National

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 »

How Obama and Netanyahu can make up

The relationship between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen here after Obama's arrival in Israel on March 20, 2013, has been marked by reports of tensions. (Pete Souza/White House)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are not the best of friends — that seems pretty clear by now. But following reports during the Gaza conflict of cut-off phone calls, tough talk of “demands” and eavesdropping, it may be time for them to figure… Read more »

Ebbing support for Israel among key groups stirring alarm

Pro-Israel demonstration in Chicago, July 22, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – If the results of a recent focus group and polls are any indication, the gap is growing between Congress and young Americans when it comes to support for Israel. Polls conducted in late July by Gallup and the Pew Research Center found that support for Israel… Read more »

Jewish community aids migrant women and children in Tucson

Amid national publicity on Central American migrants – from pro/con protests to faith-based assistance — the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona stands firm. JCRC has long been involved in border issues, says director Bryan Davis, noting that Jews were once strangers dealing with… Read more »

Amid uncertainty of an open-ended war, U.S.-Israel tensions rise

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer addresses Jewish leaders at the National Press Club in Washington, July 28, 2014. (Ron Sachs)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The dramatic developments in the war between Hamas and Israel have been accompanied by sharp ups and downs in U.S.-Israel relations. On Monday, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, made nice with the U.S. national security adviser, Susan Rice, before an audience of… Read more »

In U.S., Gaza conflict reverberates on air and in the streets

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest across the street from a pro-Israel really in Chicago, July 28, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — In Europe, the fight over Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has prompted violent street battles, firebombs thrown at synagogues and even a mid-game attack against a visiting Israeli soccer team by protesters in Austria. In America, it has been more a battle of commentary,… Read more »

European anti-Semitism is focus as Jewish leaders, Democratic senators meet

(Sean Hayford O’Leary via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Talk at the annual meeting between Democratic senators and Jewish groups kept coming back to anti-Semitism in Europe. The recurring theme, which the 24 senators who attended and the Jewish leaders both raised, was a measure of the anxiety aroused by recent reports of attacks on… Read more »

FAA, reviewing Israeli measures, lifts flight ban

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on flights to Israel after reviewing Israeli measures to keep flights safe from rockets. “Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new… Read more »

FAA suspends U.S. airlines’ flights to Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Federal Aviation Administration prohibited all U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for at least 24 hours. All three U.S. carriers with nonstop flights to Israel – United, U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines — canceled their flights to Tel Aviv on Tuesday. El Al, which is not bound by the FAA… Read more »

After Harvard, Alan Dershowitz plans an active — and combative — retirement

Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz hangs out the porch of the Chilmark General Store in the Martha's Vineyard town of Chilmark, Mass. (Anthony Weiss/JTA)

  CHILMARK, Mass. (JTA) — Alan Dershowitz’s house is a bit of a mess.Most of the rooms in his Martha’s Vineyard home are cluttered with half-unpacked boxes filled with items from his Cambridge house, which he and his wife emptied recently and sold after he retired from his Harvard… Read more »

From grizzly bears to Gaza rockets: Alaskan olim head for Israel

Liam Ferguson, center, who is moving to Israel with his parents, hiking along Alaska’s Kesugi Ridge with his sister, Zoey, left, and a family friend. (Courtesy of Stewart Ferguson)

(JTA) — Rebecca Scoggin lived in a lot of places growing up: Juneau, Nome, Fairbanks, Homer, Anchorage. But except for the two years she lived in Seattle after high school, she never lived outside Alaska. At least she hadn’t until a few months ago. Inspired by a Birthright trip… Read more »

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, father of Jewish Renewal, dies

(JTA) — Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the father of the Jewish Renewal movement, has died at age 89. A maverick rabbi from an Orthodox background who spent time in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Schachter-Shalomi transitioned over time toward a New Age, neo-Hasidic approach, gaining a substantial following on his own but also influencing other… Read more »

Jewish groups stand by religious freedom law, but Supremes’ take in Hobby Lobby ruling divides them

Demonstrators in Washington celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, June 30, 2014. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two decades ago the Jewish community united in support of landmark religious freedom legislation. Now the Supreme Court’s application of that law has Jewish groups divided. Leading Jewish advocacy groups denounced the court’s 5-4 decision Monday in theHobby Lobby case granting religious freedoms protections to companies, while Orthodox groups… Read more »