National

Why a Christian Japanese-American artist painted a mural of Nazi fighter Hannah Senesh

Julie Robertson painted a mural of Hannah Senesh in downtown San Diego. (Courtesy of Robertson)

(JTA) — Hannah Senesh may seem an unlikely motivation for Japanese-born artist Julie Robertson. But the 35-year-old Christian artist, who just spent four days painting a 30-by-40-foot mural of the late Jewish poet, learned about Senesh earlier this year and was struck by her bravery. A national hero in… Read more »

Las Vegas rabbi on what it’s like to lead a synagogue in ‘Sin City’

Rabbi Sanford Akselrad has been leading Congregation Ner Tamid in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson since 1988. (Josefin Dolsten)

LAS VEGAS (JTA) — Congregation Ner Tamid is located a half an hour drive away from the Las Vegas Strip, where each luxury hotel seems more extravagant than the next and even on a Sunday morning people can be found crowding around blackjack tables and sitting in front of… Read more »

Here’s what it’s like to grow up as a Jew in Iraq

Ceen Gabbai was born and raised as a Jew in Iraq, and received asylum in the United States in 2015. She now lives in Brooklyn. (Courtesy of Gabbai)

NEW YORK (JTA) — When Ceen Gabbai argued with her first-grade teacher about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, she didn’t realize how big of a risk she was taking. The year was 2000 and students across the world held strong opinions about the Second Intifada, an outbreak of violence that claimed… Read more »

Trump accuses Adam Schiff of fraud and treason, calls for his arrest

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff answer questions at a news conference in Washington, Oct. 2, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump accused Rep. Adam Schiff, the Jewish Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, of treason and called for his arrest. “Shifty Schiff” is a “lowlife,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “He should resign from office in disgrace and frankly they should look at… Read more »

Israeli minister: Promoters of the Israel boycott movement are anti-Semitic

Israel’s public security minister presented a report at a conference in Brussels on Wednesday that includes 80 examples of what he called anti-Semitism by key European promoters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. In one example from April, Jenny Tonge, a lawmaker in the upper chamber… Read more »

Amar’e Stoudemire is now an undergrad, goes to his campus Hillel and wants to boost black-Jewish relations

Amar'e Stoudemire is leading an initiative to connect Jewish and African-American students at Florida International University. (Courtesy of FIU Hillel)

(JTA) — Despite his serious thoughts about an NBA comeback, Amar’e Stoudemire is taking a little break from basketball to go to school. The former six-time NBA All-Star, who had never attended college, started this fall as a freshman at Florida International University in Miami. Though the semester just… Read more »

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 »