Monday, June 5th 2023   |

Jews in the News

With 1.6M followers, TikTok influencer Miriam Ezagui teaches the masses about her Orthodox lifestyle


(JTA) — “Hi my name is Miriam,” the video begins. “I’m an Orthodox Jew, and I share what my life is like.” 

So opens a typical TikTok post from Miriam Ezagui, a 37-year-old Brooklyn-based labor and delivery nurse who has amassed 1.6 million followers on the social media platform. Users who make their way to “JewTok,” as the Jewish corner of TikTok is known, have likely encountered...

A Jewish expert on monuments on what Philly’s famous Rocky Balboa statue can teach us about memory


(JTA) — Paul Farber was shocked when he first watched “Rocky” and saw a Star of David on the grave of Rocky Balboa’s coach, Mickey Goldmill.

As a Jew and as the founder of the Philadelphia-based Monument Lab, which has explored collective memory through art installations across the country for over a decade, Farber was well positioned to think about the deeper meaning of that brief shot.


Meet Amichai Chikli, Israel’s new Diaspora minister, who opposes BDS and Reform Judaism


(JTA) – The Israeli ministry responsible for engaging with the half of the world’s Jews who don’t live in Israel has gotten a new name — and a leader who disdains the values of many American Jews.

Amichai Chikli announced during his swearing-in ceremony Monday that his ministry was changing its name from the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and the Struggle Against...

Denver drops drug charges against ‘mushroom rabbi’ who promotes religious psychedelic use


(JTA) — A Denver rabbi who promotes psychedelic use as part of spiritual practice will no longer face prosecution after Coloradans voted last month to legalize psilocybin, the chemical compound found in psychedelic mushrooms.

Denver’s district attorney’s office announced last week that it was dropping charges against Ben Gorelick, the founder of  Sacred Tribe, a multifaith community that integrates psilocybin use and ideas rooted in Jewish tradition....

A first kiss, then marriage: Two rabbis-to-be tie the knot at a fun-filled California wedding


(JTA) — Zoe Dressner and Margeaux Wolberg had just one month free between graduating from college and when they were due in Jerusalem to begin rabbinical school. So, they figured, in addition to packing, finding an apartment and nailing down the logistics of a 6,000-mile move, why not get married?

At 23 and 22, respectively, the women are much younger than the average college-educated brides — but the...

Eating grasshoppers for Israel: On the bus with the army of pro-Israel TikTok influencers


(JTA) — A group of fired-up 20-somethings crush together in the aisle of the bus, singing at the top of their lungs, “WE’RE GOING ON A FIELD TRIP!,” while pouting for the dozen or so iPhones set to selfie mode.

It’s 7 a.m. and far too early for this level of pep. But pep is the name of the game in the influencer business, and this group...

Ex-Hasid who advised ‘Unorthodox’ comes out as trans while translating children’s sexuality guide into Yiddish


(JTA) — Among the most challenging decisions Lili Rosen had to make while translating a children’s book about sexuality into Yiddish was what name to put on the cover.

When Rosen began work on “You Be You” in March 2020, she wasn’t yet Lili. She had a long resume of translation and cultural consulting work, including on the Netflix hit show “Unorthodox” and Seth Rogen’s “An American...

‘Quite simply a mensch’: Meet Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, freed after hostage crisis at his synagogue


(JTA) — Over the course of a harrowing 12 hours on Saturday, the entire world found out just what the Jews of Colleyville, Texas, think of their hometown rabbi.

“Our rabbi is a wonderful human being,” Ellen Smith, who grew up at Congregation Beth Israel, said about Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker during an online vigil while he was being held hostage inside the synagogue building.

Cytron-Walker was leading...

In a big year for his family, Doug Emhoff picks putting mezuzah on VP house as a top memory


(JTA) — When Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, picked a favorite memory from the last year for a reflective Thanksgiving-themed tweet on Thursday, he didn’t turn to the day in January when his wife was sworn in or mention their first diplomatic trip together this week.

Instead, he shared pictures from the day his family affixed a mezuzah on the doorframe of the...

The new chair of Yad Vashem wants to build a ‘firewall’ between politics and Holocaust remembrance. Can he?


(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — For much of its history, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust authority, tried to steer clear of political controversies as it went about creating a lasting memorial and research center dedicated to the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews.

That changed abruptly last year, when then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tapped Effi Eitam, a former general and far-right politician, as Yad Vashem’s first...