Kids’ Books that Matter: Enter the Land and Plant /Tu Bishvat, the Birthday of the Trees

Posted on January 22nd, 2018
By Kathy Bloomfield. This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


When I was a girl, I spent many weekends at my grandmother’s house. She had a HUGE walnut tree in the center of her backyard. The neighborhood kids and my siblings and I, like most children, used sheets, blankets, benches and the like to create tents, tunnels and fortresses under the branches of that tree. From there we would enter the fantastic worlds of our imagination, gathering food for our children (i.e. walnuts for the dolls), walking through the desert (i.e. my grandmother’s cactus garden) or searching for magic globes (i.e. fruit from her avocado tree). The walnut tree was the starting point of every journey and the center of most of our larger family gatherings.

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WATCH: This Journalist Turned Rabbinical Student is Creating Entertaining Arabic Videos to Explain Judaism to Muslims

Posted on January 15th, 2018
By Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine 


Elhanan Miller hopes to broker Middle East peace, one YouTube subscriber at a time



Several months ago, high quality animated videos explaining Jewish religion and practice began popping up on YouTube. This would have been unremarkable except for one fact: they were in fluent Arabic. Tackling such subjects as kosher food and prayer, the informative and often entertaining clips detailed how these rituals compared and contrasted to Islamic practice. Here, for example, is the video on prayer:

Watch video.


The YouTube channel, called “People of the Book” after the Qur’anic category for Jews, has quietly garnered thousands of views. It is the brainchild of Elhanan Miller, a Jerusalem-born intelligence soldier turned journalist (and Tablet contributor) turned rabbinical student who hopes to use the explainers to foster regional understanding and peace.


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Morocco’s little idyll of Jewish-Muslim coexistence

Posted on January 8th, 2018
From economist.com. This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline "Shalom alaykum"

A moment of religious harmony


Essaouira sets an example for the rest of the Middle East

 


ONCE a year the little seaside town of Essaouira, in Morocco, reclaims its lost Jewish community. Sephardic trills echo from its whitewashed synagogues. The medieval souks fill with Jewish skullcaps. Rabbis and cantors wish Muslims “Shabbat Shalom” and regale them with Hebrew incantations. “It’s our culture,” says a merchant from Marrakech, who travelled 200km (124 miles) to hear them this year.

The revival is the initiative of André Azoulay, a 76-year-old Jew from Essaouira (one of just three) and a former counsellor to Morocco’s kings. Each autumn he stages a colourful festival of Andalusian music aimed at bringing hundreds of Jews and Muslims together for a weekend of concerts and dialogue. Locals pack the small stadium to watch Hebrew cantors and Koran-reciters sing arm-in-arm. Israelis and Palestinians flock there, too. “Essaouira is what the Middle East once was and might yet be again,” says Mr Azoulay.

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The Converso Comeback

Posted on January 1st, 2018
By Suzanne Selengut for Tablet Magazine


Hispanic crypto-Jews use social media and DNA testing to reconnect with their heritage


When retired civil servant Carl Montoya arrives for prayers at Mikveh Israel Synagogue in Philadelphia, he has a routine. He expertly wraps tefillin, dons his Sephardic prayer shawl, and greets his many friends in the pews. The Hebrew prayers can be tricky for him, but he is slowly mastering them all, together with the rest of Jewish ritual life. As a convert to Conservative Judaism and an active member of an Orthodox synagogue, Montoya has definitely broken from his past as a Catholic with deep roots in New Mexico’s historic Hispanic community. But what makes his story truly remarkable is not just that he is a Jew by choice, but that he is a Jew by birth.

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A Year After Trump’s Election, Jewish-Muslim Group Takes A More Pointed Approach To Fighting Hate

Posted on December 25th, 2017
BY AMY SARA CLARK for The Jewish Week


Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom ramps up activism in response to growing anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim attacks.


When Sheryl Olitzky and Atiya Aftab started Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, it was before Donald Trump’s travel ban targeted predominantly Muslim countries. It was before hundreds of white supremacists carrying Tiki torches chanted “Jews will not replace us” during a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

It was before more than 100 tombstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, and before reports of mosques being vandalized and thugs grabbing hijabs off of women’s heads had become commonplace.

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