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  • Jewish comedian Lena Dunham discovers her family's Holocaust story on PBS' 'Finding Your Roots'

    Jacob Gurvis|Apr 5, 2024

    (JTA) - Jewish actress and writer Lena Dunham is the latest Hollywood star to discover that her family has ties to the Holocaust on the PBS celebrity genealogy series "Finding Your Roots." Dunham, the sometimes controversial comedian who was born to a Protestant father and a Jewish mother, has previously described herself as "very culturally Jewish," and she stars in a forthcoming film, "Treasure," that features a family grappling with its Holocaust history. But until taping the "Finding Your...

  • 'Remembering Gene Wilder' documentary salutes a Jewish comedy legend

    Stephen Silver|Apr 5, 2024

    (JTA) — When Mel Brooks was filming “The Producers,” he recalled an executive approaching him and saying, “The curly-haired guy—he’s funny looking. Fire him.” Brooks said he would fire the actor, but never intended to actually do it. And when “The Producers” came out, it became a classic in no small part because of that “curly-haired guy” — otherwise known as Gene Wilder. That story is one of many retold about the actor in “Remembering Gene Wilder,” a new documentary about Wilder that, following a run last year on the Jewish film festival ci...

  • Hulu's 'We Were the Lucky Ones' uncovers a Jewish family's buried past under the Nazis

    Shira Li Bartov|Apr 5, 2024

    (JTA) — Georgia Hunter was 15 when she discovered that her grandfather was Jewish. The revelation took place a year after his death, while Hunter was interviewing her grandmother for a school project. “A high school English teacher said, ‘Go out and interview a relative to learn a bit about your roots and in turn about yourselves,’” Hunter told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I sat with my grandmother Caroline and I will never forget that hour I spent with her, sitting in her home and discovering that my grandfather was from this town called...

  • Throughout her career, novelist Charlotte Brontë drew on the Book of Esther

    Mar 29, 2024

    (JNS) — The 19th-century English novelist Charlotte Brontë is best known for her 1847 novel “Jane Eyre,” which is a staple of many U.S. middle and high school curricula. A new journal article addresses a different side of the Victorian writer—her focus throughout her career on Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story. Brontë had “a prolonged intertextual relationship with the ‘Book of Esther’” throughout her career, reaching a peak in her 1853 novel Villette, Channah Damatov, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan Universi...

  • Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: Laughter is the best medicine

    Mar 29, 2024

    The scientific definition of laughing is a “successive, rhythmic, spasmodic expiration with open glottis and vibration of the vocal cords.” That doesn’t begin to tell the story of what laughing does for us. The bottom line is that laughing is medically beneficial. Laughter restores a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. Some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together — the more social a person is, the more social support a person receives. Laughter corresponds to soci...

  • All the Jewish MLB players to watch in 2024

    Jacob Gurvis|Mar 29, 2024

    (JTA) - The 2023 MLB season represented a watershed moment for Jewish players and fans, as a record 19 Jewish players appeared in at least one big league game. That record, topping the previous high of 17 in 2022, is likely to be broken yet again this year. The new season begins in earnest March 28, following a two-game series in Seoul Wednesday and Thursday between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. As Opening Day draws near, there are plenty of Jewish storylines to keep an eye...

  • My traumatic yet joyous homecoming to Israel

    Jonathan Feldstein|Mar 29, 2024

    Coming home to Israel after a trip overseas to anywhere, for any length of time, is always emotional. Choking back tears, in a matter of minutes I see the coast, cities with countless construction sites indicating growth and building for the future, low-lying houses and buildings surrounded by fertile cultivated fields. I anticipate seeing my family and sleeping in my own bed. Touchdown is often greeted with applause. I’ve never landed at any other airport where so many people applaud and get emotional. I’m home. Emotions continue minutes later...

  • The real Jewish history of Lt. Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal, heroic pilot in Apple TV+'s 'Masters of the Air'

    Jacob Gurvis|Mar 29, 2024

    Spoilers ahead for "Part Nine" of "Masters of the Air" on Apple TV+. (JTA) - When Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rosenthal's B-17 bomber aircraft exploded during his final World War II combat mission on Feb. 3, 1945, he found himself in the middle of a battlefield of dueling Russian and German soldiers. Rosenthal was recovered by the Red Army and transported by the Russians back to his Air Force unit, the 100th Bombardment Group, known as "Bloody Hundredth." The scene is dramatized in the final episo...

  • What makes this Purim different?

    Judith Segaloff|Mar 22, 2024

    (JNS) - Before you dress in a green headband or the Jason the Serial Murderer costume, the Ministry of Education is imploring Israeli citizens to think long and hard about how their choices may affect traumatized members of the community. "Everything has changed," says Einav Luke, senior director of the ministry's Psychological Counseling Service. "While it is so important for everyone to continue their lives, and enjoy routines and holidays, this year we also must take the feelings of others...

  • Check out PJ Library for activities, recipes and resources for Passover

    Mar 22, 2024

    From the evening of April 22 to April 30, Jews across the world partake in the annual celebration of Passover, a 3,300-year-old story of freedom and sacrifice, commemorating their liberation from slavery in Egypt. It’s one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the Jewish calendar, and PJ Library, one of the leading resources for Jewish families across North America, offers up dozens of ways to help celebrate, whether you need a refresher on a few traditions, you just want to learn more about the history of the holiday, or you’re cel...

  • Local author's memoir captures the resilience of the human spirit

    Christine DeSouza|Mar 8, 2024

    We don't get to choose when or where we are born. And it isn't until we are much older that we can begin to make our own life choices. In fact, most of our childhoods are spent doing what we are told, trusting those who care for us. Such was Orange City resident Katherine MK Mitchell's life. She was born in Budapest during World War II, and named Katalin Landstein, Kati for short. She was raised along with her brother, Laci, by her mother and grandmother. Her father died in a labor camp and her...

  • Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: When to give up the car keys

    Mar 8, 2024

    There are certain signals that might mean it is time to give up the car keys. Unfortunately, very few seniors pay attention to these signs: • You are nervous behind the wheel. • Your reactions are too slow due to your vision. • You have trouble reading street signs. • You’ve had a near mishap, because you didn’t see a pedestrian, an object or another vehicle. • You get lost easily. • Your hearing has decreased • Your legs no longer work perfectly We suggest you start talking about these issues with your elderly parents as early as possible...

  • IDF reservist flies home in plane's washroom seat

    Mar 8, 2024

    (JNS) - When a 27-year-old Israeli university student vacationing in Thailand on Oct. 7 was determined to fly home to join his military reserve unit, he was given an unusual seat on the sold-out and overbooked El Al flight to Tel Aviv: the plane's restroom. "I felt for the first time that it was a war for our existence, and that we need to be here to protect our country," Itay Kahana recounted in an interview with JNS on Sunday after completing nearly five months of reserve duty. "I had no...

  • Reflections on a JNF-USA volunteer trip in Israel - doing something tangible to help Israelis

    Pam Spalter, First person|Mar 8, 2024

    Sitting in my comfortable environment in the United States, sharing discussions and expressions of upsets over what was happening in Israel left me with a deep pit of helplessness that could not be abated by writing a donation check or attending speakers. Israelis needed to know my unapologetic support, needed to know that we're not looking the other way, needed to see that we're here on their soil, needed to feel our hugs, and know that they're not abandoned or alone. I'm a first generation...

  • The pest in the attic

    Marilyn Shapiro|Mar 8, 2024

    In October, on a miserable, windy, rainy day, Larry and I found a puddle on our kitchen floor. Looking up, we could see water coming from one of our recessed lights. Damn! We called a roofing company the next day. After spending an hour directing a hose onto spots on the roof, the roofer found nothing. “Just call us if it happens again.” It did. On Dec. 23, on another miserable, windy, rainy day, we had to again pull out the buckets to catch the water dripping from the same spot. As promised, the roofer came back free of charge. This time, he...

  • Remembering Ellen Bernstein, 70, the 'birthmother' of Jewish environmentalism

    Shira Dicker|Mar 8, 2024

    (JTA) — On Tuesday, Feb. 27, I was jolted awake at 3:30 a.m., wrestling with unwelcome consciousness until I eventually exhausted or bored myself back to sleep. Three hours later, I awoke to the news that my friend Ellen Bernstein — author, rabbi and the “birthmother of contemporary Jewish environmentalism” — had died in the middle of the night. I would claim that word of her passing, at the too-young age of 70, was shocking but for the fact that the previous day I visited her in the peaceful, homey Philadelphia hospital room where she was r...

  • Jewish teens are looking at a new factor in their college search: antisemitism

    Jacob Gurvis|Mar 1, 2024

    ORLANDO (JTA) — Ethan Smith ranks fifth in his New Jersey high school class, scored high on the SAT and aced a full slate of five Advanced Placement tests last year. On Oct. 1, he submitted his application to a nearby Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania. Six days later, Hamas attacked Israel, launching a war that has been accompanied by a reported spike in antisemitism in the United States — including on college campuses. About two months after that, Penn President Liz Magill told Congress that calling for the genocide of Jew...

  • Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: Transportation options for the elderly

    Mar 1, 2024

    The instinct for many older people is to stay at home as long as possible. Even if a person at home has visitors, he or she may still be alone most of the time, especially if he or she no longer drives. One option is to hire a companion care company to facilitate your transportation needs. Another option is to contact Go Go Grandparent, 855-464-6872 (an Uber service geared toward the elderly). Jewish Family Services, 407-644-7593, offers a RIDE program for medical appointments, etc. There are also public transportation services such as Send a...

  • In new documentary 'God and Country,' Rob Reiner shines a light on Christian nationalism

    Stephen Silver|Mar 1, 2024

    (JTA) — Rob Reiner, best known for his acting role in the 1970s sitcom “All in the Family” and for directing a series of beloved comedies — including “This is Spinal Tap,” “The Princess Bride” and “When Harry Met Sally” — is getting serious in his latest project. “God and Country,” which hits theaters this week, examines what Reiner sees as the troubling rise of Christian nationalism. The Jewish filmmaker produced the documentary, along with his wife Michele and his friend Steve Okin, with Dan Partland as director. The film follows the hist...

  • 'Golda,' biopic about Israeli leader at war, wins top prize

    Toby Axelrod|Mar 1, 2024

    BERLIN (JTA) – Israeli director Guy Nattiv and British actor Helen Mirren have received a Dove Award from the Cinema for Peace Foundation for their joint work in the 2023 biopic, “Golda,” in which Mirren stars as Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel. The film focuses on Meir’s role during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Nattiv and Mirren attended the awards ceremony in Berlin this week, where their prize was presented by 102-year-old Margot Friedlander, one of the oldest remaining Holocaust survivors. The ceremony took place contemp...

  • Heritage writer has a blog to appease her 'inner geek'

    Feb 23, 2024

    This March, Marilyn Shapiro will be celebrating a milestone in her writing career: the tenth anniversary of her blog, There Goes My Heart. Wait! You don't know she has a blog? And if you knew, you have never typed www.theregoesmyheart.me into your browser? Well, you don't know what you have been missing! In 2014, with only about 10 stories published in the Capital Region, New York's The Jewish World, Shapiro decided that she needed a blog as another way to share her stories and to appease her...

  • Jewish music with a country twang

    Lisa Levine|Feb 23, 2024

    Joe Buchanan, a convert to Judaism inspired by the traditions of Americana music and his faith, will be Artist in Residence on March 1 and 2 at Congregation Ohev Shalom. It was just after a harrowing 2011 visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., that Buchanan listened with astonishment as his wife of 13 years, April, revealed something she hadn't yet told him: she was born Jewish because her mother was Jewish. He knew she had been raised in Texas by a Christian father and a...

  • How the internet reacted to the first-ever Super Bowl ad about antisemitism

    Jacob Gurvis|Feb 23, 2024

    (JTA) — Was the first antisemitism-themed ad to air at the Super Bowl tactful or tasteless? How much did it have to do with Israel? And what is “Jewish hate,” anyway? Those are some of the questions that have arisen after the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, the group founded in 2019 by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, placed a 30-second ad during the game titled “Silence” that featured Clarence B. Jones, the longtime advisor and speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr. (The organization also replayed a different ad it produced...

  • Pretty, pretty, pretty good: Final season of 'Curb' debuts anti-hate apparel

    Feb 23, 2024

    (JNS) - "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David is ending a decade-long gig as a "social assassin," making audiences howl with laughter and squirm with embarrassment at the outlandish predicaments he created for the fictionalized version of himself in 11 seasons of the show "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The 12th and reportedly final season debuted on HBO and the streaming platform Max on Sunday. Nine more episodes will run weekly, concluding with the series finale on April 7. The pop-culture site Vulture...

  • Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: Transfer Pants

    Feb 23, 2024

    Transfer Pants are high quality unisex pants designed to move disabled persons safely, easily and comfortably. They have patented handles sewn into the pants and the liner to prevent falls and injuries to mobility challenged individuals. They have been specifically designed with caregivers in mind and have handles on the front, side and back, front zippers, pockets, etc. They are machine washable and durable. Transfer Pants were created by Dr. Rennie O’Brien, a chiropractor in San Francisco who was transferring his 91-year-old mother from a w...

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