A 16-Couple Cuban Jewish Wedding, And 5 Other Happy News Stories From This Jewish Week
It’s been an immensely painful week in the world. The one-year anniversary of the mass murder of teens in Parkland, Florida arrived. The Jewish world was roiled by the controversy surrounding Representative Ilhan Omar’s tweets. The president declared a national emergency. But there was also mammoth generosity and giving this week. There was triumphant love. There was hope.
If you have a tip for a Jewish news story that brought you joy, please send it to Singer@forward.com.
Hope for Representation: Black Jewish luminaries Tracee Ellis Ross, Rashida Jones, and Jussie Smollett were all nominated for image awards by the NAACP, the JTA reports. Ross, glamorous progeny of Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein, plays matriarch “Rainbow” on “Blackish,” while Jones is nominated for her documentary on her father, Quincy Jones. Smollett’s who recently survived a horrific attack, stars on “Empire.” Kol hakavod on these honors, you brilliant, beautiful tribe members!
Hope for Remembering: A bill has been reintroduced in the House that would provide funding for Holocaust education in private and public schools. Representative Caroline Maloney, a Democrat hailing from Manhattan’s Upper East Side, reintroduced her “Never Again Education Act,” which would provide an annual $2 million grant from the US treasury to implement and improve Holocaust education in schools, including paying for teachers to attend classes on Holocaust education, the Jewish Week reports. The bill has bi-partisan support.
Hope for Freedom: 16 couples got married in a massive Jewish wedding at the historic Patranato Synagogue in Havana, Cuba. Since the 1959 Marxist revolution, Cubans have suffered a lack of religious freedom. But Jewish life in Cuba has experienced a rebirth ever since Castro loosened religious strictures in the 90’s, and this December, 32 Jewish Cubans celebrated Jewish weddings in one mega-ceremony, through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The couples — all of whom were legally married under Cuban law — finally had the opportunity to kiss under one enormous Chuppah. The JDC released the photos of the joyous event in honor of Valentines Day. Mazal tov!
Hope for Knowledge: Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies received a massive grant for Israel education — so far, events and classes at the Institute have ranged from topics like the Israeli-Arab water crisis to the Jewish response to #MeToo, the JWeekly reports.
Torah: We break from our regularly scheduled Torah-teaching programming to announce that it is now the Hebrew month of Adar (it has been for a while, in fact) which is the official Jewish month of happiness. This is a very special year because we get two months of Adar — Adar I and Adar II, sort of like a Jewish leap year — which means two time the reminder from the rabbis of the Talmud who said, “Mishenichnas Adar marbin besimchah — When the month of Adar enters, we increase joy.”
This shabbat, find a way to increase joy. And keep up the hope.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny