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“The Last Witness,” a thriller by Jerry Americ. (The Story Merchant, 2014)

“How Sweet It Is!” by Thane Rosenbaum. (Mandel Vilar Press, 2015)

“Fugitive Colors,” a novel by Lisa Barr. (Arcade, 2013)

As we commemorate Yom HaShoah this year, readers will find these new works of fiction fascinating, each in a completely different manner. The authors look at the Holocaust and the Nazi horror from very unique points of view, each book adding something new to Holocaust history and the history of the survivors.

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“Words that come from the heart go to the heart.”

As I write this, I have just returned home from St. Peter’s Church to commemorate the yahrzeit of Bill Corporon, Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno, murdered by an anti-Semite for being at Jewish locations one year ago today.

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The cornerstone of the American Holocaust survivors’ legacy is the government sponsored Yom HaShoah commemorations. These government-backed commemorations were created as a means of engaging elected leaders and lawmakers with Jews. The American Holocaust survivors recognized that elected officials have the power to protect civil liberties, as well as to deny them. With this in mind, they created the centerpiece of the commemorative services, the Proclamation for Days of Remembrance, for memory and as a warning. The first Proclamation for Days of Remembrance in Kansas was signed by then Gov. John Carlin in 1982, marking this year as the 33rd annual event.

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Some years ago I asked a local African American community leader why he discriminated against gay men and women. He answered, “The Bible prohibits their lifestyle.” I said, “You mean the same Bible that was used to justify slavery against your family?” He said, and this is the exact quotation, “That’s different.”

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Must Israel become racist? The article by Rabbi Mark Levin (March 26) starkly reveals the views of uber-left wing J Street, whose positions he advocates at every opportunity. They hurl the word “racist” indiscriminately, the idea being to cow into silence and force onto the defensive anyone who disagrees with them.

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It’s been a very difficult few weeks, culminating in a most disappointing election process in Israel. I have wanted to believe that the Jewish people are “A kingdom of priests and a holy people.” (Exodus 19:6) Many antagonists to my personal aspirations for Israel have claimed that Israel is a demon state. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned to overt demagoguery and racism to win last week’s election I was crushed. “How could a Jew do that?” The Babylonian Talmud says that when a Jew does not act with compassion we should suspect he is not Jewish, and that compassion is one of the three essential Jewish qualities. (Yevamot 79a)

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Todd Stettner

Half truths are annoying; they are a way of claiming legitimacy with something by only telling part of the story. While there are facts involved and things that can be verified, they may only be part of the story. Such is the case I found last week when I attended (along with a small group of other Jews) a lecture sponsored by a group called Citizens for Justice in the Middle East (CJME).

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I have always felt safe knowing that I live in a country where my religious freedom is a priority. The First Amendment clearly lays out that each citizen of the United States is guaranteed the right to freely practice their religion. Being a Jew in America, I am without a doubt part of a religious minority. Just over 1 percent of Americans are Jewish, and our world makeup at 0.2 percent is even smaller. If Jewish populations are so infinitesimal, why are we subjected to so much discrimination? Why do political groups and other religious groups constantly have to target us? What did we ever do to deserve anti-Semitic oppression?

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When a close family member suffers from a mental illness, the rollercoaster lifestyle takes you on an unpredictable journey. You can neither plan nor have expectations. No one knows what each day will bring. You may cry, pray, question or soul search all the while going through the traditional stages of grief for the life you pictured in your mind. My outlook has been made possible by the survival skills taught by NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Health), including self-care. It taught me that it is not just okay to take care of yourself first, but it is imperative that you do so. A good example is of the stewardess instructing the passengers on the plane that, “in the case of an emergency, please place your own oxygen mask on and then assist anyone around you.” For many of us (especially Jewish mothers!), this is a foreign concept. By the time we have finished caring for everyone else we pass out exhausted, no time for ourselves. But, I realized how crucial it is. 

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Last week, I travelled to Washington D.C., to attend the fifth annual J Street National Conference. I attended the conference because J Street represents my values of a democratic Jewish state, which is committed to pursuing a two-state solution.

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In response to Rabbi Mark Levin’s column, “Must Israel become racist?” published in the March 26 issue, I understand his reaction to Natanyahu’s election day political blunder. I winched when it was reported. Rabbi Levin says he was saddened and angry and I believe he over reacted. The Israeli democracy process worked and 13 Arab Israelis were elected to the Knesset. Yes, I know that prejudice exists in Israel. In spite of that, Israel has taken in Ethiopian Jews, Yemenites, Jews from India and elsewhere. Columnist William Safire wrote that it was the first time in history that Africans were taken to freedom, not slavery. 

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“The New Passover Menu” by Paula Shoyer (Sterling Epicure Publishers, February 2015)

Recipes reprinted with permission from New Passover Menu © 2015 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Michael Bennett Kress.

A “fifth” question for Passover might well be, how is this cookbook for Passover different from all other Passover cookbooks? Paula Shoyer answers that, “ ‘The New Passover Menu’ features updated traditional dishes that provide the nostalgic pleasure of family favorites, along with a raft of contemporary recipes developed to please creative cooks who do not want to compromise their taste for sophisticated recipes during the holiday.”

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