Special Sections

Several times throughout the year JNS.org releases collections of articles centered around a special theme. All our special section pieces are assembled on this page. To select another topic, choose from the other content “categories” in our navigation bar.

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After her husband Jerry died, Harriet Vogel started writing letters to him “because it was therapeutic and comforting.” Eventually, at age 73, she met her current love online—after grieving sufficiently to be open to someone new. Indeed, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz, an expert on Jewish marriage who teaches at the Ohr Somayach yeshiva in Jerusalem, recommends to “allow yourself the time to work through the grief before attempting love again.” At the same time, Breitowitz says, “in life and love, second chances can be deep and loving.”

Recent visitors to Israel’s Caesarea National Park have witnessed a beehive of activity, with cordoned-off areas hidden under scaffolding and dozens of workers digging to reveal the layers of the ancient Mediterranean port’s controllers over time. Major plans are afoot to uncover more of the multi-layered, 125-acre archaeological haven situated midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, in an effort to attract larger numbers of tourists. Michael Karsenty, CEO of the Caesarea Development Company, declares that once the $27.5 million development project is completed, Caesarea will rival Jerusalem as “the main tourism site in Israel.”

Cross the August Bridge over the Elbe River towards the Old Oity of Dresden on a tour bus, and you’ll likely hear “oohs” and “aahs” from tourists as they behold the restored Baroque skyline that made Dresden the “Florence of the Elbe.” The infamous Anglo-American firebombing of February 1945 turned the Old City into rubble. Yet while other German cities suffered equal or greater devastation, Dresden captures the public’s imagination because the city houses some of the world’s most stunning Baroque churches and palaces. “About 10 years ago, American tourists had no idea what they were going to see,” said Nadav Gablinger, CEO of Gablinger Tours, a company offering Dresden day trips led by Hebrew-speaking and English-speaking guides. “They were in shock when they arrived in Dresden. They expected ruins.”

Self-driving cars. Drip irrigation. Missile defense. Milk? Amid all the buzz around Israel’s “start-up nation,” including Intel’s recent $15 billion acquisition of Mobileye, a lesser-known phenomenon is the high-tech and hyper-efficient Israeli dairy industry. Surprised? Don’t be. The combination of Israelis’ high demand for dairy products and the Jewish state’s well-documented ingenuity makes the cutting-edge dairy industry a natural development in the “land flowing with milk and honey.” The demand for dairy in Israel is particularly high for Shavuot, when eating dairy is a holiday tradition.

Lag B’Omer isn’t one of the best-known Jewish holidays—though some may notice that the men whose faces have grown fairly fuzzy following Passover are suddenly clean-shaven again. On his deathbed, famed sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai instructed his students to mark the date of Lag B’Omer as “the day of my joy.” Through the centuries, Lag B’Omer has remained a celebratory day. JNS.org presents the top 10 ways to fete the 33rd day of the Omer period.

Passover’s mostly gluten-free diet won’t have many health consequences for most Jews observing the holiday—but it could have some real benefits for some of them. Eight days is just long enough for a gluten-free diet to result in noticeable health gains for people who may have celiac disease without realizing it. Improvements in digestion, energy level or sense of mental clarity during a weeklong bread, pasta and beer-free holiday could indicate that someone has an undiagnosed celiac condition, explains Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Last summer, Israeli teen Yoav Madani was offered something most kids would jump at: an overseas trip with his family. But his response to the invite surprised his parents. “No thanks,” he said. “I’d rather go back to camp.” As it turns out, for the last three years, Yoav’s summer camp has been anything but ordinary. “Since I’m in camp with kids from 30 countries like Italy, Greece, America and England, it’s like I am going overseas,” said the 16-year-old from Netanya. Yuval’s experience is a microcosm of the broader goals of the Big Idea camps, where children from around the world get a taste of Israel’s culture of innovation.

By mid-April, spring is in full swing in Israel, with trees and wildflowers in bloom and daytime temperatures in the 70s (°F). The timing couldn’t be better given that on Passover, much of Israel’s citizenry—and countless tourists—are off from work and school, making them intent on discovering the nation’s most breathtaking sites. Moving from south to north, JNS.org presents 10 popular destinations for Passover travel in Israel, encompassing both the “greatest hits” and the “hidden treasures.”

From big-picture decisions, like helping clients choose from what can be an overabundance of competing venues, caterers and music options, to minutia like running around at the last minute in hot pursuit of batteries for table centerpieces, bar and bat mitzvah planners can take some of the weight off parents’ shoulders. Even if their connections with vendors don’t serve to recoup the entire cost of a planner’s services, Neil Bartfeld—who went from skeptic to believer on using a planner—says that “what you do recoup is some of your sanity and that is also very valuable.”

For years, Jewish basketball aficionados have adored Tamir Goodman. The same can now be said for Jewish summer campers. Nicknamed the “Jewish Jordan” for the combination of his on-court prowess and his observance of Orthodox rituals, Goodman has spent his post-playing career as a coach and motivational speaker. One of his crowning achievements is founding a Jerusalem-based basketball camp in which campers receive expert instruction from professional players and soak up the spiritual vibrancy of the holy city. Initially, the program was only available for day campers. But in 2017, Goodman is expanding that vision to an overnight camp. “There’s something majestic about Jerusalem, it’s a city that unites,” Goodman says. “We’re excited to help [campers] reach their potential on and off the court and to connect them to Israel.”