Religion & Beliefs

Jews in the News, a Weekly Roundup

If your idea of a religious experience is listening to William Shatner read the Book of Exodus, you’re in luck! Shatner reads Exodus and selections from the Haggadah with music by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Exodus: An Oratorio In … Read More

By / April 18, 2008

  • If your idea of a religious experience is listening to William Shatner read the Book of Exodus, you’re in luck! Shatner reads Exodus and selections from the Haggadah with music by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Exodus: An Oratorio In Three Parts. That’s one alternative to hearing you Great Aunt Ida read about the four sons. You can pick up the album at CDBaby or Amazon.
  • The New York Times covered Susie Fishbein's ever-present Kosher by Design cookbook series. This year she came out with a Passover by Design, and graciously allowed the NYT writer into her home to see her living room dripping with tchotchkes and her seder table which was apparently set “weeks ago.” I hope her guests like dust with their matzo. She also shares her business plan: “It’s all about the out-of-work chefs and restaurants that have closed.”
  • In Israel, controversy surrounds a new ruling that you can sell chametz can be sold in restaurants and shops during Passover. Orthodox groups are pissed that the country may be violating its Jewish roots, and secular groups are overjoyed that they won’t have to stock up on bread before the holiday. Once again, it’s Jew vs Jew in Israel. What redemption?
  • You know those Haggadahs for women, and feminist seders? Now there’s a masculine response: The Men’s Seder, with four questions like, “Why is it that no matter how old I get, I don’t understand women?” In an effort to connect with the men who have been leaving synagogues in droves, the Reform movement published the Haggadah, and 25 brotherhoods around the country are holding men-only seders this week. Their wives are probably going to gather and make jokes about how if the Exodus had been men-only they’d still be wandering in the desert…
  • In non-Passover-related news, more money has been thrown at the problem of unaffiliated Jews. Birthright Israel and the Jim Jospeh Foundation have a new $25 million initiative to do follow up programming for Birthright alumni. The goal is to harness some of their momentum for the trip and make sure that the effects are long-lasting. Birthright NEXT now has a huge budget, so if you have ideas for programming, this is your chance to ask for funding.
  • Jewish schools are struggling to teach their students about Israel. The Israeli-Palestininan conflict and the religious-secular divide make for tough curriculum choices. In light of this, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation and Jim Joseph Foundation are starting an Israel Education Resource Center to help schools, camps and youth groups brainstorm and share ideas.
  • In Israel, the court system turned to the media to help find a man who refuses to give his wife a get, the Jewish divorce document. Meir Briskman, 33, has refused to grant his wife a divorce for over five years, and now his name and picture are being distributed in the secular media in the hopes of tracking him down. Last year 23 men were incarcerated in Israel for refusing to give their wives gets, and it looks like Briskman, if found, will join their club. If you know anything about his whereabouts, drop the authorities a line here.
  • We told you that there are Jews in China, and now the synagogue in Shanghai, Ohel Rachel, just celebrated its first wedding in decades.
  • In New York, an Orthodox man was ejected from his flight because he didn’t follow orders from the flight attendants to take his seat. He was praying, and though he sat down as soon as he was finished, he was removed from the flight by a customer service representative who put him on a later flight.
  • In Frankfurt, a German Muslim man is claiming that though he stabbed an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, it was in self defense because the rabbi had grabbed him by the collar and screamed at him.