A Daughter’s Tribute to Shimon ben Shraga

I recently finished The Watchmaker's Daughter, a sensitive  and touching memoir by Sonia Taitz. Taitz grew up as the child of Holocaust survivors in Washington Heights, New York City, where my husband and I also lived for a time. It turns out that we attended the same synagogue as her … [Read more...]

Is Cohen a Good First Name for a Jewish Boy?

A while back I wrote a post about the up-and-coming baby name Cohen. A reader writes: I've been reading your baby name blog and it has been so helpful!  We just had a baby boy last year who we considered naming Cohen and ultimately decided not to because it might be offensive to some.  We are … [Read more...]

Open Letter: Save My Nieces from Lev Tahor Abuse

The following update was sent to me by Oded Twik, whose sister's family is part of the extreme hassidic group of Lev Tahor. Please Save My Nieces from Lev Tahor Abuse: An Open Letter to Canada By Oded Twik On May 29, 2014, a family court in Ontario will decide the fate of my two oldest nieces, … [Read more...]

Exclusive: Squalid, Dangerous Conditions of Lev Tahor Children in Guatemala

For an update, see Save My Nieces from Lev Tahor Abuse. Statement by Oded Twik on Behalf of All Family Members of Lev Tahor in Israel: I, Oded Twik, recently visited my sister, a member of Lev Tahor, in Guatemala. The following is based on my first-hand observations, which are outlined in the … [Read more...]

Why Do People Still Believe Moti Elon is Innocent?

In 2010, well-known religious Zionist rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon was accused by the religious forum Takana of forcible sexual acts on young men who approached him for counseling. Last December, Elon was convicted and sentenced to six months of community service. It's hard to imagine the shock … [Read more...]

Things We Did Not Learn in Ulpana

On Facebook, Tiferet Shaham wrote an open letter about sexuality for graduates of religious high schools in Israel. She hopes it will be beneficial to both men and women, secular and religious. Below is my summary in English. Open Letter to Young Girls and Women on Positive Sexuality, or How to … [Read more...]

Israeli Baby Name Help, February 2014

Several readers asked recently for baby name advice and suggestions: Anonymous #1: We don't know the sex yet, but trying to at least come up with a few choices for each so we're not scrambling... Opinions/popularity (and among which 'group') for: Eden Alma, or Alma Eden? Our last name is … [Read more...]

Book Giveaway: Retirement GPS

My brother-in-law, Aaron Katsman, published a book called Retirement GPS: How to Navigate a Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. He is offering a giveaway to a lucky reader. I asked him why the book would be relevant to Israeli readers. He replied that the suggestions in Retirement GPS … [Read more...]

Ex-Lev Tahor Members Tell of Abuse, Expulsion, Teen Marriage

The extremist Jewish group Lev Tahor has made it back into the news. The group is led by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, who was convicted for kidnapping in New York in 1994 and jailed for two years. Nathan Helbrans, son of Shlomo, left the group last year after reporting that his resistance to orders … [Read more...]

20 Top Israeli Baby Boy Names for 2012

The Central Bureau for Statistics recently published the top Israeli names in each sector for 2013. Today I'll review the top boys' names. See yesterday's post for the most popular Israeli girls' names. The list is similar to the list for 2010, except that Nehorai and Guy have been replaced by … [Read more...]