National

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 »

Gross’ release, and changes in diplomatic ties, signals new day for Cuban Jews

Alan Gross, freed from a Cuban prison earlier in the day, waves after concluding his remarks with his wife, Judy, at a news conference in Washington shortly after arriving in the United States, Dec. 17, 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)Alan Gross, freed from a Cuban prison earlier in the day, waves after concluding his remarks with his wife, Judy, at a news conference in Washington shortly after arriving in the United States, Dec. 17, 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Alan Gross was imprisoned while trying to connect Cuba’s isolated Jewish community to the wider world. The deal that got him released five years later may do just that and much more. Gross’ flight home to suburban Washington on Wednesday with his wife, Judy, was part… Read more »

Highlighting campus sexual assault, Jewish groups have taken a lead

Jake Rubin, the director of the University of Virginia Hillel, on Dec. 4, 2014 in front of the Hillel building in the vRugby Road neighborhood of Charlottesville, Va. (Ron Kampeas)Jake Rubin, the director of the University of Virginia Hillel, on Dec. 4, 2014 in front of the Hillel building in the vRugby Road neighborhood of Charlottesville, Va. (Ron Kampeas)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (JTA) – Jewish campus groups were ready for the painful national dialogue that took place in the wake of murky rape allegations at the University of Virginia. That’s because organizations like Hillel and historically Jewish Greek houses such as Alpha Epsilon Pi, Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma… Read more »

Female rabbis at forefront of pioneering prayer communities

Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Kavana (Andy Ahlstrom)Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Kavana (Andy Ahlstrom)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — A decade ago in Los Angeles, two organizations opened their doors with a call to prayer — or they would have if they had any doors to open. Ikar, led by Rabbi Sharon Brous, and Nashuva, led by Rabbi Naomi Levy, were conceived separately. But… Read more »

Knife attack at Chabad headquarters in New York raises security questions

Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish men during prayer at 770 Eastern Parkway, the headquarters of Chabad in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 24, 2013. (Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90)Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish men during prayer at 770 Eastern Parkway, the headquarters of Chabad in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 24, 2013. (Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90)

NEW YORK (The Jewish Week via JTA) — Just three weeks after terrorists killed four worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue, a man entered a Brooklyn shul and stabbed a 22-year-old Israeli student. New York police officers fatally shot the 49-year-old assailant, who reportedly shouted “Kill the Jews.” At a… Read more »

Under Israel-friendly Ashton Carter, no major shift expected at Pentagon

Ashton Carter, at podium, delivering remarks at the White House after being nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next defense secretary, Dec. 5, 2014. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Ashton Carter, at podium, delivering remarks at the White House after being nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next defense secretary, Dec. 5, 2014. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Ashton Carter has championed the sale to Israel of state-of-the-art combat aircraft, has aligned himself with Iran hawks and was observed becoming misty-eyed when serenaded by Israeli soldiers. Carter, 60, President Obama’s secretary of defense nominee, has been depicted in the media as the un-Chuck Hagel:… Read more »

Clinton, at Saban Forum, endorses Obama’s Middle East policy

Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Haim Saban, making a point at the entertainment mogul's eponymous annual forum, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Peter Halmagyi)Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Haim Saban, making a point at the entertainment mogul's eponymous annual forum, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Peter Halmagyi)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — From the drive for Israeli-Palestinian peace to nuclear talks with Iran, Hillary Rodham Clinton is endorsing President Obama’s Israel-related positions. Clinton, who was Obama’s secretary of state during his first term, spoke Friday night with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American entertainment mogul who through the Brookings Institution… Read more »

Black, Jewish and challenging ideas about the face of federation

Ilana Kaufman: "My purpose in the world has always been to be a bridge." (Courtesy of Ilana Kaufman)Ilana Kaufman: "My purpose in the world has always been to be a bridge." (Courtesy of Ilana Kaufman)

(JTA) — When Ilana Kaufman, a program officer at the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, arrived at San Quentin State Prison for a meeting with the Jewish chaplain at California’s oldest correctional facility, the chaplain couldn’t seem to find her — even though Kaufman was standing in plain sight.… Read more »