National

Do Israelis think Netanyahu is ‘chickenshit’? Maybe, but they like him that way

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset during the opening of the winter session, Oct. 27, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – An anonymous White House staffer apparently isn’t the only one who thinks Benjamin Netanyahu is shy about taking chances. A piece this week in The Atlantic magazine by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg ignited a firestorm with its revelation that an Obama administration official had called the Israeli… Read more »

U.S. nuclear negotiator suggests Iran deal could be close at hand

Wendy Sherman, the top U.S. negotiator in the world powers' nuclear talks with Iran, says the two sides have "made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. (Eric Bridliers/U.S. Mission Geneva)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Is the Obama administration preparing the ground for an Iran nuclear deal — one in which both sides can claim victory? Wendy Sherman, the top U.S. negotiator, in an unusually detailed and optimistic speech on Oct. 23, for the first time suggested that the pieces of… Read more »

Study: Miami Jewry sees first gain since 1975

Miami has seen ans increase in Jewish population to 123,000 -- up 9 percent sicne 2004 and reversing a decline begun in 1975 -- according to a survey released on Oct. 13, 2014. (Shutterstock)

(JTA) – For the first time in four decades, Miami Jewry is growing. That’s the official finding of the new Miami Jewish population study released Monday by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. The Jewish population of Miami-Dade County increased 9 percent over the last decade, to 123,000 from 113,000… Read more »

Open Hillel holds first conference at Harvard

A representative of Jewish Voice for Peace speaking with a student at the Open Hillel conference at Harvard University, Oct. 12, 2014. (Gili Getz)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (JTA) — Harvard senior Rachel Sandalow-Ash scanned the exuberant crowd that packed a campus auditorium on Saturday night. “Wow,” she said, speaking to an audience of some 350 composed primarily of American college students. “This is amazing. This is really cool.” Sandalow-Ash, 21, went on to discuss… Read more »

Midterm elections: Jews facing off and other close races to watch

Andrew Romanoff

(JTA) — With midterm elections just around the corner, four races for the House of Representatives in particular are catching our Jewish eyes. In California, succeeding Waxman: Ted Lieu vs. Elan Carr California’s 33rd Congressional District, stretching along the Pacific Coast and extending into the west side of Los… Read more »

Rabbi’s coming-out highlights dramatic shift in Conservative Judaism

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Gil Steinlauf, a nationally prominent Conservative rabbi, made headlines this month when he announced to his large Washington, D.C., synagogue that he is gay, and that he and his wife of 20 years would divorce. As surprised as his congregants at Adas Israel may have… Read more »

Op-Ed: Why we encourage body talk at Camp Be’chol Lashon

At Camp Be’chol Lashon, which provides a space for racially and ethnically diverse Jews, discussion about appearance is the norm. (Courtesy of Be'chol Lashon)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Earlier this year, the Jewish overnight camp Eden Village garnered a great deal of attention for its “no body talk” policy, which camp leaders described as providing a “break from mentioning physical appearance, including clothing.” The policy, which aims to lessen the stress children feel about appearance, certainly has merit. But… Read more »

What a GOP Senate would mean for the Jewish communal agenda

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Should Republicans win the Senate and maintain control of the House of Representatives on Nov. 4 — as many observers expect them to do — the political gridlock that has characterized much of President Obama’s term is poised to intensify. Jewish strategies, however, will remain the… Read more »

The Jewish dressmaker FDR turned away

Paul and Hedy Strnad were rejected in their efforts to seek safe haven in the United States from Czehchoslovakia on the eve of the Holocaust. (Courtesy Jewish Museum Milwaukee)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Was the Jewish “lady tailor” who ran a Prague dressmaking shop a potential Nazi spy? The Roosevelt administration apparently thought so. The Jewish Museum Milwaukee recently opened a remarkable exhibit about the late Hedy Strnad, a Jewish-Czech dressmaker who with her husband, Paul, attempted to immigrate… Read more »

JTA SPECIAL REPORT: CONVERSION IN AMERICA 10 questions about Jewish conversion you want to know but are afraid to ask

While none of the Jewish denominations sanction quickie conversions, there are ways to cheat the system using corrupt rabbis. This humorously labeled breath spray, however, probably won't do the trick. (carloscappaticci/ Creative Commons)

(This is part of a special JTA report on conversion in America. Read our other pieces about who’s converting to Judaism, and about the denomination-by-denomination breakdown of how the different denominations do conversion.) Must coverts pass a test to become a Jew? Generally, no. Across all the denominations, rabbis… Read more »

U.S. talk of thawing relations with Iran highlights rift with Israel

A view of the reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran as the first fuel is loaded, Aug. 21, 2010. (Iran International Photo Agency via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Obama administration officials and Iran skeptics, chief among them Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are presenting starkly different outlooks of what the world would look like should negotiators meet a Nov. 24 deadline and strike a nuclear deal. The topic is likely to dominate the meeting… Read more »

At U.N., Abbas attacks Israel, but Netanyahu’s mind elsewhere

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his address at the U.N. General Assembly shows a photo of a rocket launcher in a civilian area of Gaza with children nearby, Sept. 29, 2014. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) – In the end, there was much to talk about at the U.N. General Assembly but few genuine surprises. With an eye on the jihadist group ISIS, President Obama focused on the need for the international community to counter the dangers of violent extremism. Israeli Prime… Read more »

For Obama at the U.N., what a difference a year makes

President Obama speaks before the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2014. (Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) – A year ago, when President Barack Obama took the dais at the U.N. General Assembly, his speech focused on Iran’s nuclear program, Syria’s chemical weapons and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He talked about Egypt’s messy transition to democracy and defended America’s actions in Libya. A year… Read more »

Focusing on ISIS in U.N. speech, Obama virtually ignores Iran

President Barack Obama speaking at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 24, 2014. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) – President Obama devoted the bulk of his U.N. speech to the fight against violent Islamic extremism and hardly mentioned Iran’s nuclear program. In his address last year to the General Assembly, Obama spent a great deal of time talking about Tehran’s nuclear pursuit, describing it… Read more »

Ohio U. students protesting ‘blood bucket’ video are arrested

(JTA) — An Ohio University Student Senate meeting erupted into a chaotic scene and four students were arrested over protests of the Senate president’s “blood bucket challenge” of Israel. At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Student Senate, pro-Israel students staged a filibuster and called for the resignation of Megan Marzec over… Read more »

Is Yeshivah of Flatbush ‘predatory’ in its scrutiny of girls’ attire?

Melissa Duchan

NEW YORK (JTA) – For years, Melissa Duchan had found the dress code for girls at her Orthodox school in Brooklyn, the Yeshivah of Flatbush, onerous. But it wasn’t until recently that Duchan, 16, felt that scrutiny of female students had crossed the line from irritating to what she called “predatory.”… Read more »

Backers of anti-Iran group create mirror group against violent Islamists

Mark Wallace, CEO of the new Counter Extremism Project, is flanked by board members Fran Townsend and Joseph Lieberman in announcing the group's creation in New York, Sept. 22, 2014/ (Courtesy of Counter Extremism Project)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Imagine taking the 6-year-old nongovernmental organization United Against Nuclear Iran and swapping out the word Iran with “violent extremists.” That pretty much sums up the Counter Extremism Project, an NGO launched Monday that aims to expose the financial, ideological and recruitment architecture that supports violent… Read more »

70 years on, a missing private comes home

A U.S. Army casket team lays to rest Pfc. Bernard Gavrin at Arlington National Cemetery while Rabbi Marvin Bash looks on, Sept. 12, 2014. (Ron Kampeas)

ARLINGTON, Va. (JTA) — The scene at Arlington National Cemetery last Friday was not quite routine, but nor was it unusual: A clergyman said a prayer, an army NCO handed Bernard Gavrin’s closest living relative a folded U.S. flag, and a volunteer — one of the “Arlington Ladies” who… Read more »