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Chinese Lanterns In The Sukkah

3 Kislev 5773 – November 16, 2012
A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.

The DeYoung Family: Formerly of K’far Darom; Now of Elon Moreh

21 Heshvan 5773 – November 5, 2012
The family: Uri & Hadassa DeYoung and 5 children: Avigayil (16), Noa (14), Beruria (10), Tsuriel (8) and Devora (2). Background: My husband and I are both from New Jersey. We met and married in Israel. My husband always lived along the New Jersey shore and when he discovered that he didn't have to give up the beach in order to live in an ideologically motivated community he was very excited.

God, Are You Threatening Me?

15 Tishri 5773 – September 30, 2012
While fear used to motivate, even inspire, mine is a generation that views threats as challenges and raises a skeptical brow at austere ultimatums. Reverence often seems a throwback to old times, and absolute authority, whether in classroom or in the synagogue, is a concept increasingly more difficult to swallow. As a counselor at an Orthodox Jewish sleep-away camp this past summer, I witnessed this phenomenon first hand. I worked with forty teenage girls, ages 15 and 16, and quickly discovered the most dependable way to get nothing done: threats.

Before The Deluge: The Jews Of South Africa

10 Tishri 5773 – September 25, 2012
The oldest Jewish settlements arose in Cape Town, Kimberley, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Burgersdorp. The settlements in Grahamstown and Graaf Reinet have dissolved. There was a (Jewish) community established in Cape Town, which is the oldest is South Africa, while in Johannesburg, which today houses the largest Jewish settlement in the country, the settlement was first built there in 1887, when about 88 settlers came in from England and Australia to develop the mineral wealth of the land.

The Gangte Family: Formerly of Neve Dekalim; Now Of Nitzan

6 Elul 5772 – August 23, 2012
The family: My name is Avin Gangte. I am a member of the Benei Menashe community hailing from the north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram in India. I am married to Hagit who is also from the same community and we have five children.

Southern Hospitality

30 Av 5772 – August 17, 2012
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the American South, Savannah, Georgia is a world of exciting history and activity. Rich with landmarks from over 275 years, the city boasts unique architecture, Civil War commemorative tours, and a long list of beautiful squares and parks. In addition, Savannah’s Tybee Island provides a beach atmosphere for those who want to relax on and off-shore. Interestingly, Savannah also hosts a small but thriving Jewish community. The Savannah Jewish Federation offers family services and community resources, and there are a number of places to find kosher food. The city has three shuls: one for Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform congregations, respectively. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak with Rabbi Avigdor and Rebbetzin Rochel Slatus of the Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue.

Tens Of Thousands Celebrate Historic Siyum HaShas

21 Av 5772 – August 8, 2012
Neither the threat of rain nor heavy traffic prevented the huge throng of enthusiastic participants from attending the 12th Siyum HaShas last Wednesday, August 1 at MetLife Stadium. The event, which attracted more than 90,000 people, was in celebration of the conclusion of the seven-and-a-half year learning cycle of the Babylonian Talmud.

The Wechsler Family: Formerly Of Neve Dekalim; Now Of Nitzan

9 Av 5772 – July 27, 2012
The family: My name is Liora and I made aliya from Toronto when I was 16. That was 29 years ago and I came without my family. I lived in Neve Dekalim for 18 years. I met my husband Elimelech during my first year of college. He was studying in Yeshivat Hesder Yamit which was located in Neve Dekalim. When we go t married we decided to stay in Gush Katif until we completed our studies.

Before The Deluge: Kenya-Uganda (British East Africa)

7 Av 5772 – July 25, 2012
In 1903, the English colonial minister offered a district for a Jewish settlement in Uganda to the Zionist leadership, whereby the English government brought to realization its efforts “to bring to pass the improvement of the Jewish race.” The 6th Zionist Congress (August 23-8, 1903) concerned itself with the English offer and decided to send an investigative commission to Uganda, but because of strong resistance inside the Zionist organization, the project was not followed up.

A Celebration Seven And A Half Years In The Making

With the countdown to the twelfth Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi now down to the single digits, organizers of the event are working furiously to ensure that the massive event, for which all 93,000 available tickets have been sold, goes off without a hitch.

O’ Jerusalem

5 Av 5772 – July 23, 2012
From my 6th row aisle seat, I observed the motley assemblage ascending the Egged bus I was riding in Jerusalem. Nearly all shared one common characteristic; they were tuned in and tuned out – tuned into themselves and tuned out to their fellow passengers. Some qualified for chiropractic “before” pictures with necks inelegantly cocked supporting cell phones, while others visually displayed virtual euphoria plugged into MP3s. What a pity. Victims of technology, they will never taste the adventure and reality of the Jerusalem that greeted me some 30 years before.

Rebbetzin Chave Hecht And Camp Emunah To Be Honored

1 Av 5772 – July 20, 2012
On Sunday, July 22, Ulster County Chabad, in association with the Ellenville Jewish community and Camp Emunah, will hold the 10th Annual Empowerment Breakfast at Congregation Ezrath Israel on Rabbi Herman Eisner Square in Ellenville, N.Y. The program will start at 9 a.m.

First Of The Land

10 Tammuz 5772 – June 29, 2012
There are 613 mitzvoth – we all know that. We also all know it is impossible for one person to perform all 613. Twenty-five mitzvot can only be performed in the Land of Israel, which leaves many Jews out in the cold, shall we say. After all, the people of Israel and the Land of Israel are inextricably intertwined; they are in fact dependent on one another for survival. But Judaism has a solution or as a modern Israeli would say, a “patent.” Mitzvot can be performed by proxy; by taking a part in a mitzvah one merits a share in the whole.

Shema Kolainu

Throughout the years, she'd hidden her in the windowless room at the back of the house. I always wondered why we were never welcomed over the threshold. I knew her daughter had been born with a problem, but it was never discussed and I'd only caught a glimpse of her from afar before she was hurried away. Oh sure, people gossiped, as people always do, but Chedva was my friend, and I defended and respected her right to privacy.

Before The Deluge: The Jews Of Turkey (Part Two)

8 Tammuz 5772 – June 27, 2012
The French traveler Nicolay, who in 1551 accompanied Jews exiled from France to Constantinople, depicted the life, activities, trade and traffic, culture, and the social setting of the Jews in the following manner:

Yehudit Glazer: Formerly Of Neve Dekalim; Now Nitzan

26 Sivan 5772 – June 15, 2012
The family: I was seven years old when I came to Israel from Czechoslovakia. My father had gone to New York in 1939 on a business trip and while he was returning on the Queen Mary ship World War II broke out. The ship changed its course and set sail for England, where my father stayed for the next year.

On Rye Please, Hold The Stereotypes

In an effort to procrastinate, I occasionally like to bounce some ideas around. As I work from home with only my two cats for company, this often means waiting until my children return home from school.

Teaching Our Community To Fish

18 Sivan 5772 – June 7, 2012
Mr. Stein (not his real name) saw his career hit a dead end three years ago when the market went sour. As a commercial real estate broker, he and his wife, Devora, then a student studying toward her degree in social work, knew something had to change quickly if they were to survive financially. Friends and family members had suggested they open their own business, but the Steins had no money to invest in the project. They had no credit and the money they borrowed from relatives went directly to day-to-day living. That’s when they contacted the Emergency Parnossa Initiative (EPI) and the OU Job Board and began the process of transforming their lives.

New Sefer Torah For Hong Kong

15 Sivan 5772 – June 4, 2012
Hong Kong’s Ohel Leah Synagogue recently celebrated the dedication of a new Sefer Torah. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Lady Elaine Sacks joined Rabbi Asher Oser and Assistant Rabbi Ariel Zamir of Ohel Leah at the festivities. Also present were Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon of Chabad of Hong Kong, Rabbis Meir Azarzar and Avner Cohen from the Shuva Israel community, and the sofer, Rabbi Yehonatan Yitzhak-Halevy. Hundreds of members of the Hong Kong Jewish community participated as well.

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