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.
European Turkey in its present form consists of the small region around Istanbul, Adrianopolis, Kirkilisse, and Rodosto. For the history of the Jews, the cities Adrianopolis – today’s Edirne, and the capital from 1361 – 1453 – and Constantinople – today’s Istanbul, capital since 1453 – come into consideration. Both cities once had thriving Jewish communities, but show signs of going under today.
Pesach means bite-sized sweet kidney mangos and the return of the longon. Shavuot brings back the pomelo. Chanukah means miniature Mandarin oranges. And its always star-fruit for Rosh Hashanah. While our palates might have changed, along with our knowledge of Southeast Asian fruit, when it comes to Pesach it’s really all Osem and Yehuda Matzot for us.
Huge plush teddy bears greet me as soon as I walk through the door. Puzzles line the shelves along with boxes of Lego and dress-up clothes. Every few inches another toy. Another game. Another child’s dream.
Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion: “The Machal Forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel”.
Holocaust survivor, author, educator and community leader, Fanya Heller, addressed two Holocaust Remembrance Week events in New Jersey as the keynote speaker on April 17 and April 19. At the first, Mayor Mark Smith and the city of Bayonne hosted the annual Holocaust Remembrance Service, organized by the UJA Federation of Bayonne, the Interfaith Clergy of Bayonne and the local Holocaust Memorial Committee.
The family: I was born in Israel and I’ve never left. My husband Moshe was born in Detroit, MI. His family made aliyah when he was 12 years old.
It was Moishele, and Itche, and me. We did everything together. We even made our own language, which only we understood. In shul they jokingly called us “the troika,” after the three bishops whose authority extended across Poland.
Against all odds, the spark of Judaism continues to burn brightly in the Amazon as two members of the Brazilian city of Porto Velho underwent a bris milah performed by a renowned Argentian mohel just days after Rosh Chodesh Adar.
When you‘re here, over the rainbow, it is different. Being out-of-town is not about living in some neighborhood of Brooklyn (other than Boro Park, Williamsburg, or Flatbush). Living out-of-town also does not mean living in other parts of the Big Apple, like Manhattan or Queens. It doesn’t even mean living in the suburbs – like the Five Towns or Great Neck. Being here, over the rainbow, means living away.
A traditional Purim in Hong Kong requires an obligatory visit to Pottinger Street in the bustling Central District. Also known locally as Stone Step Street, Pottinger Street is more of a steep, irregularly paved pedestrian stone path (with steps too small for Western feet) than a street. My children run ahead up the stone slabs as I carefully balance my size nine feet on the thin, uneven stairs. My five year old stumbles but quickly recovers and catches up to the big kids.
Tanya Rosen is the owner of Shape Fitness. She recently released a kosher, home-workout DVD for women. Dr. Natalie Zelenko is employed as a radiologist at the Cancer Center at Maimonides Medical Centers. Igor Lempert works as an actuary for New York Life. What they and thousands of others share is a life of Torah Judaism, despite having been raised in secular environments and due to the education and warmth they received at Be’er Hagolah Institutes.
Our Jewish world is small but from his five-year-old perspective it is large, perhaps all-encompassing. The fact that in a population of over 7 million people in Hong Kong (95% of whom are ethnically Chinese) we as Jews collectively account for only about 4,000 or 0.05% of the population can be seemingly irrelevant. Large numbers and statistics don’t play into his worldview.
Some college students use their winter break between terms to relax, fly to warm climates and in general recover from the academic burdens of the fall semester. Others study how to slaughter chickens according to kosher law.
The excavation of archeological layers has shown that in Roman times there were Jewish communities in Syracuse, Catania, Noto, among other places. At the end of the 6th century there is mention of Jews in Messina, Palermo, and Girgenti.
Findings in catacombs confirm the existence of Jews on Malta from the time of the Roman Empire until late in the Middle Ages. They came from Alexandria to this important crossroads on their way to Italy.
To explain to my children what Chanukah was like for me as a young girl, I find I am just as inclined to recount what it wasn’t as I am to describe what it was.
In biblical times this island was known as Kaftor. It had close relations with the Philistines, who already swelled in the Land of Canaan when the Jews migrated in, and this Kaftorland is conceivably the Philistine homeland.
The family: Drs. Chai and Louna Roxane Chemla and their three sons made aliya from Paris about 17 years ago. Their eldest son is a rabbi in the prison system in Northern Israel and is married with five children. Their second son, who is a chef, is married with three children and lives in Jerusalem. Their youngest son who is studying to be a dentist is still single.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Rabbi Binyomin Moskovits, rosh yeshiva of Midrash Shmuel in Jerusalem's Sha'arei Chesed neighborhood. Rabbi Moskovits was in New York to attend the marriage of a student. While here, he has also been meeting with alumni and current students.