Joy LadinJoy LadinIn an interactive program sponsored by the University of Rhode LGBTQ Center and URI Hillel as part of Trans*Awareness Week 2014, transgender author and professor, Joy Ladin, will speak on Nov. 20 from 4-6 p.m. at the Norman M. Fain Hillel Center, 6 Fraternity Circle, Kingston.

Her presentation will be followed by a light dinner and a question-and-answer session. The program will conclude with a short vigil in honor of Trans*Day of Remembrance.

At 8 p.m., Ladin will speak at Brown-RISD Hillel, 80 Brown St., Providence. A question-and-answer session and dessert reception will follow.

“The first woman engineer in history was a Jewish chemical engineer named Maria who lived two thousand years ago during one of the most intellectually creative periods of ancient times.”

According to Zosimus of Panopoli, the 4th century Greco-Roman authority on Alchemy, the Jews of Hellenistic Egypt originated and spread to Egypt’s early Christian community the concept of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is the view that there is a special kind of spiritual knowledge that can only be obtained by personal experience, a transcendent knowledge that is the only true path to salvation. This notion of a secret, transformative knowledge known only to the initiated, a knowledge that could change what was base into what was precious, would radically alter the direction of ancient chemistry, changing it from what it had been a purely practical pursuit to a mystical mission in which practitioners following arcane formulas attempted to transform base metals into precious ones.

For the 100 community members at the Dwares JCC the evening of Oct. 29, the joint meeting of Rhode Island Friends of Israel and StandWithUs might as well have been a crossing of the Red Sea. The primary concern of those in attendance was the perceived anti-Israel programming taking place at both Brown University and Brown RISD Hillel. The most dramatic moment of the event was a clear request from Brown pro-Israel students for “rapid-response” help from the community on request, and a commitment clearly enunciated by chairperson Stefanie Feld that community members could be counted on when needed. Thus, a critical bridge between “town and gown” was put in place.


(Left to right) Ariel Ngene, Shai Afsai, and Elder Pinchas Ogbukaa outside  Gihon Synagogue in  Abuja, Nigeria. /Shai Afsai(Left to right) Ariel Ngene, Shai Afsai, and Elder Pinchas Ogbukaa outside Gihon Synagogue in Abuja, Nigeria. /Shai AfsaiThe following aired on Rhode Island Public Radio on Jan. 21, 2014

The Igbo Jews of Nigeria, 2014.

Surely you know the Biblical tale about the Tower of Babel in which, according to tradition, God punishes humankind’s arrogance by scattering them and destroying people’s ability to understand one another’s language.  In our modern lives, we certainly struggle to communicate across continents and cultures, knowing full well that the stakes are high.

Both international conflict and genuine peace depend heavily on our ability to connect with people whose lives and vocabulary are profoundly different from our own.  And as we hear from Shai Afsai, sometimes our well-meaning efforts to connect indeed bear wonderful, wonderful fruit.

– Frederic Reamer

There’s a popular tradition among the Igbo people, whose homeland is in southeastern Nigeria, that they’re descendants of the tribes of Israel. Due to missionary activity and colonialism, today most Igbo are Christian, but even while practicing Christianity many consider themselves ethnically Jewish. In the past few decades, several thousand Igbo have taken this self-identification a step further and embraced Judaism, viewing it as their lost heritage.

Rabbi Barry Dolinger, Erin Moseley, Rabbi Elan Babchuck and Rabbi Sarah Mack.Rabbi Barry Dolinger, Erin Moseley, Rabbi Elan Babchuck and Rabbi Sarah Mack.(401)j is going to the General Assembly.

Jewish Rhode Island’s flagship NextGen program is one of a number of nationwide initiatives chosen to be showcased at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly Nov. 9-11, in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. The General Assembly is the most significant gathering of thousands of Jewish communal and Federation leaders and volunteers from the U.S. and around the world. Speakers this year include Vice President Joe Biden.