Yearly Archives 2012

Reform, AIPAC stake out opposing positions on penalizing Palestinians

Reform leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs, shown speaking at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Jerusalem in November 2012, co-authored a letter to President Obama on eschewing action against the Palestinians that would damage efforts to renew peace talks. (Robert A. Cumins/JFNA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two major Jewish groups are at odds over the prospect of penalties for the Palestinians in the wake of their enhanced U.N. status. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in recent weeks has backed two congressional bids to at least shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization… Read more »

‘Touch not mine anointed ones’

(Jewish Ideas Daily) — Since the news of the Newtown massacre and its heartbreaking aftermath, an extraordinary talmudic passage has been reverberating in my mind. In answer to the speculative theological question of what occupies God all day, the Talmud, as interpreted by Rashi, declares that “there are twelve… Read more »

After Newtown, some gun owners ready to consider control measures

A man taking target practice at a shooting range in Arizona. (Courtesy STA Training)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The day Eric Schaefer learned that a .233 caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle — a type of weapon he owned — was used to kill 26 people in Newtown, Conn., he sold his rifle to local law enforcement near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Schaefer, a… Read more »

Netanyahu aide Ron Dermer brings American sensibilities to Israeli politics

Ron Dermer, the senior advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a convention for Jewish bloggers in Jerusalem, 2009. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/JTA)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Like many Israeli politicians, Ron Dermer is an unapologetic defender of Israel’s actions, even if it might mean being undiplomatic. But like a seasoned diplomat, Dermer — senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — knows his way through Washington’s backchannels and has cultivated… Read more »

Seeking Kin: What became of three Grodno students?

The fate of three of the 15 students in the first graduating class of Grodno's Tarbut Gymnasium in 1930 (pictured with three of their teachers and the principal) remains a mystery. The three students, shown in the inserts, are Velvel Poliak, Yitzhak Levin/Levine and Max Margolis. (Courtesy Ruth Marcus)

The “Seeking Kin” column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. BALTIMORE (JTA) — In 2008, Ruth Marcus began looking ahead to 2010: the centennial of the birth of her late father, Yitzhak Eliasberg, and 80 years since Grodno’s Tarbut Gymnasium graduated its first class, Eliasberg included. Marcus,… Read more »

Fight for women’s equality at the Western Wall fails to move secular Israelis

A woman holding a Torah scroll outside a police station in Jerusalem's Old City where four women from the Women of the Wall organization were detained, Aug. 19, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash 90/JTA)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Few American tourists to Israel forget their first visit to the Western Wall. They put notes in the cracks, whisper prayers and take photos against the backdrop of Judaism’s holiest site. But Kobi Bachar of Tel Aviv can’t remember the last time he visited. “I… Read more »

Business briefs 12.28.12

Lee Olitzky

THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF SOUTHERN ARIZONA has posted the preliminary findings from its Jewish Community Planning Survey at The informational study was designed to inform the work of the strategic planning steering committee and task forces; it is not a demographic study and does not represent a statistically… Read more »

People in the news 12.28.12

THOMAS MILLER is one of seven Arizona artists to win an artist research and development grant from the Arizona Commission of the Arts. Miller’s grant, in the category of literary arts, will allow him to conduct field research for a nonfiction travel narrative, “Don Quixote’s Trail,” tracing places mentioned… Read more »


Raquel Litin, daughter of Zora Litin and Brad Litin, and Edward Arriola, Jr., son of Sharon Bart and Edward Arriola, Sr., were married on Sunday, Dec. 9, the first day of Chanukah, by Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz in the Rose Garden at Reid Park. Grandparents are Herman and Helen Moskovits… Read more »

P.S.: Local people, places, travels and simchas

Julie Feldman, center, with her children, Rachel Dveirin, left, and Haley Dveirin.

Prayer book donation Congregation M’kor Hayim is a small but mighty synagogue. Comprised of approximately 60 members, the group uses Tucson Hebrew Academy’s Beit Midrash (house of study) for its Friday night services and Shabbat morning Torah study. Discovering that the prayer books for THA second through fourth graders… Read more »

Former Israel Project exec on why he joined J Street

Alan Elsner

A recent announce­ment that I had joined J Street as vice president of communications raised some eyebrows among some of my friends in the Jewish community. After all, as recently as two months ago, I was a member of senior management at The Israel Project, a very different organization.… Read more »

As ‘fiscal cliff’ looms, Jewish umbrella groups fight cuts but are quiet on taxes

Congressional Democrats join Bend the Arc to lobby on Capitol Hill for a tax hike on those with annual incomes of $250,000 or more, Dec. 20, 2012. (Courtesy Bend the Arc)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — What will be cut? And who will pay? These are the two facets of the “fiscal cliff” debate in Washington, as President Obama and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives wrangle over what mix of cuts and revenue increases should be part of a deficit reduction… Read more »

‘Immersed in water’: Sharon Megdal dives into policy and environmental issues

Sharon Megdal (third from left) toasts “L’Chaim”with desalinated seawater with her colleagues at a desalination plant in Hadera, Israel.

University of Arizona Distinguished Outreach Professor Sharon Megdal grew up in Irvington, N.J., where scarcity of water wasn’t a problem. After she settled in Tucson in the late 1970s, her perspective began to change. “I lived here a dozen years before becoming immersed in water,” says Megdal, who started… Read more »

Research for novel sparks discovery of long-lost relatives

A family reunites outside the New Jersey home of Elise and Hal Hirshberg, parents of Tucsonan Amy Lederman. Front row: (L-R) Sylvia Boris, Lederman, Lynn Pollan, Carol Lewis, Farida Deske, Elise Hirshberg, Myriam Nahmani. Back: Shelley Hirshberg, Bella Bernard, Jeff Hirshberg (Robert D. DeCuir)

Since the beginning of time, in every culture, across every continent, one thing connects us all: the deeply human need to convey what is important to us from one generation to the next. The telling and retelling of the stories of our lives is essential to the creation of… Read more »

Wedding gown show to open Jewish History Museum exhibit

One of the oldest gowns in the Jewish History Museum exhibit was worn in 1702. The gown was shown in the museum’s first ketubah exhibit and was so fragile it was kept behind glass. It has since been restored at the Costume and Textile Study Center in Norfolk, England, and has been donated to the JHM permanent collection.

Three dark-colored wedding gowns will be spotlighted in the Jewish History Museum’s Fifth Annual Ketubah exhibit, which opens Jan. 1, including a Virginia widow’s gown of black satin with a collar trim of white lace. The bride who wore it, Elizabeth Rachel Richardson, was a wealthy confederate widow, says… Read more »

Daughter of rescuer will speak at NW event

Jeannie OpDyke Smith

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Northwest Division will hold a campaign event on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m., featuring Jeannie OpDyke Smith, the daughter of Polish rescuer Irene Gut OpDyke, who died in 2003. OpDyke received international recognition for her actions during the Holocaust while working for… Read more »

UA symposium, concert to explore works of Shostakovich and Asia

Dmitri Shostakovich

The University of Arizona’s Center for Judaic Studies, School of Music and Center for the Study of American Ideals and Culture will present a free symposium and concert, “The Jewish Experience in Classical Music: Shostakovich and Asia,” on Sunday, Jan. 13. The symposium will look at the influence of… Read more »

PBS documentary to examine Jewish impact on Broadway

Irving Berlin (Culver Pictures)

Why has the Broadway musical proven to be such fertile territory for Jewish artists? From Broadway’s golden age, names like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim immediately come to mind. More recently, Broadway babies such as Stephen Schwartz, Marc Shaiman… Read more »