National

Meet the Orthodox ‘American Ninja Warrior’ training to be a rabbi

Akiva Neuman, an Orthodox Jew who is studying to be a rabbi, competes in the Philadelphia qualifying round of “American Ninja Warrior.” (Mitchell Leff/NBC)Akiva Neuman, an Orthodox Jew who is studying to be a rabbi, competes in the Philadelphia qualifying round of “American Ninja Warrior.” (Mitchell Leff/NBC)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Like his fellow competitors on “American Ninja Warrior,” 25-year-old Akiva Neuman pushed himself to his physical limits — climbing, jumping and running through an intense obstacle course — in the hopes of making it to the national finals in Las Vegas. But unlike the dozens… Read more »

$20 million gift to help revitalize US Holocaust museum

A view of the interior of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2010. (Wikimedia Commons)A view of the interior of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2010. (Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An exhibit over 20 years old against an iPhone: Docents at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum are increasingly noting the battle with hand-held devices to keep the interest of young people. Now a $20 million gift to help revitalize the Washington, D.C., museum will aim to… Read more »

New head of Anne Frank Center wants a rights agenda as aggressive as he is

Steven Goldstein, shown in 2014 with Loretta Weinberg, the majority leader of the New Jersey state Senate, is the new executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. (Facebook)Steven Goldstein, shown in 2014 with Loretta Weinberg, the majority leader of the New Jersey state Senate, is the new executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. (Facebook)

NEW YORK (JTA) — When the 2015 movie “Freeheld” came out, featuring Steve Carell as the real-life LGBT rights activist Steven Goldstein, Goldstein sang its praises to publication after publication. How did he really feel? “It was painful to watch,” he told JTA last week. “I detested the movie… Read more »

Slamming Muslim ban, Jewish Republicans still split on Trump

Donald Trump addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2015. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)Donald Trump addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2015. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Jewish Republicans are criticizing Donald Trump for his renewed call to ban Muslim immigration, although few of his Jewish supporters seem to be reconsidering their endorsement of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. But at least one, celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, rescinded his apparent backing of Trump… Read more »

At 25, he’s trying to take down a New Jersey political ‘machine’ and become the youngest person in Congress

Alex Law left his job as an IBM consultant over a year ago to run for a House seat against a formidable incumbent. (Courtesy of the Law campaign)Alex Law left his job as an IBM consultant over a year ago to run for a House seat against a formidable incumbent. (Courtesy of the Law campaign)

(JTA) — Alex Law is not your typical Jewish 25-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter. Instead of simply posting tweets with the hashtag #feelthebern or attending campaign rallies, the Collingswood, New Jersey, resident is running to be Sanders’ colleague in Congress. The aptly named Law, who if elected would become the… Read more »

Donald Trump’s anti-Semitism controversies: A timeline

NEW YORK (JTA) – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is facing growing accusations that his campaign is countenancing anti-Semitism – if not encouraging it outright. Trump’s foreign policy slogan, “America First,” echoes the World War II-era noninterventionist movement championed by a notorious anti-Semite. During the height of the… Read more »

Israel takes anti-boycott fight to halls of United Nations

The United Nations hosted an anti-BDS summit at its New York City headquarters, May 31, 2016. (Shahar Azran)The United Nations hosted an anti-BDS summit at its New York City headquarters, May 31, 2016. (Shahar Azran)

UNITED NATIONS (JTA) – It was an incongruous sight: The U.N. General Assembly hall filled to capacity with 1,500 cheering people waving miniature Israeli flags and singing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem. No, hell hadn’t frozen over. The occasion was a one-day conference hosted by Israel’s U.N. mission devoted to… Read more »

Liberal Jews plan a summer of opposing Donald Trump

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaking at a news conference at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C., March 21, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaking at a news conference at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C., March 21, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Boycott Trump? Mock Trump? Trump, the musical? Jewish liberals are ready to sow a summer of Donald Trump discontent in ways that aim both to bludgeon and entertain. Bend the Arc, an advocacy group, is convening its first national conference here next week aimed in part at… Read more »

Pro-Israel heavyweights press hard for 2 states

President Barack Obama sits next to Alan Solow at a meeting with Jewish leaders at the White House, March 1, 2011.  (Pete Souza/White House)President Barack Obama sits next to Alan Solow at a meeting with Jewish leaders at the White House, March 1, 2011. (Pete Souza/White House)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In a rare and sharp split with Israeli government policy, a group of Jewish community leaders want to get a proposal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the next president’s desk. Two complementary U.S. and Israeli working papers to be launched next week propose… Read more »

How the 2016 election is upending pro-Israel orthodoxies

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at a news conference at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C, March 21, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at a news conference at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C, March 21, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – When it comes to Israel, Democrats and Republicans simply do not see eye to eye, and for all their love of Zion, evangelicals will turn out for a candidate who is less than 100 percent on the issue. Welcome to the 2016 presidential election, when the… Read more »

Dems’ panel drafting platform includes critics of Israel, friends of Israel — and a BDS backer

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left, embracing philosopher and social activist Cornel West in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 14, 2015. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, left, embracing philosopher and social activist Cornel West in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 14, 2015. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Democratic Party platform drafting committee is top heavy with veterans of political battles over Israel — some friendly, some critical, and including at least one major backer of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The Democratic National Committee named the committee on Monday, a day… Read more »

House passes bill protecting circumcision, ritual slaughter as international religious freedoms

An infant being carried before his circumcision at an Orthodox synagogue in Berlin in 2013. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)An infant being carried before his circumcision at an Orthodox synagogue in Berlin in 2013. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bill unanimously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives would extend religious protections to advocates of circumcision and ritual slaughter as well as atheists, addressing what its sponsors describe as an increase in religious persecution in recent years. The bill, passed Monday, would broaden the definition of… Read more »

Beating health scares, Jonathan Sarna seals status as rock star Jewish historian

Jonathan Sarna at Brandeis University, his undergraduate alma mater and where he has taught for more than 25 years, May 10, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)Jonathan Sarna at Brandeis University, his undergraduate alma mater and where he has taught for more than 25 years, May 10, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)

WALTHAM, Mass. (JTA) – When Jonathan Sarna was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1999 at the age of 44, it changed his life. Already a highly regarded historian at Brandeis University, Sarna was in the midst of writing his seminal study of American Jewish history when he realized with… Read more »

Synagogue condos: If you lived here, you could be praying by now

The penthouse at 415 E. Sixth St., which will sit atop the historic Anshei Meseritz synagogue. (Courtesy of East River Partners)The penthouse at 415 E. Sixth St., which will sit atop the historic Anshei Meseritz synagogue. (Courtesy of East River Partners)

  NEW YORK (JTA) — If there’s one story that sums up the changes afoot on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a once heavily Jewish neighborhood, it’s the saga surrounding the Anshei Meseritz synagogue. The Orthodox shul at 415 E. Sixth St. is a relic of a time… Read more »

Orthodox activists and victims asking NY to change sex abuse reporting laws

Orthodox activists, like these protesting outside a Brooklyn yeshiva, are asking institutions to do more to report and investigate allegations of child sexual and physical abuse. (Courtesy of Chaim Levin)Orthodox activists, like these protesting outside a Brooklyn yeshiva, are asking institutions to do more to report and investigate allegations of child sexual and physical abuse. (Courtesy of Chaim Levin)

  NEW YORK (JTA) – Advocates for sexual abuse victims in the Orthodox Jewish community will be descending on New York’s state capital on May 3 to lobby the legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse offenses. A bill to change the statute of limitations… Read more »

Great Adventure: How an amusement park goes Orthodox for Passover

Six Flags Great Adventure, an amusement park in New Jersey, on Passover becomes the site of an annual Orthodox Jewish pilgrimage. (Uriel Heilman)Six Flags Great Adventure, an amusement park in New Jersey, on Passover becomes the site of an annual Orthodox Jewish pilgrimage. (Uriel Heilman)

JACKSON, N.J. (JTA) – Pinchas Cohen spent most of Monday wandering around Six Flags Great Adventure under a blazing sun, wearing a knee-length black coat and carrying a big box of shmura matzah under his arm. An imposing, Russian-born Chabad-Lubavitch Hasid who now lives in Brooklyn, Cohen came to… Read more »