National

Why Shelly Silver won’t be sharing a prison cell with Willie Rapfogel

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrives at the courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. A jury heard Silver's corruption case boiled down to two conflicting portrayals of the once-powerful Democrat: one as a greedy lawmaker who enriched himself with bribery and another as a seasoned politician who played by the rules regarding outside income. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrives at the courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. A jury heard Silver's corruption case boiled down to two conflicting portrayals of the once-powerful Democrat: one as a greedy lawmaker who enriched himself with bribery and another as a seasoned politician who played by the rules regarding outside income. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (JTA) – The two men used to share the same synagogue pew. One’s wife was the other’s chief of staff. Now both share an ignoble distinction: guilty of accepting millions through illegal kickback schemes. There is one thing Sheldon Silver and William Rapfogel won’t share, however: a… Read more »

For Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, being Jewish was a family secret

Hamilton Jordan, left, then the White House chief of staff, speaking with President Jimmy Carter at the White House, July 19, 1979. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Hamilton Jordan, left, then the White House chief of staff, speaking with President Jimmy Carter at the White House, July 19, 1979. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hamilton Jordan, President Jimmy Carter’s wunderkind adviser and chief of staff, discovered at age 20 that his family’s story wasn’t a straightforward Christian Southern experience. At the cemetery service for his maternal grandmother, Helen, Jordan was puzzled to discover her plot was nestled alongside that of… Read more »

Aly Raisman has her eyes on Rio

Aly Raisman competing in the floor exercise at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, Oct. 24, 2015. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)Aly Raisman competing in the floor exercise at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, Oct. 24, 2015. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

GLASGOW, Scotland (JTA) — Once the music started playing — not the “Hava Nagila” tune that made her the Jewish poster child of the London Games, but something equally folksy — Aly Raisman tumbled right out of bounds. On her first bit of gymnastics at her comeback World Championships here… Read more »

Rare numbing disease that plagues Jews has diagnosis, but no cure

David Epstein, left, and his brother, Howard Epstein, both have APBD, which is more prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews than in the general public. (Courtesy of David Epstein)David Epstein, left, and his brother, Howard Epstein, both have APBD, which is more prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews than in the general public. (Courtesy of David Epstein)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — David Epstein went to his doctor in 1997 to see why he was going to the bathroom so frequently and what was causing his fingers to go numb. Years of doctor visits, medical testing and prescription medications led nowhere. Meanwhile,… Read more »

Teaming up, Welch’s and Manischewitz challenge kosher grape juice monopoly

Bottles of Welch's/Manischewitz grape juice at Kosherfest in Secaucus, N.J. (Uriel Heilman)Bottles of Welch's/Manischewitz grape juice at Kosherfest in Secaucus, N.J. (Uriel Heilman)

SECAUCUS, N.J. (JTA) — Welch’s is coming to seder this year. For decades, America’s kosher grape juice market has been dominated by Kedem, whose sweet libations come in concord, blush, white, peach, diet and a variety of sparkling flavors. But with U.S. sales flat when it comes to non-kosher… Read more »

What to know about Jonathan Pollard’s upcoming release

Israelis calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem, March 19, 2013. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)Israelis calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem, March 19, 2013. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Jonathan Pollard, the American spy for Israel sentenced to life in prison in 1987, is due to be released on parole on Saturday, 30 years after his arrest. The former U.S. Navy analyst’s exit from a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina (where he reportedly befriended… Read more »

Intel changes, public awareness needed to prevent Paris-like attack in US

A police officer patrolling the Times Square subway stop in New York City the day after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, Nov. 14, 2015. (Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)A police officer patrolling the Times Square subway stop in New York City the day after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, Nov. 14, 2015. (Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

  WASHINGTON (JTA) — The series of terrorist attacks that killed at least 129 in Paris pose a couple of major challenges for the United States, Jewish officials and security experts said. The challenges: security threats from the the 200 or so Islamic State fighters who have returned to the United States, and… Read more »

At Reform biennial, focus on social justice and tradition

Left to right, Beth Schafer, Julie Silver, Peri Smilow and Michelle Citrin sing "If I Had a Hammer" at the Union for Reform Judaism biennial conference in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 6, 2015. (URJ)Left to right, Beth Schafer, Julie Silver, Peri Smilow and Michelle Citrin sing "If I Had a Hammer" at the Union for Reform Judaism biennial conference in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 6, 2015. (URJ)

ORLANDO, Fla. (JTA) – Growing up in a traditional Jewish household, Joan Cubell didn’t really know much about Reform Judaism. But after obtaining ordination a few years ago from a little-known rabbinical institute in suburban New York, Cubell decided to make her home in the Reform movement. First she got a… Read more »

5 questions for the first woman to chair the Union for Reform Judaism

ORLANDO, Fla. (JTA) — Last week was a big one for Daryl Messinger. A resident of Palo Alto, California, and an active board member of several organizations, Messinger was installed as chair of the Union for Reform Judaism, becoming the first woman to hold that post. And she chanted Torah… Read more »

You down with RBG? Highlights from the new biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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  (JTA) — Ever wonder what the perfect pop-culture storm looks like? Hurricane Ruth — as in Bader Ginsburg — was brewing among millennials, feminists and across social media platforms before it made landfall in Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik’s new biography about the Meme Supreme: “Notorious RBG: The… Read more »

Pew survey: 57% of U.S. Jews eat pork and Torah study more popular

The percentage of Jews who said religion is important to them rose from 31 to 35 percent since 2007, the Pew Research Center found. (Shutterstock)The percentage of Jews who said religion is important to them rose from 31 to 35 percent since 2007, the Pew Research Center found. (Shutterstock)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Do you experience feelings of peace and well-being at least once a week? Did God write the Torah? Do you eat bacon? If these questions seem a little personal, don’t fret. They’re all part of a new Pew Research Center survey on American religion released… Read more »

What Jews with disabilities can teach the rest of us

The inaugural Ruderman Inclusion Summit took place at Boston's Seaport World Trade Center on Nov. 1 and 2. (Noam Galai)The inaugural Ruderman Inclusion Summit took place at Boston's Seaport World Trade Center on Nov. 1 and 2. (Noam Galai)

BOSTON (JTA) — Ruti Regan has been told she’s a pioneer, the first autistic rabbinic student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. But she doesn’t believe that for a second. She may be the first to admit it, said Regan, 30, “but I’m not the only one.” “What do you… Read more »

With resolution against hiring women rabbis, RCA votes for confrontation

NEW YORK (JTA) – When America’s main modern Orthodox rabbinical association voted last week to ban the hiring of clergywomen by its members, the question wasn’t whether to endorse women rabbis. It was whether to widen the group’s well-established repudiation of female clergy or keep quiet and focus on finding common ground with modern… Read more »

Did a Jewish woman blaze a new path for women in pro baseball?

Justine Siegal, prior to coaching for the Oakland Athletics, had already made baseball history by throwing batting practice for the Cleveland Indians in 2011. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)Justine Siegal, prior to coaching for the Oakland Athletics, had already made baseball history by throwing batting practice for the Cleveland Indians in 2011. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(JTA) – For Justine Siegal, attending Opening Day games of the Cleveland Indians with her grandfather led to a lifelong passion for baseball – and dreams of one day playing for the Tribe. “Heaven,” she called the outings, where she sat in the best seats in the house —… Read more »

Op-Ed: Obama could learn from Bill Clinton how to be a true friend of Israel

Former President Bill Clinton meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Nov. 8, 2010. (Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)Former President Bill Clinton meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Nov. 8, 2010. (Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — By now it should be obvious how absurd it is to call President Barack Obama Israel’s “best friend” ever, as Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has claimed. A Blame Israel Firster, Obama won’t use his moral authority to try stopping the instigators of this… Read more »

Once a dream, paid parental leave now a reality at 100 Jewish groups — and counting

Jews United for Justice offers paid parental leave for its employees and is a lead partner in the push to implement paid leave legislation in Washington, D.C. (Anya van Wagtendonk)Jews United for Justice offers paid parental leave for its employees and is a lead partner in the push to implement paid leave legislation in Washington, D.C. (Anya van Wagtendonk)

NEW YORK (JTA) — It’s a Sunday in 2010, and in one hand I’m texting with a colleague about work. In the other I hold a pee stick, waiting for the results of my home pregnancy test to appear. As I press send, I realize that parenthood isn’t the… Read more »

BLOG My Jewish kids are the product of intermarriage, and other reasons for hope

A group of American Birthright Israel participants visiting the Dead Sea, July 10, 2015. (Matt Hechter/Flash90)A group of American Birthright Israel participants visiting the Dead Sea, July 10, 2015. (Matt Hechter/Flash90)

  (JTA) — Jewish leaders have long warned of the bleak Jewish futures in store for children of intermarriage. But these prognostications were based largely on information from more than a decade ago, when intermarriage was far less common and far less accepted by American Jews than it is today.… Read more »

An Israeli, American, and Palestinian to launch a ‘peace’ game app

The Bandura Games co-founders: Justin Hefter, Ammoun Dissi, and Etay Furman (Courtesy Bandura Games)The Bandura Games co-founders: Justin Hefter, Ammoun Dissi, and Etay Furman (Courtesy Bandura Games)

SAN FRANCISCO (Tazpit) – Bandura Games, a computer gaming company based in San Francisco, California, is set to launch a new mobile game app that would bridge gaps, build connections and create empathy between people from different sides of conflict zones. Initially interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Justin Hefter,… Read more »

How a Holocaust legacy helped launch the Kind bar brand

Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and founder of Kind Snacks, with members of his team at the company's New York City headquarters. (Poon Watchara-Amhaiwan)Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and founder of Kind Snacks, with members of his team at the company's New York City headquarters. (Poon Watchara-Amhaiwan)

NEW YORK (JTA) — In many respects, the Manhattan headquarters of Kind Snacks — the purveyors of the omnipresent fruit and nut bars found everywhere from health-food stores to office-supply emporiums — are pretty much what you’d expect: Scads of casually dressed millennials mill about sleek, brightly colored rooms adorned… Read more »