• JUDI'S JOURNAL 9/5/09: Jews and the labor movement

    It’s that time of year again. The children are back in school, activities have resumed and here in Florida, people are “watching the tropics” and hoping the next named storm passes us by.

    It is also the time of friendly gatherings and backyard barbeques and the end of the summer holiday called Labor Day, observed in honor of the working man and woman.

  • ON RELIGION 8/29/09: End of life issues

    The “Your Life, Your Choices” booklet didn’t cause trouble at the Department of Veterans Affairs until late in President George W. Bush’s second term.

    That’s when critics spotted an odd detail in this guide for end-of-life medical decisions. It urged aging veterans to seek expert advice from one group — Compassion & Choices. It helps to know that this organization was created in 2005 through the merger of two groups, Compassion in Dying and End-of-Life Choices and that, until 2003, End-of-Life Choices was known as the Hemlock Society.

  • GRACE NOTES 8/29/09: Doughnut grace

    Sometimes you just have to eat the stale doughnuts.

    I’m always the first one in the newsroom in the morning and there’s often leftover food from the night crew left out on the counter.

    Normally, I toss it out because it’s usually uncovered, which means bugs and mice probably crawl over it and poop on it.

    Plus, there’s the whole feeling quite righteous for not eating stuff.

    Today a big white box sat on the counter, and because I’m a trained newsperson, I had to investigate. I mean, it’s my job and all.

  • ON RELIGION 08/22/09: Eunice Shriver's Faith

    There is nothing particularly newsworthy about a coalition of pro-lifers releasing a public manifesto that criticizes politicos who support abortion rights.

    Nevertheless, a full-page advertisement in the New York Times during the 1992 Democratic National Convention raised eyebrows because a few prominent Democrats endorsed “A New American Compact: Caring about Women, Caring for the Unborn.”

    One name in particular jumped out in this list — Kennedy.

  • GRACE NOTES 08/22/09: My introduction to Islam

    After 54 1/2 years, I met my first Muslim this week.

    I’ve probably met others before and didn’t know it, but never to have an actual conversation about Islam. Never to write about it for the newspaper.

    Never after Sept. 11.

    I write this column for the Chronicle here in Citrus County, but it also runs in about a dozen other papers in Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana, plus several online sites.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 08/15/2009: The Star of David

    Perhaps the most familiar symbol of Judaism is the Star of David (Magen David), but in actuality, it has only been so since the Middle Ages. The symbol of the two triangles fused in two different directions has a fascinating history, and its origin is shrouded in myth and mysticism.

  • Islam 101: A quick primer

    What do Muslims believe?

    * The Quran (or Koran) contains the actual word of Allah (God) as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through divine inspiration by the angel Gabriel.

    * There is one God, Allah, creator of everything.

    * The Prophet Muhammad was the last and greatest of all of Al­lah’s messengers, but Muslims do not worship him.

    * At the end of the age, there will be a Day of Resurrection when people will be punished (eternal hell) or rewar­ded (eternal heaven) based on their deeds on earth.

    Who are Muslims?

  • One woman's faith

    When she’s out in public or in the presence of a male, Shireen Karim wears a head covering.

    Even in the heat of the Florida summer, she wears long sleeves and keeps her legs covered as a sign of respect, humility and modesty.

    People stare, she says, and she can’t count the number of times she and her husband, Mahomed Karim, have been stopped by security agents in airports.


    Especially her husband, a bearded Muslim of Indian descent who often travels to    the U.K. and the Middle East on business.

  • Wide roof, open arms

    Nancy Kennedy


    On a recent Thursday, the Rev. Greg Kell sipped from his ever-present can of Diet Mountain Dew and offered an impromptu tour of Cornerstone Baptist Church’s 20-acre Inverness campus.

    As workers continued putting on the finishing touches, Kell said they hope the doors will be open for ministry and worship by the end of the month.

  • GRACE NOTES 08/15/2009: Postcards from Hershey

    I’m sitting on a couch in Hershey, Pa., with my sister, my daughter and my granddaughter, watching the Food Network and thinking, “How weird is this?”

    We’re here on a partial family vacation since only part of our family is here. My sister flew in from California and my daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law drove up from Virginia. My husband and I flew up from Florida.

    We chose to meet in Hershey because we like chocolate. Also, the children of my husband’s late best friend live nearby and they’ve become family to us.