One of the most successful and innovative women in Israel, Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed is the current founding head of the popular Religious Zionist news network Arutz Sheva (israelnationalnews.com).
Why do Americans feel so bad when, by every meaningful measure, we have it so good?
That’s the question that troubles me every evening as I head home from work. As host of a daily radio talk show that reaches more than four million listeners across the country, I’m exposed to a steady stream of self-pity and complaint.
When Eli Genauer reads an old cookbook, it’s not for the recipes. Like a detective on the hunt, Genauer searches cover to cover for clues of a time long passed and for insights that can be gleaned from them. Advertisements for the Ice Delivery Company (for icebox use) or for the North Pacific Railway in The Neighborhood Cook Book (Portland, 1912) are the kinds of historical traces that interest him.
Stardom and the rise of the “celebrity chef” have created a place for chefs in modern society on par with the likes of sports personalities and actors. That visibility has impacted the kosher world as well. Today, modern kosher cookbook authors are receiving their own celebrated status.
Many assume Torah Judaism came to these shores in the aftermath of the Holocaust. This is not only historically false, but it overlooks the extraordinary mesirut nefesh and devotion to Torah exhibited by hundreds of men and women who stubbornly and courageously fought to lay the foundation of Torah Judaism in America.
I’m named after Jacob, my grandfather, who was named after Yaakov Bienenfeld, the patriarch of this family and my great-great-grandfather who came to the US in the 1840s. When he first came to New York, he settled in Harlem, where a Jewish community existed at the time. Many of the big churches in Harlem today used to be shuls. Additionally, most of the big shuls in Manhattan today were built in the 1800s, such as the West Side Institutional Synagogue, Congregation Ohab Zedek, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Congregation Shearith Israel (the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue).
When I was growing up, small farms still existed in Boro Park. I remember there were goats and chickens. It was a time when the majority of Jewish immigrants assimilated. Observant Judaism was perceived as being old fashioned, a relic from the Old Country.
When my parents, Peretz and Annie Scheinerman, lived in Washington, DC [in the early part of the twentieth century], you could just walk onto the White House grounds. There were these beautiful green rolling hills where my brothers and their friends used to play ball.
It’s a fallacy to say that Orthodox Judaism in America existed only from the 1940s onward. My grandchildren mark six generations since the arrival of the Fertig family in the US.
Many of the books on the history of American Orthodoxy include the names Bruder, Weberman, Fensterheim and Jacobs. These families helped build the spiritual foundation that enabled American Orthodoxy to flourish decades later.
The story is told of a visitor to the Netherlands who was given a lengthy tour of that nation’s extensive system of dikes and asked, “How often does it flood around here?” When he was told “it hasn’t for the last fifty years,” he asked, “Then why do you need to spend so much time and money on these dikes if it doesn’t flood here anymore?”
My great-grandfather, Henry P. (Tzvi Pinchas) Cohn, was a Kohen. He left Germany because they had strict laws against Jews there, one of which imposed limitations on how many Jews in a family could get married. (This is why one of Yekke minhagim is that talleisim are worn by both single and married men; this way, German officials weren’t able to tell who was married and who wasn’t.)
My wife’s paternal grandparents, Chaim and Sora Feiga Siegel, moved to Baltimore in 1900. The couple named their second American-born son after Chaim’s father, Yechezkel. But the midwife refused to put Yechezkel on his birth certificate. She said she would not burden an American boy with such a foreign name. One of his sisters solved the dilemma. A street in East Baltimore that she crossed on the way home from school was called Chester Street. It sounded a little like “Chezkel,” so that is how he got the name.
Imagine an America in which all stores are closed on Sundays, few packaged foods bear kosher certification and the vast majority of Orthodox Jewish children attend public school, where they are compelled to sing Christmas songs.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has a remarkable record of achievement. His ability to inspire and to evoke the deepest emotions combined with an acute intellect, organizational talent and creative vision have made him a unique, even historic figure.
Thursday night, March 6th, 2008, Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet 5768: Around eight pm, while my husband Baruch, a student at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, and I are enjoying a relaxing supper, a man from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, wearing a black stocking cap and carrying a cardboard TV box, climbs the five steps from the sidewalk to the courtyard of Mercaz HaRav. He strides forward and rests the box on a stone ledge. Spotting three teenage boys mulling around the dormitory entrance, he reaches into the box and draws out a Kalashnikov rifle.
There is a common misconception that all residents of areas that were liberated during the Six-Day War are Orthodox, or of a particular political bent or that their towns are all “bedroom” communities. In fact, the residents of “yishuvim”—the Hebrew word for any settlement but which has come to refer to those in Judea and Samaria—are mostly “ordinary people,” with no greater a percentage of those on the fringe than in any locale; the only difference being that yishuvim are usually under the world’s microscope.
There is a unique Chinese expression for native village—gu xiang [gû xiàng]—which is not necessarily a place where you are born but a locale from which ancestral roots call to you in the language of the heart and of the soul. Over four decades of teaching Chinese history, I thought this term was untranslatable.
There are many words that come to mind when describing Jewish communities deep within the Shomron; “pragmatic” is not one of them. Yet Har Bracha, more than any other yishuv and perhaps more than any other community in Israel, is the product of an attempt to translate a particular vision of Torah-centered communal life into a holistic plan that encompasses practicalities like economic self-sufficiency, higher education, commuting distances and the costs of housing and day care. And that plan is becoming a reality.
It is easy to overlook Moshav Matityahu. It is located on a strategic hill that overlooks Ben-Gurion Airport, across the road from Hashmonaim, a Modern Orthodox suburb that is popular among American olim. One reaches Matityahu from the road to Kiryat Sefer, the first neighborhood in the Chareidi city of Modi’in Illit.
Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, Hy”d and his eighteen-year-old son Netanel, Hy”d, of Kiryat Arba, were murdered by terrorists on November 13, 2015, near Otniel (south Hevron Mountains), on their way to the Shabbat chatan of Ariel Biegel. He was due to marry Yaakov’s daughter, Sarah Techiya, four days later. I remember thinking, after the initial shock and horror, that they would probably have just a tiny and sad family wedding.
In 1947-8, some 3,500 Machal members from thirty-seven countries rallied to Israel’s defense.
Almost a year ago, I received a call that was profoundly disturbing.
First, some background. Last year, in recognition of the sixty-seventh anniversary of the State of Israel, a yeshivah in my neighborhood organized a yom iyun to acknowledge the wonderful gift that Hashem bestowed upon Klal Yisrael after close to 2,000 years.
There is a long and not especially successful history of attempts to popularize a Yom Ha’atzmaut machzor for the English-speaking world. In 1964, Mr. Armin Krausz of Sheffield, England, arranged for such a machzor to be published by Routledge. The then chief rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Rabbi Israel Brodie, was asked to approve it for use in synagogues under his authority, a request which he turned down.
Preparing healthy, satisfying and delicious meals for family and friends during the eight days of Pesach is a huge challenge. The secret is to focus on plant-based foods, including a variety of colorful, fiber-packed vegetables and fruits, either enjoyed on their own or added to easy-to-prepare recipes. So much better for you than filling up on potatoes and starchy, processed carbs, eating far too many eggs and indulging on too much matzah shmeared with butter and jam.
Q: I’m elbow-deep in soapy water checking my maror for the Seder, while chatting with a friend on the phone, who tells me that lettuce has no nutritional value. Is that true? If so, why are people always talking about eating more greens?
Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaism is a fascinating book that turns the women in Judaism conversation on its head. Growing up as a Conservative Jew, I was certain that Orthodox women were “subjugated.” When I started exploring Orthodoxy in my late teens, I was repeatedly told that women in Orthodoxy are considered “different than men but equal.”
This year marks the centenary of the release of D.W. Griffith’s monumental Birth of a Nation, a film that—despite the controversy that continues to surround it because of its rampant racism—set the motion picture on its way to being the dominant and most influential medium of visual arts in the twentieth century.
Misconception: Unlike the Jews of Christian Europe who suffered pogroms, blood libels, Crusades, et cetera, the Jews living under Islamic rule were not persecuted. It was the rise of the Zionist movement that spurred Muslim anti-Semitism.
“Why is this night not like all other nights?” we ask ourselves at the Seder each year. I answer that question by remembering a Seder that was not like all other Sedarim.
Despite the eternal nature of halachah, each generation requires its own halachic works. Some halachic works are expansive, theoretical and appeal to the intellect, while others are more practical, to the point and answer the crying need for day-to-day guidance in proper halachic observance.
The OU and Jewish Action mourn the passing of Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, the rosh yeshivah of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and OU Kosher Senior Halachic Consultant.