orthodox jews

Bodies of 7 Children Killed in NYC ‘Hotplate’ Fire Arrive in Israel

Mourners attend the funeral for seven children killed in a Brooklyn fire in New

Mourners attend the funeral for seven children killed in a Brooklyn fire in New York on March 22. Image via RNS/Reuters.

The bodies of seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family who died in a fire in their home in Brooklyn have arrived in Israel for burial, Israeli network Arutz Sheva, and The Associated Press reported March 23.

Funeral services for the four boys and three girls of the Sassoon family, ages 5 to 16, were held in Brooklyn on March 22, before their bodies were flown to Israel.

The family lived in Jerusalem, where the children are to be buried, before moving to the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn two years ago. A friend said the family had planned to return to Israel to live.

Authorities identified the victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5. All were found in upstairs bedrooms of the two-story, brick-and-wood, single-family home after the blaze — the city’s deadliest fire since 2007 — was reported early March 21.

Their 45-year-old mother, Gayle, a Brooklyn native, and 14-year-old sister, Tzipara, who jumped from a second-story window, remained in critical condition.

U.S. Jews Diverge on Israel: Strong Ties Despite Disagreements

Members and supporters of Women of the Wall pray with prayer shawls at the Western Wall. RNS photo by Michele Chabin.

Where once it seemed that uncritical devotion to Israel was the norm for U.S Jews, that Zionism and Judaism were hand-in-glove, new research finds that’s not the case today — if it ever was.

The Pew Research Center’s newly released, comprehensive Portrait of Jewish Americans not only delved into myriad ways people identify as Jews, it also probed their emotional connection and their theological and political ideas about the Jewish state.

Yeshiva Hit with $380 Million Abuse Lawsuit

Photo courtesy RNS/Wikimedia Commons.

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm. Photo courtesy RNS/Wikimedia Commons.

Nineteen former students of a high school run by Yeshiva University, the flagship school of Orthodox Judaism, have filed a $380 million federal lawsuit over what they claim are hundreds of acts of abuse by two rabbis in the 1970s and 1980s.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., follows the resignation of Rabbi Norman Lamm, the chancellor and head of the Yeshiva seminary. In his resignation letter, the 85-year-old Lamm, who was president of the university when the abuse took place, said he was doing penance for mishandling allegations against staff members.

The 148-page lawsuit accused Lamm and various other Yeshiva officials, trustees, board members, and faculty of a “massive cover-up of the sexual abuse of students” at a university-run high school.

Orthodox Jews to Observe July Fourth Without Music

Photo courtesy RNS/Rijksmuseum.

Rembrandt’s “Jeremiah” painting. Photo courtesy RNS/Rijksmuseum.

The soundtrack for a lot of Orthodox Jews this Fourth of July will be the mute button.

As music gallantly streams at barbecues and fireworks displays across the nation, many Orthodox Jews will silence their TVs and avoid live music performances, such as the annual Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade Hatch Shell.

As it does every three years or so, Independence Day falls during a three-week Jewish mourning period, circumscribed by two fast days: the 17th of Tammuz, which falls on June 25 and Tisha B’Av, which falls on July 16.

New York City Sues Orthodox Shops Over Dress Codes

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are a fast-growing population in New York City. Photo courtesy SVLuma/shutterstock.com

The New York City Commissionon Human Rights is suing ultra-Orthodox Jewish business owners in Brooklyn because they posted signs calling on customers to dress modestly in their stores. 

The commission said the owners, whose businesses are located in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, violated human rights law with signs that read: “No shorts, no barefoot, no sleeveless, no low-cut neckline allowed in this store.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jews practice a strict form of Judaism; men, women and older children are expected to wear clothes that cover their arms, legs and necklines.

Breaking the Chains of Religious Tradition

RNS photo by Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger

Fraidy Reiss of Westfield. RNS photo by Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger

Where I come from, girls are married off as teenagers to men they barely know and are expected to spend their lives caring for their husband and children. They are required to cover their hair and nearly every inch of their skin, and to remain behind a curtain at parties and religious events.

Where I come from, if a woman wants to feel her hair blow in the wind or wear jeans or attend college, the courts have the authority to take her children away from her.

Where I come from, you might be surprised to learn, is the United States. Specifically, New York and then New Jersey, in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Passover Prep Takes Spring Cleaning to a Whole New Level

Photo by David Silverman/Newsmaker

Ultra-Orthodox Jews rinse kitchenware in steaming, boiling water to make it kosher. Photo by David Silverman/Newsmaker

During the month leading up to Passover, which this year begins April 6 at sundown, Chevy Weiss, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother with five kids and a demanding career, scrubs and vacuums almost everything in her Baltimore home.

In keeping with their strict interpretation of Jewish law, which forbids Jews from possessing and consuming chametz (fermented grains) during the eight-day festival, Weiss and her husband, Yoel, clean every one of their five children's toys by hand, with bleach.
While some families clean items in a washing machine, "we wash every piece of Lego individually, like my mother did," said Weiss, a 39-year-old political consultant. "We vacuum every single pocket on every jacket. And we spend significant time with toothpicks getting into cracks of tables and chairs that have been around food." 
Like other Orthodox families, the Weiss's also purchase chametz-free toiletries, makeup and cleaning supplies for use during the holiday.