Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Andrew Esensten

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  • NBA star Domantas Sabonis is converting to Judaism

    Andrew Esensten|May 5, 2023

    (JTA via J. The Jewish News of Northern California) - When the Sacramento Kings face the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs, they will be led by their Lithuanian-American - and soon-to-be-Jewish - center, Domantas Sabonis. The 26-year-old All-Star is in the process of converting to Judaism, according to his Jewish wife, Shashana Sabonis (née Rosen). "We really haven't talked about it [publicly]," she said in an interview this week. "He loves [Judaism] and really wants...

  • The historical origins of Kanye West's inflammatory comment, 'Black people are actually Jew[s]'

    Andrew Esensten|Oct 21, 2022

    (JTA) — In 1892, an Oklahoma preacher born into slavery received a series of divine revelations that compelled him to launch a new church and, with it, a new religious movement in the United States: Black Israelism, better known as the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. More than a century later, the movement’s central tenet — that African Americans are the genealogical descendants of the ancient Israelites — has repeatedly found its way into popular culture through the expressions of non-Jewish African-American entertainers and athletes such as...

  • Why do the Utah Jazz, in the Mormon capital, play 'Hava Nagila' after wins?

    Andrew Esensten|Apr 29, 2022

    (JTA) - A few years ago, Rachel Picado attended a Utah Jazz game in Salt Lake City with Israeli diplomat Eitan Na'eh, who was visiting from Los Angeles. During the closing seconds of the game, which the Jazz won, the two heard a familiar song coming from the speakers in Vivint Arena. "We were both looking at each other like, why on earth are they playing 'Hava Nagila'?" Picado recalled. She asked the Jazz employees who were hosting her group about the musical choice, and "they were confused...

  • Dungeons & Dragons has united a diverse group of rabbis - but their commitment to social justice has faced a challenge

    Andrew Esensten|Sep 24, 2021

    (JTA) - The adventurers arrived at Morgur's Mound, an archaeological site ringed with dragon bones. There they stumbled upon some treasure: a fire giant's gold-plated tooth. They grabbed the tooth and tried to leave the site, but suddenly the ground began to shake. "Four animated thunder beast skeletons erupt from the mound and attack you," the dungeon master said. "You desecrated a holy site, and these are the guardians of the holy site. Everybody roll initiative." "Are you allowed to roll on...