The Jew And The Carrot

Urban Adamah Slaughters Chickens Privately After Controversy

By Andy Altman-Ohr

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Urban Adamah privately slaughtered 15 chickens that were scheduled to be killed as part of a public kosher slaughter workshop on May 4 that was canceled after community outcry.

Adam Berman, executive director of the Berkeley farm and education center, disclosed the news in an email to J. this week.

The chickens, which were no longer laying eggs, were killed by a shochet (kosher slaughterer) in two sessions attended by staff members and Urban Adamah fellows. Eight chickens were slaughtered on May 14 and the remainder on May 20.

“Unfortunately, we were unable, due to time limitations, to process all of the chickens on [May 14],” Berman wrote in an email. “The remaining few were killed by staff, with the support of our fellows, on Tuesday afternoon, May 20 All of our chickens were treated with utmost kindness and care during their lifetimes and killed in the most thoughtful and humane way we know possible.”

The meat was used in chicken soup and served at Urban Adamah’s weekly free farm stand on May 21. The stand usually gives away produce grown on the Berkeley farm.

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Katz's Deli Defies Flood To Stay Open

By Renee Ghert-Zand

World-famous Katz’s Delicatessen remains open for business following a water main break right in front of it at the intersection of E. Houston and Ludlow Streets on the Lower East Side on Thursday morning.

The break is reported to have taken place took shortly before 11 a.m., and all lanes of East Houston Street were closed in both directions between Allen and Essex Streets.

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management issued an alert at 11:45 AM, warning drivers to expect road closures, traffic delays, and emergency personnel in the area, and to consider taking alternate routes. There was no response from OEM to a request for further information on the situation.

“The water main burst right in front of us,” Jake Dell, a fifth generation owner of Katz’s Deli told the Forward. The street had apparently completely collapsed, leaving a huge sinkhole.

“Our basement is flooded, as are probably the basements of all the other buildings on the block,” Dell said. “But upstairs is okay and we are open for business.”

The flooding in the basement destroyed everything that had been stored there. “All our dry goods are destroyed, so we won’t be able to make more of certain menu items once they run out,” he explained. “We won’t be able to make any more of our soups, because we don’t have any water.”

Dell, his staff, and Katz’s customers are not going to let the flood get in the way of serving and eating a good pastrami sandwich. The situation is certainly no worse than when the restaurant was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Despite a major power outage and difficulty in accessing supplies, Katz’s stayed open. The kitchen operated on a generator, and customers ate by candlelight.

“A little bit of water never hurt anyone,” said Dell this morning, as water rushed down the street and sidewalk in front of his deli.


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Sabra Pushes for Hummus 'Standards' Law

By JTA

Sabra, the popular U.S. hummus company, petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to create a standard for which dips are considered hummus.

Sabra would like hummus to be defined as “the semisolid food prepared from mixing cooked, dehydrated, or dried chickpeas and tahini with one or more optional ingredients,” according to a news release Monday.

Sabra’s 11-page proposed standards would require products called hummus to be predominantly made of chickpeas, with no more than 5 percent tahini.

According to the news release, similar standards exist for other condiments such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.

“As the popularity of hummus has soared in the United States over the past decade, the name has been applied to items consisting primarily of other ingredients,” Sabra chief technology officer Tulin Tuzel said in the statement. “From black beans and white beans to lentils, soybeans, and navy beans, everyone wants to call their dip ‘hummus.’“

However, Sabra itself sells a variety of hummus “flavors” that would be unrecognizable to most Israelis like “guacamole hummus” and “edamame hummus.”

No word yet on whether Sabra’s proposed law would impact their own products.


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Chatting with Herring Young Gun Jacob Frommer

By Adam Chanes

Jacob Frommer loves everything herring. But he’s far from your quintessential old man at kiddush. A 26 year old working in education technology, Frommer began trying herring as a way to connect to Eastern European Judaism of yore and quickly fell in love — seeking out the best herring wherever he goes from shul kiddush to famous dairy delis.

The New Jersey native lives in downtown Manhattan, and while he was raised Modern Orthodox he calls The Big Lebowski his “other bible.” He has not taken the subway in six months, and instead walks or bikes everywhere. He spends the money he saved on cabs, beer, and, of course, herring.

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Shabbat Dinner at the Chinese Herbalist's Home

By Merissa Nathan Gerson

The kitchen walls are coated, floor to ceiling, in tiny bags of Chinese herbs, their Chinese names transliterated beneath them. In the living room the art is simple — charts of the body, the channels and meridians for acupuncture. There are enough couches to seat a family of fifteen. You don’t expect Chabadnicks to become acupuncturists. Not usually. But this is Berkeley.

Now a student at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, the walls of Daniel Feld’s home have become textbooks. It is like an old Polish synagogue, how they wrote the new prayers on the wall, only these prayers involve reading the patterns on a tongue, understanding what a hot or cold system imply, and learning, in detail, how to balance them using acupuncture needles and herbs. Think Baal Shem Tov meets Isaac Luria: the 2014 California edition.

The biggest Shabbat dinner in town is when Daniel, 25, the son of the late and well-loved Berkeley Chabad Rabbi and Mohel Chanan Feld, hosts a meal. It happens once a month in his two-story California walk-up apartment. We are asked to remove our shoes before we enter, sometimes up to 50 pairs littering the doorway to the entrance.

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Market Tours: Le Market Brings a Bit of Morocco To L.A.

By Hana Itzhaki

Situated in a mere 1200 square feet, Moroccan shop Le Market is a microcosmic reflection of the diverse North Hollywood neighborhood it’s located in. One foot in the door and you’ll be greeted by multiple “shaloms,” from one of the two or more Bitton brothers from behind the front counter that serves as both the deli and the register.

Listen closely and you’ll hear the brothers converse in French and a Moroccan dialect of Arabic. The Bittons represent a large Moroccan Jewish community that moved to the area roughly 30 years ago. Speak with anyone shopping in the market and you my get a response in Hebrew, Spanish, French, Arabic or English.

The oldest brother, David Bitton, was the first of eight siblings to emigrate from Marrakesh to Los Angeles. In 1987 he encouraged his brother Avraham to come to the United States to start a business. That year they opened Le Market in North Hollywood and sold mostly produce. “People told us to open a vegetable market. We tried, but it was so hard. So then we decided to open a grocery market,” Avraham said. Today they sell everything except fruit and vegetables.

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Tapas Takes a Trip to the Levant — in NYC

By Dan Friedman

Family Inspiration: Haim Amit of Vino Levantino was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and others to update his grandmother’s Turkish recipes.

It’s easy to love a cuisine that describes eggplant as pescado de tiera — fish of the earth — but Turkish-Sephardic cuisine has more than inventive nomenclature to recommend it.

“The Jews of Izmir couldn’t afford much meat,” explained Haim Amit, co-owner of the new neighborhood wine bar Vino Levantino, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, “so there are many vegetable dishes.”

And what vegetable dishes!

Despite offering only a small selection of tapas-sized servings of eggplant, tomato, chickpeas, leeks, potatoes and kohlrabi, Vino Levantino makes a fair case for the cuisine as it spreads out and encompasses the whole Eastern Mediterranean. Each dish is carefully prepared and herbed to complement, not overpower, the ingredients. The beech mushroom salad takes just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup dressing. Lightly frying the leek-and-potato patties (similar to the traditional Passover dish keftikes de prassa) with dill elevates them from being just leeky latkes.

It’s sometimes difficult to discern when the original cuisine from Amit’s Turkish family ends, where Israeli influence begins, and where the chef’s interpretative invention takes over. Jewish Turkish cuisine is not essentially different from any of the many local Turkish cuisines, except for the constraints of kashrut.

More than two millennia of Jewish and Muslim cohabitation in Turkey meant that whatever swept through the Black Sea into the Aegean and Mediterranean or back again made its mark on a number of local cuisines. At the center of an empire — first the Holy Roman and then the Ottoman — foodways from the silk route arrived in the Mediterranean, colliding with Balkan and European ingredients, traditions and palates.

Vino Levantino is a unique twist on the wine and tapas bars of lounge land. Combining the expertise of both co-owners (the Turkish Osman Cakir and the Israeli Amit), as well as the received wisdom of Amit’s late Turkish grandmother, the redoubtable-seeming “Madame Donna,” it sets out to provide a neighborhood hangout with a flavor of the Levant.

When Madame Donna was born, just before World War I in Ottoman Istanbul, the idea that eventually her recipes would be written out in Hebrew and photocopied for her 16 grandchildren surely could have made little sense.

Even when that reproduced recipe booklet became a reality at her 92nd birthday in Israel in May 2004, the idea that those recipes would be the basis for the menu of a stylish wine bar on the Upper West Side and that her instructions, interpreted by chef Edwin Reyes, would provide visitors of all stripes with a gustatory glimpse of Ottoman Jewry would have seemed like a dream.

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Chayote, Game-Changing Summer Veggie

By Liz Traison

I recently read an article in a culinary magazine about a tasty fruit called a cherimoya, which is also known as a custard apple. I have to imagine that unless you have already tried this tropical fruit, and decidedly don’t like it, there would be no reason not to try a fruit that has the word ‘custard’ in its name.

Weeks passed, and the cherimoya information buried itself in the back of my mind knowing I’d have a hard time finding one. One day as I was running through the grocery store at my normal chaotic pace, I noticed a small, green, apple-like thing stacked between the yucca root and forlorn cactus leaf. Ecstatic that I had found this delicious custard apple, I tossed one into my cart.

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From International Journey to Cultural Connection

By Len Zangwill

Len Zangwill

The falafel stand was a key stop on the “tour” of Israel. Organized within my son’s active imagination, the imaginary tour was inspired by a Happy Birthday Israel program at our synagogue. This trip was special because it included a participatory component beyond a float in the Dead Sea, a dip in the Mediterranean, a stop at the Western Wall, or, for that matter, visiting a falafel stand. The extra component was helping to “prepare” a special (birthday) meal for Israel–on a kibbutz no less. The menu, as arranged by our youthful tour guide (age 4), included falafel, pita bread, hummus and Israeli salad along with tahini. We had a wonderful time “preparing” the meal and enjoying it. Our son beamed as his satiated parents expressed their appreciation for his culinary creativity. It added a different dimension to the trip.

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Fire-Roasted Eggplant for Lag Ba'Omer

By Lauren Greenberg

Growing up, the only thing that Lag Ba’Omer signified was a time for bonfires. In the New York suburbs the closet we got was barbeques, which for me meant an opportunity to eat watermelon. Barbeques were never particularly exciting to me, and when I got older and became a vegetarian, they held even less appeal. Furthermore, the holiday of Lag Ba’Omer also never fully made sense to me. Why were bonfires the hallmark of a celebration for ending of the plague killing Rabbi Akiva’s students?

Like many other confusing cultural phenomena, I put this aside and continued to care little about the holiday and the inevitable celebration of meat, knowing that while the appearance of veggie burgers could never be counted on since the number of vegetarians is consistently underestimated, my trusty watermelon would undercut these issues.

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Toronto's First Hummus Joint Is Stellar

By Michael Kaminer

In a market in Acco years ago, Ezra Braves told me he had “one of the greatest food experiences of my life:” A lush bowl of hummus, topped with hot chickpeas, and serves with peppers and olive oil. “It was perfect, simple, and interesting,” he says. “When a chef makes something delicious out of so few ingredients, there’s more talent in that than in very elaborate haute cuisine.”

The experience stuck with him — as did his cravings for great hummus. Rather than return to Acco, Braves decided to recreate that memory in his native Toronto.

S. Lefkowitz, named for Braves’ grandfather, opened last month in a rough-hewn jewel box of a space with old-fashioned lettering in the window. Hebrew letters painted on the glass proclaim S. Lefkowitz’s “hummusia” (the city’s first dedicated hummus spot), and a line below cheekily declares it “The Hummus Institute of North America.”

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4 Things Sabra Teaches Us About Hummus

By Anne Cohen

Thursday May 15 is National Hummus Day. If you’ve been paying attention to Jewish food trends, you might also be aware that 2014 has been declared “The Year of the Hummus.”

That’s a lot of chickpeas.

To celebrate, Sabra (the official dips sponsor to the NFL!) has written a (not-so) handy guide to teach hummus philistines about Israel’s national dip. Here are just some of the things we learned from “Hummus for Dummies”:

1. How to pronounce “hummus”

Do you end in Oos, in Iss, in Uss? According to “Hummus for Dummies,” hummus is a “fun word,” yet difficult to pronounce. Pretty straightforward so far. Then it gets weird:

Some people will tell you that it starts with a “choo” sound made toward the back of your throat (less “choo-choo train” — more “achtung baby”).

If in doubt, you can always just call it “yummus.”

2. Hummus can be fruity

We are told that hummus is a “rich, smooth, creamy dip” made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, spices, oils, vegetables — and fruits? Mango in your hummus, really?

If that’s not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, the guide also offers recipes for hummus-based desserts like “Chocolate Hummus Truffles,” and “Chocolate, Coconut and Caramel Hummus Pastries.”

3. “Chickpeas are sometimes confused with nuts.”

Are they? Why? A section called “Browsing through interesting hummus facts” explains that because you can roast and season chickpeas, innocent bystanders could taste the crunchy — and yes, granted — slightly nutty legume and get confused. So once again, just in case you missed that class: Chickpeas are not nuts.

4. Hummus “loves you back.”

Any fan of the veggie-tray can tell you that it’s the dip that packs on the pounds. But now, you can enjoy those fresh carrot and celery sticks the way God intended you to — ”hummus can be the fresh flavorful answer to the prayers at the center of your vegetable tray.” Glad we cleared that one up.

Just kidding Sabra. We love hummus too.


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Jewish Cuisine Makes Stunning Comeback in Hungary

By Leah Koenig

Courtesy of Rosenstein

Walking into Macesz Huszár, a Hungarian Jewish restaurant in Budapest’s historic — and, more recently, ultra-fashionable — Jewish district, two distinct moods emerge. The lacy tablecloths and vintage light fixtures have all the retro-coziness of dinner at grandma’s house. But other details, from the crisply dressed waiters to the chic stemware set at each table, tell a different, more sophisticated story.

The food shares a similar duality. An appetizer of Jewish-style eggs (creamy chopped egg salad enriched the Hungarian way — with duck schmaltz and caramelized onions) is served alongside a basket of artisan-baked bread, while a homey plate of veal and barley-stuffed cabbage comes garnished with a bright mix of fresh pea shoots and carpaccio-thin slices of beets and radishes.

Owner David Popovits, a 41-year-old Budapest native, says his restaurant’s split personality is entirely by design. On the one hand, he literally takes cues from his grandmother. “She always said, ‘The more animal varieties in a soup, the better it tastes,’” he told me recently. Fittingly, his matzo ball soup broth is enriched with both goose and beef. But the restaurateur (he also owns an upscale wine bar in the neighborhood, and is about to open a delicatessen), who has lived in the United States, Tel Aviv and Tokyo, understands the importance of imbuing tradition with a sense of the new and unexpected.

Courtesy of Macesz Huszár

Open since late 2013, Macesz Huszár, which translates to “matzo soldier” (cheekily alluding to an outdated slur used against Jews), is one of a growing number of restaurants featuring traditional Hungarian Jewish dishes prepared with a contemporary spin. It makes sense as Budapest, after all, currently holds Central Europe’s largest Jewish population, with about 100,000 Jews, 10,000 of whom identify as religiously observant. Meanwhile, the city is experiencing a larger blossoming of Jewish culture, despite a simultaneous rise in nationalist sentiment and the increased power of the openly extremist, anti-Semitic Jobbik party in Hungary’s National Assembly.

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Ottolenghi's Favorite Cookbooks, The Perfect Bagel

By Devra Ferst

We LOVE Yotam Ottolenghi (and hope you do too). He dishes on his favorite cookbooks. [Serious Eats]

What makes a perfect bagel? Mary Ting Hyatt tries to answer the unanswerable. [The Kitchn]

If that made you hungry, here’s where to get 10 of the best bagels in New York. [Village Voice]

How to Throw the ultimate bagel brunch (just incase you needed any more incentive). [Bon Appetit]

It took a while, but Spring has finally arrived. Celebrate with a zucchini kugel. [The Nosher]

This summer is an excellent season for cookbooks. Here’s your ultimate roundup of the most delicious titles. [Eater]

Photo: Flickr/Kenneth Lu


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Silk Road Vegetarian: Central Asian Flavors in Your Kitchen

By Elizabeth Traison

The flavors in Dahlia Abraham-Klein’s newest (and first) cookbook Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook are as exotic and storied as her family’s background, which incorporates Iraqi, Persian, Afghani, Indian, and Bukharian traditions. Her family’s journey followed the path of the Silk Road, historic trade routes connecting East Asia to the Middle East, and picked up on all of the spices, traditions, and flavors along the way. Despite my own Hungarian ancestral background, the flavors in Dahlia’s book fit my taste bud’s flavor profile perfectly, my mouth was watering at the opportunity to go home and try out the recipes.

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Baked Falafel for Meatless Mondays

By Molly Yeh

In college, Mondays meant falafel. It started when Soom Soom, an amazing Kosher eatery on 72nd St., had falafel happy hour. Two sandwiches for the price of one. My fellow students and I would pair up and walk over for dinner. We’d cram into the tiny joint, bask in half-price falafel yumminess, and enjoy the break from school.

When I graduated and moved out to Brooklyn, I lived within a mile of enough falafel places to keep me on my toes for months: an Israeli bar and restaurant, a gourmet falafel place with delicious doughy pita, and a bright green falafel truck parked right in front of my brownstone whose smells seeped into my living room (in the best way possible), to name a few. I loved them all and always looked forward to Monday dinners.

Living on the farm, I miss my many falafel places. But, since moving away from New York, I have loved making my own. With its basic ingredients being items that I always have on hand (garbanzo beans and various spices) that can be paired with whatever fresh herbs or green leafy vegetables I have at the moment, a homemade falafel is never out of reach. Served with a salad or rice and tahini sauce, it makes for a trusty and tasty meal.

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Don't Eat That

By Alyssa Kapnik

Alyssa Kapnik

There’s a restaurant in Denver, where I grew up, that attracts masses of people, mostly Jews, and serves pages and pages of Jewish food – latkes and matzah balls and bagels with capers, cream cheese, lox and red onion.

They also serve bacon. And sausage. And ham. Meat from a most essentially non-kosher animal.

So what is it that makes it a Jewish restaurant? And why do the Jews flock there?

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Ivan Orkin: How a Nice Jewish Guy Became a Ramen Master

By Molly Yeh

Long Island-native Ivan Orkin doesn’t see himself as an American — though he speaks with a New York accent and went to culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America. His life-long love affair with Japan helped him become a ramen star in Tokyo. He’s fluent in Japanese, and since college, he has lived mainly in Japan, with the exception of his years at the CIA and for a few kitchen stints around New York.

In 2007, he channeled his love of ramen into his first restaurant, Ivan Ramen, in Tokyo. Faced with the challenge of being a foreigner opening up a ramen shop in Japan, but armed with a true passion for Japanese culture, his comfort ingredients like rye flour and schmaltz, and years of hard work on his recipes, his shop was an instant success that led to a second Tokyo shop, in 2010.

In 2012, he moved his home base back to New York with the dream of opening up a business back home, while continuing on with his Japan shops. Last year, he opened the Slurp Shop in New York’s Gotham West Market, which features five types of ramen, including a classic shio ramen and a roasted garlic mazemen (a style with less broth), as well as a smoked whitefish rice bowl on the menu. This weekend, his 50-seat flagship shop opens on the Lower East Side with a different menu from his other shops. The space is decked out with a beautiful mosaic mural and it will be serving five types of ramen, including a four-cheese variety and a pork-free variety with his schmaltzy chicken broth base. Small plates and appetizers, such as fried chicken livers and preserved hen and duck eggs will also be available.

We chatted with the ramen master to see what it’s like to return to New York so many years later and why sushi seems to show up at every fancy Jewish function.

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Female Kosher Supervisors Make Strides in Israel

By JTA

Nine women took the Chief Rabbinate’s exam to be kosher inspectors — the first time females were permitted to take the test.

The women took the exam Wednesday in a separate room from the 200 men taking the test at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Allowing the women to take the test resolved a lawsuit filed last year with Israel’s Supreme Court by the Emunah organization, which runs a kosher supervision course for women. The court had asked the Chief Rabbinate to allow the course graduates to take the exam, Haaretz reported Thursday.

The Chief Rabbinate’s decision to allow women to take the exam was based on a ruling by Chief Rabbi David Lau made over the objections of Chief Rabbinate members.


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Why I Stand By Urban Adamah

By Yadidya Greenberg

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In August of 2012, I ran one of my first kosher slaughter workshops at the Urban Adamah educational farm in Berkeley. I explained the kosher process and demonstrated live slaughter and processing on a few of their spent laying hens. Several participants cried during the slaughter and while some were inspired to eat better meat, others said they wanted to become vegetarians or vegans as a result of the experience. The class not only facilitated a tremendous amount of dialogue, growth and learning for all involved, it also provided a highly nutritious and tasty heritage chicken soup for farm visitors.

This past Sunday, Urban Adamah had once again set up a workshop where they were slated to slaughter the remaining 15 hens of their laying flock. Things were going very smoothly until animal rights activists found out about the event and began to organize a mass protest. Their aggressive tactics and serious threats eventually caused the farm’s landlord to request a cancellation and despite holding strong until that point, farm founder Adam Berman was forced to scrub the workshop in the face of the large and disruptive demonstration.

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