News

The Matisyahu affair: In Europe, conflating Jew and Israel

Matisyahu performing at the Rototom Festival in Benicassim, Spain, Aug. 22, 2015. (YouTube)Matisyahu performing at the Rototom Festival in Benicassim, Spain, Aug. 22, 2015. (YouTube)

(JTA) — A Spanish music festival’s recent decision to rescind its invitation to the American reggae singer Matisyahu, after he declined to endorse a Palestinian state, brought international attention to a phenomenon that many European Jews have been feeling for years: that they are being targeted for Israel’s actions.… Read more »

Is U.S. taxpayer money subsidizing Jewish terrorism against Arabs?

Yigal Amir, who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, appearing before the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Sept. 8, 2004. Amir allegedly has received funds from Honenu, an Israeli nonprofit with tax-exempt status in the United States. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)Yigal Amir, who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, appearing before the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Sept. 8, 2004. Amir allegedly has received funds from Honenu, an Israeli nonprofit with tax-exempt status in the United States. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Taxpayer dollars in the United States and Israel are subsidizing Jewish terrorism against Arabs, a complaint filed with the New York state Attorney General’s Office alleges. The accusations follow a recent expose by Israel’s Channel 10 about the work of the 13-year-old Israeli nonprofit Honenu, which provides financial support to… Read more »

Prisoner’s hunger strike and release hit home for many Palestinians

Palestinians demonstrating for the release of then-imprisoned Mohammed Allaan, who staged a 65-day hunger strike in an Israeli jail, in the southern Israeli city of Rahat, Aug. 18, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)Palestinians demonstrating for the release of then-imprisoned Mohammed Allaan, who staged a 65-day hunger strike in an Israeli jail, in the southern Israeli city of Rahat, Aug. 18, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – In the eyes of Israeli authorities, Mohammad Allaan was a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group who had attempted to orchestrate a suicide bombing. Many Palestinians, by contrast, saw him as a powerful symbol — a man who staged a 65-day hunger strike to protest… Read more »

Heinz no longer qualifies as ketchup in Israel

(JTA) — In the United States, Heinz is nearly synonymous with ketchup, but Israel has kicked the brand out of that category of condiments. Israel’s Health Ministry ruled recently that the Heinz product does not contain enough “tomato solids” to be labeled as ketchup in Israeli stores. It will be… Read more »

Hamas says it has captured an Israeli spy-dolphin

Hamas reportedly claimed to have captured a dolphin equipped with Israeli spying equipment and an arrow shooter. (Wikimedia Commons)Hamas reportedly claimed to have captured a dolphin equipped with Israeli spying equipment and an arrow shooter. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — Forget the Iron Dome defense system and the rest of Israel’s formidable military – Hamas is worried about Israeli spy-dolphins. The Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported this week that Hamas captured a dolphin outfitted with Israeli “spying equipment.” Hamas’ naval wing reportedly tracked down the dolphin, which gave itself away through… Read more »

After Freundel scandal, Washington Jewish women reclaim mikvah with mural

After months of work, the mivkeh was dedicated at Orthodox synagogue Oveh Sholom on Aug. 16, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Suzanne Pollak)After months of work, the mivkeh was dedicated at Orthodox synagogue Oveh Sholom on Aug. 16, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Suzanne Pollak)

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) – When prominent Washington rabbi Barry Freundel was arrested last year for secretly videotaping dozens of women using the mikvah adjacent to his Orthodox synagogue, the sense of sacredness of the ritual of mikvah immersion was shattered for some local Jewish women. Local artist Rena Fruchter recently… Read more »

Spreading Shabbat joy from the Upper East Side around the world

NEW YORK (JTA) — To Jewish parents of young children on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Karina Zilberman is something of a celebrity. She is the tall, blonde, guitar-strumming founder of the 92nd Street Y’s Shababa, a multigenerational musical celebration of Shabbat whose name is a mash-up of the modern… Read more »

When the Hasidim come to Norman Rockwell country

Jiminy Peak has become a popular August destination for haredi Orthodox Jews. (Uriel Heilman)Jiminy Peak has become a popular August destination for haredi Orthodox Jews. (Uriel Heilman)

HANCOCK, Mass. (JTA) — The lazy days of August have a special flavor in the rolling hills of the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts. The flowers are blooming in dazzling colors, the corn at roadside farm stands is delectably sweet, the lakes are refreshingly cool, and the area’s picturesque New England villages… Read more »

In first, Israeli team competes in America’s top bike race

Israeli cyclist Yoav Bear competing in the U.S.A. Pro Challenge in Colorado, Aug. 18, 2015. (Courtesy of Cycling Academy)Israeli cyclist Yoav Bear competing in the U.S.A. Pro Challenge in Colorado, Aug. 18, 2015. (Courtesy of Cycling Academy)

(JTA) – As Israeli bicyclist Yoav Bear sped through the end of Stage 2 of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge race at nearly 11,000 feet of elevation in the Colorado Rockies, he thrust his water bottle into the hand of a young spectator clutching an Israeli flag. Bear’s gesture made… Read more »

At Tuscany’s only kosher winery, owners can’t touch the Chianti

Maria Pellegrini, who owns the winery with her husband, grew up in a winemaking family in southern Italy. But because she isn't Jewish, she can't take part in the winemaking in her own winery. (Ben Sales)Maria Pellegrini, who owns the winery with her husband, grew up in a winemaking family in southern Italy. But because she isn't Jewish, she can't take part in the winemaking in her own winery. (Ben Sales)

CASTELNUOVO BERARDENGA, Italy (JTA) — Up a windy road in the tranquil Tuscan hills, down a gravel path and past acres of grapevines, a visitor will come across a stainless steel door frame secured with a piece of clear packing tape. The Hebrew scrawled on the adhesive reads: “David Solomon.”… Read more »

Becoming a Jewish mother – by way of adoption – in Japan

(Kveller via JTA) — I’m standing on a cliff 50 feet above the Pacific Ocean, balanced on a precipice between two worlds. I don’t know how life has brought me to this place, this beautiful rock on the Izu Peninsula in Japan, but I’m here with my Japanese husband… Read more »

Wearing my kippah in Italy — and feeling fine

Diners at a Jewish restaurant in the Ghetto district of Rome, July 20, 2013. JTA's Ben Sales found a thriving Jewish community in the Italian capital. (Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)Diners at a Jewish restaurant in the Ghetto district of Rome, July 20, 2013. JTA's Ben Sales found a thriving Jewish community in the Italian capital. (Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)

(JTA) — During my four months studying in Italy in the fall of 2007, you could say I had more than my fair share of strange Jewish experiences. Running late for a train one morning in Florence, I decided the best course of action would be to lay tefillin… Read more »

Where does Bernie Sanders, the Jewish candidate for president, stand on Israel?

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake, Aug. 14, 2015. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake, Aug. 14, 2015. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Bernie Sanders’ best friend is a Zionist who teaches Jewish philosophy, he had a formative experience on a kibbutz and “Saturday Night Live” dubbed him the “old Jew.” Still, Sanders can’t get away from the inevitable “But where is he on Israel?” question, especially now that… Read more »

Meet the Baptist baseball lifer who will coach Israel’s team

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) – Visiting Israel the past few winters to see his daughter and her family led to an unexpected job for Jerry Narron, a devout Christian and a baseball lifer: a coaching position for Israel’s team in the next World Baseball Classic. In 2013, Callie Mitchell had just… Read more »

All over the map: Where dozens of local Jewish groups stand on the Iran deal

(JTA) — Across the United States, Jewish community groups have appeared unsure about exactly how to respond to the Iran nuclear deal. Consider Massachusetts. Three groups in the state last month attempted to coordinate a single statement on the Iran nuclear deal now under consideration by Congress. The underlying… Read more »

A tally of how Jewish lawmakers are voting on the Iran deal

(JTA) — There are 28 Jewish members of Congress: 26 Democrats, one independent who caucuses with the Democrats and one Republican. Nine of them are senators and 19 are representatives. Nine back the Iran deal, seven oppose it and 12 are undecided. The positions of Jewish lawmakers are being watched as Congress decides… Read more »

Here’s why Hamas and Israel may be secretly negotiating

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arriving at a Liberation Youths summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 1, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arriving at a Liberation Youths summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 1, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — After more than a decade of failed diplomacy, Israel could be close to signing a major agreement with the Palestinians. They’re just not the Palestinians you thought. After years of vowing not to negotiate with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, Israel may be finalizing… Read more »

Meet the ‘RaBBi-Q’ — Kansas City’s kosher BBQ star

Mendel Segal, aka "RaBBi-Q, cleaned up at the Chicago Kosher BBQ Competition with first places in chicken, brisket and beans on his way to being the grand champion, June 2015. (Courtesy of Segal)Mendel Segal, aka "RaBBi-Q, cleaned up at the Chicago Kosher BBQ Competition with first places in chicken, brisket and beans on his way to being the grand champion, June 2015. (Courtesy of Segal)

LEAWOOD, Kan. (JTA) — Mendel Segal wears two particular titles that each reflect a devotion to tradition, imply an unending pursuit of precision and command immediate respect. One is rabbi. The other is pitmaster. The 33-year-old Orthodox rabbi (and follower of the late Lubavitcher rebbe) is readying to oversee… Read more »