David Hume who emphasized time and time again that causation can take many sided directions without there being any necessity in the outcome. This, moreover, could in many cases land us in a universe with strange happenings. We must therefore be steered by experience and not allow ourselves to intuit too much and exceed experience.

We are often confronted with Darwin theory as a case against religion. However it may be noted that once again we must consider the various interpretive approaches that our religion offers. Moreover interestingly Darwin harbored a sense that the design aspects of his theory could not have arisen if left to the laws of randomness with the law of natural selection being the driving force. In the standard account of utilization of the the theory time is depicted as the hero of the plot in accounting for the development of life form. However here again the unlikelihood emerging in the time allowed is mirrored in Darwins own remarks the concerning complexities of life involved. Significantly a close examination of his views on the matter contained no less than a clear endorsement of something more when asserting that There is grandeur of life with its several powers breathed by God into a few forms or even one this is right from his Origins where he invokes the word creator 9 times and God twice.

The same acts of enlightened intuition that has guided Einstein, Spinoza, Penrose, and Darwin are at the disposal of all of us (less perhaps the exact math) in the many personal worlds we all inhabit. I invite the reader to think about that personal dimension in his/her own life connecting himself/herself with the cosmos gifted by the Creator.

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The Dance of Judaism and Science: Einstein and Beyond – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Figures of Islam, Judaism and Christianity Celebrate Tolerance and Peace in Rabat – Morocco World News

Rabat On the 56th anniversary of King Mohammed Vs death, members of the three monotheistic religions met in Rabat on Thursday to celebrate the tolerance and peace that the late King encouraged.

The Forum for Tolerance and Peace was organised as an initiative of the Mediterranean Centre for Peace and Dialogue Between Cultures and the Moulay Abdesalam Association for Development and Solidarity. Thursdays conference was an opportunity to remember the efforts that Mohammed V made to liberate Morocco from the both French and Spanish colonisation.

After the forums participants visited the mausoleum of King Mohammed V to pay respect to the spirit of Moroccos father, they signed a plaque entitled The Dove of Peace and Tolerance. This plaque will be given to Egypts Ambassador to Morocco as a token of solidarity, following the recent attack on Coptic Christians in the country.

The shared Iftar expressed friendship, tolerance, sharing and respect for each other, irrespective of the others faith. Mohamed Abidou, the director of the Mediterranean Centre told Moroccan Press Agency (MAP) that sharing Iftar is the best symbol of religious tolerance and respect that Moroccans can offer.

During the reception, numerous veterans of the resistance movement including Mustapha El Ktiri, High Commissioner for former Resistance and former members of the Liberation Army (HCAR) were praised for the service they gave to their country.

Abidou also told Moroccan Press Agency (MAP) that the date of meeting on the anniversary of King Mohammed Vs death was significant and intentional. He continued that the late King sacrificed the throne for the freedom of the kingdom and faced colonialism and Vichy fascism in order to protect Jewish people.

El Ktiri remarked that the meeting reflected values of tolerance, dialogue and openness between different civilisations, religions and cultures. The high commissioner also recognised the importance of the event falling during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and stated that those who commit violent crimes, like the killing of Egyptian Coptic Christians, are terrorists who have nothing to do with Islam, a religion of peace and tolerance.

The forum ended with a concert by Laraches Andalusian music orchestra and featured participation from artist Abdesalam Sefiani.

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June 10, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Why the Western Wall is holiest site in Judaism – Quad-Cities Online

The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism.

Called the Kotel in Hebrew, the Western Wall is actually part of the huge, outer retaining wall for the Temple Mount area where the First Jewish Temple (The Temple of Solomon) was built in 957 BCE and destroyed in 586 BCE, and where the Second Jewish Temple was built by King Herod in 20 BC.

This retaining wall is all that is left after the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD along with the city of Jerusalem during the failed Jewish revolt against their Roman masters.

The Western Wall became Judaisms holiest site because of its closeness to the actual location of the Temples, and especially where the First Temple housed the Ten Commandments inside the Ark of the Covenant.

The Temples were the center of Jewish religious life. Jews came from all over to pray and to offer sacrifices, and it was the site of the Jewish pilgrimage festivals of Shavuot — celebration of the first fruits being harvested, Sukkot — celebration of the final harvest, and Passover — festival of freedom from bondage in Egypt.

After the destruction of the Second Temple and the later failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132 AD, most of the Jews who were not slaughtered were forced into exile throughout the ancient world.

Those exiled Jews, who wanted to maintain their Judaism, built places of worship called synagogues, and they prayed facing towards Jerusalem and the destroyed Temple. This same practice continues today.

Over the centuries, access by Jews to the Western Wall depended solely on the whims of whoever ruled Jerusalem, whether they were Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Ottomans, or the British.

During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, the Western Wall as well as the eastern parts of Jerusalem fell under control of the Kingdom of Jordan. Under Jordanian rule, all Jews were expelled from eastern Jerusalem, 57 synagogues as well as Jewish cemeteries were desecrated or destroyed, and Jews were forbidden to worship at the Western Wall.

And the world was shamefully silent.

This month, Jews and non-Jews alike from all over the world, are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israels incredible victory in the Six Day War of 1967, when Israel quickly and soundly defeated Arab armies on the battlefields, and liberated eastern Jerusalem and the Western Wall from the Jordanians.

So in June of 1967, and for the first time in almost 2,000 years, Jews had control and free and unfettered access to their holiest site. Finally.

Today, the Western Wall plaza is filled with those in prayer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it is a must-see site for visitors from all over the world.

For those of you fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to pray at the Western Wall, you know that it is an incredible feeling like no other place on earth. For you are truly standing on holy ground and you are as close as one can get to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

As has been the tradition for hundreds of years, visitors are encouraged to write prayers on scraps of paper and then place them into the cracks in the Western Wall. Those prayers go straight to God.

Unfortunately, though, there are those anti-Semites and even United Nations member states who continue to deny the 3,000-plus year historical connection between the Jews and the Western Wall and Jerusalem. But fortunately, their attempts to erase Jewish history and supply their own false narratives, whether for political or religious purposes, will fail.

And no matter what future agreements are reached over the status of Jerusalem, we are confident that Jerusalem will never, ever again be divided, and the Western Wall will forever be controlled by the Jewish people.

Allan G. Ross, of Rock Island, is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities.

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Why the Western Wall is holiest site in Judaism – Quad-Cities Online

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June 10, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Rich Garcia: Stepping forward for Marines and Judaism – Jewish Journal

When U.S. Marine Sgt. Rich Garcia was on a mission in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle he would have been on had he not moved to another to take over for a Marine who was ill.

He credits a siddur, of all things, with keeping him safe.

That was the first time I carried a siddur out on patrol, Garcia told the Journal. After that, I carried that siddur everywhere.

Garcia, 33, was a Marine from 2002 to 2011, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was raised by a Jewish father, who also was a Marine, and a Catholic mother. They separated when he was young and he lived with his father.

As a Marine, Garcia went to Shabbat services at boot camp and wore a Star of David necklace under his combat gear. He began converting to Judaism in 2014 through the program Judaism by Choice. Today, his connection to Judaism is not just spiritual but professional as the head of security at Sinai Temple.

I think since he has chosen Judaism, he has made a connection with our families, and its more than just a job, Sinai Temple Rabbi Erez Sherman said. It is a sense of duty.

Born in Corsicana, Texas, Garcia grew up outside of San Diego, raised mostly by his father, Richard Levine. Garcia said his father encouraged him to go to synagogue on Shabbat at a Conservative congregation.

He pretty much said, Hey, you can pick whatever religion you want but lets go to synagogue, Garcia said at Sinai, a handgun holstered at his side.

On Sept. 11, 2001, his father woke him up to watch on television as the second plane flew into the World Trade Center. A high school senior, he skipped school that day and visited a military recruiter.

I grew up in a very patriotic household, he said. Honestly, I probably knew what terrorism was when other high school kids were not even thinking about it.

During boot camp in San Diego, he participated in Shabbat services. It was then that a rabbi on base gave him the siddur he would carry with him throughout his service.

After his discharge, Garcia moved to Los Angeles, drawn to its large Jewish community and the job opportunities in private security. He began working at Sinai Temple last year, around the time that he completed his conversion coursework, led by Rabbi Neil Weinberg.

He is a single man who wanted to become Jewish because he loves the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. He did all the requirements in our program keeping Shabbat every week, going to synagogue weekly and keeping kosher, Weinberg said in an email. I am very proud that he converted to Judaism through our Judaism by Choice program.

At Sinai, Garcia runs a team of former military men. He said providing employment to military veterans is a way of helping them after their service. Give them a role, make them feel like theyre needed, because in the military we were needed, we had a role, he said.

Garcia, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, is an employee of Centurion Group, a full-service security company that serves houses of worship, among other clients. A member of Sinai Temple, he holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix and he plans to earn an Emergency Medical Technician certification.

His Sinai team attends the annual High Holy Days security briefing organized by the Anti-Defamation League. He works closely with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles in keeping abreast of security threats.

As a Marine, Garcia went to Shabbat services at boot camp and wore a Star of David necklace under his combat gear.

Gone are the days of discovering improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan. These days, he is more likely to order an evacuation after a suspicious package is spotted at a bar mitzvah. Recently, a spate of threats targeting Jewish community centers put his team on higher alert.

It kept my guys on their toes we took it personally, he said. This is our home, and were not going to let anybody destroy our community.

In March, he traveled to Israel for the first time and participated in the Jerusalem Marathon as part of a delegation that included Sherman as well as other Sinai congregants . He ran in memory of Marcus Preudhomme, a fellow Marine who was killed in action in Iraq in 2008. Preudhommes name is inscribed on a bracelet on Garcias wrist.

During the trip, Garcia became a bar mitzvah at the Western Wall. Sherman was by his side as he recited an aliyah Parashat Vayakhel.

Though he spends his free hours at the gym, he ran the half-marathon instead of the full.

I ran the half, Im not going to lie to you. Oh, my gosh, that was hard, he said. It was hills. Im in the Jewish community. I wish they wouldve told me Jerusalem is all hills they knew I was going. But it was great.

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Rich Garcia: Stepping forward for Marines and Judaism – Jewish Journal

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Author to speak about his path toward observant Judaism – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2017 7:30 am

Author to speak about his path toward observant Judaism

Author Roy S. Neuberger will be the featured guest at a lecture hosted by MAKOR and JLive at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at MAKOR, 13402 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite A120, Scottsdale.

His books include From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul, Worldstorm: Finding Meaning and Direction Amidst Todays World Crisis and Working Toward Mashiach.

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Posted in Community on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 7:30 am.

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Author to speak about his path toward observant Judaism – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

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Ynetnews News – Migrants from former USSR connecting to … – Ynetnews

They immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union as part of the great immigration wave of the 1990s, full of hopes and dreams, but never completed the process of immigration and assimilation in Israel. The complex reality of Israeli life, the security situation, the complex language, the high cost of living and the immediate labeling affixed to them by virtue of their immigration, made life very difficult. The difficulties of acclimatization were compounded by another difficulty: in a country where there was room for only one type of Judaism, many of whom had lived secular and atheistic lives before, or were accustomed to keeping kosher but not in the strict Halachic (according to Jewish law) way, could not find their place.

According to Interior Ministry data, about 30% of those who immigrated in the 1990s are not halachically Jewish. Non-Jewish immigrants came under the “grandchild clause” in the Law of Return, and expected to nevertheless be treated with the required respect, and not be discriminated against by the stateexpectations that quickly dissolved and added to additional difficulties.

FSU conference (Photo: Leora Kogan)

All this and more encouraged large numbers of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to pack their belongings and emigrate for the second time in their lives, this time to Canada, and for good reason: Canadian Jewry is the fourth largest in the world after Israel, the United States and France. The figures speak of 388,000 Jews living in the country, and constitute about 1.1% of Canada’s population as a whole. Most of the Jews who immigrated to Canada settled in the cities of Montreal and Toronto, with Toronto leading with no fewer than 200,000 Jews.

The figures speak of some 70,000 Russian-speaking Jews living in Canada today, most of whom immigrated to Canada from Israel. But what is really interesting is that in Canada, a country based on immigration and immigrants and multiculturalism, immigrants from the former Soviet Union found a renewed connection to their Judaisma deep connection they had never experienced, especially in Israel.

The discovery and reconnection is now being led by the Y generation of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, young people in their 20s who were born in Israel and emigrated with their families to Canada when they were in their early teens, some of them even before.

I met some of them at a special conference of Limmud FSU, which took place in a town north of Toronto. The two-day conference, which attracted 700 Soviet Jews living in Toronto and its environs, is part of the organization’s ongoing activity to unite Soviet Jews through voluntary conferences and festivals.

Dan Patrenko (Photo: Leora Kogan)

The Limmud conferences, founded by Chaim Chesler, aspire to restore the communal spirit, as well as to encourage recognition of Jewish identity. So how did it happen that the young peoplemore than 50,000 in the last decadeflock to these conferences in droves and even “infected their parents” with this metaphorical bug?

Sergei Patrenko said, My son brought me to this festival. He and his wife Alla were born in Ukraine. They married at the age of 17 and immigrated to Israel as part of the mass wave of 1990-91. Their two children, Dan, now 18, and Michal, 16, were born in Israel. When Dan finished second grade, the family left for Canada. The parents ran an employment agency in Israel, and opened a branch of it in Canada, from which emerged the idea of emigrating.

Unlike other families who left Israel, Sergei and Alla maintain a close working relationship with Israel. Three years ago, their son Dan asked them to go with him to a Limmud festival, and after much cajoling, they reluctantly agreed. Sergei said, It is very easy to lose your Jewish identity in your daily life when you don’t live in Israel, especially in a city like Toronto. This is an international city, and in the course of our work we meet people from dozens of different countries.

(Photo: Leora Kogan)

“My wife and I lived in Israel for 16 years, and this formed our Jewish identity. Even though our children were born in Israel, they have lived for most of their lives in Canada, and feel a strong connection to their Jewish identity, and that is thanks to conferences like these, where there is no pressure, and the programming is not one-sided. The festival can open with lectures on religion, and close with a workshop on making gefilte fish. The children meet and enjoy being with other Jewish children, and are exposed to a wide variety of interesting and varied topics on Jewish and Israeli subjects.

Holocaust, Aliya and Migration

Dans connections to his Jewish roots find expression not only in persuading his family to attend communal activities. At his young age, he has already written a play that has been staged in small theaters in Canada, and which relates what happened to his mothers family in Ukraine in the shadow of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. The play is called Train for Two, and it is a drama in one act that deals with the story of a man who betrayed Jews during the Second World War in order to get money to save his sick wife, explained Dan.

Alla Petrenko was 14 years old when she learned the truth. Granny was deeply religious, and throughout her whole life she tried to persuade our family to immigrate to Israel. And even though she was not Jewish, she believed that Jews should live only in Israel and that only there could they feel protected. The story came to light after Granddad died, and one day before we were due to emigrate to Israel, Granny died, as if she had closed the circle of her lifes ambition. Every eve of Yom Kippur, I light a candle in her memory.

Boris Varshavsky (Photo: Leora Kogan)

Distance Makes Connections

Until a few years ago, I had no particular connection with Judaism, admitted Boris Varshavsky aged 26, one of the festivals leading volunteers, who emigrated to Toronto with his parents when he was only nine. I grew up in a Russian home that was kosher in its own way, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. At university I met a counselor who was active in the Jewish students’ organization. Through him, I joined a group of people who were concerned about Israel and their Jewish roots. That led me to reconnect with my own Jewish roots and through them, I became in touch with the non-Russian Canadian Jewish community.

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June 4, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

German woman returns to her roots, converts to Judaism at 81 – Ynetnews

At the age of 81, Mazal (Monica) Hartzfeld converted to Judaism.

The little girl from Dsseldorf, Germany, who spent her childhood in the dark days of Nazi Germany, came full circle in Gush Etzion in Israel, where she completed the conversion process via seminars by AMI, an organization which offers Judaism conversion seminars in Israel for those who are not Israeli citizens.

Mazal (Monica) Hartzfeld

“I was three years old when it all began,” she told in an interview with Ynet. “At the time, we lived in Dsseldorf, and when the war started, I could see as a young girl the attacks on people and on their property.”

(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

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German woman returns to her roots, converts to Judaism at 81 – Ynetnews

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June 2, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Josh Jipp Reviews John Gager on Paul and Judaism – Patheos (blog)

Theres a great review of John Gager,Who Made Early Christianity? The Jewish Lives of the Apostles Paul(New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Joshua W. Jipp, Is the Apostle Paul the Father of Christian Anti-Judaism? Engaging John GagersWho Made Early Christianity,HBT39 (2017): 83-92. Gager offers a Paul within Judaism view, and I think Jipp is dead right in his critique, I argue similarly in myAn Anomalous Jew. Jipp says: He compliments Gager: There is much to be said for Gagers claim that Pauls seemingly negative statements about Torah and circumcision stem from Pauls attempt to counter the program of missionary competitors who were trying to Judaize his gentile converts. But Jipp is right to insist that there is a problem with the Paul within Judaism school who fail to reckon with the shared anthropological problem facing Jews and Greek, namely, sin and its consequences. Jipp adds: Within Romans Paul speaks of both Jews and Greeks to be under sins (Rom. 3:9b). The problem is anthropological, as Paul presents a list of scriptural quotations that speak of Gods judgment upon all people (3:10a) for giving their body to injustice and wickedness (Rom. 3:10-18). What is surprising about Pauls argument is that most of the biblical texts in their original context make a distinction between the righteous and unrighteous. But Paul doesnotuse the scriptural texts to establish a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous; rather, as the heading to the catena makes clear, all of humanity is unrighteous (Rom. 3:10). And the conclusion to which Paul is driving are universal in scope: the entire world and all flesh is accountable to God (Rom. 3:19-20). This would seem to indicate that the revelation of Gods righteousness in Romans 3:21-31 is addressing a Jewish problem as well as a Gentile problem.

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Conservative Judaism Extends A Hand To Interfaith Families – Forward

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavies research, analysis and essay on officiating at an interfaith wedding is interesting. It is clear that his proposal comes from a place of thoughtfulness and love of Judaism, the Jewish people and those connected to them. Rabbi Lau-Lavie, like all of us, is struggling with our generations most complex problem: how do we navigate a radically inclusive society in an authentically Jewish and dynamic way? I have great respect for Rabbi Lau-Lavie and am curious to see how his experiment develops as he seeks to strengthen the relationships of non-Jewish partners to the Jewish community. Will the institutions of Conservative Judaism embrace this approach? I can only speak for USCJ, which is the network of nearly 600 Conservative Jewish communities across North America our role is to strengthen communities, not to make halakhic decisions on behalf of the Conservative movement. We believe a range of viewpoints and backgrounds religious, racial, ethnic, sexual, socio-political strengthens us all and will continue to partner with kehillot in our network, and others in the movement, to ensure we demonstrate what an authentic and dynamic Judaism looks like. Rabbi Steven C. Wernick serves as the chief executive officer of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

The Dance of Judaism and Science: Einstein and Beyond – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: wiki Religion without science is Blind, Science without Religion is lame Albert Einstein This observation by Einstein both captures quintessential insights as well as dispelling core misconceptions of the relationship between religion and science. There are apparent needs which religion addresses but not without a seeming conflict with scientific thinking as it is commonly understood. These relate to the needs for primarily security in the universe or plainly our own mortality as well as the need to find meaning in our lives. Religion provides some comforting answers, but finds itself challenged by many respected individuals armed with the cool light of reasoned thought within the world of science. How can we reconcile scientific understanding with the wide gap found in the biblical accounts all familiar to us? Firstly, I believe one obstacle is an exclusive literal interpretation of the Torah (only peshat). If we take the bible strictly on a literal level we find that we must reconcile such prospects as the age of the earth, creation period and Noah ark dimensions and content with the bald opposing facts of science. However our tradition through other interpretive avenues found in Talmud and Kabbalah allow at least 3 additional ways of looking at matters in additional to literal namely derash, remez and sod, enabling us not shackled to such a devastating literal reading. These involve at times metaphorical interpretations guided however by rules and systematic approaches considering context and relationships. Derash deals with inferential interpretations, Remez with suggestive clues and sod with mystically driven interpretations. Our religion teaches that creation provides order in nature, something that science requires in immeasurable degree. Genesis spells out an order and Job, Kohelet and the Psalms magnificently describe and glorify it. Take any such content as Psalm 96: Praise God, sun, and moon, all shining stars. Let them all praise Hashems glory at whose command they were created. At whose decree they endure forever and by whose laws nature abides. Appreciating creation is one core way of appreciating Gods goodness, something we are encouraged throughout our religious teachings and here again science arrives at the scene. Einstein described himself as a believer in Spinozas God and when we read Spinoza we find he speaks of a natura naturans or a creative energy beyond the physical driving the magnificent constant uniform and permanently established principles throughout the universe covering every moment. This certainly is goodness of a high order as Einstein recognizes and without some understanding our appreciation is limited and somewhat short of fullness. This goodness is further evidenced by Gerald Schroeders extension of this reasoning to life forms where he cites the probabilities of life forms or ingredients demonstrating it would require a universe much more ancient than our own to produce the kind of compounds and combinations that life demand. For example it require 90,000 times the number of carbon atoms to produce the forms needed or looking another way 90.000 time the age of universe to produce. Moreover other scientists and mathematicians support this defiance of the odds required by a random universe, particularly George Wald, Nobel Laurette in uncovering the complex evolution of the retina, asserting and that underlying mind and intelligence was somehow involved but the time durations taking place were not sufficient to deliver these results on a random basis. . Time itself is often claimed to be the plot hero especially in this development but here is rejected. Roger Penrose the world famous mathematician and physicist , joint discoverer of black hole, computes a one in 10 ^123 probability for life through random processes is another Moreover the time for creation conventionally expressed as 5 1/2 days (to Adam) is reconciled well by Schroeder with the accepted 13.8 billion years when we consider relativistic considerations. . According to Einstein relativity asserts Schroeder there is a time dilation that occurs when heavy gravitational forces are involved and reflected in the expansion rate of the universe. Taking this into consideration in general relativity considerations Schroeder demonstrates we are faced with a factor of a million million or trillion in expansion dilation itself. When we consider the time differential applied to the 5 1/2 days to human creation by Einsteins relativity we find 5 1/2 days at the core of the universe when multiplied by the dilation factor of a trillion yields about 14 billion years from the time of creation which is well within a reasonable 1 % margin of uncertainty. Further the process itself by which this happens is amplified by Nachmanides in his anticipation of the big Bang and universe expansion by analyzing the introductory words of genesis and the use of the Hebrew term tohu vavou alluding to primordial substance condensed. The Rambam himself asserts that Judaism consistently respects the findings of science without abandoning its truth in his Guide (2:8) and reference to Talmudic sources (Pesahim 94 b) However there is something still missing which Einstein does not completely capture. It is true that there is a goodness that is within this appreciation but is it enough provide us the rich meaning and answers we seek in life? Einsteins or Spinoza God is a totally impersonal God not intervening in human affairs. Nonetheless a form of intuition may be brought to bear that Einstein himself did not at all neglect in the world of science. In his theory about gravitation comparing it to acceleration this was evident and his use of conceptual simplicity in his thought process another example. The transition of such instances as Gods goodness here to that of human affairs is another example of something Gerald Schroeder identifies and amplifies through his intuitive sense. The suggestion that such goodness is extended is also linked by Schroeder by examining the connection between consciousness and matter or between wisdom and the physical. Schroeder expresses this connection by appeal to suggestive opening biblical language of Torah when precisely understood: With wisdom God created heaven and earth. Kabballah here itself recognizes the central role of intuition through the notion of chuckmah connoting a deeper wisdom in a flash (second sefaroit) while binah used in conjunction with it connotes a kind of induction and deduction inherent in day to day science. In this connection particularly the intuition aspect the observation of Blaise Pascal the 17 the century mathematician who laid the foundation for modern probability theory may be relevantly noted. When Louis the 14 confronted him and inquired as the best evidence of a miracle or intervention of God in human affairs he replied why the survival of the Jewish people. Pascals the founder of probability theorys intuitive sense of probability considerations here led him to this mind boggling assertion. We find the same sentiment in the Talmud where it is asserted, The continued existence of the Jewish people is proof of Gods providence. (Talmud Balvi Yoma, 69 b). When we look again at Einstein we find his intuitions operates against a background of experience or empirical input. It is not operative in a vacuum. Einstein was a great admirer of the philosopher David Hume who emphasized time and time again that causation can take many sided directions without there being any necessity in the outcome. This, moreover, could in many cases land us in a universe with strange happenings. We must therefore be steered by experience and not allow ourselves to intuit too much and exceed experience. We are often confronted with Darwin theory as a case against religion. However it may be noted that once again we must consider the various interpretive approaches that our religion offers. Moreover interestingly Darwin harbored a sense that the design aspects of his theory could not have arisen if left to the laws of randomness with the law of natural selection being the driving force. In the standard account of utilization of the the theory time is depicted as the hero of the plot in accounting for the development of life form. However here again the unlikelihood emerging in the time allowed is mirrored in Darwins own remarks the concerning complexities of life involved. Significantly a close examination of his views on the matter contained no less than a clear endorsement of something more when asserting that There is grandeur of life with its several powers breathed by God into a few forms or even one this is right from his Origins where he invokes the word creator 9 times and God twice. The same acts of enlightened intuition that has guided Einstein, Spinoza, Penrose, and Darwin are at the disposal of all of us (less perhaps the exact math) in the many personal worlds we all inhabit. I invite the reader to think about that personal dimension in his/her own life connecting himself/herself with the cosmos gifted by the Creator.

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Figures of Islam, Judaism and Christianity Celebrate Tolerance and Peace in Rabat – Morocco World News

Rabat On the 56th anniversary of King Mohammed Vs death, members of the three monotheistic religions met in Rabat on Thursday to celebrate the tolerance and peace that the late King encouraged. The Forum for Tolerance and Peace was organised as an initiative of the Mediterranean Centre for Peace and Dialogue Between Cultures and the Moulay Abdesalam Association for Development and Solidarity. Thursdays conference was an opportunity to remember the efforts that Mohammed V made to liberate Morocco from the both French and Spanish colonisation. After the forums participants visited the mausoleum of King Mohammed V to pay respect to the spirit of Moroccos father, they signed a plaque entitled The Dove of Peace and Tolerance. This plaque will be given to Egypts Ambassador to Morocco as a token of solidarity, following the recent attack on Coptic Christians in the country. The shared Iftar expressed friendship, tolerance, sharing and respect for each other, irrespective of the others faith. Mohamed Abidou, the director of the Mediterranean Centre told Moroccan Press Agency (MAP) that sharing Iftar is the best symbol of religious tolerance and respect that Moroccans can offer. During the reception, numerous veterans of the resistance movement including Mustapha El Ktiri, High Commissioner for former Resistance and former members of the Liberation Army (HCAR) were praised for the service they gave to their country. Abidou also told Moroccan Press Agency (MAP) that the date of meeting on the anniversary of King Mohammed Vs death was significant and intentional. He continued that the late King sacrificed the throne for the freedom of the kingdom and faced colonialism and Vichy fascism in order to protect Jewish people. El Ktiri remarked that the meeting reflected values of tolerance, dialogue and openness between different civilisations, religions and cultures. The high commissioner also recognised the importance of the event falling during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and stated that those who commit violent crimes, like the killing of Egyptian Coptic Christians, are terrorists who have nothing to do with Islam, a religion of peace and tolerance. The forum ended with a concert by Laraches Andalusian music orchestra and featured participation from artist Abdesalam Sefiani. Join the Conversation. What do you think?

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June 10, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Why the Western Wall is holiest site in Judaism – Quad-Cities Online

The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism. Called the Kotel in Hebrew, the Western Wall is actually part of the huge, outer retaining wall for the Temple Mount area where the First Jewish Temple (The Temple of Solomon) was built in 957 BCE and destroyed in 586 BCE, and where the Second Jewish Temple was built by King Herod in 20 BC. This retaining wall is all that is left after the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD along with the city of Jerusalem during the failed Jewish revolt against their Roman masters. The Western Wall became Judaisms holiest site because of its closeness to the actual location of the Temples, and especially where the First Temple housed the Ten Commandments inside the Ark of the Covenant. The Temples were the center of Jewish religious life. Jews came from all over to pray and to offer sacrifices, and it was the site of the Jewish pilgrimage festivals of Shavuot — celebration of the first fruits being harvested, Sukkot — celebration of the final harvest, and Passover — festival of freedom from bondage in Egypt. After the destruction of the Second Temple and the later failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132 AD, most of the Jews who were not slaughtered were forced into exile throughout the ancient world. Those exiled Jews, who wanted to maintain their Judaism, built places of worship called synagogues, and they prayed facing towards Jerusalem and the destroyed Temple. This same practice continues today. Over the centuries, access by Jews to the Western Wall depended solely on the whims of whoever ruled Jerusalem, whether they were Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Ottomans, or the British. During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, the Western Wall as well as the eastern parts of Jerusalem fell under control of the Kingdom of Jordan. Under Jordanian rule, all Jews were expelled from eastern Jerusalem, 57 synagogues as well as Jewish cemeteries were desecrated or destroyed, and Jews were forbidden to worship at the Western Wall. And the world was shamefully silent. This month, Jews and non-Jews alike from all over the world, are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israels incredible victory in the Six Day War of 1967, when Israel quickly and soundly defeated Arab armies on the battlefields, and liberated eastern Jerusalem and the Western Wall from the Jordanians. So in June of 1967, and for the first time in almost 2,000 years, Jews had control and free and unfettered access to their holiest site. Finally. Today, the Western Wall plaza is filled with those in prayer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it is a must-see site for visitors from all over the world. For those of you fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to pray at the Western Wall, you know that it is an incredible feeling like no other place on earth. For you are truly standing on holy ground and you are as close as one can get to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As has been the tradition for hundreds of years, visitors are encouraged to write prayers on scraps of paper and then place them into the cracks in the Western Wall. Those prayers go straight to God. Unfortunately, though, there are those anti-Semites and even United Nations member states who continue to deny the 3,000-plus year historical connection between the Jews and the Western Wall and Jerusalem. But fortunately, their attempts to erase Jewish history and supply their own false narratives, whether for political or religious purposes, will fail. And no matter what future agreements are reached over the status of Jerusalem, we are confident that Jerusalem will never, ever again be divided, and the Western Wall will forever be controlled by the Jewish people. Allan G. Ross, of Rock Island, is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities.

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June 10, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Rich Garcia: Stepping forward for Marines and Judaism – Jewish Journal

When U.S. Marine Sgt. Rich Garcia was on a mission in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle he would have been on had he not moved to another to take over for a Marine who was ill. He credits a siddur, of all things, with keeping him safe. That was the first time I carried a siddur out on patrol, Garcia told the Journal. After that, I carried that siddur everywhere. Garcia, 33, was a Marine from 2002 to 2011, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was raised by a Jewish father, who also was a Marine, and a Catholic mother. They separated when he was young and he lived with his father. As a Marine, Garcia went to Shabbat services at boot camp and wore a Star of David necklace under his combat gear. He began converting to Judaism in 2014 through the program Judaism by Choice. Today, his connection to Judaism is not just spiritual but professional as the head of security at Sinai Temple. I think since he has chosen Judaism, he has made a connection with our families, and its more than just a job, Sinai Temple Rabbi Erez Sherman said. It is a sense of duty. Born in Corsicana, Texas, Garcia grew up outside of San Diego, raised mostly by his father, Richard Levine. Garcia said his father encouraged him to go to synagogue on Shabbat at a Conservative congregation. He pretty much said, Hey, you can pick whatever religion you want but lets go to synagogue, Garcia said at Sinai, a handgun holstered at his side. On Sept. 11, 2001, his father woke him up to watch on television as the second plane flew into the World Trade Center. A high school senior, he skipped school that day and visited a military recruiter. I grew up in a very patriotic household, he said. Honestly, I probably knew what terrorism was when other high school kids were not even thinking about it. During boot camp in San Diego, he participated in Shabbat services. It was then that a rabbi on base gave him the siddur he would carry with him throughout his service. After his discharge, Garcia moved to Los Angeles, drawn to its large Jewish community and the job opportunities in private security. He began working at Sinai Temple last year, around the time that he completed his conversion coursework, led by Rabbi Neil Weinberg. He is a single man who wanted to become Jewish because he loves the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. He did all the requirements in our program keeping Shabbat every week, going to synagogue weekly and keeping kosher, Weinberg said in an email. I am very proud that he converted to Judaism through our Judaism by Choice program. At Sinai, Garcia runs a team of former military men. He said providing employment to military veterans is a way of helping them after their service. Give them a role, make them feel like theyre needed, because in the military we were needed, we had a role, he said. Garcia, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, is an employee of Centurion Group, a full-service security company that serves houses of worship, among other clients. A member of Sinai Temple, he holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix and he plans to earn an Emergency Medical Technician certification. His Sinai team attends the annual High Holy Days security briefing organized by the Anti-Defamation League. He works closely with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles in keeping abreast of security threats. As a Marine, Garcia went to Shabbat services at boot camp and wore a Star of David necklace under his combat gear. Gone are the days of discovering improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan. These days, he is more likely to order an evacuation after a suspicious package is spotted at a bar mitzvah. Recently, a spate of threats targeting Jewish community centers put his team on higher alert. It kept my guys on their toes we took it personally, he said. This is our home, and were not going to let anybody destroy our community. In March, he traveled to Israel for the first time and participated in the Jerusalem Marathon as part of a delegation that included Sherman as well as other Sinai congregants . He ran in memory of Marcus Preudhomme, a fellow Marine who was killed in action in Iraq in 2008. Preudhommes name is inscribed on a bracelet on Garcias wrist. During the trip, Garcia became a bar mitzvah at the Western Wall. Sherman was by his side as he recited an aliyah Parashat Vayakhel. Though he spends his free hours at the gym, he ran the half-marathon instead of the full. I ran the half, Im not going to lie to you. Oh, my gosh, that was hard, he said. It was hills. Im in the Jewish community. I wish they wouldve told me Jerusalem is all hills they knew I was going. But it was great.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Author to speak about his path toward observant Judaism – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2017 7:30 am Author to speak about his path toward observant Judaism Author Roy S. Neuberger will be the featured guest at a lecture hosted by MAKOR and JLive at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at MAKOR, 13402 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite A120, Scottsdale. His books include From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul, Worldstorm: Finding Meaning and Direction Amidst Todays World Crisis and Working Toward Mashiach. Your current subscription does not provide access to this content. Please click the button below to manage your account. kAm}6F36C86C 92D 2=D@ 366? 2 DEF56?E 2E ~I7@C5 &?:G6CD:EJj 2 ?2E:@?2= A2C 2? 2?5 HC:E6D C68F=2C=J 7@C E96 y6H:D9 !C6DD]k^Am kAm%96 =64EFC6 😀 7C66] p 56DD6CE C646AE:@? DE2CED 2E fib_ A]> ]k^Am kAm’:D:E |pz~# @? u2463@@ 2:= k2 9C67lQ> 2:=E@iC233:3@=6=o> J> 2 J> 2

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

Ynetnews News – Migrants from former USSR connecting to … – Ynetnews

They immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union as part of the great immigration wave of the 1990s, full of hopes and dreams, but never completed the process of immigration and assimilation in Israel. The complex reality of Israeli life, the security situation, the complex language, the high cost of living and the immediate labeling affixed to them by virtue of their immigration, made life very difficult. The difficulties of acclimatization were compounded by another difficulty: in a country where there was room for only one type of Judaism, many of whom had lived secular and atheistic lives before, or were accustomed to keeping kosher but not in the strict Halachic (according to Jewish law) way, could not find their place. According to Interior Ministry data, about 30% of those who immigrated in the 1990s are not halachically Jewish. Non-Jewish immigrants came under the “grandchild clause” in the Law of Return, and expected to nevertheless be treated with the required respect, and not be discriminated against by the stateexpectations that quickly dissolved and added to additional difficulties. FSU conference (Photo: Leora Kogan) All this and more encouraged large numbers of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to pack their belongings and emigrate for the second time in their lives, this time to Canada, and for good reason: Canadian Jewry is the fourth largest in the world after Israel, the United States and France. The figures speak of 388,000 Jews living in the country, and constitute about 1.1% of Canada’s population as a whole. Most of the Jews who immigrated to Canada settled in the cities of Montreal and Toronto, with Toronto leading with no fewer than 200,000 Jews. The figures speak of some 70,000 Russian-speaking Jews living in Canada today, most of whom immigrated to Canada from Israel. But what is really interesting is that in Canada, a country based on immigration and immigrants and multiculturalism, immigrants from the former Soviet Union found a renewed connection to their Judaisma deep connection they had never experienced, especially in Israel. The discovery and reconnection is now being led by the Y generation of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, young people in their 20s who were born in Israel and emigrated with their families to Canada when they were in their early teens, some of them even before. I met some of them at a special conference of Limmud FSU, which took place in a town north of Toronto. The two-day conference, which attracted 700 Soviet Jews living in Toronto and its environs, is part of the organization’s ongoing activity to unite Soviet Jews through voluntary conferences and festivals. Dan Patrenko (Photo: Leora Kogan) The Limmud conferences, founded by Chaim Chesler, aspire to restore the communal spirit, as well as to encourage recognition of Jewish identity. So how did it happen that the young peoplemore than 50,000 in the last decadeflock to these conferences in droves and even “infected their parents” with this metaphorical bug? Sergei Patrenko said, My son brought me to this festival. He and his wife Alla were born in Ukraine. They married at the age of 17 and immigrated to Israel as part of the mass wave of 1990-91. Their two children, Dan, now 18, and Michal, 16, were born in Israel. When Dan finished second grade, the family left for Canada. The parents ran an employment agency in Israel, and opened a branch of it in Canada, from which emerged the idea of emigrating. Unlike other families who left Israel, Sergei and Alla maintain a close working relationship with Israel. Three years ago, their son Dan asked them to go with him to a Limmud festival, and after much cajoling, they reluctantly agreed. Sergei said, It is very easy to lose your Jewish identity in your daily life when you don’t live in Israel, especially in a city like Toronto. This is an international city, and in the course of our work we meet people from dozens of different countries. (Photo: Leora Kogan) “My wife and I lived in Israel for 16 years, and this formed our Jewish identity. Even though our children were born in Israel, they have lived for most of their lives in Canada, and feel a strong connection to their Jewish identity, and that is thanks to conferences like these, where there is no pressure, and the programming is not one-sided. The festival can open with lectures on religion, and close with a workshop on making gefilte fish. The children meet and enjoy being with other Jewish children, and are exposed to a wide variety of interesting and varied topics on Jewish and Israeli subjects. Holocaust, Aliya and Migration Dans connections to his Jewish roots find expression not only in persuading his family to attend communal activities. At his young age, he has already written a play that has been staged in small theaters in Canada, and which relates what happened to his mothers family in Ukraine in the shadow of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. The play is called Train for Two, and it is a drama in one act that deals with the story of a man who betrayed Jews during the Second World War in order to get money to save his sick wife, explained Dan. Alla Petrenko was 14 years old when she learned the truth. Granny was deeply religious, and throughout her whole life she tried to persuade our family to immigrate to Israel. And even though she was not Jewish, she believed that Jews should live only in Israel and that only there could they feel protected. The story came to light after Granddad died, and one day before we were due to emigrate to Israel, Granny died, as if she had closed the circle of her lifes ambition. Every eve of Yom Kippur, I light a candle in her memory. Boris Varshavsky (Photo: Leora Kogan) Distance Makes Connections Until a few years ago, I had no particular connection with Judaism, admitted Boris Varshavsky aged 26, one of the festivals leading volunteers, who emigrated to Toronto with his parents when he was only nine. I grew up in a Russian home that was kosher in its own way, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. At university I met a counselor who was active in the Jewish students’ organization. Through him, I joined a group of people who were concerned about Israel and their Jewish roots. That led me to reconnect with my own Jewish roots and through them, I became in touch with the non-Russian Canadian Jewish community.

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June 4, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed

German woman returns to her roots, converts to Judaism at 81 – Ynetnews

At the age of 81, Mazal (Monica) Hartzfeld converted to Judaism. The little girl from Dsseldorf, Germany, who spent her childhood in the dark days of Nazi Germany, came full circle in Gush Etzion in Israel, where she completed the conversion process via seminars by AMI, an organization which offers Judaism conversion seminars in Israel for those who are not Israeli citizens. Mazal (Monica) Hartzfeld “I was three years old when it all began,” she told in an interview with Ynet. “At the time, we lived in Dsseldorf, and when the war started, I could see as a young girl the attacks on people and on their property.” (Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

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June 2, 2017   Posted in: Judaism  Comments Closed


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