National

Heeding Kerry’s peace call, Jewish groups rap Bennett’s two-state obit

L-R: Reps. Ed Royce, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Pete Roskam at a meeting with Dani Dayan, a leader of Israel's settlers movement, in Washington, June 27, 2013. (House Republican Conference)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — It’s almost boilerplate: The American Jewish community asks a foreign leader with whom it has cultivated a close relationship to kindly tell firebrands in the leader’s government to pipe down and fall in with an established policy that happens to be embraced by the U.S. government.… Read more »

Acknowledging failure on sex allegations, Norman Lamm steps down from Y.U.

Norman Lamm (Yeshiva University)

NEW YORK (JTA) – In his letter announcing he was stepping down as Yeshiva University’s chancellor and rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Norman Lamm acknowledged his failure to respond adequately to allegations of sexual abuse against Y.U. rabbis in the 1980s. Lamm, now 85, became the school’s third president and head… Read more »

Student killed in Egypt was active in Hillel, motivated by peace

Andrew Pochter, the Jewish-American student of Chevy Chase, Md., who was stabbed to death during a protest in Egypt on June 28, 2013. (Facebook)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Andrew Pochter, the American student stabbed to death Friday during a protest in Egypt, was active in Hillel and motivated by a desire to encourage peace and democracy in the region. “He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East, and he… Read more »

Jewish groups ride roller-coaster week of Supreme Court rulings

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A slight bump up on affirmative action, a plunge on voting rights, and on gay marriage, the mountaintop: federal legitimacy. It’s been a week of roller-coaster highs and lows at the Supreme Court for liberal Jewish groups. Their collective pledge: Stick it out. “These are critical… Read more »

Feinstein and Wyden, on opposite ends of intel debate, are known for independence

Dianne Feinstein, left, and Ron Wyden have much in common -- including their party, their religion, and their reputations for feistiness -- but they have come down on opposite sides of the debate over government data collection. (David Lee/Sam Craig/Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden have much in common. Both are longtime U.S. senators, Democrats, Jewish and fiercely independent West Coasters. They’ve also both been members of the Senate Intelligence Committee since before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and privy to classified materials that describe how… Read more »

Liberal Jewish groups unleash on doomed abortion bill

Pro-choice supporters at a candlelight vigil in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Jan. 22, 2013. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Liberal Jewish groups fired a verbal barrage against a restrictive abortion bill passed by the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives, calling it “egregious,” “outrageous,” “an affront,” and “deeply disappointing.” Such strong language is unusual in any case for groups that must engage with Congress, but especially… Read more »

HIAS launches yearlong refugee-awareness campaign

HIAS-assisted refugees in Chad (HIAS)

(New York, NY – June 20, 2013) – HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, today launched The Welcome Initiative, a campaign to raise awareness around issues surrounding the treatment and welcome of refugees. Central to the campaign is the Affirmation of Welcome, a call to action to… Read more »

Israeli couple hopes for change in U.S. immigration policy

Israeli couple hopes for change in U.S. immigration policy (Courtesy Immigration Equality Action Fund)

A same-sex Israeli couple struggling against U.S. immigration laws are set to become the faces of the fight to extend one of the foundations of immigration policy to gays and lesbians. Adi Lavy and Tzila Levy have been caught in the bureaucratic red tape of the American immigration system… Read more »

For century-old ADL, curbing online hate proves a modern-day dilemma

WASHINGTON (JTA) — How do you confront hatred when it has no fixed address? Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League national director, attempts to pin down an answer to the question in his latest book, “Viral Hate.” Co-authored with privacy lawyer Christopher Wolf, the book chronicles the complications of countering… Read more »

Power’s interventionism thrills pro-Israel crowd — except when it’s about Israel

Samantha Power, recently nominated as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, listens to President Obama as he announces the nomination of Susan Rice to be the next National Security Advisor at the White House, June 5, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty/JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Samantha Power brings to foreign policy an activist impulse that many in the pro-Israel community wish was more prevalent among American diplomats. Except Power, a former White House national security council staffer nominated this week by President Obama to represent the United States at the United… Read more »

In new White House role, Israel will still keep Susan Rice busy

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, who is to be named national security adviser, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 2009. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Getty)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Susan Rice has said that a “huge” portion of her work at the United Nations was defending Israel’s legitimacy. Her new job will likely be no less Israel-centric. President Obama plans Wednesday to name Rice his national security adviser and replace her at the U.N. with… Read more »

How do you spell knaidel?

Confetti falling over Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, N.Y., after he won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., May 30, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(JTA) — An Indian-American boy spelled the Yiddish-derived word “knaidel” correctly to win the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., defeated 10 other finalists on Thursday in National Harbor, Md., after spelling the word for a traditional Jewish dumpling. Mahankali won $30,000 in… Read more »

In Senate, Lautenberg maintained commitment to Jewish community

Sen. Frank Lautenberg attending a Holocaust memorial ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, May 1, 2008. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In 1982, Frank Lautenberg was running for New Jersey’s U.S. Senate spot at a time when  Democrats in the state were down on their political fortunes. The Jewish community knew and liked Lautenberg, a data processing magnate who died Monday at 89 after serving more than… Read more »

Google Glass portends brave new Jewish world

Chaim Cohen wearing his Google Glass. (Matthew Hersh/Hub City Communications)

HIGHLAND PARK, N.J. (JTA) — Over the past few weeks, strangers have begun stopping high school computer science teacher Chaim Cohen on the street. A few accuse him of recording them without their knowledge. Even fewer blame him for all of society’s ills. But many just want an answer… Read more »

Law cited in Fox News furor has AIPAC history

Fox News correspondent James Rosen, shown here interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry on March 5, 2013, was subject to a subpoena based on the same statute in the espionage act used to indict two former AIPAC staffers in 2005. (U.S. State Department)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – With its talk of signal books, sketches and photographic negatives, the Espionage Act suggests a period long ago consigned to Cold War-era thrillers. In fact, the law is even older, first drafted in 1917, at a time when secret orders were conveyed by telegraph and semaphore… Read more »

Germany commits to additional $800 million for home care for Holocaust survivors

German officials laying a wreath at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as Claims Conference officials look on, May 2103.

NEW YORK (JTA) – The German government agreed to significantly expand its funding of home care for infirm Holocaust survivors and relax eligibility criteria for restitution programs to include Jews who spent time in so-called open ghettos. The agreement, reached after negotiations in Israel with the Claims Conference, will… Read more »

Top Claims Conference officials carried out own botched probe of 2001 fraud

A previously unknown document obtained by JTA shows that concern in 2001 about fraud at the Claims Conference reached the highest levels of the organization. (Claims Conference)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Claims Conference in recent days has blamed a now-dead regional director for bungling an early warning in 2001 about a massive fraud scheme that wasn’t halted until 2009. But a document obtained by JTA shows top conference officials were sufficiently concerned by the allegations… Read more »

Pressing Poland on restitution poses dilemma for U.S., Jewish groups

President Barack Obama and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, May 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Poland is a stalwart American ally in Europe, a bulwark against an increasingly belligerent Russia and, with the recent opening of a major new Warsaw museum, is enjoying a flush of accolades for its belated embrace of its Jewish roots. But there’s a thorn in the… Read more »

Making sense of the Claims Conference brouhaha

NEW YORK (JTA) – Who knew what, and when? Those are the questions critics are asking following the disclosure that the Claims Conference received an anonymous letter in 2001 identifying several fraudulent Holocaust-era restitution claims — nearly a decade before the organization halted a massive fraud scheme. By 2009,… Read more »