National

Le’Or aims to put marijuana legalization on the Jewish agenda

Roy and Claire Kaufmann, the founders of the nonprofit Le'Or, with their children. (Courtesy of the Kaufmann family)Roy and Claire Kaufmann, the founders of the nonprofit Le'Or, with their children. (Courtesy of the Kaufmann family)

(JTA) — “You know, it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them?” That was President Richard Nixon speaking to his top aide, H.R. “Bob”… Read more »

Dems’ confronting of Israelis raises Netanyahu speech stakes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In tense meetings, top congressional Democrats — including a number of Jewish lawmakers — confronted Israeli officials about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, met Wednesday with Yuli Edelstein, the Knesset… Read more »

For Orthodox, tax-defined ‘upper’ incomes are often stretched

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) – For Orthodox Jews, President Barack Obama’s proposed tax reforms present a numbers-crunching paradox: Income he designates as well-off may mean just getting by for large families. Obama’s 2015 budget, which was introduced Monday, aims to offset economic breaks to upper-income families to… Read more »

Islamic radicalism poses dilemma for Jews in interfaith dialogue

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, with microphone, meeting in Tel Aviv with, from left, Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Jan. 20, 2015. (JCPA)Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, with microphone, meeting in Tel Aviv with, from left, Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Jan. 20, 2015. (JCPA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — After the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last month, Kari Alterman heard from every one of her Detroit-area Muslim dialogue partners, all of them calling to express their sadness and concern. They just didn’t do so publicly. Statements condemning violence are normally made after formal dialogues… Read more »

In Tel Aviv, it’s Super Bowl Early Monday Morning

Some Israelis stayed up all nightto watch the Patriots celebrate their fourth Super Bowl victory in 14 years, Feb. 1, 2015. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)Some Israelis stayed up all nightto watch the Patriots celebrate their fourth Super Bowl victory in 14 years, Feb. 1, 2015. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — There were wings, beers, giant TV screens, and football fans wearing New England Patriots sweatshirts and Seattle Seahawks jerseys. If not for the fact that it was 1 a.m. and former Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid stood in the center of the bar, it could… Read more »

What Jewish ethics tell us about ‘Deflategate’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft are all smiles after beating the Inidanapolis Colts, but will a Super Bowl victory be tainted by "Deflategate?" (Elsa/Getty Images)New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft are all smiles after beating the Inidanapolis Colts, but will a Super Bowl victory be tainted by "Deflategate?" (Elsa/Getty Images)

(JTA) – “Deflategate,” the controversy surrounding the New England Patriots that has made national news, made its way to a Houston business conference led by a rabbi. Rabbi Yossi Grossman, dean of the Jewish Ethics Institute, on Monday transformed the football prattle into a high-minded look at ethics on… Read more »

Netanyahu’s planned speech roils Jewish lawmakers, pro-Israel community

WASHINGTON (JTA) — When Israel wants something from the United States, it typically makes three stops: the pro-Israel lobby, Jewish members of Congress and the White House. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignored all three when he accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address Congress about… Read more »

Sanctions bill founders again on Obama veto threat

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — For the second year running, a bid to pass a bill intensifying sanctions against Iran appears to be foundering on threat of a presidential veto. In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama vowed to veto further sanctions legislation, saying it would… Read more »

For Jewish Republican donors mulling 2016, it’s electability, stupid

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — The key consideration for Jewish Republicans in what appears to be a burgeoning race for the party’s presidential nod is electability, top party donors said. Whereas in the past, a donor’s closeness to a particular candidate or his embrace of a favored policy may… Read more »

What Selma means to the Jews

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from right), marches at Selma with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. C.T. Vivian. (Courtesy of Susanna Heschel)Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from right), marches at Selma with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. C.T. Vivian. (Courtesy of Susanna Heschel)

HANOVER, N.H. (JTA) — The 50th anniversary of the 1965 march at Selma is being commemorated this year with the release of the film “Selma.” Regrettably, the film represents the march as many see it today, only as an act of political protest. But for my father Abraham Joshua… Read more »

Jewish Federations stand with France’s Jewish community

In the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris, the Jewish Federations of North America expressed its solidarity with the 500,000-strong French Jewish community, the families and friends of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the entire nation of France. JFNA has opened an emergency mailbox… Read more »

Can Reform center’s new director maneuver in polarized D.C.?

WASHINGTON (JTA) — With an agenda that has come to match almost perfectly with the priorities of the Democratic Party, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center has not had an easy time of it in an increasingly polarized Washington. But Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the center’s incoming leader, may have… Read more »

After Paris, reassessing how nations thwart attacks

Mourners seen carrying one of the bodies for burial during the funeral ceremony at Jerusalem's HarHaMenuchot cemetary for the four Jewish victims in the Paris Hyper Cacher attack, Jan. 13, 2015.  (Miriam Alster/Flash90)Mourners seen carrying one of the bodies for burial during the funeral ceremony at Jerusalem's HarHaMenuchot cemetary for the four Jewish victims in the Paris Hyper Cacher attack, Jan. 13, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – These are the lessons of the Paris attacks for American Jews and U.S. law enforcement: Keep calm and cooperate. Enhanced communication between governments has been a key element of America’s counterterrorism successes since 9/11, experts say, and more is planned in the wake of last week’s… Read more »

Amid $6M deficit, Detroit-area JCC may close

The JCC building in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park is one of two JCC buildings in the Detroit area; the other is in West Bloomfield. (Aaron Tobin)The JCC building in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park is one of two JCC buildings in the Detroit area; the other is in West Bloomfield. (Aaron Tobin)

(JTA) — Amid persistent budget deficits, the Jewish community center building in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park may close this spring. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit announced Monday that a committee is going to recommend that the building shut down in light of annual losses of $1… Read more »

After Scalise debacle, more hardball expected in the fight for minority vote

U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joins House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) and other members of the newly elected House Republican leadership team for a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, Nov. 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joins House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) and other members of the newly elected House Republican leadership team for a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, Nov. 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – A recent revelation that a top Republican addressed a white supremacist group is reviving an age-old Washington debate: How important are false steps from the past in evaluating a party today? Not very, say Republicans, in the case of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the majority whip… Read more »

Mario Cuomo married strident liberalism and sensitivity to the Orthodox

Mario Cuomo, seated, was New York's governor when he waa a featured speaker at the 57th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations held in New Orleans, November 1988. Showing their appreciation of the governor's comments are CJF President Mandell Berman, right, and Daniel Shapiro of New York. (Robert A. Cumins)Mario Cuomo, seated, was New York's governor when he waa a featured speaker at the 57th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations held in New Orleans, November 1988. Showing their appreciation of the governor's comments are CJF President Mandell Berman, right, and Daniel Shapiro of New York. (Robert A. Cumins)

(JTA) — Mario Cuomo, a three-term New York governor, was the rare politician who appealed to the Jewish tent’s opposite poles. A strident liberal with a nuanced understanding of the sense of vulnerability among the deeply religious in a secular society, Cuomo died of heart failure on Thursday just… Read more »

Portland preschool pushes boundaries of Jewish outdoors education

Sarabel Eisenfeld, the founder of Gan shalom, and her Portland Jewish preschoolers grating potatoes outside for Chanukah latkes. (Anthony Weiss)Sarabel Eisenfeld, the founder of Gan shalom, and her Portland Jewish preschoolers grating potatoes outside for Chanukah latkes. (Anthony Weiss)

PORTLAND, Ore. (JTA) — Even on a cold, gray and rainy morning, the children from the Gan Shalom Collaborative School are outside, seated under a wood-framed shelter topped by corrugated plastic. With their teacher, Sarabel Eisenfeld, they grate potatoes for latkes, then cup their hands beside their heads to… Read more »

Million-dollar ‘Chocolate Bar': First-grade buddies raise seven figures for rare disease

Dylan Siegel (left) and Jonah Pournazarian (Courtesy of David Siegel)Dylan Siegel (left) and Jonah Pournazarian (Courtesy of David Siegel)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — A fundraising campaign started quietly by two first graders two years ago to help find a cure for a rare genetic disease just passed the $1 million mark, with donations streaming in from all 50 states and 60 countries across the globe. The million-dollar achievement… Read more »

USY reverses interfaith dating ban

At United Synagogue Youth's 2014 convention being held in Atlanta, the board voted to relax the youth organization's ban on interfaith dating. (Courtesy of United synagogue Youth)At United Synagogue Youth's 2014 convention being held in Atlanta, the board voted to relax the youth organization's ban on interfaith dating. (Courtesy of United synagogue Youth)

NEW YORK (JTA) – United Synagogue Youth voted to relax its rules barring its teenage board members from dating non-Jews. The amendment was adopted Monday in Atlanta at the annual international convention of the Conservative movement’s youth group. The change affects the 100 or so teen officers who serve… Read more »

For Cuban Jews in U.S., rapprochement with Castro regime cause for concern

People stand outside the Little Havana restaurant in Versailles, as they absorb the news that Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison and that U.S. President Barack Obama wants to change the U.S. cuban policy, Dec. 17, 2014 in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)People stand outside the Little Havana restaurant in Versailles, as they absorb the news that Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison and that U.S. President Barack Obama wants to change the U.S. cuban policy, Dec. 17, 2014 in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(JTA) – For many Cuban Jews – the majority of whom now live in the United States – it has been a bittersweet week. Like countless Jews around the world, they cheered the release of Alan Gross, the American Jewish telecommunications contractor who had been held in a Cuban… Read more »