FOUNDING FIREFIGHTERS: Connecticut’s Jewish Ledger explores the history of Lake Waubeeka, a summer community that was founded in 1950 by Ner Tormid, a fraternal organization of Jewish firefighters. The society’s name, the Ledger explains, was a misspelling of the Hebrew ner tamid, or “eternal flame.” Apparently, the firefighters were better at fighting flames than spelling them.
HASIDIC VIGILANTES?: The New York Jewish Week reports that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is likening a Hasidic community patrol group to the Bloods and the Crips following an attack on a black man by a group of Jews in Crown Heights. Meanwhile, some Hasidim are complaining that while Hynes is coming down hard in response to this incident, a string of attacks on Jews in the neighborhood remain unsolved. But this isn’t Hynes’s only Jewish problem. The Jewish Week also reports on the aftermath of a controversial plea bargain in which critics say Hynes let a rabbi accused of molesting yeshiva students off easy.
A CLUB THAT WILL HAVE THEM: Rabbis Marc Angel and Avi Weiss have launched a new Modern Orthodox rabbinic association as an alternative to the established and rightward-drifting Rabbinical Council of America, which recently adopted more stringent conversion policies. But, The Jewish Week notes, the new association will also serve another purpose, providing a home to graduates of Weiss’s Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, who have been denied membership by the RCA.
‘REPELLED’ BY BEN STEIN: Ben Stein’s new pro-“intelligent design” documentary “Expelled” repels the editorialist of the New Jersey Jewish News with its linkage of Darwinism and Nazism. “Expelled draws a direct line between Darwin and Hitler, between natural selection and the Selektions of the Holocaust,” the editorialist writes. “It’s like blaming Shakespeare for the English major who committed the Virginia Tech massacre.”
BAT MITZVAH HISTORY: The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle catches up with two women who, 62 years ago, were among the first five girls in the city’s Jewish community to have a bat mitzvah ceremony. “Practically the whole Pittsburgh showed up,” recalls former bar mitzvah girl Gerri Ash Bronk, now 75. “The shul was absolutely packed. Some people thought it was a fantastic idea, some didn’t.”
BALTIMORE’S LIST-LOVERS: In February, the list-lovers of the Baltimore Jewish Times offered up their “Favorite 54” — chronicling the best things about Jewish life in their town. Now, apropos an important anniversary, they’ve come up with a list highlighting on 60 aspects of Israel that they thought their readers should know about — from an all-chocolate restaurant in Rosh Pina to “Jews” (“They’re everywhere and permeate everything”).
IRAQ VETS SPEAK: The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle speaks with some local Jewish veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
TWISTED SISTER CITY: Kansas City chose the Israeli town of Ramle as a sister city of in part because of its diverse population of Arabs and Jews. But then Ramle’s Jewish mayor was quoted in an Israeli newspaper cursing his city’s Arab citizens — and the controversy came to Kansas City. The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle has the story.
IT BEATS EGYPT: The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix reports that Arizona has become a hot spot for Passover vacations:
Like the Israelites who journeyed through the desert and whose story is retold each year during the seder, nearly 3,000 people made their own journey to the desert this year to commemorate this occasion. However, this time it was a little different. Instead of tents, today’s “wanderers” celebrated in luxury at four Valley resorts: The Arizona Biltmore, JW Marriott Desert Ridge, the Millennium Resort Scottsdale McCormick Ranch and the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. They dined on modern-day manna in the form of bagels (made from potato starch), made-to-order omelets, Belgian waffles, chocolate soufflés, pancakes, pizzas, pastries and sushi (made with quinoa instead of rice).
Wandering in the desert has never been easier.
TEHRANGELES ON OBAMA: The Los Angeles Jewish Journal finds that some leaders of the local Iranian Jewish community are wary about Barack Obama’s calls for engagement with Iran. “Any agreement to negotiate with the [Iranian] regime will give it the sort of legitimacy that it does not currently have but so desperately needs in order to put the last nails in the coffins of those who still have hope for a democratic Iran,” Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, tells the Journal.
GOING POSTAL: The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has passed a resolution backing the use of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, making it, according to The Canadian Jewish News, the first national union in North America to do so. But will they deliver mail addressed to Israel?
‘RIDE TO REMEMBER’: Members of the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance mount their bikes to memorialize the Holocaust, as part of the fourth-annual “Ride to Remember,” which will take place later this month in Omaha, Neb. ““For a Jewish group, we have a unique way of honouring the Holocaust,” Steve Stein, past president of Toronto’s Yidden on Wheels, tells The Canadian Jewish News.
CONSERVATIVES LOSE LARGEST: The biggest Conservative-affiliated congregation in North America has left the movement. Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation is the latest in a string of Canadian synagogues to split with the American-dominated United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. While there have been some complaints by Canadian Conservative congregations over the larger movement’s increasingly liberal stances on the religious roles of gays and women, the rabbi of Beth Tzedec tells The Canadian Jewish News that ideology didn’t play a role in his synagogue’s decision. Rather, he said, the split was prompted by issues having to do with the movement’s allocation of resources.
BLAME MY WIFE: A mayor from New South Wales in Australia is apologizing to Jews after he made the following statement at a public meeting: “Why don’t you jack up the price, why don’t you be a good Jew, why don’t you screw the last dollar out of it like public enterprise would?” The mayor, however, also had a ready explanation for why his remarks were not motivated by malice toward Jews. His wife is Jewish, and the phrase he used is “a phrase my wife uses a lot at home.” The Australian Jewish News has the story.
TEL-AVIV GOES QUACK: Residents of Tel Aviv have fallen in love with a giant inflatable duck that has been perched on top of their city hall. When a municipal worker accidentally pulled the plug on the big bird, causing it to deflate, “hundreds of concerned citizens called us,” one of the project’s organizers tells London’s Jewish Chronicle.
PRINCELY PATRON: London’s Jewish Chronicle reports that Britain’s Prince Charles “was so taken by his involvement in creating a new Polish Jewish community centre, which he opened in Krakow on Tuesday, that he now intends to become involved in another Jewish project in Eastern Europe.”