The stories that engaged readers the most this year spanned a range of issues. (Shutterstock)
As the year comes to a close, we have compiled the JTA stories that most engaged you, our readers, in the past 12 months — as measured by the time you spent reading them.
The stories you lingered on the longest include takes on the biggest news of the year, like the Charleston church shooting and the out-of-nowhere Democratic presidential bid of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. At the same time, the list includes uniquely Jewish stories, like how an American shtetl was developed and why a rising Conservative rabbi left her New Jersey pulpit for the big sky of Montana.
Here are the top 11, in chronological order.
In Rockland County, non-Orthodox try to create alternative to Hasidic dominance
New Square, an all-Hasidic village in Rockland County, is one of many Orthodox hamlets in the area whose rapid growth has helped fuel Hasidic political power. (Uriel Heilman)
How to build an American shtetl — See: Bloomingburg, N.Y.
Chaim Friedman moved with his wife and two children to Bloomingburg from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Uriel Heilman)
Citing the Talmud, Dr. Ruth questions sexual consent requirements. Is her reading correct?
Producer Karyl Lynn Burns, actor Tom Dugan, producer Daryl Roth and media personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer attend the ‘Wiesenthal, A New Play’ opening night reception at West Bank Cafe on November 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Wiesenthal)
Op-Ed: This is not the Charleston I know
The Rev. John Hage, right, embracing the Rev. Sidney Davis outside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., June 18, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
What shocked a European Jew on his first trip to America
A haredi Jew on the New York subway: ‘The wealth of New York’s Jewish cultural life blew my mind,’ says the author. (Andrew Bayda/Shutterstock)
Rabbi quits N.J. pulpit, finds God and community in Montana
Rabbi Francine Green Roston and her family fell in love with Whitefish, Mont., on their first visit in the summer of 2010. (Uriel Heilman)
Op-Ed: For black Orthodox Jews, constant racism is exhausting
Chava Shervington says the Orthodox Jewish community is beautiful, and better than its racism suggests. (Courtesy: Chava Shervington)
Op-Ed: Faigy Mayer’s suicide is a Jewish tragedy, not just an Orthodox one
Faigy Mayer (Facebook)
Where does Bernie Sanders, the Jewish candidate for president, stand on Israel?
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I, Vt., speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding, August 14, 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
What Obama did and didn’t say about Ezra Schwartz
President Barack Obama listening to reporters’ questions during a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Half of Birthright applicants flunked this Israel test — can you do better?
A group of American Birthright Israel participants visiting the Dead Sea, Israel, July 10, 2015. (Matt Hechter/Flash90)