National

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 »

After weeks of brickbats, Bernie Sanders offers Hillary Clinton a bouquet

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders greet each other at the CNN Presidential Debate in Brooklyn, N.Y., April 14, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders greet each other at the CNN Presidential Debate in Brooklyn, N.Y., April 14, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The combative tone in Bernie Sanders’ campaign statements faded on Tuesday evening to a softer pitch of suasion. “I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come,” Sanders’ statement began after his rival for… Read more »

Paul Ryan, out of the running for president, asks to be seen as foreign policy maven

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., April 13, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., April 13, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Paul Ryan wants you to know he’s not running for president, he’s no fan of the Obama doctrine and he’s not a neoconservative. What the Wisconsin congressman wants to be, he suggested at an April 14 breakfast in his Capitol Hill offices with foreign policy reporters, is the leader of… Read more »

New documentary asks if we’re ready to laugh at the Holocaust

Mel Brooks doing a Hitler bit in an interview for "The Last Laugh," director Ferne Pearlstein's new documentary about Holocaust humor. (Tangerine Entertainment)Mel Brooks doing a Hitler bit in an interview for "The Last Laugh," director Ferne Pearlstein's new documentary about Holocaust humor. (Tangerine Entertainment)

NEW YORK (JTA) — In “The Last Laugh,” a new documentary about humor and the Holocaust (you read that right), the comedian Judy Gold tells this joke: If the Nazis forced her to stand naked on a line with other women, would she hold her stomach in? How you,… Read more »

Maryland’s wild primary and other snapshots from the ‘other’ Super Tuesday

Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards participating in a Democratic forum at the Woodlawn Senior Center in Gwynn Oak, Md., April 9, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards participating in a Democratic forum at the Woodlawn Senior Center in Gwynn Oak, Md., April 9, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Maryland goes to the polls Tuesday – one of five states where the two remaining candidates in the Democratic presidential race and the three in the Republican race are facing off. The headline: It’s the new Super Tuesday, at least for the Democrats. This could be… Read more »

In Europe, the far right doesn’t quite know what to make of Trump

Demonstrators protesting against the arrival of Muslim immigrants to Europe in The Hague, Netherlands, April 10, 2016. (Cnaan Liphshiz)Demonstrators protesting against the arrival of Muslim immigrants to Europe in The Hague, Netherlands, April 10, 2016. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) —  Donald Trump’s xenophobic views are neither new nor particularly shocking in Europe, where fears of jihadism and the challenges of illegal immigration are blowing winds into the sails of a rising far right. Although the Republican presidential hopeful’s statements on immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims are often… Read more »

Sanders supporters say he is the candidate of their Jewish values

Brooklyn resident Charles Lenchner, left, and Rabbi Iris Richman, a founder of Rabbis for Bernie, were among those at a Jewish Sanders campaign event in Manhattan, April 10, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)Brooklyn resident Charles Lenchner, left, and Rabbi Iris Richman, a founder of Rabbis for Bernie, were among those at a Jewish Sanders campaign event in Manhattan, April 10, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Phil Aroneanu is a second-generation American Jew whose parents came to America as immigrants seeking refuge from an oppressive Communist regime in Eastern Europe. Aroneanu himself was born in New York City and later moved to Vermont. It’s a biography that to some extent mirrors… Read more »

Sanders campaign’s new Jewish outreach director is outspoken critic of Israeli occupation

Simone Zimmerman says her fellow millennials "are angry" about what is happening in Israel. (Courtesy of J Street)Simone Zimmerman says her fellow millennials "are angry" about what is happening in Israel. (Courtesy of J Street)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Simone Zimmerman, the Bernie Sanders campaign’s newly hired national Jewish outreach coordinator, is quite familiar with the American Jewish establishment. She is used to fighting against it. During the 2014 Gaza war, Zimmerman was one of the leaders of a group of young Jews that held… Read more »

Fearing Trump, Republican Jews give Cruz another look

Ted Cruz at the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, N.Y., April 7, 2016. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)Ted Cruz at the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, N.Y., April 7, 2016. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (JTA) – Ted Cruz came here to woo Republican Jews over the weekend, and in the absence of his opponents for the GOP presidential nomination came away with qualified support based not on who he is but who he is not — Donald Trump. Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich skipped… Read more »

At Jews for Bernie event, anger boils over at Sanders campaign

Phil Aroneanu, New York state director of the Sanders campaign, speaks at a Jews for Bernie event in Manhattan, April 10, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)Phil Aroneanu, New York state director of the Sanders campaign, speaks at a Jews for Bernie event in Manhattan, April 10, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)

NEW YORK (JTA) – It might have been the last place you’d expect anger to erupt against the Bernie Sanders campaign. But at a Jews for Bernie brunch in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood on Sunday, the frustration seemed to boil over when some silver-haired Jewish supporters of Sanders began deriding… Read more »

This new Jewish deli is the coolest restaurant in New York City

Rapper Action Bronson, left, chowing down on some Frankel's fare with the Frankel brothers, Zach, right, and Alex. (Screenshot from Instagram)Rapper Action Bronson, left, chowing down on some Frankel's fare with the Frankel brothers, Zach, right, and Alex. (Screenshot from Instagram)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The scene could easily have been mistaken for a rock concert at one of Brooklyn’s countless music halls.Smartly dressed 20- and 30-somethings crammed into a small corner building. The overflow crowd, clad in skinny jeans and black beanies, spilled onto the sidewalk, where they drank coffee… Read more »

The time Hillary Clinton came to the rabbi’s family seder – and stayed for hours

Bob and Helene Fine meeting President Bill Clinton at the White House in December 2000, a few months after hosting first lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea for Passover seder. (Courtesy of Bob Fine)Bob and Helene Fine meeting President Bill Clinton at the White House in December 2000, a few months after hosting first lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea for Passover seder. (Courtesy of Bob Fine)

NEW YORK (JTA) – How was Helene and Bob Fine’s family seder in 2000 different from every other Passover night? First lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea came. (President Bill Clinton would have joined, too, if not for Yasser Arafat, but we’ll get to that.) This was no… Read more »