What Did Ida Cohen Rosenthal Do of Note? Originally Published on January 17-18, 2020.

The Jewish Women’s Archive reminded us to celebrate on Jan. 9 the birth in 1886 near Minsk in Russia of Ida Kaganovitch (later Cohen).  At age 16 Ida went off to Warsaw to work as a dressmaker and study math and Russian in the evenings.  At age 18, she immigrated to New Jersey with her Read More…

What Jewish Resources Are Online? Originally Published January 10-11, 2020.

For the generation among us who look first to the phone for information, we bring you this non-endorsement diversion.  In these times when so much information is at our fingertips, it helps to be able to sort through it all and to understand how it might be useful.  But of course nothing tops the original Read More…

What Is the Space Torah? Originally Published January 3-4, 2020.

Housed at Congregation Or Ami in Houston, Texas, the Space Torah is a Sefer Torah that was actually taken into space by Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman, astronaut, in February 1996 on the space shuttle Columbia. The small kosher scroll was stored in the hold of the ship.  When passing over Israel, Dr. Hoffman read from Bereshit.  Read More…

Who Was Oscar Levant? Originally Published December 27-28, 2019.

Born December 27, 1906, to Max & Annie Levant in Pittsburgh, Oscar Levant was an individual worth celebrating.  In the Levant family, as reported in 1940 in The Pittsburgh Press, the first child learned violin, the second piano, third violin, fourth piano.  Oscar’s fated position was fourth, piano.  Oscar’s oldest brother Harry was so taken Read More…

I Ask Myself, Beethoven and Jews? Originally Published December 20-21, 2019.

While celebrating the birthday of Ludwig Van Beethoven, born December 16, 1770, I came across a delightful article for The Forward by Seth Rogovoy, who has written on Jewish influence on popular music, and has worked as author, writer, editor, critic, radio commentator, and in other fields, and not only that he substitute-taught Rabbi Seth Read More…

Who Was Josephus? Originally Published December 13-14, 2019.

Yosef ben Matityahu (יוסף בן מתתיהו), born in Jerusalem in the year 37 CE, was a historian, and so much more.  His family was aristocratic, and in his autobiography he tells of having been a youth who was knowledgeable in Torah, on halakhah, and as an aggadist (our word for the week, meaning educated and Read More…

What Is Unusual about the Chief Rabbi of Poland? Originally Published December 6-7, 2019.

Many countries have a Chief Rabbi, though the United States does not.  Poland’s current Chief Rabbi is Michael Joseph Schudrich, born June 15, 1955, in New York City, where he was raised.  Rabbi Schudrich seems to have made it his mission to revive Jewish life in Poland, a monumental task. Rabbi Schudrich served with the Read More…

Who Was Adolph Green, Whose Birthday Is December 2nd? Originally Published November 29-30, 2019.

Adolph Green (12/2/1914-10/23/2002), was born in the Bronx, son of Helen & Daniel Green.  He was to become a beloved lyricist, playwright and actor.  Perhaps his long-time collaborator’s name, Betty Comden, will help you remember him.  For some six decades this pair produced some of the most revered and enjoyed Broadway and Hollywood hits. Adolph Read More…

What Is this Yasher Koah? Or Is It Yasher Koakh? Originally Published November 22-23, 2019.

A member of the congregation has just chanted a four-page haftarah and kept everyone riveted.  Someone calls out, “Yasher Koah!” and a bunch of other congregants echo the sentiment.  What are they saying? The literal meaning is something akin to  “straight strength.”  Koah (כּוֹחַ) means “strength” and yishar  (יִישַּׁר) (the dictionary puts “yasher” (“יְיַשֵּׁר”) into Read More…

What Is Yizkor? Originally Published November 15-16, 2019.

Yizkor  is our public observance of the loss of a loved one.  The word yizkor (יִזְכּוֹר – literally, “may He remember”) is our calling upon God to remember the souls of our lost loved ones.  Generally we have a Yizkor service four times a year – on Yom Kippur, the eighth day of Sukkot (Shemini Read More…