New York rabbi trains celebrity ‘bar mitzvah’



Good Monday morning, New York! It is Elul, the last Hebrew month before Rosh Hashanah and traditionally the start of a season of reflection, repentance and renewal. Read all about Elul customs here, from our partners at My Jewish Learning.


Rabbi Diana Fersko of the downtown Temple Village coached the hosts of the Showtime talk show “Desus & Mero” on the intricacies of bar mitzvah etiquette.

  • Fersko appeared on Thursday’s show, explaining the ceremony to Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, as well as their guest comedian Eric Andre, a member of the Reformed Temple who identifies as both black and Jewish.
  • Fresko answered questions from hosts – including whether the cocaine is kosher – but skipped the boisterous after-party held in the synagogue’s social hall. Watch the segment here.
  • Quotable: “They have a large Jewish audience and I think it’s essential to meet people where they are. One of my goals is to show that rabbis are different from what many people might assume or imagine and to have meaningful conversations about Judaism, ”Fersko told our colleagues at JTA.


Nach waxman, owner of the beloved East Side cookbook store Kitchen Arts & Letters, as well as an expert on Jewish cuisine and Jewish texts, has died. He was 84 years old. A go-to source for chefs, food specialists and home cooks, Waxman was also the mainstay of a small group of friends who met every Sunday morning for more than 25 years in his apartment in London. ‘Upper West Side to study Jewish texts. Our colleague Shira Hanau remembers “someone who loved life in all its forms”.


Amsterdam police removed 18 Orthodox Jewish girls from a Delta-KLM flight to New York on Friday, allegedly because they had violated COVID-19 measures.

  • The girls were traveling from Kiev, Ukraine, with a stopover in Amsterdam, the Dutch Jewish weekly NIW reported on Friday. When some of the girls began to eat their own food outside of their meal time, the flight attendants called the police to remove the passengers.
  • Relatives of the girls said the flight attendants were rude and impatient. The girls spent Shabbat in Antwerp, Belgium, before returning home on Sunday.

Representative Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) wants the New York Department of Education to investigate a group of pro-Palestinian teachers in New York City public schools for allegedly anti-Semitic views.

  • A June 11 open letter from “NYC Educators for Palestine” accused Israel of “ethnically cleansing the Palestinians” and demanded that Israel end the “colonization of all Palestinian land.”
  • Zeldin writes that the letter uses “talking points too commonly used to fuel violent attacks and discrimination against Jews,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece claims there is a “wave” of Orthodox Jewish families leaving the New York area for South Florida.

  • Miami-area physician Allan Jacob cites the increase in enrollment in Jewish day schools from 10,623 in 2018 to 12,482 in 2020. Fourteen new schools were added during the same period.
  • He cites cheaper housing, lower taxes and the ability to work remotely during the pandemic as the reasons for the outbreak.


Israeli Linoy Ashram celebrates his victory in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 7, 2021 (Lionel Bonaventure / AFP via Getty Images)

The Linoy Ashram of Israel (above) won the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, despite an appeal from the Russian Olympic Committee, whose member finished second. The Ashram medal was Israel’s second gold medal at the Tokyo Games and the third of all Olympic competitions.

Michel herzog, Brigadier General and brother of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, will be Israel’s next Ambassador to the United States.

Natan Sharansky and his wife Avital are both recovering from COVID-19.


Under a deluge of dark news – the suffering caused by COVID disinformation, environmental disaster, anti-democratic politics – how can a rabbi deliver a message of hope on this summer vacation? Rabbi Rachel Barenblat says she will try to help her devotees “look beyond our own despair” – but admits it won’t be easy.


The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies presented its 2021 award for all of its achievements to Nolan Altman, the former president of the Long Island Jewish Genealogy Society. The current president of the Long Island Society, Bonnie birns, was named Society Member of the Year.


Rachel Rosenthal explores Talmudic stories about how to balance work and family to better understand how the rabbis saw their obligations to the Torah, to themselves and to their families. Register for this Jewish Theological Seminary event here. 2:00 p.m.

Hadar rolls out new range of daily and weekly online services courses to help learners prepare for summer vacation, including “Rediscovering the Mahzor” with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer. Register here today.

Lab / Shul’s Elul SoulSpa returns online, twice a week, for 30 minutes of rest, music, movement, meditation and community connection mid-workday, and an opportunity for mourners to recite the Kaddish prayer. Click here to join. 15:00.

Photo, top: Left to right: Comedian Eric Andre, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero are seen in The Village Temple in New York City during an episode of “Desus & Mero”. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Photo, center: Israeli Linoy Ashram celebrates his victory in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, August 7, 2021 (Lionel Bonaventure / AFP via Getty Images)


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