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Brooklyn Life

Brooklyn – A Boro Transformed

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Sukkah Store

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Throughout Brooklyn, the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) was blown during the two days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year welcoming in the year 5774. The holiday was the beginning of a month of holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) and a transformation of the borough, which has more Jewish people than anywhere else in the country.

The holidays came late this year, so early that many Jews remained in their summer homes for the holidays. The holiday preparations include the [preparation] cooking of many traditional foods, which are eaten as symbols of the holidays. Holiday challah is formed into a round shape to represent the circle of life. So that we may have a sweet New Year, it is filled with sweet raisins, and you can smell the challah baking, along with the traditional honey cake, as you ride down the avenues. At the holiday table, the challah is dipped in honey, along with the apples, the fall fruit, with a benediction. Symbolic foods like dates, the head of a fish (or animal), pomegranate seeds, gourds, and Swiss chard are traditionally eaten in different  varieties, whether  in Ashkenazi or Sephardi families.

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Memories of Sheepshead Bay

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By Adam Cohen My family grew up in Brooklyn including my parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and both sets of grandparents. I was dubbed a first generation New Jerseyan by many of my family members. As you could imagine, we spent a lot of time in Brooklyn. My parents would take my sister and I into Brooklyn on a whim and show us where they grew up, met, and dated. They… Read More »Memories of Sheepshead Bay

BHS’ 5th Annual – Israel: Talking @ the Movies

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Presented by Brooklyn Heights Synagogue

Israeli cinema is receiving international acclaim!

How are the Jewish challenges of identity, diversity, and responsibility reflected in Israeli films?

These films, all entertaining and challenging, create a springboard for our learning and conversation.

Grapple with the issues brought to the surface by these films through a dynamic discussion following each screening, facilitated by Isaac Zablocki, Executive Director of the Other Israel Film Festival.

Four Sessions: (see films below) all shown at 131 Remsen Street, Brooklyn NY 11201Read More »BHS’ 5th Annual – Israel: Talking @ the Movies

Brooklyn’s “Lost Synagogues”

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by Ellen Levitt

"lost synagogues" of BrooklynBrooklyn has a large number of synagogues, and they come in many varieties. You can easily find various types of Orthodox shuls,as well as Conservative, Reform, non-denominational; Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Congregations with perhaps a bare minyan and others with a few thousand members. But for all the synagogues Brooklyn has within its midst, it has also seen many synagogues disappear. Some have merged with other nearby congregations while others closed up, their members and assets dispersed. Dozens of shuls have been closed up and the buildings torn down, other structures erected on their lots. Other closed synagogues still exist in a bittersweet fashion: their buildings still stand but the sites are now occupied by churches, schools, medical facilities, or even serve as private residences.

I have been documenting these “lost synagogues” of Brooklyn, as well as in the other NYC boroughs and Governors Island, for more than a decade. In my 2009 book The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, published by the scholarly press Avotaynu, I offer photos and text about more than 80 former synagogues. Read More »Brooklyn’s “Lost Synagogues”

Metropolitan Council delivers food to families for Purim

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By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Volunteers Ashlee Davis, Jennifer Smith and Joey Canoro (left to right) prepare food packages for delivery. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty

Volunteers Ashlee Davis, Jennifer Smith and Joey Canoro (left to right) prepare food packages for delivery. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty

The Purim holiday which took place this past weekend was a lot more festive for hundreds of people in Brooklyn, thanks to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which distributed food packages to families in Flatbush, Midwood, Marine Park and Borough Park as part of its Kosher Food Network.

Volunteers from the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush and the Jewish Community Council of Far Rockaway delivered 500 two-person meals to homes on Friday, March 14, in time for the Jewish festival.

The food giveaway allowed residents to partake in holiday festivities despite the often prohibitive costs of kosher food, organizers said. The meal included traditional staples such as challah, stuffed cabbage, vegetable soup, chicken, and potato kugel.

“Purim is a time for celebration and thanks to a generous Met Council supporter, 1,000 food insecure New Yorkers will be able to join the Jewish community in marking the occasion with joy and dignity,” Metropolitan Council CEO and Executive Director David M. Frankel said prior to the food distribution.

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For Sandy victims in Brighton Beach, Purim story has a double meaning

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Rabbi Josh Minkin (in foreground) holds the microphone, while colleague Malka Shagaraeva wears the crown. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services

Rabbi Josh Minkin (in foreground) holds the microphone, while colleague Malka Shagaraeva wears the crown. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services on March 17 treated the Brighton Beach community, which was seriously affected during Hurricane Sandy, to a festive Purim party at Tatiana restaurant on Brighton Beach Avenue as part of the UJA-Federation’s Post-Sandy Community Outreach Program. The program provides emotional and spiritual help to members of the Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Staten Island who have been seriously affected by the hurricane.  The free program, which is offered in both English and Russian, is unusual because it combines pastoral with psychological counseling. Read More »For Sandy victims in Brighton Beach, Purim story has a double meaning

Devorah Halberstam: A Letter To An Amazing Woman

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By: Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson
Published: March 28th, 2014 – Jewish Press

Devorah Halberstam with Robert Muller

I remember when it happened. March 1, 1994. I remember the horror and sense of devastation. Jewish children targeted once again! A van filled with yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge sprayed with bullets… four were shot and one died as a result of his injuries – sixteen-year-old Ari Halberstam.

All I remember thinking is “How is his mother coping with her devastating tragedy and wondering if she had collapsed under the horrific blow, unable to face life in its aftermath, in the absence of her beloved firstborn.”

Over the years there has been no shortage of reporting about Devorah Halberstam, Ari’s mother.  Even in Israel, thousands of miles from the Halberstam home, there have been frequent references in the media to Ari’s mother. Do you know why?

Because Devorah Halberstam, the beautiful young Jewish mother, did not collapse. On the contrary, she rose like a phoenix from the fire. She accurately identified the shooting as a terrorist act and criticized the authorities for treating it as an ordinary homicide. She fought – the police, the FBI and the U.S. Congress – to have Ari’s death investigated as a politically-motivated act of terrorism.

In the process she developed relationships with law enforcement officials at the highest levels. With rare insight and determination, she cut through political correctness during the pre-September-11 era, an unheard of accomplishment. Former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly credits Devorah Halberstam with being a “a major force in the political world” and having a powerful impact on the creation of anti-terrorism laws in New York State, among them “Ari’s Law,” a comprehensive New York State law controlling gun trafficking across state lines.

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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.

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