Story of Moroccan Jewry Now Available Online

After discovering the extensive Rabat Geniza, scholars digitized the archives

Document from the Rabat Geniza. (Rabat Genizah Project)

When Oren Kosansky stumbled upon the Rabat Geniza in 2005, it was nothing but a collection of books and papers stashed in a synagogue in Rabat, Morocco. Kosansky, an anthropology professor at Lewis and Clark College doing research in Rabat, had unknowingly entered the synagogue’s geniza, or storeroom for sacred documents—which, according to Jewish tradition, cannot be discarded without a ritual burial—and found documents detailing centuries of Jewish life in Morocco.

While Jewish law says only sacred documents must be collected for burial, communities often stored all kinds of documents together without distinguishing the sacred from the mundane. The Cairo Geniza, discovered in the late 1800s, featured everything from liturgical texts to shipping orders. Kosansky described the Rabat Geniza’s contents as providing “the collective library of the Rabat Jewish community at the end of the 20th century.” (more…)

Experts: Your Kids Might Still Move Back Home

Good news for Jewish moms everywhere?


Millennials—can’t live with them, can’t live without them. But especially the second part, if you’re the parent of a twentysomething who’s moved back home after college, or after a few years on their own. The trend of recent college grads heading home after the economy crashed, saving money while working or while looking for work, has become so widespread that there’s even a catchy term for it: boomerang kids.

And according to the New York Times, the trend—and your child—isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. (more…)

Palestinian Killed in Clashes With Israeli Troops

Confrontations increasingly violent as search for missing teens continues

A Palestinian protester hurls a rock during clashes between youth from the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Jalazoun and Israeli forces nearby the Jewish settlement of Bet El, in the Palestinian village of Dura on February 7, 2014. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

A Palestinian teenager was killed by gunfire in an early morning clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Duma, the New York Times reports. The IDF’s overnight raid was part of the ongoing search for three Israeli teens kidnapped in the West Bank last Thursday.

Witnesses in Dura, a West Bank town of 28,000 near Hebron, said Mohammed Jihad Dudeen, 15, was fatally shot around 5 a.m., as he and other youths hurled rocks at some 150 soldiers storming their neighborhood. “One of them crouched and opened fire on the boy,” said Bassam al-Awadeh, 42, who said he watched from about 150 yards away. “The boy was hit in his heart and his abdomen.”

According to the IDF, 25 Palestinians were arrested in the raid, bringing the total number of arrests this week to 330. (more…)

Beastie Boys’ Mike D. Loves Bella Abzug

The congresswoman and activist is his favorite New Yorker

Mike D of the Beastie Boys performs on May 4, 2014 in New York City.(Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

The Beastie Boys’ Mike D. answered New York magazine’s 21 Questions, and the 48-year-old, who described himself as “musician, producer, designer, curator at large, dad,” had a few interesting insights. In addition to characterizing his responsibilities at his first job in as “restocking, shipping and receiving, schlepping” at a book store, the Brooklyn-bred Beastie Boy told the magazine that his favorite New Yorker, living or dead, is pioneering congresswoman and feminist activist Bella Abzug. (more…)

Why I Support Presbyterian Divestment as a Jew

The U.S. Church is voting on the controversial measure this week


In a blog post two days ago, Yair Rosenberg wrote about a Presbyterian minister who committed “the interfaith equivalent of a flagrant foul” by suggesting that America, not Israel, was the Jewish Promised Land. I’ve spent the past few days at the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s National General Assembly, and my experience has been exactly the opposite of an interfaith flagrant foul—Presbyterians from across the United States have engaged and considered Jewish voices, including mine, in their internal church decision-making process.

I am in Detroit as a member of Jewish Voice for Peace’s delegation to the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly, where commissioners and advisory delegates from across the country decide national church policy on everything from theological issues to gun violence. This year, the Church is debating whether to divest from three American companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. In considering this decision, the Presbyterian community has invited, welcomed, and respected my voice, as well as the voices of other Jews with diverse religious commitments and political backgrounds. (more…)

Josh Orlian Really Does Have Talent

After all, the 12-year-old comedian knew how to make Howie Mandel kvell

Josh Orlian performing on 'America's Got Talent.'(YouTube)

Much Jewish ink has been spilled already on Josh Orlian, the 12-year-old yarmulke’d wonder from White Plains, N.Y., who alternately wowed and shocked the judges on America’s Got Talent the other night by performing his stand-up act—you know, the one he performs for his three weirdo friends in the coat room when they’re supposed to be in the children’s service. We’ve heard outrage about his temerity to appear in the vestments of frumness and then tell dirty jokes, how his act was an affront to his parents (although, obviously, one wants to be supportive), and fury at his parents themselves for allowing their son to do such a thing.

I’m not religious and I’m not a parent, so I’m not too bothered by either of these things, and anyone who thinks a yarmulke is some talisman against hormones has never been to a USY convention. But I am a person of the comic persuasion, and, as such, I’m in awe. (more…)

Actress Laverne Cox: I Like Jewish Guys

‘I’d like to think of myself as the nation’s premier black transgender shiksa’

Actress Laverne Cox onstage during the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Laverne Cox is one of the breakout stars of Netflix’s hit show, Orange is the New Black, the second season of which premiered earlier this month on the streaming site. Cox plays Sophia Burset, a transgender woman convicted of credit card fraud who quickly becomes one of the most compelling characters on the show. Cox is transgender in real life, and last month became the first transgender person featured on the cover of Time magazine.

The actress stopped by Chelsea Lately last night to discuss the addictive prison series (if you haven’t finished Season 2 yet, please stop reading this and go watch). But that’s not all they discussed. According to Page Six, Cox told host Chelsea Handler she prefers to date Jewish men. (more…)

Maccabi Tel Aviv Hires New Coach

Assistant coach Guys Goodes gets promoted after David Blatt heads to NBA

Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Guy Goodes. (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

A week after Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach David Blatt announced he would be leaving the team for a job with the NBA, the Israeli basketball team has appointed a new coach. The Jerusalem Post reports that Guy Goodes, who served as Blatt’s assistant coach for four seasons, has been named head coach. Goodes, who was mentored by Blatt, signed a two-year contract with the team.

The 43-year-old also played for Maccabi for eight seasons between 1990 and 1998, retiring in 2004 following an injury ravaged career. He moved straight into coaching, guiding Maccabi Rishon Lezion for two seasons (2004-06) before returning to the yellow-and-blue as an assistant for two years (2006-08). Goodes left Maccabi for the head coaching position at Hapoel Jerusalem in 2008, but was brought back to Nokia Arena in 2010 to work under Blatt.

Maccabi Tel Aviv has been on a roll lately, with an unexpected win at the Euroleague Championship in Milan in May. (more…)

Dov Charney Booted From American Apparel

Clothing company’s CEO and chairman ousted over ‘alleged misconduct’

An American Apparel store front is seen in lower Manhattan August 18, 2010 in New York. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Dov Charney, the notoriously lecherous founder of American Apparel, has been ousted from his role as chairman and CEO of the popular purveyor of crop tops and neon leggings, BuzzFeed reports. The retailer’s board of directors released a statement citing “an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct” as the reason behind their vote to replace Charney, and plan to fire him “for cause.”

“The board’s decision to replace Mr. Charney grew out of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct,” the company said in the statement.

“We take no joy in this, but the Board felt it was the right thing to do,” Allan Mayer, one of the directors who will be co-chairman, said in the statement. “Dov Charney created American Apparel, but the Company has grown much larger than any one individual and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead.”


Gunfire in Jenin as IDF Searches for Teens

Most violent confrontation in the week-long search for three abducted boys

An Israeli soldier conducts a search mission during the sixth day into the search of three missing teenagers June 18, 2014 in Hebron, West Bank. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in Jenin this morning in the most violent confrontation so far in the search for three Israeli teens kidnapped last Thursday while hitchhiking in the West Bank. The AP reports that Israeli soldiers entered the West Bank city of Jenin at 2 a.m., and in response a crowd of 300 Palestinians threw rocks and explosive at the troops, who then responded with live fire. Seven people were being treated for light injuries at the Jenin hospital.

Israeli forces arrested 30 Palestinians in the Jenin raid, which, according to Reuters, brings the number of Palestinians arrested in the week-long search to 280 (200 are believed to be members of Hamas). (more…)

Jewish 12-Year-Old Shocks Reality TV Judges

Aspiring comedian Josh Orlian delivers dirty jokes on America’s Got Talent

Josh Orlian performing on 'America's Got Talent.' (YouTube)

A few months ago, Tina and Joey Orlian of White Plains, N.Y., received the Parents of the Year award from Westchester Hebrew High School, where their son Jeremy is a student. Last night, the Orlians were seen cheering on another of their sons, 12-year-old Josh, who made his yarmulke-clad stand-up comedy debut on America’s Got Talent. Despite Josh’s young age, his set consisted entirely of explicit jokes about male genitalia—dick jokes, I think the kids call them. And just like that, judges Howard Stern (obviously) and Howie Mandel buzzed Josh through to the next round of the popular reality TV competition.

While Josh’s delivery could use some work—primetime is nerve-wracking, after all—and the jokes themselves weren’t the funniest I’ve ever heard (and I enjoy a good dirty joke as much as the next nice Jewish girl), the most notable element of Josh’s performance might have been the vociferous response it inspired on social media and in the Jewish blogosphere. The reactions were swift and nearly universal in their condemnation of Josh and his parents for committing an obvious chillul Hashem, or a desecration of God’s name. (While a chillul Hashem doesn’t always violate Torah law, it certainly isn’t in its spirit.) (more…)

‘Britain’s Schindler’ to Receive Czech Honor

Sir Nicholas Winton saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Nazis

Sir Nicholas Winton, who arranged for more than 650 children to leave Nazi Germany between March and September 1939, at the Prague premiere of 'Nicky's Family' on January 20, 2011.(MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Between March and September 1939, British stockbroker Nicholas Winton saved more than 650 children, most of them Jewish, by arranging kindertransports from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovkia to the United Kingdom. Winton, the London-born son of German Jews, was moved to action after visiting Prague in December 1938 and seeing firsthand the worsening conditions for the country’s Jews. The undertaking often required falsifying documents or bribing officials, but Winton managed to orchestrate eight transports of children to the U.K. by the time World War II broke out in September 1939.

The children spared the fates that befell their families and friends during the Holocaust didn’t know who their benefactor was, as Winton never publicized his actions. It wasn’t until a BBC television special in 1989 invited an unsuspecting Winton to the studio that the now-grown children saved on Winton’s transports were able to thank him in person. (A documentary about Winton, Nicky’s Family, was released in 2011.)

Now the 105-year-old, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, is being properly thanked by the Czech Republic. (more…)

Bas Relief Depicts Circumcision in Ancient Egypt

Relic from 2400 BCE  believed to be the oldest illustration of the ritual

(Open Culture)

Male circumcision, particularly the Jewish ritual performed on week-old Jewish newborns known as a bris, has become in recent years a hotly debated practice, with proposed bans popping up across Europe and advocates, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, speaking out for and against the ancient ritual.

Just how ancient are we talking? (more…)

Fake Jerusalem Beach Gets Heated Response

Local ultra-Orthodox rabbi calls the new outdoor offering an ‘abomination’


An artificial beach opened last weekend in a restored train station complex in Jerusalem, drawing crowds of residents excited for a reprieve from the oppressive summer heat. The new addition to First Station—which also features restaurants, bars, and cafes, all of which remain open during Shabbat—has angered ultra-Orthodox locals, who object to both the beach’s un-kosher hours and potential for immodesty. According to Religion News Service, ultra-Orthodox rabbis lodged a complaint with city council arguing that “the beach will encourage unseemly behavior and desecration of the Jewish Sabbath.” (A surfing simulator is reportedly opening soon on the site.)

Haaretz reports that ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem rabbi Moshe Sternbuch went so far as calling the new recreational offering an “abomination, unheard of, where they frighteningly violate the sanctity of the Holy City.” (more…)

89-Year-Old Suspected Auschwitz Guard Arrested

Johann Breyer immigrated to the United States in 1952, lives in Philadelphia

The railway tracks leading to the main gates at Auschwitz II - Birkenau seen December 10, 2004. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

U.S. authorities have arrested Johann Breyer, an 89-year-old suspected former guard at Auschwitz and Buchenwald currently living in Philadelphia, the New York Times reports. He has been charged with 158 counts of complicity in the commission of murder. The arrest is part of renewed German efforts to identify and arrest former Nazi guards, most of whom are now in their eighties and nineties—and an acknowledgment that time is very quickly running out to hold those responsible for Nazi crimes accountable in court. Germany is attempting to have Breyer extradited to Germany, where he would face trial.

Johann Breyer, a retired tool maker born in Czechoslovakia, is the oldest person ever accused of ties to the Third Reich by United States authorities who for decades have hunted for Nazis who escaped to America after the war. Mr. Breyer is accused of joining the Waffen SS at age 17 and working as a guard at the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. (more…)

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