February 14th, 2013
05:03 AM ET
By Sara Sidner, CNN
(CNN) - Anat Hoffman had no idea who comedian Sarah Silverman was until Silverman's sister and niece were detained with her Sunday in Jerusalem for wearing prayer shawls as they prayed at the Western Wall.
Police detained 10 women for "performing a religious act contrary to the local customs." The group of women, who call themselves the Women of the Wall, went to pray in Jewish shawls known as tallitot that Israeli law says only Jewish men can wear there.FULL STORY
February 7th, 2013
05:17 AM ET
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel put religious studies over military duties. CNN's Sara Sidner reports.
February 5th, 2013
05:53 AM ET
By Chika Oduah, for CNN
Abuja, Nigeria (CNN) – A Shabbat service is underway at the Ghihon Hebrew Research synagogue in the Jikwoyi suburb of Nigeria's federal capital territory.
Fourteen year-old Kadmiel Izungu Abor heads there with his family. They walk alongside stray goats on a road covered in red dust and potholes, lined with open sewage. They are nearly 20 kilometers away from the modern multi-story office buildings and sprawling mansions in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja.
About 50 people gather in the synagogue. They pray from the Siddur, they read from the Torah and as they chant, Abor's mellow alto begins to rise.
In a country of 162 million people tensions often lead to violent uprisings between Christians and Muslims and being part of the religious minority can be an issue. But Abor wears his kippah and his identity with pride.
"I am a Jewish Igbo," he says.FULL STORY
January 30th, 2013
04:49 AM ET
By Susannah Cullinane, CNN
London (CNN) - Rupert Murdoch has apologized for a "grotesque, offensive" cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published in Britain's Sunday Times.
The cartoon by Gerald Scarfe depicts Netanyahu atop an incomplete brick wall with screaming Palestinians and body parts in the mortar. Netanyahu is holding what appears to be a bloody builder's trowel and the wall's mortar is colored red. The wording beneath reads: "Israeli Elections, Will Cementing Peace Continue?"
The cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday and prompted complaints that it was anti-Semitic and insensitive.FULL STORY
January 26th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
Editor's note: Arri Eisen, PhD., is professor of pedagogy at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, Department of Biology and Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. Carlton D. Mackey, who took the accompanying photographs, is the director of the Ethics & the Arts Initiative at the Emory University Center for Ethics.
By Arri Eisen, Special to CNN
Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Monday, Barack Obama was inaugurated president for the second time.
This was one of the few glimmers of hope held up by many of the Palestinians I met with at the turn of the year in the West Bank: “Who would have thought in Martin Luther King’s day that you would now have a black president? If that can happen in the U.S., then maybe one day there can be peace here.”
I spent 10 days in Jordan, Israel and the occupied territories on a “journey of reconciliation” my university sponsored, with a dozen other Americans — I the only Jew among them — meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. FULL POST
January 7th, 2013
12:33 PM ET
By Kevin Bohn, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Senior members of the White House staff called key American Jewish interest groups on Sunday to tell them about the impending nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary and to try to answer their concerns about his record, several sources familiar with the calls told CNN.
One of the call recipients, who generally supports the nomination, who requested anonymity to freely discuss his call, told CNN the outreach shows "not only there is some concern, but the White House takes the concern seriously and wants to have the very conversation at the highest levels of the White House."
Officials are hoping the outreach will help lesson the intensity of any opposition.
Among the officials who made the calls was White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, several sources familiar with the outreach told CNN, signifying the importance of the Jewish community to the White House as it proceeds with the Hagel pick. Lew is one of the more prominent Jews in the Obama administration.FULL STORY
December 30th, 2012
09:40 AM ET
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
December 26th, 2012
12:04 PM ET
By Dan Merica and Eric Weisbrod, CNN
Since that time, he has produced new music – including a recently released album, "Spark Seeker" – and is ready to stop talking about his big change. Of course, we asked him about it anyway.
In his view, it was his decision to get into Hasidism and it was his decision to get out.
The beardless, but still scruffy, artist is touring the country with a show that included lighting a menorah during Hanukkah. We caught up with him in Washington to talk about his album, his new take on Judaism and how his life has changed in the last year.
The following is an edited transcript of our conversation. FULL POST
December 13th, 2012
02:48 AM ET
By Rande Iaboni and Marina Carver, CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) - New York police have arrested a man for throwing a chemical, believed to be bleach, on a rabbi who advocates for sexual abuse victims.
Meilech Schnitzler, 36, turned himself in to police Wednesday and was charged with assault, menacing, criminal mischief, and criminal possession of a weapon.
He is accused of attacking Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in Brooklyn's tightknit Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg on Tuesday.
Schnitzler allegedly threw a chemical on Rosenberg's face, causing his eyes and face to burn.
Rosenberg runs a website and telephone call-in line that publicizes claims of sexual abuse in the Hasidic community, and he believes this attack was an attempt to "silence" him, according to Abe George, the rabbi's attorney.
December 12th, 2012
01:02 PM ET
By Rande Iaboni, CNN
New York (CNN) – An outspoken advocate for child sexual abuse victims in a tightknit Orthodox Jewish neighborhood was assaulted this week when a chemical he believes to be bleach was thrown in his face, according to his attorney.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg was walking the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg on Tuesday when a man threw the chemical on his face, causing his eyes and face to burn, said Abe George, the rabbi's attorney.
The assault happened a day after the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, a prominent community member in the conservative Satmar Hasidic community, was found guilty of sexually abusing a girl over a period of three years.
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 and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.