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Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh

Program Nurturing Jewish Identity Expands Throughout Brooklyn

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By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor – Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Keshet, a successful and well-known educational community afterschool program for Israelis in Brooklyn, is expanding with the support of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) and will be renamed IAC-Keshet Programs.

IAC-Keshet is an afterschool Hebrew dual language program for both Hebrew- and non-Hebrew-speaking children, ages 3 and up. In addition to Hebrew-language education, IAC-Keshet also explores different aspects of Jewish and Israeli identity, helping students make a strong connection to Israel. The Hebrew word Keshet means “rainbow.”

With the change, IAC-Keshet Programs will be moving from Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform congregation in Park Slope, to Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace, a JCC with multiple locations in Brooklyn. The program is expanding in order to reach out to the broader Israeli and Jewish communities in Brooklyn and beyond.

This new development reflects a growing trend in which Israeli-American programs are expanding, while engaging the broader Jewish community under the IAC’s leadership.
Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh, the newly appointed IAC New York regional director and the founder of Keshet, told the Brooklyn

Eagle during a presentation at the Kings Bay Y that she and a group of Israeli parents started gathering several years ago to create a space for sharing cultural identity.

Read More »Program Nurturing Jewish Identity Expands Throughout Brooklyn

Joan Rivers: ‘Yente-In-Chief’

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The ‘mouth that roared’ is silent, but in her life Rivers gave voice to outsiders and women.

by Joseph Dorinson, published in The Jewish Week, Fri, 09/05/2014 Joan RiversBorn in Brooklyn in 1933 to Russian immigrant parents, Dr. Meyer and Beatrice Molinsky, Joan grew up in the shadow of an older sister and with many complexes. “I was so fat; I was my own buddy in camp.” Despite her carefully crafted comic persona, she actually was a brilliant student, a graduate of Barnard College with high honors in 1954. Ignoring her parents’ pleas, Joan pursued a career as an actress, dancer, and singer. But comedy provided a better fit. A long apprenticeship that included performing in the Catskill hotels (because she had a car and agreed to drive her male peers there and back), a stint with Chicago’s Second City ensemble, many night clubs, and some “toilets” ultimately led to success capped by a brilliant ten minutes on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1965. Billed as a writer, Rivers, who changed her last name at her agent’s suggestion when she entered show business, was 32 when she vaulted into stardom. Her early shtick, with shades of traditional Jewish humor, featured self-deprecation, especially about her allegedly “ugly duckling” appearance. In fact, before multiple cosmetic surgeries, she was actually quite pretty if not drop-dead gorgeous. For example (from critic Sarah Blacher Cohen’s essay “Unkosher Comediennes”):
“On our wedding night, my husband said: ‘Can I help with the buttons?’ I was naked at the time.” “You’ve heard of A Cup, B Cup and C Cup. Well, you’re looking at demitasse.” “Dress by Oscar de la Rental; body by Oscar Meyer.”
Read More »Joan Rivers: ‘Yente-In-Chief’
Congregation Mt. Sinai

New program bonds Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights

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IAC-Shishi Israeli Program to Combine Tradition, Music

By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Singing and sharing a meal together is a universal joy. A new program coming to Brooklyn Heights will celebrate song cuisine and togetherness as it is experienced in Israeli culture.

IAC-Shishi Israeli, a new program of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), will bring together Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights, fusing their distinct cultures and customs to create a shared community around the Shabbat table.

This new family program, which will run every few weeks at Congregation Mount Sinai, will combine traditional Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) prayers and Israeli shira betzibur (singalong) as well as a traditional Shabbat dinner with Israeli foods, adding authentic Israeli flavor to the evening. The first event will take place on Friday, evening Sept. 12. Tickets are necessary.

IAC-Shishi Israeli seeks to use music to convene the community and enable participants to create a family-inspired Shabbat experience that is both Jewish and unique, combining time-honored traditions with modern rituals. Accomplished musicians, who will make the perfect accompaniment for this special dinner, include Arlene Gould, Daniel Ori, Hadar Noiberg, Dan Aran and Dan Nadel.

Rabbi Seth Wax of Congregation Mount Sinai said in a trailer video introducing the event, “Congregation Mt. Sinai welcomes people of lots of different backgrounds, and wants people to feel like they have a home.” He added, “Share food, music, culture; and build relationships.”

Read More »New program bonds Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik Gets Jan Karski Humanitarian Award

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By Masha Leon published in The Forward –  September 20, 2014

Welcoming the overflow crowd at the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award 2014 ceremony at the Polish Consulate honoring Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, and Polish rescuer Irena Sendler, was consul general Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka who thanked members of the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee — Polish American Congress, the N.Y. Downstate Division and the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee —  for their dedication to their noble mission.”

Addressing an assemblage that included a sizeable number of Polish-Jewish survivors, cantor Joseph Malovany and the Forward’s publisher Samuel Norich, the consul thanked The Committee — whose members are predominantly Catholic priests and rabbis — “for their dedication to their noble mission” and amplified that “the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award ceremony is a perfect example of fruitful cooperation between Polish diaspora organizations on the one hand and American-Jewish organizations on the other.” She noted that “Pope John Paul II, who visited a synagogue in Rome and prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, considered anti-Semitism a sin and called the Jews…’Christians’ brothers-in faith,’ During his papacy he encouraged a very difficult Polish-Jewish dialogue” believing that “this dialogue was necessary to overcome stereotypes and prejudices.”

Polish Children’s Choir, Consul General Ziomecka and Rabbi Potasnik // Photo by Masha Leon

Polish Children’s Choir, Consul General Ziomecka and Rabbi Potasnik // Photo by Masha Leon

Read More »Rabbi Joseph Potasnik Gets Jan Karski Humanitarian Award

Artist Sara Erenthal's portrait of an ultra-orthodox Jewish mother

Artist’s Brooklyn show describes ultra-orthodox Jewish childhood 

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Sara Erenthal grew up in a Neturei Karta community in Borough Park but split with her family after her parents returned to Israel. Her latest works draw on the life she left behind.

Sara Erenthal grew up in a Neturei Karta community in Borough Park SHE HAS moved on, but she has not forgotten.

Sara Erenthal, who split from her ultra-Orthodox Jewish family as a teen, draws on the painful life she left behind in a series of intimate artworks on display in a Prospect Heights gallery.

“This is nice way to tell my story in a very minimal way,” the 33-year-old artist said.

Erenthal was born in Israel and spent much of her childhood in a small Neturei Karta community in Borough Park.

Her family returned to Israel when she was a teen, but she ran away to escape an arranged marriage, she said.

Erenthal had never really believed in the community’s strict teachings, which called for unwavering modesty for women and an end to the state of Israel.

“It’s not really about being good people,” Erenthal said. “It’s more about being afraid of God.”

Now estranged from her father, Erenthal reimagines her childhood in her show at the SoapBox Gallery on Dean St.

Read More »Artist’s Brooklyn show describes ultra-orthodox Jewish childhood 

Obsessions, From Street Food to Rooftops

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Exerted from NYTimes, Oct 3, 2014 In “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food”(Brandeis University Press), Ms. Silver, an accomplished food writer inspired by the replacement of Mrs. Stahl’s knishery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, by a Subway sandwich shop, explores the origins and evolution of the “pillow of filling tucked into a skin of dough.” Her book brims with nostalgia (including the lyrics to the Samuel J. Tilden High School… Read More »Obsessions, From Street Food to Rooftops

Rabbis of Reform Judaism, a modernized version of the faith

Kosher Meets Hipster

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American Millennials follow Jewish dietary laws at nearly twice the rate of Baby Boomers, perhaps finding the ancient laws fit well with contemporary concerns about sustainability.

the very first class of Rabbis of Reform Judaism, a modernized version of the faith.On July 11, 1883, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise held a historic gathering in Cincinnati: the ordination of the very first class of rabbis of Reform Judaism, a modernized version of the faith.

But Wise’s lesser known contribution to Jewish American culture lies in the four-course spread served at the banquet afterwards: little-neck clams on the half shell, salade of shrimp, soft-shell crab, and frog legs in cream sauce.Thrilling as it was offensive, the dinner that went down in history as “The Highland House Affair” ushered Judaism into modern American culture—aside from a symbolic omission of pork, everything from the air of gourmet French cuisine to the sweetbreads screamed rejection of Jewish dietary law and Old World culture.

130 years later, some parts of the Jewish community are going through another modernizing shift—but this time, in trendy pop-up restaurants and artisanal craft-food production. With their embrace of sustainable—and slightly hipster—food culture, Millennial Jews are shaping a blossoming culinary movement, and bringing non-Jews along with them.

Read More »Kosher Meets Hipster

Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle

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By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor – Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10/7 Jews around Brooklyn find innovative, fun ways of celebrating the joyful festivals. This year, Brooklyn’s famous amusement park at Coney Island will be transformed into a Sukkot Spectacle. Sukkot is the festival of booths. Taking place in autumn, Sukkot celebrates trust in God and the gathering of community. Luna Park in Coney Island is preparing to host a Sukkot Spectacle… Read More »Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle

VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle – Oct. 17, 2014 Remsen St. became a block party on Thursday night as members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Congregation B’nai Avraham spilled out onto the street to dance with Torah scrolls. They were celebrating Simchat Torah (or Joy of Torah). Simchat Torah marks the cyclical tradition of reciting the closing verses of Deuteronomy, which is the fifth book of Moses, and then starting over… Read More »VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights

Pedi-Sukkah Parade Peddles Through NY

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    Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 7 2014 NEW YORK — In this photo provided by Chabad.org, 10 Chabad-Lubavitch teens on “pedi-sukkahs” ride down Fifth Avenue in New York on Monday. The pedi-sukkahs, are modified pedi-cabs with a Sukkah — a hut-like structure covered with bamboo — attached in the back. The goal of the parade is to create awareness for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a seven day,… Read More »Pedi-Sukkah Parade Peddles Through NY