National

Does Judaism allow torture? These college students think so.

Freshman Abraham Waserstein, right, who organized the Collegiate Moot Beit Din competition, shakes hands with the winning team at Princeton University, Sunday, April 15. (Courtesy of the Princeton Center for Jewish Life)

PRINCETON, New Jersey (JTA) — Does Jewish law allow — or even require — torture? That’s the question six teams of college students from across the country set out to answer at a moot Jewish court competition at Princeton University Sunday. And they came back with a unanimous response:… Read more »

How Washington, D.C. got a bunch of new kosher restaurants

Maharat Ruth Friedman with the manager of Khepra's Raw Food Juice Bar, a vegan restaurant she and Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld recently certified kosher. (Courtesy of Friedman)

(JTA) — For years, the nation’s capital had only one full-fledged kosher restaurant. But as of this week, that changed. The clergy at Ohev Shalom-The National Synagogue, a Washington D.C. Modern Orthodox congregation, have given kosher certification to three vegan restaurants in the District (along with two others in the suburbs).… Read more »

51 NYU student groups pledge to boycott Israel and its pro-Israel backers

The New York University campus in downtown Manhattan (Jonathan71/Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK (JTA) — A pledge by 51 student groups at New York University to boycott Israel and two pro-Israel campus organizations is a sign of “animosity” at the private campus, a Jewish student leader said. In the resolution, which was released Monday, the student organizations express their support… Read more »

Separated by the Holocaust, old friends find each other 76 years later

Simon Gronowski and Alice Weit, who had a reunion 76 years after being separated by the Holocaust, were honored at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, April 12, 2018. (Bart Bartholomew/Simon Wiesenthal Center)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — When Alice (Gerstel) Weit last saw Simon Gronowski, she was 13 and he was 10 and, by Alice’s recollection, “the most adorable boy ever.” When they reunited this week, 76 years later, “I opened the door and there he was, a frail, little old man,” she… Read more »

Harvard’s first-ever summit on Israel brings Amar’e Stoudemire and good news to campus

Amar'e Stoudemire, left, speaking with Jon Frankel at the Israel Summit at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., April 8, 2018. (Collin Howell/Israel Summit at Harvard)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (JTA) — During his freshman year at Harvard University, Max August thought twice about expressing his support for Israel among his classmates. He was uncomfortable with the vitriolic language and tactics of anti-Israel protests he encountered. “I was worried about putting myself out there and being the… Read more »

Donald Trump wants the U.S. out of Syria. Israel thinks that’s a problem.

A view of a U.S. military base in Syria between Aleppo and the northern town of Manbij, April 2, 2018. (Delil Soueiman/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Meeting last month with Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came away satisfied that he and the American president were in agreement on a wide range of issues, including Syria, where Israel wants to limit Iranian influence as the Syrian civil war wraps up. “We don’t have… Read more »

Mega-donors are taking over Jewish philanthropy, new study says

Jack Wertheimer (Courtesy of Wertheimer)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Large donors and foundations are responsible for an increasing share of American Jewish giving, and are exercising greater influence on Jewish communal priorities than they were in previous generations, according to a new study. The mega-donor trend was quantified in the study of American Jewish… Read more »

Spending bill includes big boost for Jewish groups seeking security money

A view of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., March 13, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An omnibus spending bill approved by Congress more than doubles spending for security grants that have been overwhelmingly tapped by Jewish institutions. The $1.3 trillion bill approved Thursday includes $60 million for the security grants, up from $25 million last year. More than 90 percent of… Read more »

‘We march today because it’s what we have to do to sleep tonight’: Jewish students on the March for Our Lives

Jewish students leading the Reform movement to the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., March 24, 2018. (Hector Emanuel for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The organizers of the March for Our Lives, almost all of them under 20, had a gun control agenda packed with specifics. They were able to get 800,000 people on and off of this city’s Pennsylvania Avenue in three hours. They attracted A-list celebrities. They turned… Read more »

These North American baby boomers teach Israeli kids English

IsraelConnect, which pairs Israeli students with senior citizen English tutors in North America, works mostly with schools on Israel's periphery. (Courtesy of Israel Connect)

(JTA) — There’s no reason Hodaya Koskas and Barrett Brickell would know each other. Koskas, 14, is a high school student from a small city in central Israel who takes ballet classes and hopes to be a dancer. Brickell, 71, is a retired schoolteacher from Ottawa, Canada. But they’ve… Read more »

National Geographic’s first Jewish editor in chief opens up about racism in the magazine’s past

Susan Goldberg is National Geographic Magazine’s first female and Jewish editor-in-chief. (Courtesy of National Geographic)

(JTA) —The editor in chief of National Geographic Magazine made waves when she admitted that the magazine’s past coverage was tinged with racism. “For decades, our coverage was racist. To rise above our past, we must acknowledge it,” Susan Goldberg wrote in a letter for the magazine’s April issue, which marks the… Read more »

Israel is the star at a national security conference in Mississippi

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant at a press conference with Israeli officials at the Homeland Defense and Security Summit in Biloxi, March 13, 2018. (Ben Sales)

BILOXI, Miss. (JTA) – A homeland security conference took place in a southern Mississippi town with an Air Force base and a shipbuilding yard. Among those in attendance were the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; a general from India, the world’s second-largest country; and representatives from Taiwan and… Read more »

What does Mike Pompeo as secretary of state mean for Israel and the Jews?

Mike Pompeo at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jan. 12, 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Like the rest of the world, Rex Tillerson got the news of his firing on Twitter. “Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!” was the only reference to the now-outgoing secretary of state in a tweet President Donald Trump posted at 8:44 a.m. that also… Read more »

Meet the first Jew and woman to lead U.S. group working to separate religion and government

Rachel Laser is the new executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. (Rick Reinhard)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Though Rachel Laser is the new executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, she prefers a different term for the cause for which she now advocates: separation of religion and government. That difference may be subtle, but it speaks to the… Read more »

Your government is funding houses of worship. Here’s why no one noticed.

Piles of ruined books from United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston. The congregation lost many of its prayer books during Hurricane Harvey and replenished them through donations. (Courtesy of United Orthodox Synagogues)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President George W. Bush’s first act as president, on Jan. 29, 2001, was to open an office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Church-state separations that had hindered such partnerships, he said in a statement, were “inherently unfair.” Jewish groups, civil libertarians and Democrats immediately raised concerns,… Read more »

Trump administration backs PLO in terror lawsuit, angering conservatives

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Trump administration sided with the Palestine Liberation Organization in a terrorism lawsuit that the Supreme Court may soon consider, drawing an angry rebuke from conservatives, including one of its most steadfast Jewish community defenders, the Zionist Organization of America. In 2015, a federal jury in… Read more »

Jews agree that Farrakhan is anti-Semitic. After that, it gets complicated.

Louis Farrakhan at a basketball game at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, July 23, 2017. (Streeter Lecka/BIG3/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Both have unequivocally condemned Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. Both say that fighting anti-Semitism is a necessary part of the broader struggle against bigotry and oppression. Both seek to build alliances with other minority groups in that fight. So an alliance would seem natural between the Anti-Defamation League, a… Read more »

This Jewish Parkland survivor hid in a closet during the shooting. Now he advocates for gun reform.

Ryan Deitsch speaks at the Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee, Feb. 21, 2018. (Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Throughout his senior year in high school, Ryan Deitsch has stayed busy. A month ago, the 18-year-old filled his time outside of classes performing in an doing improvisational theater group he started at his school, producing TV content for the school’s newsroom and working as a busboy… Read more »

OP-ED Post-Parkland activism shows teens don’t need our praise. They need a place at the table.

Marjory Stoneman High School student Cameron Kasky addresses area students as they rally at his school after participating in a countywide school walkout in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 21, 2018. (Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — In the aftermath of the fatal mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Jewish community should take note: Teenagers are not just the future of the Jewish people; they are the dynamic force driving social change today. Today we are witnessing history unfold as the American teenage populace… Read more »