The heavily Hasidic Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg escaped major damage from Sandy, suffering only minor flooding and downed trees from the superstorm.
Here in the normally sleepy Ukrainian town of Uman, in central Ukraine, an extraordinary festival is underway. Thousands of Jews from around the world have made a pilgrimage to visit the burial site of the legendary Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, for Rosh Hashana. A Hasidic master Rabbi Nachman was a great-grandson of the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov. The Rosh Hashana pilgrimage dates back to 1811, the year after Nachman died and Breslov Hassidim and other Jews have come every year since to ask forgiveness for their sins and celebrate the holy new year. After the collapse of communism, in 1989, the number of Jews travelling to Uman dramtically increased. From 2000 in 1990 to approaching 30000 today. Locals are concerned that the event is becoming almost unmanagemable. But for Jews who come here every year, the pilgramage has become the most important date in their religious calendar and the long and arduous journey to Uman is most definitely a price worth paying. Vincent Mundy, JN1, Ukraine.
Useless. Egocentric. Negligible. These are the words David Assaf, a professor of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, used to describe a condition called “grapho-mania,” or excessive writing. The subject was at the center of a talk delivered March 28 called “Hasidic Grapho-Mania: The Strange Case of Rabbi Eliezer Shlomo Schick of Brooklyn-Yavne’el.” The program was part of a series of spring events hosted by the Institute for Israel & Jewish Studies at Columbia University.
My musically sophisticated Orthodox friends often tell me that they are not interested in Jewish music. It’s not hard to see why. If you take the material produced by the Orthodox pop industry, it’s often just the frum equivalent of Justin Timberlake, or over-produced boys choirs backed up by obnoxious electronics and phony string arrangements.