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is JTA's Associate Editor for Digital. Follow him on Twitter at @GabeFriedman563

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  • Why Obama’s former speechwriter calls him the most Jewish president ever

    (JTA) — He was just 24, but speechwriter David Litt had already become President Barack Obama’s go-to guy for anything considered “kishke-related.” In Litt’s parlance, that meant he wrote the president’s speeches aiming to connect with Jewish Americans on a gut level — things like holiday and anniversary commemorations, but not, say, Israel or foreign…

  • How Jews around the world break the Yom Kippur fast

    NEW YORK (JTA) — After weary and ravenous American Jews file out of Yom Kippur services, many return home to a similar meal each year to break the fast: typically bagels, lox and assorted accoutrements. For some, it’s an anticipated and tasty tradition. But for others, it can be an anticlimactic end to a day of…

  • 11 inspiring Jews who died in 5777

    (JTA) — It’s always difficult to whittle down the list of influential Jews who died in a given year, but this year the task seemed to be especially tough. The number of Jews who left historic marks on their fields — and, more broadly, on Jewish culture — was remarkable. As 5777 draws to a…

  • Is Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen Jewish?

    (JTA) — Since Jewish star player Julian Edelman is out for the entire 2017-18 NFL season after tearing his ACL, Jewish football fans may be looking for a new player to root for. On Sunday, during the league’s first full slate of games, a possible candidate emerged: Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen. Cohen, a…

  • Hurricane Irma was no match for this mikvah on St. Martin

    (JTA) — It was 5 a.m. Wednesday and Hurricane Irma was pounding the tiny Caribbean island of Saint Martin. Rabbi Moishe Chanowitz and his wife, Chana, the Chabad movement’s emissaries there, gathered their five children and hunkered down in an unlikely place: a mikvah. According to the Chanowitzes, as told on Chabad.org, the ritual bath…

  • You can now bake challah like a boss, thanks to this new cookbook

    NEW YORK (JTA) — There’s challah bread, which any carb lover can tell you is pretty darn tasty. And then there are next-level twists on the classic Jewish bread, like a Pesto and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Challah or a Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Challah. It may sound like the stuff of dreams, but a new cookbook…

  • Amar’e Stoudemire will not return for second season with Israeli team

    (JTA) — Amar’e Stoudemire announced that he will not be rejoining Hapoel Jerusalem to play a second season. The 34-year-old former NBA All-Star did not indicate in his Instagram post Friday what his exact plans are for the upcoming basketball season, but he said he will become a shareholder in the Israeli team again. “Although…

  • Holocaust survivor celebrates bar mitzvah 80 years late in Israel

    (JTA) — Better late than never, right? A 93-year-old Holocaust survivor celebrated his bar mitzvah in the Israeli city of Haifa a mere 80 years after he was supposed to have the coming-of-age rite. But Shalom Shtanberg, whose ceremony was Thursday, was living in the Warsaw Ghetto when he was 13, Reuters reported. Unlike most…

  • Cello goddess Maya Beiser wants classical music to rock like Janis Joplin

    NEW YORK (JTA) — There’s a small music room in the basement of cellist Maya Beiser’s large, kempt house in the leafy Riverdale section of the Bronx. It’s pretty spare — a few cellos, some basic recording equipment and posters from past concerts. Against one wall, though, rests a cherry red Gibson SG guitar, the…

  • Trump to appoint Fred Malek, who counted Jews for Nixon, as head of think tank board

    (JTA) — President Donald Trump will appoint Fred Malek, a former White House aide who recorded the number of Jews working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics for President Nixon, to chair the board of a prominent think tank affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. The White House announced Malek’s appointment to the Woodrow Wilson International…