National

Betsy DeVos, Trump pick for education, pleases Orthodox, spooks church-state separationists

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence outside the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster Township, N.J., Nov. 19, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence outside the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster Township, N.J., Nov. 19, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Add sweeping school reforms – and with them, funding for private schools that Orthodox groups embrace and secular Jewish groups fear — to the campaign promises that Donald Trump plans to fulfill. Last week, just before Thanksgiving, the president-elect named Betsy DeVos, a billionaire education reform activist… Read more »

John Kerry: There are ‘things we can do’ to preserve two-state solution

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the Women's Foreign Policy Group Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 29, 2016. (State Department)U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the Women's Foreign Policy Group Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 29, 2016. (State Department)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry signaled in a speech that the Obama administration was still considering action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its final days, although it might fall short of a direct intervention on the issue. There’s no way to “force-feed” peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry said… Read more »

New Hanukkah stamp now available from USPS

The U.S. Postal Service has released a new Hanukkah Forever stamp. The first-day-of-issue stamp dedication ceremony took place Nov. 1 at Temple Beth El of Boca Raton in Florida. The holiday begins this year at sundown on Dec. 24. “The Hanukkah stamp we’re dedicating today honors a religious observance… Read more »

Keith Ellison’s ascent signals the Democrats’ willingness to redefine ‘pro-Israel’

Rep. Keith Ellison, D- Minn., at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, May 24, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Rep. Keith Ellison, D- Minn., at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, May 24, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The most shocking thing about talk of Keith Ellison’s Israel record as he rises within the Democratic Party is how few think it’s shocking. Rep. Ellison, D-Minn., is a leading contender for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, despite a record of tough criticism of Israel… Read more »

Jewish groups fret as Republicans retreat from two-state solution

From left to right: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)From left to right: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

  WASHINGTON (JTA) — In recent months, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have each emphasized what in recent years hardly needed emphasizing: mainstream Jewish support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reiterations of support signify a concern… Read more »

Bannon rejects, and supplies ammunition to, those who label him anti-Semitic

Stephen Bannon talking about immigration issues with a caller while hosting Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)Stephen Bannon talking about immigration issues with a caller while hosting Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Stephen Bannon, in his first interviews since Donald Trump named him a top White House aide, denied being anti-Semitic or a white nationalist. At the same time, he continued to advance a theory of “globalist” conspiracy that echoes centuries-old anti-Semitic libels, but without any mention of Jews.… Read more »

At first Jewish Comic Con, artists and geeks revel in tradition

A man examining a comic book for sale at the inaugural Jewish Comic Con, held at Congregation Kol Israel, a Brooklyn synagogue, Nov. 13, 2016. (Ben Sales)A man examining a comic book for sale at the inaugural Jewish Comic Con, held at Congregation Kol Israel, a Brooklyn synagogue, Nov. 13, 2016. (Ben Sales)

NEW YORK (JTA) — After Brett Parker’s great-grandfather fled the pogroms in Europe and came to the United States, he opened a drug store where he sold comic books. Each week he would give his grandson, Parker’s father, five comic books to take home. Growing up during the early… Read more »

Alt-right conference in Washington quotes Nazi propaganda, says media protects Jews

Left to right: Discussion panelists Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, “Millenial Woes” (thats the name he goes by) and Richard Spencer at an alt-right conference hosted by the National Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, 2016. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)Left to right: Discussion panelists Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, “Millenial Woes” (thats the name he goes by) and Richard Spencer at an alt-right conference hosted by the National Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, 2016. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(JTA) — Speakers at an event of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute quoted Nazi propaganda and said the media protects Jewish interests. The day-long event of speeches and panel discussions attended by about 200 people was held Saturday in Washington, D.C. The New York Times… Read more »

Meet the 3 firebrands Donald Trump is naming to national security posts

Top left, clockwise, Mike Pompeo, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions (Pompeo photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images; Flynn photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images; Trump photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Sessions photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)Top left, clockwise, Mike Pompeo, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions (Pompeo photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images; Flynn photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images; Trump photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Sessions photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Controversial pasts with incendiary statements and a fierce loyalty to the president-elect. Judging from the announcements Donald Trump is expected to make Friday, his White House and Cabinet is likelier to look a lot more like Stephen Bannon than Reince Priebus. Those are, respectively, Trump’s top… Read more »

Jews and Muslims ramp up alliances in wake of Trump’s election

Yossi Klein Halevi, left, and Abdullah Antepli are co-directors of the Muslim Leadership Initiative. (Netanel Tobias/Shalom Hartman Institute)Yossi Klein Halevi, left, and Abdullah Antepli are co-directors of the Muslim Leadership Initiative. (Netanel Tobias/Shalom Hartman Institute)

  (JTA) — For years, whenever Jews and Muslims engaged in dialogue and activism, it usually concerned one issue: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency, that appears to be changing. Regardless of what’s happening across the ocean, Jews and Muslims in the United States are… Read more »

Condemn or court? Bannon appointment a dilemma for Jewish groups seeking access to Trump

From left to right: Matt Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition; Noam Neusner, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush; Tevi Troy, deputy health secretary under President George W. Bush, and Jeff Berkowitz, former research director of the Republican National Committee, at the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2016. (Ron Sachs)From left to right: Matt Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition; Noam Neusner, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush; Tevi Troy, deputy health secretary under President George W. Bush, and Jeff Berkowitz, former research director of the Republican National Committee, at the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2016. (Ron Sachs)

  WASHINGTON (JTA) – Offer an open hand or a closed fist — or maybe both. Name names. Don’t name names, hint. Quietly adjust wording. Welcome to the second week of the World of Trump, Jewish organizational edition. Week 1 was fraught enough, with Jewish statements marking Donald Trump’s… Read more »

Bernie Sanders tapped for Senate Democratic leadership post

Bernie Sanders New Hampshire

(JTA) — Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, has joined the Senate Democratic leadership. Sanders was named chair of outreach for the party on Wednesday, according to reports on the closed-door Senate Democratic caucus meeting. As an Independent, Sanders was an outsider to the Democratic Party until he ran… Read more »

Meet the Jews in Donald Trump’s inner circle

Top left, clockwise, Ivanka Trump, Jason Greenblatt, Boris Epshteyn and Steven Mnuchin (Trump photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Greenblatt photo: Uriel Heilman; Epshteyn photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for SiriusXM; Mnuchin photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest)Top left, clockwise, Ivanka Trump, Jason Greenblatt, Boris Epshteyn and Steven Mnuchin (Trump photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Greenblatt photo: Uriel Heilman; Epshteyn photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for SiriusXM; Mnuchin photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest)

(JTA) — President-elect Donald Trump has a complicated history with Jews. On the one hand, his daughter Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, and he’s spoken fondly about having Jewish grandchildren. On the other, some of Trump’s supporters have links to the anti-Semitic far right movement known as… Read more »

Trump’s chief strategist: 5 things Jews need to know about Stephen Bannon

Stephen Bannon at a Donald Trump rally at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev., Nov. 5, 2016. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)Stephen Bannon at a Donald Trump rally at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev., Nov. 5, 2016. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

  (JTA) — On Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump appointed Stephen Bannon to be his chief strategist. Before joining Trump’s campaign, Bannon was the chairman of Breitbart News, a site steeped in conspiracy theories that has featured the white supremacist, anti-Semitic ideologies of the so-called alt-right. Bannon has also been accused of… Read more »

Meet Eric Greitens, the first Jewish governor of Missouri and a former Navy SEAL

Eric Greitens as a Navy SEAL in Iraq. (Courtesy of Rubenstein Public Relations)Eric Greitens as a Navy SEAL in Iraq. (Courtesy of Rubenstein Public Relations)

(JTA) — Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose seven military awards include the Bronze Star, has become the first Jewish governor of Missouri. Greitens, 42, a Republican, also is a former Rhodes scholar and the founder of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that helps veterans integrate themselves back… Read more »

After Trump’s win, Jews in red states feel emboldened, or embattled

Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, Texas (Courtesy of Beth-El Congregation)Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, Texas (Courtesy of Beth-El Congregation)

(JTA) — At 6:30 Wednesday morning, Oklahoma City Rabbi Abby Jacobson received a text from one of her teenage congregants expressing sadness at the presidential election results — and fear. “She said, ‘I’m sorry for texting you, rabbi, but I can’t say any of this at school,’” related Jacobson,… Read more »

ANALYSIS J Street, Republican Jewish Coalition claim victory in battle of the ballot box

Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois at a celebration in Washington, D.C., for women leaders, Jan. 20, 2013. The Democratic congresswoman, an Iran deal backer, defeated Mark Kirk to win his Senate seat. (Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Elle)Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois at a celebration in Washington, D.C., for women leaders, Jan. 20, 2013. The Democratic congresswoman, an Iran deal backer, defeated Mark Kirk to win his Senate seat. (Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Elle)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In dueling election recaps on Wednesday, J Street and the Republican Jewish Coalition claimed they beat the other when it came to supporting like-minded candidates. The arena was Congress and the weapon of choice was Iran: RJC campaigned against candidates associated with the nuclear deal, J Street… Read more »

Donald Trump elected 45th president of the United States, GOP keeps Congress

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City, Nov. 9, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City, Nov. 9, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Donald Trump will be the next U.S. president, having swept to victory in at least 29 states with 288 electoral votes and jolted a Jewish community made increasingly anxious as his rough-edged nativist rhetoric emboldened the far right and amplified a strain of anti-Semitic invective not heard… Read more »

Jewish groups urge Israel’s US envoy to reject award from ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank

Ron Dermer, left, Israel's ambassador to the United States, meets with J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami in Jerusalem, April 2010. J Street is among the Jewish groups calling on Dermer to reject an award from a group seen as anti-Muslim. (Courtesy J Street)Ron Dermer, left, Israel's ambassador to the United States, meets with J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami in Jerusalem, April 2010. J Street is among the Jewish groups calling on Dermer to reject an award from a group seen as anti-Muslim. (Courtesy J Street)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reform movement and other liberal Jewish groups are urging Israel’s U.S. ambassador, Ron Dermer, not to accept an award from an organization deemed by the Anti-Defamation League to promulgate anti-Muslim extremism. The ADL itself stopped short of asking Dermer not to accept the award next… Read more »