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Carol Ascher


I had been living in the hills above Sharon, CT, for some time when I heard that a Russian Jewish family had once lived about a mile away. Then a neighbor mentioned that his father had bought their several-hundred-acre farm from “a Jew” in 1926. The mention of a third Russian Jewish farmer, in his nineties and still living on his farm outside of Sharon, sent me to my town’s land records, where I found references to “JAIAS” – the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society – under the mortgage details of these three farm purchases.                  

At the Center for Jewish...

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The white steeples of Protestant churches mark the villages in my hilly New England landscape, and the people I meet daily are white Christians. I ground myself in my religion by attending Congregation Beth David, a small Reform synagogue of some 60 seats, built in 1929.

But it troubles me that I live in a socially segregated community, an all-too-common situation in America, depriving us of those regular ongoing relationships that prevent suspicions and prejudice toward anyone different from us. For me, reaching out to a community of Muslims means traveling more than an hour to...

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In American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest (HarperCollins), award-winning author Hannah Nordhaus treats us to a genealogical detective story that combines memoir, cultural history, and ghost hunting in her quest to discover the truth about her great great-great-grandmother.

It might have been a typical mid-19th century German-Jewish immigrant story, except for the fact that Abraham Staab chose to join his brother in a territory where Jews were still a rarity – Santa Fe, N.M. After opening a successful dry goods store, Abraham returned to his village in...

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with other women justices

In Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a lively look at the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-authors Shana Knizhnik, a law student, and Irin Carmon, a reporter for MSNBC, mix chatty stories, photographs, charts, letters, and cartoons with legal decisions to illustrate the illustrious career of the first Jewish woman Supreme Court justice.

We usually don’t think of the deliberate, disciplined octogenarian jurist as “notorious,” so what induced the authors to use that description in the title?

In 2013, when the Supreme Court’s majority struck down most of...

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I have come to the Newtown Congregational Church, less than a half mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School, to attend an interfaith discourse about guns in our society.

The program opens with a showing of The Armor of Light, a film documenting Evangelist Reverend Robert L. Schenck’s change of heart about guns. A Jewish convert to Christianity, Rev. Schenck has become a leader in the “pro-life” movement, drawing national attention in 1992 when he displayed a preserved human fetus while leading demonstrations. He is now is president of Faith and Action, a Christian outreach...

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