National

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 »

Amid declining Jewish caucus in Congress, rising concerns over communal influence

Jewish House members, present and past, clockwise from left, John Yarmuth, Nita Lowey, Jerrold Nadler, Henry Waxman, Brad Sherman and Howard Berman. (house.gov)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – From 31 in 2009 to a likely 19 in January, the unofficial Jewish caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives is shrinking fast. Jewish lawmakers have traditionally been the first stop for Jewish lobbyists seeking inroads for their issues, including Israel, preserving the social safety net,… Read more »

Chloe Valdary: Christian, black and a rising star of pro-Israel campus activism

Chloe Valdary called her AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel "life changing." (Lauren Clarice Cross)

(JTA) — Growing up in New Orleans, Chloe Valdary kept kosher, studied the Jewish Bible and celebrated Jewish holidays with festive meals. In recent years she has become an outspoken pro-Israel campus activist, contributing regularly to the Jewish press, and speaking and posting widely about the merits of the… Read more »

Citing divisions over Israel, Rabbi Brant Rosen quits congregation

(JTA) – A prominent rabbi whose outspoken criticism of Israel became too divisive for his congregation announced this week that he is resigning his pulpit. Brant Rosen, rabbi at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., made the announcement Tuesday. Aside from his pulpit position, which he has held… Read more »

Why the U.S. and Israel are not getting along

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Barack Obama meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2014. (Andrew Harper-Pool/Getty Images)

(JTA) – All is not well in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Somehow, the 50 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas frayed ties between Washington and Jerusalem. How did this happen? In part, the contretemps stems from the divergent ways that the Israeli and U.S. administrations view the Gaza war.… Read more »

In shadow of Ferguson, group builds ties across racial and cultural lines

Mikal Smith, left, and other Cultural Leadership participants visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. (Courtesy Cultural Leadership)

(JTA) — On the evening of Aug. 12, after two consecutive nights of clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., Mikal Smith rose to address a community meeting in the neighboring city of Florissant. In front of Gov. Jay Nixon, Obama administration officials and community leaders, Smith spoke… Read more »

Jewish student assaulted at Temple University

PHILADELPHIA — Hillel, the campus student group, is expressing “outrage” over an attack on a Jewish student at Temple University on Wednesday and is calling on the university to ensure the safety of its Jewish students.At the same time, the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine is condemning the… Read more »

Fifty years after Freedom Summer, civil rights volunteers reflect on activist lives

Heather Booth protesting for voter rights in Mississippi during the 1964 Freedom Summer. (Wallace Roberts)

(JTA) — At the Freedom Summer anniversary conference in Jackson, Miss., the activists who registered black voters and taught in Freedom Schools under the threat of violence 50 years ago stood up to introduce themselves. It took three hours to hear what they did in the Magnolia State back… Read more »

Backed by Bloomberg, Genesis launches ‘big ideas’ competition

(JTA) — It is now open season for those who would like a chunk of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s change and think they have a big idea up their sleeves. On Tuesday, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced the launch of the Genesis Generation Challenge, a competition offering 10 awards of… Read more »