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With fake name revealed, top rabbi faces heat
Rabbi Michael Broyde, a high-profile Jewish and legal scholar based at Emory Unversity, has apologized for deception.
April 16th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

With fake name revealed, top rabbi faces heat

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) – A top-tier rabbi and expert in Jewish law and ethics is now under the microscope for what many see as his own ethical transgressions.

Rabbi Michael Broyde was outed last week for having created a fake identity that he reportedly used for about two decades.

Broyde has long served on America’s highest Modern Orthodox rabbinical court and was said to be a finalist to become the next chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Ethics • Judaism

Fake bishop busted and booted from Vatican
Ralph Napierski, left, sidles up, shakes hands and smiles with Cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana -- before getting the Vatican boot.
March 5th, 2013
01:57 PM ET

Fake bishop busted and booted from Vatican

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) – Move over, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the Virginia ex-couple who famously – or infamously – crashed President Obama’s first White House state dinner. There’s a new impostor posing with dignitaries, and he set his sights on an even more coveted gathering.

Meet Ralph Napierski, a German self-declared bishop who reportedly called himself “Basilius,” said he was with the nonexistent “Italian Orthodox Church” and set out to infiltrate a Monday meeting of cardinals at the Vatican.

The fake bishop donned a purple sash (really a scarf) over his vestments and mingled with cardinals and others who’d flown in from around the globe ahead of the conclave to pick a new pope. He smiled wide and posed for cameras while shaking hands with Cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana. He tried to blend in. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Catholic Church • Vatican

Before he's a man, bar mitzvah boy goes viral
Daniel Blumen of Atlanta offers a fresh take on the bar mitzvah save-the-date announcement.
February 21st, 2013
09:31 AM ET

Before he's a man, bar mitzvah boy goes viral

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) – According to Jewish tradition, a boy becomes a man at 13, when he's called before his community to read from the Torah and become a bar mitzvah, meaning “son of the commandments.”

In the case of Daniel Blumen, who will make this rite of passage in May, this homestretch of childhood has suddenly become a viral event.

Rather than send out simple save-the-date cards or e-mail announcements, Daniel busted out and did something different. A fan of rap music, this only child and “clever little guy,” as described by his father, made a music video – for which he wrote most of his own lyrics – playing off Jermaine Dupri's “Welcome to Atlanta," featuring Ludacris. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Culture wars • Faith Now • Georgia • Internet • Judaism • Media

Decades-long fight for Jewish freedom remembered
While Jews struggled to leave the Soviet Union for Israel and the West, American activists joined in the human rights battle.
December 30th, 2012
09:40 AM ET

Decades-long fight for Jewish freedom remembered

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

If asked to name the monumental chapters in Jewish history over the past century, people are likely to name the Holocaust or the founding of the state of Israel.

Overlooked and largely unknown, especially among younger generations, is a tale that spanned decades and transcended politics, people and places.

It is the story of a campaign that began in the 1960s and demanded freedom of religion, speech and movement for Soviet Jews – and, by extension, others – who lived behind the Iron Curtain. A new group that wants the Soviet Jewry movement remembered says it belongs in history books, not just Jewish books, and can be a model for confronting human rights abuses that exist now.

Even from the early days, this was a movement that spoke to a broader audience. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Foreign policy • History • Immigration • Israel • Judaism • Persecution • Russia

Healing after the election
November 13th, 2012
09:29 AM ET

Religious and spiritual leaders on moving past a divisive election

(CNN)–As the nation winds down after a hard-fought and divisive election season, what needs to happen to heal our country? What have we learned? What can we hope for as we move forward?

We reached out to religious leaders and spiritual thinkers to get their perspectives. Here are excerpts of what they wrote in response.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Faith Now • Leaders • United States

What would a Mormon White House look like?
If Mitt Romney is elected president, the White House will likely see some new traditions.
November 2nd, 2012
11:00 PM ET

What would a Mormon White House look like?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Should Mitt Romney win the presidency next Tuesday, it will mark an historic first: a Mormon couple moving into the White House.

What would this mean and look like?

Would there be “dry” state dinners, since faithful Mormons don’t do alcohol? Would Secret Service tag along to sacred ceremonies only open to worthy church members? What book would a President Mitt Romney use to take his oath of office?

FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • DC • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

The making of Mitt Romney: A look at his faith journey
After an invocation by a Latter-day Saint at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted the nomination.
October 27th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

The making of Mitt Romney: A look at his faith journey

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story ran last year, as part of a series about the faith lives of the leading Republican presidential candidates. With the exception of an August interview done by CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,”  which airs  Sunday, October 28, and Saturday, November 3, at 8 p.m. ET on CNN, all other interviews were conducted in the fall of 2011. CNN has also profiled President Obama’s faith life during his time in the White House.

 (CNN) – A cop arrived at the roadside wreckage of a June 1968 head-on collision in southern France, took one quick look at the Citroën’s unresponsive driver and scrawled into the young man’s American passport, “Il est mort” - “He is dead.”

The man at the Citroën’s wheel was Mitt Romney, who may have appeared dead but was very much alive – as is his hope to become the next president of the United States.

Romney was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, when tragedy struck. It was a time of turmoil both in France and in the United States. Protests against the Vietnam War raged on, as did French disdain for Americans. Robert Kennedy had recently been assassinated, as had Martin Luther King Jr. a couple months earlier. France was still reeling from a May marked by riots, student demonstrations and crippling worker strikes. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Faith Now • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics • United States

Faces of discrimination
October 13th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Shining light on Emory school's past anti-Semitism prompts healing – and, for one man, questions

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) – Sixteen years after Susan Shulman Tessel lost her father, she sat on a Southern college campus Wednesday night and couldn't stop thinking about him. Surrounded by hundreds in a packed ballroom, she cried because he was missing. He should have been there with her and her mother. He deserved to be.

The late Irving Shulman was the only Jewish man to enter Emory University’s School of Dentistry in 1948. That was the same year someone else came to the school: the newly appointed dean, John E. Buhler.

After one academic year, Shulman flunked out. Buhler stayed on for 13 years, leading what some Jewish students would refer to as a “reign of terror.” Between 1948 and 1961, when Buhler left, 65% of Jewish students either failed out or were forced to repeat up to two years of coursework in the four-year program. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Discrimination • Education • Judaism • Prejudice

Emory University owns up to dental school’s anti-Semitic history and offers regrets
From 1948 to 1961, research and newly shared personal stories revealed anti-Jewish bias at the Emory School of Dentistry.
October 10th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Emory University owns up to dental school’s anti-Semitic history and offers regrets

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Nearly 60 years after he was told he wasn’t good enough to be a dentist, retired orthodontist Art Burns is about to get the apology he deserves.

Burns, of Jacksonville, Florida, is one of many Jewish men who were dubbed failures by the now-defunct Emory School of Dentistry in Atlanta between 1948 and 1961. Though the university never admitted discrimination by the school’s then-dean and faculty, research by the Anti-Defamation League showed that 65% of the Jewish students at that time either flunked out or were forced to repeat coursework up to a year of it in order to stay.

“I was kicked out in 1953,” said Burns, who at 80 can still quote from the letter he received with the news: “Our staff is concerned that you don’t have the manual skills.”

FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Discrimination • Education • Judaism

Surprise Mormon announcement could open doors for more women missionaries
Now allowed to serve missions at 19, more young LDS Church women will likely take part.
October 9th, 2012
03:09 PM ET

Surprise Mormon announcement could open doors for more women missionaries

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Big news broke in the Mormon world this weekend, when the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a lowered minimum age requirement for missionary service, most notably for women.

Women can now go out in the field to serve their church at 19, instead of 21. Though this may not seem monumental to outsiders,  some Mormons say it's a game-changing moment that may rewrite women's futures and even influence broader dynamics within the LDS Church community.

“The narrative of young women has been that marriage trumps everything else as your most important spiritual pursuit,” explained Joanna Brooks, scholar, blogger and author of “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith.” This shift “signals a reorganizing of expectations for women’s lives. … It changes the storyline.”

FULL POST


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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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