The Wall Street Synagogue, 47 Beekman St., New York City, is hosting a once-in-a-generation event---Blessing of the Sun---Birchas HaChama in Hebrew---on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, after sunrise at approximately 7:30 a.m. 

It will be held on the 17th-story penthouse deck of an institutional structure adjacent to the synagogue. And it will be dedicated as a memorial to the tragically lost World Trade Center whose 110th-story observation deck was the site of the synagogue's last celebration in 1981.

The basic text of the blessing gives thanks to the Creator for calling the universe, its stars and planets into existence.  It is open to the public at no charge as are all rituals of the day.  The sun blessing will be followed by the Siyum service for the first-born and then by the public burning of "chametz"---remainders of leavened grain--symbolically destroyed to show their use is prohibited during Passover.

For information call (212) 227-7800 extension 17 and to leave a messsage (212) 227-7543.

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        New York Jews Host Tour for Amish

NEW YORK AP (April 1) -- The city's ultra-Orthodox Jews took the Pennsylvania Amish on a walking tour of their world Tuesday, saying their communities are naturally drawn to each other with a commitment to simpler lifestyles.

"It's reinforcing to the Amish community to see us Jews living the way the Bible says Jews are supposed to live, and have lived since the time of Moses and Abraham," said Yisroel Ber Kaplan, program director for the Chassidic Discovery Center in Brooklyn. "The Amish are also living their lives as the Bible speaks to them."

Dozens of Amish residents from Lancaster County, Pa., toured a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn's Crown Heights to learn more about their culture.

Rabbi Beryl Epstein called the experience "living Judaism."

The neighborhood is home to an ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher sect born about 200 years ago in Russia.

Today's Lubavitchers wear the black hats and beards of their 18th-century forebears, speak Yiddish and refrain from turning on electricity or driving cars on the Sabbath.

The Amish get around in a horse and buggy, living off the land.

However, both groups use one modern amenity ó cell phones that kept ringing as they wandered through Crown Heights. And Hasids ironically operate the famed B&H electronics retail store in Manhattan that serves customers from around the world.

At a workshop where a young man was touching up a Torah, a scroll of the holiest Jewish writings, Epstein told the group how a Jew in wartime Germany had rescued the sacred scroll by wrapping it around his midriff under his clothes as he fled to safety.

The Amish listened, commenting to one another in Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of the German of their ancestors.

When Epstein, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., had first greeted the Amish with the Yiddish "Zei gazunt!" ó "be healthy" ó they understood. After all, the expression is derived from the German word "sei gesund."

As the two groups walked side by side on Brooklyn streets, Crown Heights residents did double-takes; the Amish could be mistaken for Lubavitchers at a quick glance. But their hats are more square and their ruddy complexions from working outdoors contrast with the pale faces of the studious, urban Lubavitchers.

Hasidic children in Crown Heights begin their formal schooling at age 3, and by age 5 are studying many hours a day. At the headquarters on Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway each day, dozens of men gather to pore over religious books, with little boys dashing around as their fathers fervently debate fine points of the texts ó sometimes sounding more like spirited poker players than religious faithful.

John Lapp and his wife, Priscilla, brought their three children on the tour. John Lapp said the ties to the communities might be more surface than substance.

"In some things we are alike, like our clothing and our traditional beliefs," he said. Priscilla Lapp added, "And in some things we are not. The biggest thing is that Jesus is our savior."

The groups also toured a Jewish library and a "matzo factory," where round, unleavened bread was being made for the Passover holiday.

There, a cross-cultural misunderstanding caused one of the Jewish men to look at the Amish, and ask, repeatedly, "Are you from Uzbekistan?"

An Amish man, also confused, asked, "Afghanistan?"

Finally, as they were leaving, another Amish man announced to the matzo-makers: "We're from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania!"

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The following is an edited version of tips I received by e-mail. It is for you to enjoy and follow for what I believe will be a happier, healthier and more enjoyable life.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile and breathe deeply. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement: "My purpose is to today."

4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, walnuts, almonds, apples and avocados.

6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

7. Donít waste your precious energy on gossip, issues of the past, negative thoughts ot things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment, things you can control.

8. Eat breakfast like a king/queen, lunch like a prince/princess and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out credit card.

9. Life isnít always fair, but itís still good.

10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone!!

11. Donít take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

12. You donít have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

13. Make peace with your past so it wonít spoil your future.

14. Donít compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

17. Forgive everyone for everything. ALWAYS!!

18. What other people think of you is none of your business.

19. However good or bad a situation is, it will change and then change again, often for the better.

20. Your job wonít take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch!

21. Envy is a total waste of time. You already have all you need.

22. Each night before you go to bed, complete the following statements: "I am thankful for being alive. I accomplished today."

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Israeli Tennis Star Given Visa for Dubai Tournament - 2/19/09
The JIA is delighted that due to the pressure by us and many other organizations, the United Arab Emirates has agreed to give Israeli tennis star Andy Ram ďspecial permissionĒ  to enter the country and play in the Dubai Championships.

Unfortunately, this comes after Israeli womenís tennis star Shahar Peer was banned from the Persian Gulf country last week and was unable to participate in the tournament. Tennis governing officials warned that future tennis events could be in jeopardy if the UAE, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, continued to ban Israelis, or others because of their country of origin and/or religion.


Jewish Standard - 12/10/08

David Gergory, 38, has been named the permanent new host of NBC's "Meet the Press." The appointment was not a surprise. Gregory had been the favorite since his mentor, NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert, died unexpectedly last June. Russert hosted "Meet the Press since 1991.

A native of Los Angeles, Gregory is the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. He was raised Jewish, but fell away from practice until recently. Encouraged by his non-Jewish wife, he was become more observant over the last 18 months, studying Jewish texts with a Rabbi and not working on Yum Kippur.
He told Washington Jewish Week, "What I decided was that what mattered to me was not just a sense of actual knowledge or attending High Holiday services, it was to understand how to live Jewishly...and find daily meaning in Judaism...Shabbat has become a lot more important to me as a way to stop and think about what matters most to me...what kind of father and husband I want to be...a bedtime Sh'ma with my children is a way to model Judaism for them and create a Jewish narrative in their lives that's not just obligatory...I was born into a tradition. Who am I to let it slip through my fingers?"

Other Jewish journalists who hosted "Meet the Press" include Lawrence E. Spivak, Marvin Kalb and Chris Wallace. Spivak co-created the show in 1945 and was its producer until 1975.  He was the host from 1966 to 1975. Kalb and Wallacew had shorter stints in the '80s.