EMPATHY WITHOUT BORDERS: The Baltimore Jewish Times profiles Susan Retik, a Boston woman who lost her husband on 9/11 and co-founded a charity to help widows in Afghanistan. “I just wanted to reach out to Afghan women, just like the world reached out to me after 9/11,” she says. “I was shocked to learn how difficult life is for women in Afghanistan, especially widows.”
PERILS AND PARALLELS: The New York Jewish Week’s Gary Rosenblatt recounts what it was like editing a Jewish newspaper in New York on 9/11 and revisits the controversy over his paper’s decision to stress the tragedy’s parallels with Israel’s experience of terrorism. “It’s difficult to say now if our perspective that awful day was overly connected to Israel’s plight,” he writes. “At the time it certainly felt like an appropriate angle for The Jewish Week, particularly in terms of our niche, and of world events. But I can better understand today the view of critics who thought we were too parochial.”
HAPPY HOMECOMING: Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent welcomes back a 24-year-old Army officer who has just returned home from his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
GOING TO EXTREMES: The English Defence League — whose anti-Islam demonstrations often degenerate into violence and which is often accused of extremism — named a new leader for its tiny Jewish division, complaining that the Jewish division’s previous leadership had aligned itself with “extreme elements.” Britain’s Jewish Chronicle reports having previously found the Jewish division to number only a dozen people, most of them non-Jews. The paper also reported that an EDL leader recently showed up to an East London demonstration disguised as a haredi rabbi.
THIS BLOWS: Some 25 blowhards recently got together in the San Fernando Valley at an event titled “Shofaron for Master Blasters” to swap tips before the High Holidays. “With the shofar, you can do it in a plain fashion or you can do it in a grand fashion,” Alan Abelson told the L.A. Jewish Journal. “It’s all kosher.”
TEMPLE TACOS, PEW PETS, DRUM DAVENING: Bay Area synagogues know how to pack the pews. San Francisco’s J. newsweekly reports on one local shul that invites in pets one Shabbat a year, another that has monthly drumming and singing services, and a third that has a taco truck parked outside one Friday night a month. “A lot of people come when we do the taco truck, and it’s a good way for people to connect and meet each other,” said Rabbi Ryan Bauer of San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-El. (Just imagine how popular the shul would be if they invited a Chinese food truck!)
CHEERING TEXAN TWINS: The NFL’s Houston Texans cheering squad now has two Jews — and they happen to be twin sisters, Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice reports. “We both know medicine is our ultimate career of choice, but this is pretty sweet right now,” says Michelle Lewis, who like her sister Rachel is a pre-med student.
SUSHI MEETS LOX: Seattle’s Jewish Transcript speaks with Yoshiji Hirose, a Japanese academic who fell in love with Yiddish literature and Jewish culture. “Japan is a big shtetl,” he says, by way of noting some cultural similarities. “We live on a very small island, so we stick together. And attachment to family and tradition is very important.”
A MIXED MARRIAGE?: St. Louis’ Reform and Conservative day schools are moving toward a merger, the St. Louis Jewish Light reports.