National

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on why she did not retire during Obama’s term

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a discussion during the Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Aug. 31, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — It was a blunt statement in the midst of a cordial conversation: “I’m wondering why you’re here.” That was Nina Totenberg, the NPR legal affairs correspondent, to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Sept. 18 Moment magazine awards dinner, where the justice had… Read more »

‘Why is it that I can’t say something against the Jews?’ Malaysia’s leader asks at Columbia

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 31, 2019. (Chris Jung/NurPhoto/Getty Images/JTA Photo Service)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The prime minister of Malaysia defended his past anti-Semitic statements and questioned the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust in a speech at Columbia University. “I am exercising my right to free speech. Why is it that I can’t say something against the Jews,… Read more »

What does ‘Jew down’ mean, and why do people find it offensive?

A 16th-century painting of a money lender by Dutch artist Quentin Massys (Francis G. Mayer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images/JTA Photo Service)

(JTA) – “Jew down” seems to be making a comeback — or maybe it never left the lexicon. In April, a City Council member uttered the term at a meeting in Jeffersonville, Indiana. This month, council members in two New Jersey cities — Paterson and Trenton — used it in… Read more »

My congregation prays at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Here’s how we are coping this Rosh Hashanah.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, right, holds hands with Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, who survived the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue, at Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church during a service for victims of the mass shooting, Oct. 31, 2018, Perlman's wife, the author Beth Kissileff, is seated to his left. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images/JTA Photo Service)

PITTSBURGH (JTA) — Our sages teach us that kol hatchalot kashot, all beginnings are difficult. This phrase feels especially resonant this Rosh Hashanah. The man who blew the shofar last year at my Pittsburgh synagogue, New Light, is not here to blow it now. He was murdered on Oct. 27… Read more »

‘We feel like we failed’: How one Jewish school is processing the arrest of a teacher who preyed on children

A view outside the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Google Street View/JTA Photo Service)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sitting at the front of a large room lined floor to ceiling with Jewish holy books, Rabbi Joseph Beyda’s voice broke as he processed, seemingly in real time, the idea that a trusted teacher had preyed on his students. “I think the overarching feeling of… Read more »

Grounds of Boston-area synagogue vandalized

BOSTON (JTA) — The grounds of a suburban Boston synagogue were vandalized. Congregants of Temple Sinai in Sharon, about 25 miles south of Boston, discovered graffiti of unidentifiable defacing symbols splashed over the large Star of David in the pavement near the synagogue’s front entryway as they arrived for… Read more »

Ro Khanna, a rising star among progressive Democrats, navigates a careful pro-Israel line

Ro Khanna in his congressional office, Sept. 17, 2019. The California congressman wants close U.S.-Israel ties to continue, but says that should not preclude the American government from using the relationship as leverage to push for changes in Israeli policy. (Ron Kampeas)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ro Khanna, a rising star among progressive Democrats, wants to make a point about how to be progressive and pro-Israel, so he quotes Alan Dershowitz. Yes, that Alan Dershowitz, the Fox News habitue who has accused the Democratic Party of “tolerating anti-Semitism.” “I don’t agree with… Read more »

Sackler family-owned Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

(JTA) — The Sackler family-owned Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy as part of a tentative $12 billion settlement with dozens of state and local governments that filed lawsuits accusing the company of fueling and profiting from the opioid epidemic. The company’s board met Sunday evening to approve the move,… Read more »

A Guatemalan asylum seeker is being sheltered in a Washington state synagogue

Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, Wash., is the only synagogue in the United States known to be sheltering an undocumented immigrant. (Rabbi Seth Goldstein)

(JTA) — In a few weeks, the congregants at Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, Washington, will gather for Yom Kippur services, where a line in the traditional liturgy declares, “My house will be a house of prayer for all nations.” In this synagogue’s case, that will literally be true.… Read more »

How should Jews treat each other? Jewish thinkers have come up with a plan.

Jeiwsh thought leaders and activists from around the world present the Declaration of Our Common Destiny to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Sept. 10, 2019. (Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Despite our differences, Jews around the world have remained bound together by a shared history, by the Torah and by our core values, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Jewish thinkers from around the world. The 30 scholars and activists met this week in Jerusalem to hammer… Read more »

In new book, Obama speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz goes on a Jewish journey

For Sarah Hurwitz, an introductory course launched an exploration of Judaism. (Random House)

When Sarah Hurwitz was working as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama, and later as head speechwriter for Michelle Obama, she often was assumed to be a good source of knowledge about Judaism. Except Hurwitz wasn’t. She had grown up nominally Reform. And after her bat mitzvah, Hurwitz… Read more »

NJ councilman uses term ‘Jew us down’ to criticize developers

(JTA) — A city councilman in Paterson, New Jersey, used the term “Jew us down” at a public meeting to criticize developers looking to buy land for less money. Colleagues of Michael Jackson condemned his use of the term, calling it “highly insensitive,” “reprehensible” and “totally inappropriate.” Councilman Al… Read more »

Mayim Bialik to write and direct her first feature film

(JTA) — Popular Jewish actress Mayim Bialik will write and direct a feature film based on her own experiences. The comedy-drama titled “As Sick As They Made Us,” which will deal with mental illness, will be Bialik’s screenwriting and directing debut. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.… Read more »