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Remembering Maurice Sendak

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Brooklyn-born, Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83. The cause was complications of a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor. Mr. Sendak,… Read More »Remembering Maurice Sendak

Moshiach Oi! Merges Orthodox Judaism and Punk Rock

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By  , New York Times Published: March 9, 2013 

Moshiach Oi!

Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times

At age 6, he was a budding yeshiva student, in white shirt and black hat, with little contact outside the Orthodox Jewish world. At 16, he discovered some things he liked better, punk rock and drugs: marijuana, LSD, eventually crack and heroin. At 26, on the Thursday before the holiday of Purim last month, he was back among the faithful, sort of: side curls flailing, knees jackknifing up around his torso, leaping, crouching, shouting a Scriptural message from the Book of Ramones: “Avraham was a punk rocker.”

It was a little after midnight at the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center in Kensington, Brooklyn, and the crowd in a narrow, fluorescent-lighted side room watched Yishai Romanoff, now the singer for the band, Moshiach Oi!, in varying states of catharsis and confusion. As always at this weekly gathering, it was a mixed lot, at odd angles to Orthodox Judaism. Some in the audience were refugees, or “X-O’s”; others were formerly secular Jews wanting in.

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Chagal Bistro

Kosher French Fare Comes to Brooklyn’s Park Slope

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By Malya Levin, The Jewish Daily Forward, March 12, 2013

Owners of Chagall Bistro, Kosher French Fare in Park Slope.“How could a kosher restaurant have opened in Park Slope without my knowing about it?” I unceremoniously asked of the first person to greet me as I walked into Chagall Bistro, who happened to be Dan Gicquel, the restaurant’s owner. Ten minutes before, I was settling in for a Sunday night dinner of hard-boiled eggs when a scan of my Facebook newsfeed turned up a friend’s posting: “New kosher restaurant on 5th Avenue and 5th Street!” I shared the news with my husband, who joined in my incredulity that this critical information had slipped past the vigilant watch we keep over all of brownstone Brooklyn’s Jewish news. A moment later, our phone rang. It was a foodie friend of ours who happened to be driving through the neighborhood. We shared the news, called the Facebook friend who had started it all, and a few minutes later, the four of us were scrutinizing the meat menu posted outside of the restaurant’s doors, its kosher certification prominently displayed, and I was demanding answers.

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Traditions in Food: Esther Cohen Salem

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Sarina Roffe: Culture and tradition are passed down from one generation to another in a family through foods. Esther Cohen Salem was the first to own a Syrian catering service in the Syrian Jewish community. In 1920, Esther and her two younger brothers, Sam, 13, and Joe, 11, came to America from Beirut sharing a passport issued by the French Troops of the Levant. Esther and Selim built a kitchen… Read More »Traditions in Food: Esther Cohen Salem

Sandy Wreaks Havoc

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The devastating storm surges and high winds that wreaked havoc on so many

The devastating storm surges and high winds that wreaked havoc on so many as Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast may well be the largest catastrophe many of us have ever experienced, yet while the disastrous superstorm left a gargantuan trail of destruction in its wake, it still proved to be no match for the most powerful force of all – that of human resilience and the belief that everything in this world happens for a good reason.

Residents of coastal communities including Manhattan Beach, Far Rockaway the Five Towns, Belle Harbor, Long Beach and Seagate are struggling to cope with the staggering losses many of them have endured. Yet despite the lack of housing, running water, electricity and the loss of all their earthly possession, the indomitable spirit of the Jewish soul continues to put its unwavering trust in G-d’s benevolence, vowing to rebuild once again.
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Babs Brings it Back to Brooklyn at Brand New Barclays

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The Brooklyn-born and raised, world-acclaimed superstar will perform a concert on Thursday, October 11th, in Brooklyn at Barclays Center, the new 19,000-seat sports and entertainment venue. Streisand will be making a triumphant return to her native borough. Raised in the Flatbush neighborhood and a graduate of Erasmus Hall High School, Streisand will perform publicly for the first time in Brooklyn. Streisand stated, “Brooklyn to me means the Loew’s Kings, Erasmus,… Read More »Babs Brings it Back to Brooklyn at Brand New Barclays

First Woman President of the NY Board of Rabbi’s

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A native New Yorker, Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, has become the first woman to assume the presidency of the New York Board of Rabbis in the year 2012. Rabbi Goodman has long been a leader in the community, outspokenly fighting to protect women’s reproductive rights and health care, and advocating for marriage equality in New York State. For her advocacy in social justice, the New York Board of Rabbis awarded… Read More »First Woman President of the NY Board of Rabbi’s

Rabbi Abraham Hecht, Chabad And Sephardic Leader, Dies At 90

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1/08/13 – published in www.thejewishweek.com Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, an Ashkenazi who led a Sephardic congregation and was also closely affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, died Saturday night at 90. He was a passionate advocate of traditional Torah values and strict interpretation of halacha. Rabbi Hecht was leader of Congregation Shaare Zion in Midwood, Brooklyn for over 50 years and rabbi emeritus of that congregation at the time of his death.… Read More »Rabbi Abraham Hecht, Chabad And Sephardic Leader, Dies At 90

Jewish Population Is Up in the New York Region

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By Published: NYTimes January 17, 2013

Borough ParkBorough Park in Brooklyn, with its preponderance of Orthodox synagogues and kosher restaurants, is the most Jewish area in the New York City region, with 78 percent of households there identifying as Jewish. Close behind is Great Neck, Long Island, with its thriving enclave of Persian Jews, and then the Five Towns, also on Long Island, where a higher percentage of Jews identify as modern Orthodox than anywhere else in the region, according to a Jewish demographic study released Tuesday.

The Jewish population in the New York area grew by 9 percent over the last decade, reversing a longstanding trend of decline, the study found. But the growth did not affect all Jewish neighborhoods equally. Two-thirds of the rise was propelled by two deeply Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn with high birthrates — Williamsburg and Borough Park. Some of the city’s more affluent areas, like Brownstone Brooklyn and the Upper East Side, saw declines in their Jewish population, according to the study.

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Community Emerging In Unlikely Greenpoint

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1/08/13 published in thejewishweek.com

In ‘Little Poland,’ gentrification and an inclusive Orthodox rabbi with a garden are reviving Jewish life.

Congregation Ahavas Israel in Greenpoint, BrooklynUntil recently, Yoni Kretzmer, a disillusioned former Orthodox Jew spent most Friday evenings performing on his sax, while Jesse Beller, who describes himself as unaffiliated, would spend Friday nights at a friend’s house or a bar.

But last Friday night, the two were at Congregation Ahavas Israel, the only Orthodox synagogue — indeed, the only Jewish congregation of any type — in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

Kretzmer, who led the Kabbalat Shabbat service, chanting the liturgy like a veteran chazzan, and Beller are among a growing number of young Jews, most of whom identify as secular, who have moved to Greenpoint in the last decade and are active at Ahavas Israel.

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