The Jew And The Carrot

Manischewitz: Now Brought to You by Bain Capital

By Haaretz

Matzot on a cooling conveyor Manischewitz factory in Newark, New Jersey. Photo by Bloomberg via Haaretz

Kosher food giant Manischewitz, whose matzot are known to generations of Jews in the United States and elsewhere, is expected to announce on Tuesday that it has been purchased by Sankaty Advisors, an arm of the private equity giant Bain Capital.

The deal, which comes just a few days before Passover, is expected to help the 126-year-old company expand beyond the kosher aisle, the New York Times reported.

Under its new owner, a firm with expertise in revamping corporate strategy, the company is expected to promote “kosher” as a quality-control designation, rather than a simply religious one.

Though private equity tends to conjure images of stripping companies, Sankaty plans to act as “stewards of the brand,” said a person briefed on the deal who was not authorized to speak publicly about it before the announcement.

“It’s a pretty powerful certification to be kosher, because it means you are holding your product to a very high standard,” said Mark Weinsten, the newly appointed interim chief executive of Manischewitz, who is also a senior managing director at FTI Consulting. “Why is that not applicable to people who don’t keep kosher?”

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The Oldest Matzo Maker in France

By Toni L. Kamins

wikicommons

(JTA) — For most Jews, matzah season comes once a year. But for Jean-Claude Neymann, matzah, or “pain azyme” in French, is a defining family tradition.

Neymann runs the oldest matzah bakery in France, located in the town of Wasselonne near the German border. The family company, Etablissements Rene Neymann, traces its matzah-making tradition to 1850.

“I’m the fifth generation of my family to bake matzah here in Wasselonne,” Neymann said.

Walking along the steep, cobblestoned streets of Wasselonne, a city of nearly 6,000 people at the foot of the Vosges Mountains in northeastern France, is like stepping into a Grimm’s fairy tale. Timbered facades look more German than French, a reminder that Alsace and Lorraine have been shunted back and forth between two countries that regularly warred with each other in the not-so- distant past.

Salomon Neymann, a peddler and the father of this unleavened-bread dynasty, set up his first bakery in nearby Odratzheim, where he began to bake Passover matzah for his family and the local Jewish community. His matzah became popular, and by 1870 he and his son Benoit moved the factory to larger quarters in Wasselonne, a market city with an industrial district that also had the advantage of being the site of a flour mill.

Between 1870 and 1919 the Neymann family manufactured regular and shmura matzah in their factory, but Benoit Neymann’s youngest son, Rene, had bigger ideas for the company. In 1919 he industrialized production, changed the company name to Etablissements Rene Neymann and in 1930 began to market the wonders of unleavened bread to the non-Jewish public. It was a hit and sales grew.

After France fell to the Nazis in 1940, the bakery was shuttered and the Neymann family was forced into exile in southern France. Liberation came in November 1944 with the army of Gen. Phillipe Leclerc, and in 1948 Rene Neymann restarted the business.

The decades following World War II saw many changes in how people ate and shopped all over the world.

“Supermarkets started to replace traditional food markets, and eating a low-fat diet became fashionable,” Jean-Claude Neymann noted.

Robert Neymann, Rene’s son, seized the opportunities – he modernized and automated production, expanded the product lines and secured new distribution outlets.

With Robert Neymann at the helm, Etablissements Rene Neymann continued to extend its products and brands by manufacturing other types of matzah for different tastes and appetites: matzah made from rye and whole-wheat flours; bran matzah; spelt matzah; certified organic matzah. Even Neymann’s kosher for Passover matzah, under the supervision of the chief rabbi of Strasbourg, is made from an array of flours.

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Katz's Wins in a Battle of the 'Reuben Orgasm'

By Michael Kaplan

Katz’s Deli is the one and only Katz’s in town — and don’t you forget it.

The 125-year-old deli recently won a legal battle against a food truck called “Katz & Dogz,” arguing that the moniker was an attempt to co-opt the famed-restaurant’s name.

“It has taken over a century of dedication, hard work and consistent customer satisfaction for Katz’s Deli to become famous,” the trademark-infringement suit said. The $1 million lawsuit argued that appropriating the iconic name would ultimately lead customers to confuse the truck with Katz’s Deli and lead people to believe they were associated.

The truck also had to drop its motto, “Are you ready for the Reuben Orgasm?” which the lawsuit asserted was a reference to a famous scene shot at the deli in the movie “When Harry Met Sally.”

The truck is now going by the decidedly less exciting name, “Deli & Dogs.”


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The Country's Best Restaurant Seders

By Anna Goldenberg

It could be because your apartment doesn’t fit your mishpokhe without turning your bed into additional seats. It could be because making matzo balls ends in a family dispute on the best rolling technique. Or it could be because you interpret the tradition of leaning at the Seder as leaning back instead of cooking. No matter what keeps you from hosting this year’s Passover dinner at home, restaurants across the country have a solution for you. Seders are offered with or without ceremony and feature menus for traditionalists, that include all-time Passover favorites, such as gefilte fish, brisket and flourless chocolate cake, as well as some reimagined Passover fare — asparagus wrapped in lamb bacon or an“11th Plague” cocktail, anyone?

Unless otherwise the noted, the restaurants accept reservations throughout the evening.

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The Complete Guide To Hosting a Seder

By Devra Ferst

Hosting a Passover Seder combines the culinary expectations of Thanksgiving with an Iron Chef like challenge: Cook an entire multi-course meal without leavening. It’s pretty daunting. But, with a bit of planning, it makes a great cooking project for a family or a group of friends, the results are delicious and it gives you culinary bragging rights for a full year.

At 28, I’ve helped cook Seders for almost 20 years and hosted several entirely on my own. Along the way, I’ve picked up wisdom from my ultimate Seder hero (my father, who can whip up a tender brisket with his eyes closed) and some master cooking tips from chefs like Mark Spangethal at Kutsher’s Tribeca, Bill Telepan and Yotam Ottolenghi. If you still have questions about your Seder or recipes, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help any way I can.

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6 Kosher Wines To Sip This Seder

By Leah Koenig

Kosher wine maker and collector Jeff Morgan says the kosher wine world is experiencing an “ongoing renaissance” — particularly in Israel and America and, to a lesser extent, in Europe. Here are his recommendations for exceptional bottles for the Seder table:

Covenant Lavan Chardonnay Sonoma Mountain 2011, California ($38)

This wine is sourced from a single vineyard at the top of Sonoma Mountain, called Scopus Vineyard. It is richly textured but not overly oaky, with great acidity and a lovely mineral core.

Covenant RED C Napa Valley Red Wine 2012, California ($44)

This blend features cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah grapes, all sourced and co-fermented from one vineyard. Aged in French oak for 16 months, this soft-textured, well-structured red wine pairs well with all manner of meats. A serious wine for a serious meal, but still a lot of fun!

Flam Winery Reserve Syrah 2010, Israel ($45)

Rich and earthy, this is one of my favorite syrahs from the Holy Land. It is full-bodied and lush, ripe yet elegant. Great with lamb and just about anything else.

Domaine du Castel Rosé 2011, Israel ($25)

If you can find this lovely, refreshing wine for Passover, grab it now. Rosé is probably the most versatile of all food wines, and Castel’s dry rosé, from Israel, is among the best. Enjoy it with everything from brisket to, yes, gefilte fish.

Tabor Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Israel ($18)

This may be one of the best, most refreshing sauvignon blancs on the market today. It’s got that amazing gooseberry quality found in New Zealand, and terrific acidity. It is made in Israel and was recently released in the US.

Porto Cordovero Ruby Port, Portugal ($27)

You will need something sweet to sip with dessert. There is not a whole lot of kosher port out there, but this will make a nice end-of-meal treat.

Find Covenant’s wines at their website, covenantwines.com, or source them all at wine-searcher.com.

Photo: Thinkstock


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Move Over Elijah! Julia Child Is Coming to Seder

By Molly Yeh

Your bread may be swept away, the table set and macaroons purchased, but it really isn’t Passover until the aroma of brisket fills the house. On a holiday without freshly baked challah, no other scent compares to the nostalgic smell of slow cooked tender meat atop a bed of vegetables or nestled into a thick sauce. I prefer mine slowly braised in red wine and stock with vegetables and fresh rosemary and thyme — like a Jewish take on Julia Child’s legendary boeuf bourguignon.

It doesn’t take long to get to the meal at my family’s Seder table. Our Haggadahs are in almost mint condition because a few pages into the Passover story we are too tempted by the brisket to wait any longer.

Craving a carb in the vast leaven-free wasteland of Passover, I turn to quinoa risotto to compliment my brisket. The tiny sturdy pearls stand up to the roast’s tender meat and get an extra boost of flavor when they’re cooked in the brisket’s gravy. The method works for any slow roast. So even if you take one look at the following brisket recipe and declare that your Bubbe’s is better (yes, I understand) this quinoa will work.

If your family completes the entire seder, I wish you luck. This brisket will be calling you from the moment it starts cooking.

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David Lebovitz: Life in Paris Really Is Sweet

By Alix Wall

Cookbook author and writer David Lebovitz is known for many things but mostly for his devotion to all things sweet. He spent 13 years refining his pastry skills at Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse, authored a book dedicated entirely to ice cream (“The Perfect Scoop”) and he regularly documents Paris’s best patisseries on his blog “David Lebovitz: Living the Sweet Life in Paris.”

In his newest book “My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories” (April 8, Ten Speed Press), Lebovitz shares the recipes both sweet and savory that he cooks for his friends (and himself) in his Paris apartment.

The book opens with almost 30 pages of Lebovitz discussing his most-used ingredients — like anchovies, butter (in France, he says, there are two kinds, the good kind and the great kind), herbs, mustard, etc. — and equipment. Each recipe is preceded by a full page essay, for example, his tapenade recipe follows a story about his relationship with his neighborhood olive seller, who tends toward the grouchy side. While some may find him overly chatty, fans of food blogs will not. These anecdotes, in fact, give the reader a greater sense of his life in Paris, which is, after all, part of the appeal of the book.

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The Seder Plate: Exodus from the Climate Crisis

By Dahlia Abraham-Klein

Flickr: txkimmers
Why is this night different from all other nights? Because tonight we can choose the destiny for our children, and for ourselves, whereas back in the time of Pharaoh we were oppressed. This year, think about your own enslavement and what you can do to change the course of your life and the world you inhabit to live in harmony with nature.

The Israelites escaped from Egyptian slavery through the parted waters of the Red Sea from a “narrow place”, and were born anew when they came out of the canal as a free nation. Egypt, in Hebrew Mitzrayim, means a tight and narrow place. In the world today, we are also caught in a narrow place, and being chased by the impending need to make the necessary changes in our personal lives to reduce our man made climate crisis.

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Everyone Has Gathered in the (Russian) Kitchen

By Marisa Robertson-Textor

As anyone who’s ever spent time in Russia knows, the phrase Все собрались на кухне (“Everyone has gathered in the kitchen”) isn’t just a mantra. It’s a way of life. No wonder, then, that last Thursday’s fourth-annual Iron Chef–style cook-off, sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York’s Russian Division, felt more like a birthday party than a competition. The seven teams of mostly-twentysomethings battling it out for the gold congregated around the work stations at the Manhattan JCC’s Culinary Arts Center much like their parents might have once crowded into postage stamp–sized kitchens in Moscow or Minsk.

Each year’s cook-off features a secret ingredient for the “chefs” to showcase. This year, in honor of UJA’s March Wellness Month, the organizers raised the stakes by selecting a “healthy vegetable” rather than a kitchen staple like garlic (2011), rosemary (2012), or citrus (2013). As the contestants noshed on sushi during the pre-game warm-up, vegetable rumors began to fly.

“What’s a healthy vegetable?” one contestant asked. “I mean, a really healthy vegetable?”

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Is This Site the Kosher Seamless?

By Michael Kaplan

Brace yourself: you can now browse kosher restaurants and order food right to your doorstep at the click of a few buttons.

It might sound a bit like Grubhub or Seamless, but founder Morris Sued says his startup, which carries only kosher restaurants, “Is like going to a non-kosher supermarket versus a kosher supermarket. You can be sure everything we offer is kosher, and we even specify the types of kosher.”

The startup, called getkosher.com, claims to make ordering kosher food as easy and convenient as possible. “You just sit tight at your home or office and have the food come to you,” the website reads.

The service allows customers to browse partner restaurants in select areas of New York and New Jersey and place orders at the normal menu prices. After a successful few months, the company has just launched partnerships with about 20 restaurants in Midtown Manhattan.

On top of earning commission from restaurant sales, GetKosher also has drivers that deliver on behalf of a number of Brooklyn restaurants without their own delivery services, and generally charge about a $5 additional fee. Their FAQ page says that deliveries outside the normal range are possible, but could include a $75 minimum.

Sued, 22, launched the business about a year ago, but he said it’s only really taken off in recent months. Now GetKosher touts more than 100 partner restaurants and over 2,000 customers and is growing fast, he said.

The idea came about as Sued and his father were picking up kosher shawarma in Brooklyn and felt that in the age of the Internet, all the hassle that goes into picking up a food order could be avoided.

The website logs user information so that customers don’t need to fill out credit card details each time they place an order. Customers can also make orders by phone.

For now, the startup is limited to areas of New York and New Jersey with substantial Jewish populations. But Sued has his sight set on expanding beyond the East Coast, and even beyond the United States. “We’re providing a service to the Jewish community… how amazing would it be to serve everyone, no matter where they are [in the world]?”


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A Complete Seder in a Box — Matzo Balls Included

By Michael Kaminer

Why is this box different from all other boxes?

Because it contains an entire seder dinner.

From Houston, Texas.

If you now feel like the son who does not even know how to ask a question, let us explain.

Houston’s Kenny & Ziggy’s, which “Save the Deli” author David Sax proclaimed “one of the best delis in the country,” was hawking knishes, lox, latkes, and pastrami on web site FoodyDirect, which lets indie restaurants sell to consumers nationwide.

Over the winter, a light bulb went off for owner and deli man Ziggy Gruber: “Since we’re already shipping food, and there are a lot of Yidlach who probably don’t have access for stuff for yontif, why not offer it to them?” he told the Forward.

The result is Passover in a Box, a $399 extravaganza that “not only includes enough classic delicacies to feed 10, but also it’ll save you time and trouble,” according to Kenny & Ziggy’s FoodyDirect page. “Moses led our people out of bondage, so why should you be a slave in your kitchen?”

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Passover Prep: The Best Chametz To Eat in NYC

By Leigh McMullan Abramson

I’m just going to say it: I love bread. If it were socially acceptable, there’d be a baguette sticking out of my purse at all times. A bagel with cream cheese and nova is on my last meal short list and bread pudding makes my knees go weak. I’m a fan of all of bread’s close relatives, too — pastas, cakes, cookies, anything that has the kind of white flour that everyone tells you not to eat. Needless to say, Passover is a hard time of year for me.

Before the holiday settles in, I decided to go on one last bread bender, a tour of the best chametz I could find in New York City. Here’s what I found:

Barney Greengrass
There’s no better place to start a bread binge than the classic, Upper West Side temple of bagels and smoked fish. And my bagel with cream cheese and nova, expertly prepared by Alex behind the counter, tasted like manna. I can barely think about it without running to get another one. While at the store, one of the waiters, Julian, told me that Barney Greengrass stayed open during Hurricane Sandy and that when they ran out of bagels, they broke out the matzo and served sandwiches on it. It’s good to know that there’s no need to forgo your white fish or sturgeon during Passover.
541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024 / 212-724-4707

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How To Become a Citizen Farmer

By Alix Wall

Daron Joffe was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin in 1995 when he ate a turkey sandwich that changed his life.

“I looked at it and realized there’s so much I don’t know about it,” the Oakland resident, 37, recalled recently. “There are so many things I didn’t know about where food comes from and where it’s grown and what my relationship could be to food, and that I didn’t have one.”

What a difference 20 years makes. Joffe, owner of Farmer D Organics (he is “Farmer D”), has a new book out, “Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities, and Give Back to the Earth,” written with longtime food writer Susan Puckett.

The environmental educator, farming consultant and social entrepreneur is the first to admit that what he does is hard to explain. With the book, Joffe said, “now I can say this is what I do, and why I do it.”

Part gardening handbook, part call to arms, part manifesto, “Citizen Farmers” also offers a range of advice on topics such as composting and soil composition, the 10 best crops to grow with kids and how to grow food in low-income communities.

Joffe, who said he developed his love for the environment attending Jewish summer camp, has become a renaissance man in the world of biodynamic farming, a type of sustainable agriculture developed by Rudolf Stein

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Liberating Message of Raw Passover

By Shimon Darwick

Shimon Darwick

What would it be like to live the life you love, and live it powerfully? Sometimes, choosing to incorporate or eliminate certain foods can make all the difference. How does the word “raw” connect to Passover? In the desert we were inexperienced. The weather made our skin raw. We experienced gut wrenching raw fear, and we ate raw, unprocessed and unrefined manna (mystery) to survive.

Passover is the perfect opportunity and invitation to cleanse the body, mind, and spirit through living foods and holistic health practices. In order to dive into this possibility it requires us to look at the dietary habits that accumulate excessive physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bondage.

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Battle for Kosher Lower East Side Ends — Sadly

By Michael Kaminer

After a prickly debate that nearly became a referendum on the Lower East Side’s Jewish character, a non-kosher diner will fill the space that once housed Noah’s Ark Deli, the neighborhood’s last full-service kosher restaurant.

The owner of Comfort Diner, an 18-year-old Midtown restaurant, was awarded the lease for the space next to the Seward Park Co-op last night.

Holy Schnitzel, a Long Island-based kosher chain, had been the presumed frontrunner for the space but lost out on the space in a 7 to 4 vote. The team behind the chain had launched a campaign that included enlisting heavy-hitters like New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to plead their case. A petition for a kosher restaurant in the spot also garnered over 1,000 signatures.

Frank Durant, the Seward Park Co-op’s general manager, did not return calls or emails for comment. But he told the LoDown that “the board anguished over this decision, and we really did try our best.”

Ira Freehof who runs the diner, told the Forward he only learned about the vacant space last week — a family friend who lives near the building had tipped him off — and had not been aware of the tempest facing the Seward Park Co-Op, which owns the space. “I didn’t realize how contentious it was,” Freehof said.

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An African-Israeli Cafe Grows in Harlem

By Anna Goldenberg

One doesn’t expect to see a mezuzah outside a restaurant in the midst of a bustling Harlem street. The block of 116th street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard is lined with bodegas, hardware stores and soul food spots. But upon closer inspection the embellished clay ornament at the light blue store front of Silvana, a café and shop, reveals it’s a mezuzah.

Silvana’s tall shop windows are filled with a variety of colorful items that appear to stem from all over the world – from candles and African wood figurines to hookahs and jewelry. “Shwarma/Falafel/Bar/Live Music/Boutique/Café” is printed on the marquee, which seems like a lot for one venue. But everything falls into place inside, where you find yourself in a living room between Israel and Africa, with partly exposed red brick walls, a dark red carpet on the hardwood floor, and large wooden tables that customers share. Some work on their computers, while others munch on cakes or falafel sandwiches.

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Can Sabra Prevent a Hummus Crisis?

By Anna Goldenberg

Hummus might be a constant presence in many Jewish household fridges, but the delicious chickpea dip still has a long way to go to gain nationwide popularity.

Eighty million Americans, or a quarter of the population, have never heard of the Middle Eastern snack, Sabra, the biggest US producer, recently told Fast Company. According to data from the market research company IRI, only 26% of households eat hummus regularly.

To help address the hummus crisis, Sabra has started dispatching trucks loaded with hummus to those poor cities living in the hummus desert. In April, the trucks will stop in Orlando, FL, San Diego and Austin to preach the hummus gospel — oh, and give out samples.


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Israeli Salads To Kick the Final Days of Winter

By Vered Guttman

(Haaretz) — For the interval between having filled ourselves with hamantaschen and stuffing ourselves with matza brei and matza ball soups, here are three light and airy end-of-winter salads.

Carrot ribbons with harissa aioli

This salad is a contemporary play on the classic Moroccan carrot salad. The carrots here are raw, and shaved into ribbons; the dressing is a homemade aioli mixed with harissa, a Tunisian hot pepper and spices paste available in health food supermarkets, kosher stores and Middle Eastern markets.

Serves 4

1 lb. carrots
1 egg yolk at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
1-2 teaspoons harissa
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

1) Peel the carrots and shave them into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler. This is easier to do when lying the carrots on a cutting board. Place in a bowl.

2) To make the dressing, put egg yolk, lemon juice and garlic clove in a small bowl and whisk well for 1 minute. While whisking constantly, start adding olive oil drop by drop (it is essential to add the oil very slowly) until the dressing is thickened and emulsified. Add salt and harissa to taste.

3) Pour dressing over carrot ribbons and mix gently. Mix in the cilantro. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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The Miracle of Maple Syrup

By Meredith Cohen

Sarah Chandler
Since I moved to the Adamah Farm 10 months ago, I have witnessed many miracles.

I don’t mean the kind of miracles we often think of, in a biblical sense: an event that defies all laws of nature, and happens only once-in-a-lifetime (or only once-in-history, and only a very long time ago). In fact, the miracles I’ve come to see around me are the exact opposite: they ARE the laws of nature, and they are happening every day. I have held a seed in my hand, a TINY tiny seed, that has everything inside it needed to turn into an onion. A whole onion! That I will eat! Inside that tiny tiny seed! Honestly, I may not even believe such a thing if I didn’t get to see it happen in front of me, and help this miracle occur day after day over the course of a farming season.

Hearing about these miracles is one thing, and witnessing them is another, but putting in long days of physical labor to actually help them occur is truly a life-changing experience. I’ve eaten maple syrup before; it’s delicious. Then, during my first farm tour at Adamah, I was told that it took 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. I couldn’t believe it! It changed the way I thought about maple syrup – for a minute. But I quickly forgot.

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