The New York Jewish Week examines the unlikely nexus between Orthodox Judaism and surfing. Southern California’s Joe V. Surf Camp recently brought together 24 young, religious wave-riders. “Kids need more than just Babylonian Talmud to gain a sense of Jewish pride,” camp co-founder Ari Soshtain told the Jewish Week. “Surfing is unbelievable exercise, seeing how small you are in comparison to the water, how nature connects to spirituality. Not that the Torah isn’t the way to roll, but you have to take them out a bit to show them within.”
A spate of recent muggings in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood has the local Orthodox community on edge, according to the L.A. Jewish Journal. While police say Jews aren’t being specifically targeted, the robberies are bringing back bad memories of an early 1990s crime wave in the nearby Fairfax district in which observant Jews were being robbed for their jewelry on the Sabbath. “It was like an epidemic,” one local recalled to the Jewish Journal. “Every week, somebody else was getting mugged. Everybody was walking to shul with a gun.” The latest attacks have some wondering whether they should start carrying cash on the Sabbath so as not to draw a violent response from disappointed robbers.
Young American Jews visit Israel, are enchanted by its Levantine ways and return home with a hookah habit. Matt Golub, a member of Stanford’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter and an organizer of his campus Hillel’s “Hookah in the Sukkah” event, told San Francisco’s J. newspaper: “I think [the hookah] is almost entirely for the socializing. And ‘hookah’ and ‘sukkah’ rhyme, so that’s a part of it.” The newspaper investigates an unhealthy pastime.
Also in J., there is an article on an East Bay federation volunteer campaign chair who sent out a letter to Jewish families warning: “We are a community at a crossroads — we can chose to stay the course at our current levels of involvement and eventually cease to remain active and relevant, or we can unite to enlarge all circles of our community.”
Boston’s Jewish Advocate notes the Islamic Society of Boston’s decision to drop its lawsuit against the David Project, the Boston Herald, WFXT-TV and a number of individuals who had criticized it. The Islamic Society launched the lawsuit in response to criticism of its plans for a new mosque. The society’s critics cited ties to Muslim extremists.
The Washington Jewish Week reports on some Jewish groups’ plans to respond to this weekend’s pro-Palestinian mobilization in the nation’s capital. StandWithUs and the Zionist Organization of America are among the groups intending to counter-protest. The local Jewish Community Relations Council has decided to steer clear of the demonstration. “We appreciate StandWithUs, and we agree with them 99 percent of the time, but when the media discusses the event, we don’t want it to be about dueling protests,” said Greater Washington JCRC executive director Ron Halber.
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle looks at the evolving relationship between a Jewish historian and a local Holocaust denier. Jeff Kleiman, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County, had sparred with the German-born woman in the letters section of the local newspaper and even engaged her in a public shouting match. Since then, however, the woman has become a subject of his research into the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, and she has allowed him access to the wartime diaries of her father, who was a corporal in the German army. “[M]y sense is that she shares because she believes that if I see [the events of wartime Germany] through her eyes, and her father’s eyes, I will see that she is right,” Kleiman said.
The St. Louis Jewish Light reports on a local Conservative congregation’s decision to permit same-sex commitment ceremonies. The decision comes in the wake of moves by the larger Conservative movement’s Committee on Law and Standards that paved the way for individual congregations to set their own policies on same-sex commitment ceremonies. Rabbi Shalom Rose of Congregation B’nai Amoona told the Jewish Light that such rites would be distinct from wedding ceremonies. “Our committee on Jewish Law and Standards did not approve Jewish marriages yet,” Rose said. “One way or another, what we will ultimately have is a ceremony that will be strongly and significantly, consciously, different from our marriage rituals.”
The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix covers the debate in the local Jewish community over plans by Christians United for Israel to put on “A Night to Honor Israel.” (This is, of course, part of a larger national phenomenon that the Forward reported on last month.