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is JTA's senior writer and former managing editor. Follow him on Twitter at @urielheilman.

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  • Obama, Elvis and 5 other famous Shabbos goys

    These guys in Queens may be the world’s proudest Shabbos goys, but they’re hardly the most well-known ones. Here are a few of the more famous non-Jews who have helped religious Jews skirt Sabbath restrictions by performing such forbidden acts as turning off lights or flipping on the A/C. Elvis Presley Harold Fruchter, a singer and…

  • These may be America’s proudest Shabbos goys

    NEW YORK (JTA) – For Samir Patel, the term “goy” is no slur. It’s a point of pride. Patel is a manager of Suhag Wine & Liquors, a family-owned business in the heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills, in Queens. He’s a Hindu immigrant from India, but the vast majority of his customers are religious Jews,…

  • To understand American Jews who support Trump, read this

    NEW YORK (JTA) – America’s political system is broken, and the last thing the country needs is another career politician at the helm. With money more than ever a corrupting influence in politics, the White House should be occupied by someone who isn’t beholden to well-funded lobbyists or super PACs. Politicians have a real problem…

  • Schmear campaign: Baking a perfect bagel in Utah

    SALT LAKE CITY (JTA) – When Robb Abrams first moved to this mountain city from the New York area six years ago, he loved the idea of living in an outdoorsman’s paradise. But there was one thing in particular he found very troubling: He couldn’t find a decent bagel anywhere. What began as a casual hunt…

  • HotMat, new Shabbat hotplate, offers design and safety appeal

    NEW YORK (JTA) — First there was KosherLamp, the bedside light that could be turned on and off on the Sabbath. Then came KosherSwitch, the controversial toggle that allows users to control lights and other electronic appliances on Shabbat. Now there’s HotMat, a new foldable hotplate designed to give observant Jewish consumers a safe, portable and…

  • Meet the ‘Jewish Batman’ who saved the KKK from an Anaheim mob

    (JTA) – Is Brian Levin a hero? It depends who you ask. For three long minutes on Saturday, Levin was all that stood between an angry, violent mob and some Ku Klux Klan demonstrators in Anaheim, California, in Levin’s retelling of the episode. A former New York Police Department officer who is now director of…

  • With 75% non-Jewish students, Utah’s Jewish school seeks to universalize Judaism

    SALT LAKE CITY (JTA) – It’s Friday afternoon at the McGillis School in Salt Lake City, and students from the third through fifth grades are gathered for the weekly Shabbat celebration. They read and discuss a passage about humility by former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Then a blond girl with braided hair prepares to…

  • Ramah camps a bright spot for Conservative movement, but 9 of 10 kids don’t go

    WINGDALE, N.Y. (JTA) – The sky is clearing after a damp morning at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and kids are emerging from their cluttered bunks. An impromptu Frisbee game breaks out on the lawn, while down by the lake a counselor prepares the water trampoline and surf kayaks. On the other side of the 200-acre…

  • Brian Hendler, longtime JTA photographer, dies

    (JTA) — Award-winning photographer Brian Hendler, who served for many years as JTA’s staff photographer in Israel, has died. Hendler, a South African immigrant to Jerusalem, died suddenly on Wednesday at 63, according to The Jerusalem Post, one of the many news outlets for which Hendler worked. The report did not offer any information on…

  • For Jewish Mormons, hybrid identity seen as no contradiction

    SALT LAKE CITY (JTA) – Phyllis Miller’s experience growing up in Southern California wasn’t much different from that of many American Jews. The product of an intermarriage — her mother wasn’t Jewish but later converted — Miller’s family attended synagogue occasionally, kept the kids home from school on the High Holidays and ate matzah on Passover….