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Culture & Traditions

Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

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Originally published in Time by Olivier Laurent For four years, Italian photographer Federica Valabrega has photographed the everyday lives of Orthodox Jewish women around the world “For some people, if you’re religious, you’re ugly,” says Federica Valabrega, an Italian photographer who for the past four years has been documenting Jewish women across the world. Her fascination with these “Daughters of the King,” as she calls them, comes from her own… Read More »Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider

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Originally published on New York Times by Sara Trappler Spielman

The grand rabbi of the Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim

One day during Hanukkah 26 years ago, the grand rabbi of the Lubavitch-Chabad Hasidim briefly turned away from the hundreds of men gathered before him in synagogue to cast his eye toward the women’s balcony. Then he extended an arm, offering someone there a roll of nickels. That recipient, in turn, was meant to fulfill the rabbi’s design by giving the coins to charity.

It was rare enough for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to direct his attention to the women’s section, which was kept separate in accordance with Orthodox practice. Rarer still was the rabbi’s target: a female photographer who was not Lubavitch, not Hasidic, not Jewish, not religious, not even American.
That photographer, Chie Nishio, stood in the lobby gallery of the Brooklyn Public Library one morning last week, regarding the picture she took of Rabbi Schneerson’s long-ago gesture. She is 84 now, a widow, living by preference without a cellphone or email account. Yet an extraordinary collection of her visual art is now receiving its belated recognition.Read More »Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Community: A Culture Captured by the Ultimate Outsider

Judith Clurman

Faith In Brooklyn for Nov. 26

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Originally published on Brooklyn Daily Eagle by Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor

Judith Clurman.

“Testimony” by Stephen Schwartz
(Recording released
Essential Voices USA); rehearsal photographed: Tuesday, June 20, 2017; 11:45 AM at Manhattan School of Music; Room 707; NYC; Photograph: © 2017 Richard Termine
PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine

Prominent Conductor from Brooklyn Releases New Album on Jewish Song

Acclaimed choral conductor Judith Clurman has released a new compact disc, “Cherished Moments: Songs of the Jewish Spirit,” on Sono Luminus (DSL-92182). Clurman, whose Brooklyn roots have stayed with her, now lives here in the borough with her husband, Cantor Bruce Ruben.

“Cherished Moments” features Essential Voices USA, with Clurman conducting, along with soloists Ron Raines, Bruce Ruben and Michael Slattery.

This new CD combines the expertise born of Clurman’s 30 years as a prominent conductor with memories of her own childhood in synagogue and an intimate knowledge of this poignant repertoire to create a unique recording. The recording introduces exciting arrangements of traditional songs that represent the Jewish holidays and life cycle events — from the centerpiece “Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah,” a cycle for chorus, soloists and orchestra that premiered at Carnegie Hall, to the 19th-century lyrical classicism of Louis Lewandowski and Emanuel Kirschner, to works by folk artist Debbie Friedman, cantor-composer Bruce Ruben and Canadian composer Ben Steinberg.

The recording also features important new works, among them a minimalist setting of “Set Me as a Seal” by Nico Muhly, Larry Hochman’s “Shomeir Yisrael” and Paul Schoenfield’s “Al Hanisim,” all written for Clurman. The recording features the singers of Essential Voices USA and renowned guest instrumentalists, including composers Hochman and Schoenfield accompanying their own works.

Clurman’s Essential Voices USA (EVUSA) is widely regarded as one of New York’s preeminent choral ensembles. It is composed of a highly talented roster of both seasoned professionals and auditioned volunteers. Within this group, Clurman has created a dynamic choral model in which the size of the ensemble is dictated by the unique needs of each project. EVUSA performs regularly on the Carnegie Hall subscription series with the New York Pops and at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. For more information, visit


Read More »Faith In Brooklyn for Nov. 26

Nets to Host Chanukah Jewish Heritage Night at Barclays Center

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Originally published on The Jewish Voice by JV Staff As the Nets gear up for the third season in their new home in Brooklyn, CTeen, Chabad’s global teen network, is planning its 2nd Annual Jewish Heritage Night which will take place in the Nets’ arena, Barclays Center, on the fifth night of Chanukah. Event organizers are expecting Jewish attendance upwards of 6,000, Brooklyn being a borough that is home to… Read More »Nets to Host Chanukah Jewish Heritage Night at Barclays Center

Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler, a Brooklyn Boy and Chanuka

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Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1966,[2] the son of Judy, a nursery school teacher, and Stanley Sandler, an electrical engineer.[3] His family is Jewish, descending from immigrants from Russia on both sides.[4][5] When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended Manchester Central High School. He found he was a natural comic, and nurtured his talent while at New York University by… Read More »Adam Sandler, a Brooklyn Boy and Chanuka

East Midwood Jewish Center – 90 Years

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Shalom! 90 years ago, a group of committed Brooklyn Jews came together to articulate a vision. They wanted to build a Jewish Center – a collective home to live their Jewish lives. It would be a uniquely American edifice; a place not only to pray, celebrate holidays, raise Jewish families, and explore the endless richness of Jewish text, history, and culture, but also a place to engage in social events… Read More »East Midwood Jewish Center – 90 Years


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When thinking about writing this article, the biblical verse that came to my mind was from the Book of Samuel I, Chapter 18:7:

“Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.”

Rabbi Meir of Padua's tombstone crest (a crouching cat)

Rabbi Meir of Padua’s tombstone crest (a crouching cat)

Rabbi Moses Isserles

Rabbi Moses Isserles

  Five hundred and fifty years ago Rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen, 1482-1565, the Av Beth Din, that is, Head of the Rabbinical Court of Padua, Italy, known by the acronym “MaHaRaM Padua,” was the respected judge of hundreds, if not  thousands of litigants. About the same time, his distant relative, Rabbi Moses Isserles, 1520-1575, known by the acronym ReMA, the eminent Ashkenazic rabbi, Talmudist, decisor and judge, renowned for his fundamental work of Halacha (Jewish Law), entitled HaMapah, which is a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) and served as the Head of the Rabbinical Court of Cracow, Poland.

Their 21st century famed descendant, Judge Judy, is known and admired by millions of TV viewers for her reputation as one of the toughest court judges in the United States.


Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads

Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads

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New York Times published Sarina Roffé, whose recipes have also been featured in NY Times Jewish Cookbook, Image Magazine and Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America, has released Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads. The book is available on Amazon. Sarina is the author of “Food and Drink, Modern Period: Syria.” Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Brill, Leiden, 2014). She is a recognized academic in the field of Syrian Jewish… Read More »Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads

Cinamas in Brownsville

Schmatehs and Cinemas in Brownsville

by Bernard Braginsky, 80 I lived in Brownsville from my birth in 1934 to age 18 in 1953, when my family moved to the tree shaded streets of East Flatbush. Now, at age 80, I think of Brownsville and the people I loved there. My family lived in a railroad apartment in a four story tenement at 175 Osborn Street. Our house was torn down about 1960 to make room for… Read More »Schmatehs and Cinemas in Brownsville

Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskill Resort

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by Joe Dorinson

kutshersAs I write, an excellent film, Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskill Resort is playing in the background. It is the third time today that I have watched this wonderful if ultimately sad saga. In 1963, during Passover week, I ended my career there as a waiter. The $270 that I earned that memorable week helped to underwrite my graduate school education at Columbia University. Subsequently, I returned to Kutsher’s Country Club for various alumni reunions and stimulating conferences in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007: all organized by Phil Brown, a former student at Long Island University, currently a distinguished Sociology Professor at Northeastern University, and a vital participant as “talking head” in your film.
The film’s opening sequences provides a mixed message. A news anchor announces that a wrecking ball will demolish the main buildings. Then, to dull the edge of sadness, Freddy Roman offers much-needed comic relief. Along with Roman, Phil Brown and Larry Strickler, former social director qua tumbler convey historical and cultural context. A kaleidoscopic cornucopia of food and entertainment follow. And this viewer was hooked so to speak. Roman deplores the anti-Semitic road mayvens who confine Jewish travelers to a single lane minus the promised improvements. While he astutely frames the Catskill experience as the third act of that hairy-dairyman Tevye, the farmer, in a minor miscue, Strickler refers to the surge (rather than scourge) of tuberculosis on the Lower East Side that prompted a mass summer exodus to the “Borscht Belt.” He more than atones with luminous commentary and a song at the film’s end that breaks your heart with a poignant rendition of “What I Did for Love.”
Read More »Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskill Resort

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