National

Alumni call on Jewish day schools to do more to fight racism

(JTA) – When Ilana Goldberg scrolled through Instagram last Tuesday, much of her feed consisted of black squares as part of an initiative called #BlackoutTuesday to honor the Black Lives Matter movement. Then she saw a photo of student artwork posted by the Jewish Community High School of the… Read more »

Calls to defund the police put Jewish institutions in a tough position

New York police officers stand guard at the door of the Union Temple of Brooklyn after it was vandalized with graffiti, Nov. 2, 2018. (Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)

(JTA) — When Rabbi Capers Funnye attends a synagogue that’s not his own, he must brace himself for the reaction that he knows will follow after he walks through the door. Even though he comes in wearing a kippah and holding a prayer shawl, Funnye knows that if a… Read more »

A different kind of protest movement: Orthodox children rally to open New York summer camps

Orthodox children in New York City are rallying to have their camps open amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Screenshot from Twitter)

(JTA) – Protesters have been a daily sight in Brooklyn over the last few weeks. But the protesters blocking traffic Thursday on the streets of the New York City borough’s Orthodox neighborhoods were a little younger than usual. Their shouting — “We want camp!” — quickly made their aim… Read more »

Stop using Israel as an excuse not to support Black Lives Matter

A Black Lives Matter protester raises his fist during a march to honor George Floyd in New York City, May 31, 2020. (John Moore/Getty Images)

This story originally appeared on Alma. Take a moment and remember where you were when you first heard about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. I was in Tel Aviv getting ready to go to the movies after Havdalah. I didn’t end up going —… Read more »

Boston federation lays off 25 employees amid economic crisis

(JTA) – Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston’s Jewish federation, has laid off 25 employees as it plans for a year of decreased donations and increased need for services. The move, which was announced in an email sent to community members earlier this month, follows widespread layoffs at Jewish organizations across the… Read more »

White Jews have been able to flee to the suburbs. Black Americans largely could not. Here’s why that matters today.

A view of suburbia (Getty Images)

CLEVELAND (JTA) — I turned on my phone and felt an overwhelming sense of frustration, sadness and hopelessness. While I had been enjoying two days without electronics in observance of Shavuot and Shabbat, cities across the country were engulfed in a combination of civic protests and police riots. Weapons… Read more »

Trump authorizes sanctions against International Criminal Court and blasts its investigation of Israel

(JTA) — President Donald Trump authorized sanctions against the International Criminal Court should it pursue cases against U.S. citizens and cited what he said was its anti-Israel bias. In an executive order issued Thursday, Trump approved economic sanctions and travel restrictions against ICC workers directly involved in investigating American… Read more »

In a dramatic shift, AIPAC gives lawmakers a green light to criticize Israel over annexation

People gather to stage a demonstration to protest against the annexation plan of the Jordan Valley, located in the occupied West Bank and illegal Jewish settlements in West Bank, Tel Aviv, Israel on June 6, 2020. (Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The leading pro-Israel lobby in the United States is telling lawmakers that they are free to criticize Israel’s looming annexation plans — just as long as the criticism stops there. Two sources — a congressional aide and a donor — say the American Israel Public Affairs… Read more »

UJA-Federation of New York announces 54 layoffs as CEO forgoes pay

(JTA) – In the  past few months, UJA-Federation of New York has awarded millions of dollars in emergency grants to help organizations survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s joining the ranks of organizations having to let go of its own staff members as it anticipates declining donations. And its… Read more »

Orthodox women are using Instagram to fight racism, on and offline

Shoshana Greenwald and the fashion brand Mimu Maxi are using Instagram to talk about racism in the Orthodox community. (Screenshots from Instagram)

(JTA) – Shevi Samet started her Instagram livestream by letting out a long, deep breath. “How are you?” she asked her co-presenter and fellow Instagrammer Shoshana Greenwald. “So, so nervous,” Greenwald replied. “So nervous, so nervous,” Samet echoed. “I just want to address that briefly: Shoshana and I are… Read more »

The first female chancellor of JTS shares her plans for the seminary – and getting through the pandemic

Shuly Rubin Schwartz was named the eighth chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in its 134-year history. (Ellen Dubin Photography)

(JTA) – Shuly Rubin Schwartz’s appointment as the Jewish Theological Seminary’s eighth chancellor comes just in time for the historian to guide the institution through a period of unprecedented crisis management. The flagship university of Judaism’s Conservative movement recently completed a major renovation project of its Morningside Heights campus… Read more »

For Orthodox Jews, George Floyd protests stir complicated feelings

Members of the Orthodox Jewish community watch as protesters walk through the Brooklyn borough on June 3, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

(JTA) – On Sunday night, Rabbi Richard Altabe marched arm in arm with two black politicians protesting police brutality at a demonstration in Far Rockaway. The next morning, Orthodox Jews in the same New York neighborhood showed up at the local police precinct to drop off pastries for the… Read more »

‘We have to be there’: 5 Jews on taking part in the George Floyd protests

Rachel Sumekh, right, marches in Los Angeles with David Bocarsly, June 3, 2020. (Courtesy of Sumekh)

(JTA) — It has been a trying week and a half for Beejhy Barhany. Her Israeli-Ethiopian fusion restaurant, Tsion Cafe, had already been struggling to make ends meet after months of closure due to the pandemic. Then the protests over the death of George Floyd swept through the city,… Read more »

Jewish activists in Minneapolis shift from working on several issues to one: Responding to the George Floyd protests

Members of Jewish Community Action attend a rally Sunday in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (Courtesy of Carin Mrotz)

(JTA) – Jewish Community Action, the leading Jewish social justice organization in Minneapolis, was supposed to be closed last Friday for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Instead, its staff started organizing individually as protests broke out all over the city in response to the killing of George Floyd in… Read more »

‘I’m not angry at all’: Owner of looted Chicago photo shop vows to rebuild

Don Flesch, the owner of Central Camera in Chicago, vowed to rebuild after looters destroyed his store. (Courtesy photo)

(JTA) — Don Flesch managed to grab just one item from his downtown Chicago camera shop as it went up in flames Saturday night: the antique Kodak that was the first camera his grandfather sold after he opened the store in 1899. But Flesch said he harbored no ill… Read more »

As colleges go virtual, students instead are heading to Israel on gap year programs

Year Course students this spring wear masks while volunteering. (Courtesy of Year Course)

(JTA) — Hadara Bilsky thought she’d spend her first semester of college making friends in her dorm, having discussions with professors and students in class, and attending Shabbat services at Hillel. Now the 18-year-old isn’t sure if any of that will happen. Emory University, her school of choice, has… Read more »

Amid pandemic, Jewish groups get creative for Shavuot festivities

Health care staff at Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital participate in the Days of Gratitude project, holding up signs in Hebrew and Arabic reading "Thank you for taking care of yourself," "Thank you for coming to work" and Thank you for your dedication." (Courtesy of M2)

When Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly during a 2015 vacation to Mexico, Sandberg found solace in Jewish tradition. “One of the ways you find strength is to remember what is still good in your life,” Sandberg said. During the coronavirus crisis, actress, scientist and author… Read more »