Articles written by Penny Schwartz
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Massachusetts lawmakers vote to require genocide education in high schools
BOSTON (JTA) – Against a backdrop of disturbing revelations of antisemitic incidents, including many in local schools, Massachusetts lawmakers this week approved a bill that will require genocide education in all public secondary schools. “An...
'Fiddler' meets 'The Sopranos': A gritty, forgotten novel by Sholom Aleichem is published in English for the first time
(JTA) - Move over, Tevye the dairyman. Make room for Moshkele the thief, the rough and tumble rogue hero from the wrong side of the shtetl in a newly rediscovered work of fiction by Sholom Aleichem....
Boston Jews rally together after streak of attacks in the area
BOSTON (JTA) - Days after a series of violent acts stunned Greater Boston and threatened its Jewish community, residents are jolted but resolute, vowing to continue taking pride in their Jewish...
In new Passover children's books, a bespectacled lion reads the Haggadah and a Depression-era mitzvah
BOSTON (JTA) - On the eve of Passover during the Depression, a juggler in ragged clothes is invited into the home of a poor family that has a bare Seder table. It's a poignant scene in "The Passover G...
'Goodnight Bubbala' and other Chanukah-themed children's books for the holiday season
BOSTON (JTA) — As a child, Sheryl Haft was captivated by the sounds of her grandparents speaking Yiddish. Sing-songy terms of endearment like “bubbala” and “mamleh shayne” sparked joy when her grandmother used them. Grittier words like...
Hryhoriy Arshynov, restorer of Jewish cemeteries across Ukraine
(JTA) — Five years ago, a plea to rescue a centuries-old synagogue in Ostroh, Ukraine, struck a chord with Hryhoriy Arshynov, a lifelong Jewish resident of the city four hours west of Kyiv. Damaged during the Holocaust, the magnificent...
Rabbi recovering after 4 months on a ventilator
(JTA) - At a moment when the world could use a dose of hope, along comes Rabbi Yehuda "Yudi" Dukes. In late March, Dukes was hospitalized in New York with COVID-19, a week after the otherwise healthy...
How did Europe's Jews cope with a 17th-century plague?
BOSTON (JTA) - More than 350 years ago, a plague took a deadly toll on Hamburg, Germany. As the High Holidays approached, fear and panic set in and many of the city's Jewish families fled. Among them...
This Jewish Boston bookseller wants to help you spruce up your Zoom background
BOSTON (JTA) - In early April, just a few weeks after non-essential businesses in Massachusetts were shut down due to COVID-19, the staff at the Brattle Book Shop noticed that some prominent...
In the Boston area, 2 Jewish chefs team up to feed kids while schools are closed
SHARON, Mass. (JTA)-When Neil Morris heard the news that his hometown schools were closing for at least two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, his first thought was about the kids who would lose... Full story
High-profile Israel boycott conference at UMass Amherst sparks concern-and a peace march
AMHERST, Mass. (JTA)-For the second time in six months, several high-profile proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel are sharing a stage at the University of... Full story
Here are 6 new children's books for the Jewish New Year
(JTA)-A Rosh Hashanah apple cake bake-off fit for reality television and another installment in the Scarlet and Sam series from the award-winning author Eric A. Kimmel are among the highlights in the... Full story
Fliers in Massachusetts declare Holocaust 'fake news'
BOSTON (JTA)-Two anti-Semitic fliers that deny the Holocaust were posted at a Massachusetts synagogue, with reports of similar incidents at synagogues in two other states. Police are investigating... Full story
Jewish activists bring downtown Boston to standstill over immigrant detention
BOSTON (JTA)-A group of some 1,000 Jewish activists and others brought rush hour traffic to a halt in downtown Boston to protest immigrant detention in the city and across the country. Tuesday's... Full story
Rabbi suggests congregants bring guns to synagogue for protection
BOSTON (JTA)—A rabbi here has asked congregants to consider bringing guns to religious services as a form of protection in response to recent shootings at synagogues across the country. Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston... Full story
Boston museum pays $500K for rare Torah ornaments
BOSTON (JTA)-The Museum of Fine Arts bought two pairs of rare Torah finials, bidding $500,000 for the 17th-century German silver set. The set is considered among the earliest surviving examples of the ritual Torah ornaments. The final sale price... Full story
This chef turned his popular falafel truck into a booming Israeli restaurant
For nearly a decade, chef Avi Shemtov has been a pioneer on Boston’s food scene. In 2010, he rolled out The Chubby Chickpea, one of the first food trucks in the city, serving up Israeli-style street food from falafel and chicken shwarma to... Full story
Fire at Chabad center investigated as possible hate crime
BOSTON (JTA)—A fire outside the suburban Boston home of a rabbi that serves as a Chabad center is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Police in Arlington, Massachusetts, have asked for the public’s help in identifying a person caught on... Full story
A 'Sesame Street' seder and 4 other new children's books for Passover
BOSTON (JTA)-Four questions. Four cups of wine. Four types of children. At Passover, the number four figures prominently in the rituals of the seder, the ceremonial holiday meal that can be... Full story
This Yiddish romance novel was a smash hit in 1877
BOSTON (JTA)—Hot off the Jewish press in Vilna in 1877, a dramatic Yiddish romance novel became a surprising success, selling out its first 10,000 copies in Jewish communities across Poland and Russia. It’s not hard to see why. Set in the... Full story
A collection of Yiddish songs was thought lost forever-now they've been nominated for a Grammy
BOSTON (JTA)-In the despair of the Soviet Union's fierce World War II battles against the Nazis, a 42-year-old Jewish man from Odessa wrote a song in Yiddish poking fun at Hitler's failures to seize... Full story
Jewish Patriots fans, from seventh-graders to senior citizens, celebrate yet another Super Bowl win
CANTON, Mass. (JTA)-At a kickoff party Sunday night at the Orchard Cove senior home in this suburb about 25 miles from Boston, boisterous cheers erupted from a small ballroom. Dozens of residents had... Full story
Alfred Bader, Milwaukee philanthropist and art collector, dies at 94
(JTA)-Alfred Bader, a refugee who escaped Nazi-occupied Vienna as a young teen in 1938, and later became a chemist, businessman, philanthropist for Jewish and other causes, and an influential art... Full story
What's new for kids to read at Chanukah? Try a fresh take on the trailblazing 'All-of-a-Kind Family.'
(JTA)-Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. The names of the five fictional sisters bring a smile to generations of Jewish Americans who grew up reading "All-of-a-Kind Family," the classic... Full story
Tufts students say 'Colonizing Palestine' class demonizes Israel
MEDFORD, Mass. (JTA)—Pro-Israel students at Tufts University say a new course on Palestine is one-sided and demonizes Israel, and violates the university’s own policies on taking political stances. The course, taught by Thomas Abowd, a faculty... Full story