National

At Presbyterian assembly, divestment advocates get narrow, but limited, victory

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, addressing the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church (U.S.A.) to urge the denomination to reject divestment, June 19, 2014. (Courtesy of Union for Reform Judaism)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – There were amendments and amendments to amendments in a debate lasting for more than four hours. There were dueling T-shirts. There was a last-minute appeal for a joint pilgrimage to speak hard truths to Benjamin Netanyahu. And there was a plea to emulate Jesus and speak… Read more »

50 years later, rabbis jailed in civil rights protest return to St. Augustine

Six Reform rabbis pose for a photo outside the jail in St. Augustine, Fla., where they spent a nigth after being arrested protesting for civil rights 50 years earlier. From left to right, are Allen Secher, Israel Dresner, Jerrold Goldstein and Richard Levy. Sitting are Daniel Fogel, left, and Hanan Sills. (Dina Weinstein)

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (JTA) — For Rabbi Richard Levy, it was an emotional return to this historic northeastern Florida city. The first time Levy came to St. Augustine 50 years ago, he and 15 other rabbis and a Reform Jewish leader endured taunts from segregationists armed with broken bottles… Read more »

At L.A. cultural center, Middle East translates to coexistence, not conflict

Jordan Elgrably is executive director of the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles. (Anthony Weiss/JTA)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – It’s Friday night, and patrons are sitting and chatting over plates of tajine and hummus waiting for the evening’s main event, a stand-up comedy show. It could be any nightspot in this city. But a closer look reveals a bolder agenda than just good food… Read more »

After losing Ayelet, Galenas find joy with new baby, thanks to NIH breakthrough

Seth Galena and Hindy Poupko, at his right shoulder, celebrate the birth of their son Akiva at his bris, June 15, 2014. (Piha Studio)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Even before their daughter, Ayelet Galena, was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disease called dyskeratosis congenita around her first birthday, parents Hindy Poupko and Seth Galena knew they wanted to have more children. But once the diagnosis arrived, the couple had a dilemma: There… Read more »

American Jews take up cause of missing Israeli teens

Demonstrators rally outside the Israeli consulate in Manhattan to express solidarity with three Israeli teens who were abducted in the West Bank, June 16, 2014. (Miriam Moster/JTA)

NEW YORK (JTA) – The Reform movement posted a prayer. Chabad asked followers to pledge to do a mitzvah. The Jewish Federations of North America set up a Web page to express solidarity. The disappearance of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last week is being taken as a call to action uniting… Read more »

As state shifts rightward, North Carolina Jews raise their voices

Members of Carolina Jews for Justice and other demonstrators gather on the mall outside North Carolina's State Capitol in Raleigh for a Moral Mondays protest, June 2, 2014. (Anthony Weiss/JTA)

RALEIGH, N.C. (JTA) — It was a hot Monday afternoon, but Judy Katzin was standing on the grassy mall outside the North Carolina State Capitol beside the Carolina Jews for Justice banner, as she has many times. Katzin was among hundreds of activists of diverse backgrounds who had come… Read more »

Cantor’s loss leaves Jewish Republicans bereft

Rep. Eric Cantor, then-House majority leader, delivers an address at the Virginia Military Institute, Feb. 17, 2014. (Courtesy of House Majority Leader)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Eric Cantor’s defeat in one constituency, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, triggered mourning among another: Republican Jews. Since 2009, Rep. Cantor (R-Va.) has been the only Jewish Republican in Congress. After the 2010 GOP takeover of the House, he became the majority leader. He is the highest-ranking… Read more »

Ohio governor dedicates Holocaust and Liberators Memorial

The Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial, designed by Daniel Libeskind, on the lawn of he Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio, was dedicated June 2, 2014. (Marshall Weiss/ The Dayton Jewish Observer)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (The Dayton Jewish Observer) — Visibly moved by the testimony of a Holocaust survivor, Ohio Gov. John Kasich called for a monument at the Ohio Statehouse during the annual Governor’s Holocaust Commemoration three years ago. “Let’s construct something that can teach people about man’s inhumanity to man,… Read more »

A decade later, Mass. Jews look back at legacy of same-sex marriage first

Idit Klein, right, the executive director of Keshet, married Jordan Namerow under a chuppah at their 2011 wedding in Massachusetts, which was officiated by two rabbis. (Courtesy of Idit Klein)

BOSTON (JTA) — Ten years ago, shortly after midnight on May 17, 2004, a jubilant Arthur Lipkin and his longtime partner descended the stone steps of Cambridge City Hall clutching a marriage license application. It was a historic night of revelry and celebration, as Massachusetts became the first state… Read more »

U.S. warming to Palestinian unity draws Israeli ire

Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah, at head of table, attends his first meeting of the new Palestinian unity government cabinet in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 3, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The new Palestinian unity government brought together rivals Hamas and Fatah, but it has opened a divide between allies Israel and the United States. “I’m deeply troubled by the announcement that the United States will work with the Palestinian government backed by Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Read more »

In L.A., children of Holocaust survivors say Never Again — with a gun

Shooters shoot. (R to L: Les Hajnal, Lea Rosenfeld, Doris Wise Montrose, etc.) (Anthony Weiss/JTA)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — It’s a sunny morning in Southern California and Lea Rosenfeld, a soft-spoken, bespectacled woman who looks like a Jewish grandmother, squares her feet, faces her target and squeezes off five shots with a handgun. All of them miss. “I never even held a gun in… Read more »

Hillary’s choice: Clinton seeks to differentiate herself from Obama on Mideast

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking at the American Jewish Committee's Global Forum, May 14, 2014. (Ronald Sachs)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – A month before her foreign policy autobiography, “Hard Choices,” hits the bookstores, Hillary Rodham Clinton made an easy choice: She pitched her diplomatic credentials to a friendly Jewish audience. Clinton’s speech to the American Jewish Committee on May 14 was meant to send a signal to… Read more »

Rand Paul’s Jewish outreach finds receptive if wary audience

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference in March. (Gage Skidmore)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Can Rand Paul woo his party’s Jews? The Kentucky senator and likely candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination is stepping up his Jewish outreach. In recent weeks, Paul chatted with rabbis on a conference call and proposed legislation to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority… Read more »

Donald Sterling’s dollars: Charities face dilemmas with tainted donors

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is pictured with V. Stiviano to his left at a 2013 basketball game. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

When Donald Sterling’s racist rant hit the news last week, you could practically hear the jostling at the microphone by those eager to denounce the Los Angeles Clippers owner. For the beneficiaries of Sterling’s largesse, the denunciations took on a special imperative as a means of distancing themselves from… Read more »

Should Jews pack their bags for Detroit?

(JTA) — Sure, the news from the city of Detroit seems endlessly grim: bankruptcy, crime and so for  But the metro area, whose northwest suburbs host a panoply of Jewish amenities, is the most affordable place in the United States to raise a “committed Jewish family,” at least according… Read more »

Campus divestment votes surge, but pro-Palestinian activists don’t get many wins

NEW YORK (JTA) — On Twitter, pro-Palestinian activists dubbed it “DivestApalooza.” Student governments at three Southern California public universities all voted on divestment resolutions targeting Israel in a single day. The April 23 votes were part of a surge in student governments at American universities voting on divestment resolutions.… Read more »

Anonymous interview shows U.S. frustration with Israel after talks’ collapse

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem on March 31, 2014. (Amos Ben Gershom/Israel Government Press Office/FLASH90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Now that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have screeched to a halt, U.S. officials are apportioning blame, and a big share is going to Israel. In an interview with Nahum Barnea, a veteran diplomatic affairs writer for the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot, anonymous members of the U.S. negotiating team… Read more »

Fact-checking J Street and its critics

J Street's president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, addresses his group's 2013 national conference in Washington. (Courtesy of J Street)

(JTA) — The vote is over, but the debate rages on over the recent rejection of J Street’s application to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Depending on where you stand, the 22-17 vote rejecting the application was either about J Street’s own missteps or… Read more »