Weekend Edition

Israel made a decision last week that supporters are calling game-changing. Men and women will be allowed to worship together at the holiest place where Jews can legally pray. This could lead to other changes in Israel.

Batya Kallus, who helped negotiate the deal that led to the government decision, is jubilant.

"This is groundbreaking," she says. "We've reconceived what the Western Wall includes."

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Three teenage boys are lugging boxes of donated shoes into a stately neoclassical home in Mytilini, the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos.

Two of the boys are Syrian, and the other is Algerian. For the moment, they live in this house, a shelter for underage asylum-seekers traveling alone.

Inside, Christina Dimakou, a high-energy young lawyer, greets them. "Kalimera!" she says, Greek for "good day" and flashes a smile. The boys repeat the word, giggling.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is known for being one of the most disliked men in Washington. As he tries to win over voters, his wife Heidi Cruz is trying to vouch for his character and show people that he has a softer side.

Readers have waited almost 15 years for a second novel from the acclaimed Alexander Chee, following the highly-praised Edinburgh. The wait is over.

The Queen Of The Night is sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery. Lilliet Berne is the most famous soprano in the French opera. She is offered the role of a lifetime: an original part written for her. But then she sees that the opera must be based on a part of her life she's kept under wraps.

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Bravo. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

When you think of Iowa, you probably think — lots of white people. And, that's true, but the state is also home to a growing number of Latinos.

Hispanics now make up 5.6 percent of the state's population, according to 2014 estimates from the Census Bureau. To put that in perspective, that means the Hispanic community in Iowa these days is twice the size it was during the 2000 caucuses.

And, this year, for the first time, Latinos in Iowa are trying to systematically organize themselves to caucus.

It's a challenge.

January is supposed to be a slow month for sea crossings. With rough waters whipped up by high winds, rubber rafts capsize, wooden boats sink — and it's cold. You could freeze in the water.

But on Wednesday morning last week, Vassilis Hantzopoulos has already seen 15 boats filled with asylum seekers on a tiny strip of sea separating Turkey from Greece and the rest of the European Union.

Hantzopoulos, a gravelly-voiced volunteer first-responder with the underfunded Hellenic Red Cross, stands on a cliff and scans the sea with binoculars.

It's easy to get cynical about the presidential campaign, especially so close to the first round of voting, when many candidates are on the attack.

But see it up close and personal, and the process can feel a bit more charming. That's what a class from Indiana's Manchester University found as it traveled across Iowa last week, taking in the caucuses.

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This Week In Sports

Jan 23, 2016
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When Your Team Moves, What's A Fan To Do?

Jan 16, 2016
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Peek Into The Future: C.E.S. 2016 Wrap-Up

Jan 9, 2016
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This Week In Sports

Jan 9, 2016
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And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The NFL playoffs kick off - get it? - with the wildcard round this afternoon. The Kansas City Chiefs play the Texans in Houston. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us.

Tom, thanks for being with us.

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[Update: Since this story aired, listeners have come forward with new information on the identity of "Prince" Nazaroff — including some members of the musician's family. Hear Jon Kalish's follow-up piece.]

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