Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Julie Wiener

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  • How to choose a Passover Haggadah

    Julie Wiener|Apr 12, 2019

    (MyJewishLearning via JTA)—With thousands of published Haggadahs available for purchase, choosing the one that is best for your seder can be overwhelming. For an overview of the many possibilities, we recommend “HowIs This Haggadah Different?” Here are some things you might want to consider when selecting a Haggadah: Cost Remember, you’ll need a copy of the Haggadah for each guest (or every two guests, if people are comfortable sharing). Unless you plan to buy one copy and then do some extensi... Full story

  • Passover seder: How to be a good guest

    Julie Wiener|Apr 12, 2019

    (MyJewishLearning via JTA)—If you’ve never been to a Passover seder, you might be feeling a bit intimidated at the prospect. Relax. The seder is an opportunity for celebration, discussion and lots of tasty food. Here are some things to know before you go: What should I wear? People usually dress up a little for the seder, but it’s best to ask your host ahead of time, as seder attire can run the gamut from jeans and T-shirts to suit-and-tie. You’ll probably eat a lot, however, so don’t wear anything with a tight-fitting waist! What should I brin... Full story

  • How to make your own Passover Haggadah

    Julie Wiener|Mar 30, 2018

    (MyJewishLearning via JTA)-Making your own Haggadah is not just a money saver, but also a great way to educate yourself about the Passover seder, add a unique twist to the festive meal and have a more meaningful and satisfying holiday. For generations, enterprising seder leaders have been sticking Post-It notes in their favorite parts of existing Haggadahs, adding in photocopied readings, or even cutting and pasting from multiple Haggadahs and combining it all in a loose-leaf binder. The Interne... Full story

  • Chanukah gift ideas for newcomers to the tribe

    Julie Wiener|Dec 8, 2017

    (MyJewishLearning via JTA)-Do you have friends or family members who are new to the tribe? Maybe they recently converted, married a Jew or became newly interested in their Jewish roots? Or maybe you're the newbie and are wondering what to put on your wish list. Whatever the particulars, MyJewishLearning has you covered, with Chanukah gift ideas designed to please the Jewish newbies in your life. Cookbooks Amelia Saltsman's "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen" ($20.23), Leah Koenig's "Modern Jewish... Full story

  • Is it really a shock that one-third of Americans wouldn't hide Jews?

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Oct 16, 2015

    (JTA)-Is the glass one-third empty or two-thirds full? A poll commissioned by distributors of the Holocaust film "Return to the Hiding Place" asked 1,000 Americans a question many Jews have pondered: "If you were living during World War II, would you have risked the imprisonment and death of yourself and your family to hide Jews?" The results, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter (and other publications that cited the Hollywood Reporter), were presented in a remarkably negative way:... Full story

  • The top Jewish newsmakers of 5775

    Julie Wiener|Sep 11, 2015

    (JTA)-Whether you love them or hate them-or your feelings are purely pareve-these 13 Jews repeatedly made the news in 5775. David Blatt American-Israeli coach David Blatt, in his first season as the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, guided the club to the NBA Finals and put the Midwestern city on the radar of Israelis-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu among them. Blatt, 56, had come to Cleveland after coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to an unlikely Euroleague title. The Boston-area native had played... Full story

  • NPR's Nina Totenberg reclaims dad's stolen violin, now worth millions

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Aug 21, 2015

    (JTA)-Jewish violin virtuoso Roman Totenberg enjoyed a long life, making it to the ripe old age of 101. But that wasn't quite long enough to be reunited with the prized instrument that was stolen from him in 1980. The FBI officially announced Thursday that it had recovered Totenberg's almost 300-year-old Stradivarius, which he purchased in 1943. With just a few hundred of its type in the world, it's now worth millions of dollars, according to The Associated Press. The Polish-born Totenberg, who... Full story

  • Natalie Portman raps Bibi, hearts Alan Dershowitz

    Julie Wiener, JTA|May 29, 2015

    (JTA)-Hollywood Reporter's new cover story interview with actress Natalie Portman may be one of the most heavily Jewish-themed articles the magazine has ever published. In it, the Israel-born Portman, who's preparing for the May 18 debut of her film adaptation of Israeli author Amos Oz's "A Tale of Love and Darkness," which was shot in Jerusalem, talks about everything from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (she's not a fan) to anti-Semitism in Paris, where she now lives, to reading... Full story

  • Could an Israeli invention end cooking as we know it?

    Julie Wiener, JTA|May 29, 2015

    (JTA)-Plenty of mobile apps help consumers order meals for delivery or offer recipes. But a new app developed by Israeli entrepreneurs will actually prepare the food for you on your kitchen counter. While not quite as fantastical as it sounds-to use the app you also need a coffeemaker-sized appliance called The Genie-the invention promises to prepare mess-free, all-natural, healthy food in just seconds. Described by one writer as "like a Keurig [coffeemaker] for food," the device, which looks... Full story

  • Who is Ayelet Shaked, Israel's new justice minister?

    Julie Wiener, JTA|May 15, 2015

    (JTA)-Ayelet Shaked (pronounced ShahKED), Israel's newly appointed justice minister and a member of the right-wing Jewish Home party, has quickly risen to prominence having served just two years in the Knesset. Here's what you need to know about the 39-year-old political celebrity. She's seen as a poster child for Jewish Home's efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base. A secular Jew from north Tel Aviv, Shaked is often described as a symbol of the Jewish Home and larger settler movement's... Full story

  • Must bar/bat mitzvah kids be video stars?

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Apr 3, 2015

    (JTA)—Another slick bar mitzvah invitation video of questionable taste has gone viral. This time it’s for the impending bar mitzvah of Brody Criz, whose invitation consists of him starring in a Jew-ified medley of pop-song parodies—including one of “Blurred Lines,” the song to which Miley Cyrus famously twerked. Fortunately, Criz doesn’t twerk, but he does bare way more skin than I’d like to see, even if I weren’t more than three times his age. In cases like this, it’s easy to pile on with judgments about materialism, superficiality, ... Full story

  • A holiday is born: Red Army vets promote 'Rescue Day of European Jewry'

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Jun 13, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-Sol Lapidus earned the Order of Lenin, the Soviet Union's highest medal, for his role as a partisan fighter in the Belarussian forest during World War II. Lapidus proudly wore the bronze-and-red medal pinned to his suit jacket last Wednesday at the United Nations, where he joined approximately 150 mostly white-haired Jewish Red Army veterans, their lapels festooned with similar decorations. The small army of aged veterans had gathered to make history again, to announce what was... Full story

  • What do Rick Perry, Sean Penn, Sheldon Adelson and Chris Christie have in common?

    Julie Wiener|May 30, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-The last time New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke at a venue attended by Sheldon Adelson, he alienated the Republican Party mega-donor and other hawkish pro-Israel Jews by referring to Judea and Samaria as "the occupied territories." Sunday night at a gala awards program in Manhattan honoring Adelson and hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Christie avoided the topic of Israel altogether. But Sean Penn didn't. Held in the cathedral-like Cipriani restaurant, the dinner for Boteach's... Full story

  • With a nudge from advocates, more Jewish groups embracing paid parental leave

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Apr 25, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-The United States is the only industrialized country in the world not to mandate paid maternity leave, and only 11 percent of private-sector American employees have access to it. But a growing list of Jewish nonprofits are now offering or expanding paid maternity leave, the result of a push by Advancing Women Professionals, a communal advocacy group. Persuading scores of Jewish organizations to add paid benefits during a recession was no easy feat. Leaders of many organizations... Full story

  • Dollinger, who rescued husband from Gestapo, dies at 111

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Mar 28, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-Gisela Kohn Dollinger tricked death twice. Soon after Kristallnacht, when she was 36, Dollinger persuaded the Gestapo to release her husband, rather than send him to a concentration camp, and the two of them fled Austria for Shanghai, where she almost died of typhus. After that, death seemed to forget all about her-until last week, when Dollinger passed away peacefully at Manhattan's Beth Israel Hospital. She was 111 years old. Dollinger's passing came just weeks after Alice... Full story

  • 'Anti-Barbie' is a runaway crowd-funding success

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Mar 28, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-Almost exactly 55 years after Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair, a more realistically proportioned alternative to the iconic fashion doll has become a crowd-funding sensation, raising more than $400,000 in a week and a half to begin production. The Lammily doll, which has joints that bend, an athletic physique and a motto of "Average is Beautiful," is being described by some fans as the anti-Barbie. But Lammily's creator, 25-year-old Pittsburgh artist... Full story

  • Jewish communal awareness of disabilities is growing, but advocates say not enough

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Mar 7, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-In the coming months, six young Jews with disabilities will start paid internships at major Jewish federations through a pilot program. If successful, the program will expand to communities throughout North America. In the fall, Manhattan's first Jewish day school for children with special needs will open. Meanwhile, the Foundation for Jewish Camp is seeking to raise $31 million for a multi-pronged effort to more than double the number of children with disabilities attending Jewis... Full story

  • BunkConnect program offering bargains for first-time campers

    Julie Wiener|Feb 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-Think Expedia or Hotels.com or countless other vacation discount finders online, but instead to connect kids to Jewish camps. The Foundation for Jewish Camp announced Monday that it is piloting a new program this summer offering first-time campers from middle- and lower-income families camp sessions at prices that are 40-80 percent below the camps' standard rates. Called BunkConnect, the program, in partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, will make... Full story

  • Day schools trying to put new face on financial aid

    Julie Wiener|Jan 17, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito, Calif., had a problem. Like many Jewish day schools throughout North America, Tehiyah has plenty of students from lower-income families and a number from affluent ones. But it couldn't seem to recruit and retain many middle-class students, even as it devoted increasing amounts to financial aid. Middle-class parents "felt they wouldn't be considered for financial aid or were just on the border of whether they could get aid," said Bathea James,... Full story

  • Jet-setting Edgar Bronfman flexed muscles for Jewish causes

    Cnaan Liphshiz and Julie Wiener, JTA|Jan 3, 2014

    (JTA)-In 1992, Edgar Bronfman was preparing to leave North America for Paris for his first meeting with then-French President Francois Mitterand at the Elysee Palace when at the last minute Bronfman decided he wanted to take an unexpected meeting in Geneva instead. So he asked Serge Cwajgenbaum, Bronfman's right-hand man in Europe, to phone the palace and ask to reschedule. The Elysee secretary, Hubert Vendrine, exploded. "He asked me who Edgar Bronfman thinks he is to move around a meeting... Full story

  • Many U.S. Jewish cemeteries in neglect

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Jan 3, 2014

    NEW YORK (JTA)-For years, the historic Jewish cemetery was so overgrown with weeds, plagued by toppled headstones, and littered with fallen branches, beer cans and snack-food wrappers that at least a quarter of its graves were impossible to reach. Even now, after a $140,000 cleanup and improved maintenance procedures, the 35,000-grave cemetery relies on the generosity of a non-Jewish volunteer to repair its tombstones, fences and mausoleums. The cemetery isn't in Eastern Europe. It's the... Full story

  • Swarthmore Hillel picks fight over campus group's Israel guidelines

    Julie Wiener|Dec 20, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)-With an estimated Jewish population of 275 undergraduates, the Quaker-founded Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia is home to one of the smaller Hillel chapters in the country. But that hasn't stopped student activists at the small suburban school from picking a fight of potentially epic proportions with the umbrella group Hillel International. On Dec. 8, the Swarthmore Hillel student board announced that it had voted unanimously to defy Hillel International's guidelines for... Full story

  • Initiative seeking to improve Hebrew literacy in America

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Dec 20, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)-For the first 3 1/2 weeks of the summer, one group of 5-year-olds at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, N.Y., was "very quiet" as the children went about the typical camp activities, according to Amy Skopp Cooper, the camp's director. But in the fourth week, the talking started-in Israeli-accented Hebrew. By the end of the summer, evaluations revealed that most of the 20 children-all of whom had started out as Hebrew novices-"had gone up multiple levels" in their Hebrew proficiency, Cooper... Full story

  • Hoping to build 'relational' communities through better data

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Dec 20, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Before Sacha Litman shares his data analysis with his synagogue clients, he likes to have the board members and staff guess the contents. Which programs are most expensive and most popular? Who is more satisfied, senior citizens or nursery school parents? How many Hebrew school parents would recommend the congregation to a friend? Eighty percent of the time, Litman says, the assumptions of synagogue leaders are disproved by the data. “Synagogue board members often make decisions based on what they heard from a friend at kiddush o... Full story

  • Brooklyn school's failing grade unusual among Hebrew charter schools

    Julie Wiener, JTA|Dec 13, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)-On a bright autumn morning, Hebrew songs and phrases fill the sun-drenched, freshly painted blue and white classrooms of New York's Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School. A group of kindergartners, representing such an even mix of black and white children that they resemble a 1980s Benetton ad, clasp each other by the waist and dance in a "rakevet," or train, stopping every few moments to add a new child who, as the teachers explain in Hebrew, is sitting nicely on his or... Full story

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