The Gilgul Of Park Avenue

Charles Morton Luger unexpectedly becomes Jewish.

"When they sat down to dinner, Charles stared at his plate. Half an hour Jewish and already he felt obliged. He knew there were dietary laws, milk and meat forbidden to touch, but he didn't know if chicken was considered meat and didn't dare ask Sue and chance a confrontation -- not until he'd formulated a plan."


In three parts: 1 | 2 | 3

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Ask A Mormon! A Conversation

But you were drinking and having premarital sex, right? Isn’t that kind of an indirect way of questioning your faith? Is disobeying questioning? It can be, but I don't think I was really pondering questions of faith when I started drinking in high school, and the premarital sex didn't actually happen until after I graduated. I think looking back the answer is yes, I was looking at other options. But I didn't think about it in those terms then. I think lots of people of every faith experiment in these ways but ultimately decide to embrace their religion.

Syria's Sons of No One

Inside the safe houses where Syrian youth protesters have retreated since the uprising:

Around his neck he wore a tiny toy penguin that was actually a thumb drive, which he treated like a talisman, occasionally squeezing it to make sure it was still there. I sat next to him on the mattress and watched as he traded messages with other activists on Skype, then updated a Facebook page that serves as an underground newspaper, then marked a Google Earth map of Homs with the spots of the latest unrest. “If there’s no Internet,” Abdullah said, “there’s no life.”

Tennessee

A Jewish family moves from Florida to Tennessee, and a prodigal son returns.

"My father decided he would cook a genuine Jewish brisket for the in-laws’ first Tennessee meal. They were coming up from West Palm Beach and he thought the brisket would make for the perfect pastiche of Jewish and Southern tradition, to the extent that either could be embodied in a slab of beef."

Radio Vision

Death in various forms looms over a 1960s family.

"As she snubbed out her cigarette and rinsed her cup in the sink, Marianne thought, thirty-four. One of the television commentaries had mentioned Jackie Kennedy’s age and it was Marianne’s age exactly. She was in this way aligned with the grieving first lady: they had seen the very same days."

The Catholic Church's Secret Gay Cabal

John C. Favalora is a sallow old man who looks like the corpse of Dom Deluise. He likes attractive young men to sit on his lap and allegedly treats them to trips in the Florida Keys. He was, until recently, part owner of a company that makes "all natural" boner-inducing beverages. He's also the Archbishop Emeritus of Miami.

Run Like Fire Once More

On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:

Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.

Sniffing Glue

A youth set to the shifting sounds of CCM, Christian Contemporary Music:

This, by the way, is considered the ultimate sign of quality CCM, even amongst Christians: the ability to pass as secular. Every band’s goal was to have teenagers stop their grooving mid-song and exclaim, like a soda commercial actress who’s just realized she’s been drinking Diet, “Wait, this is Christian?”

The Romance of Birthright Israel

On the Birthright Israel program, which sends young American Jews on a tour of Israel free of charge, thanks to massive funding from both the Israeli government and philanthropists like the conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

A new era is dawning for Birthright. What began as an identity booster has become an ideology machine, pumping out not only Jewish baby-makers but defenders of Israel. Or that’s the hope.

The Abortionist

Doc moves quickly. He takes off his windbreaker, tosses his leather bag on the counter and unzips it. He pulls out a slate-blue polyester vest, V-necked, with six buttons. He raises his arms and jumps into it and then says, with an air of deep satisfaction, "Aah." Doc is proud of his bulletproof vest.

Rajneeshees in Oregon: The Untold Story

Twenty-five years ago, a guru from India showed up in rural Oregon with 2,000 followers. Here’s what happened next: they legally turned their multi-million dollar ranch into an incorporated city, imported homeless people to swing local votes, poisoned hundreds and attempted to assassinate the state’s U.S. attorney.

  1. Part 1: 25 Years After Rajneeshee Commune Collapsed, Truth Spills Out

  2. Part 2: Thwarted Rajneeshee Leaders Attack Enemies, Neighbors with Poison

  3. Part 3: Rajneeshee Leaders Take Revenge on The Dalles’ with Poison, Homeless

  4. Part 4: Rajneeshee Leaders See Enemies Everywhere as Questions Compound

  5. Part 5: Rajneeshees’ Utopian Dreams Collapse as Talks Turn to Murder