Articles written by Penny Schwartz

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Picture book about family that celebrates Rosh Hashanah and Lunar New Year nabs book award

(JTA) — A lavishly illustrated children’s book about a Chinese Jewish family who celebrate both Rosh Hashanah and Lunar New Year is among the top winners of this year’s Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Jewish children’s books. Meanwhile, the publish...


A Harry Potter fan's murder reverberates from Israel to Boston

BOSTON (JTA) - Jason Greenberg remembers the lavish breakfast spreads Carmela Dan would serve when he and his family visited his cousin at Kibbutz Nir Oz. He relished the shakshuka, salads and bread...


Brandeis U reeling after bus accident leaves 1 student dead, dozens injured; Jewish students hold vigils

WALTHAM, Massachusetts (JTA) — The days before Thanksgiving break were supposed to be packed at Brandeis University’s Hillel: There was a talk on Sunday about sexuality in Judaism, a ceremony for students who participated in a study program and a f...


History of Mah Jongg Snacks

“Four Bam, One Crack, Six Dot.” Generations of Mah Jongg players and their children and grandchildren recognize the names of the small decorated tiles used in the Chinese game that found a devoted American audience among Jewish women. For tho...

 By Penny Schwartz    News    March 4, 2022

Boston-area college in turmoil after weeks-long string of antisemitic and racist incidents

BOSTON (JTA) — For nearly a month, a small liberal arts college just miles outside of Boston has been roiled by a spate of hate incidents, including antisemitic graffiti and threatening racist language, prompting the school to offer a $10,000 r...


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 Act Con...


'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. T...

 By Penny Schwartz    News    July 16, 2021

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 “shmendri...


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 1...


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 personali...

 By Penny Schwartz    News    April 24, 2020

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

 By Penny Schwartz    News    July 26, 2019

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

 By Penny Schwartz    News    July 12, 2019

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

 By Penny Schwartz    News    July 5, 2019

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 n... Full story

 By Penny Schwartz    News    June 28, 2019

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 c... Full story

 By Penny Schwartz    News    May 31, 2019

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 a n... 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 mid... Full story


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