National

After his hunger strike, Alan Gross’ backers ramp up calls for U.S. action

Supporters of Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009, rally outside the White House on Dec. 3, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Alan Gross did not warn his family he was launching a hunger strike, but hearing the news, they understood why: The U.S. government subcontractor languishing in a Cuban prison feels forgotten. Gross,  a 64-year-old Jewish father of two from Potomac, Md., is currently serving a 15-year sentence… Read more »

In Kansas City, targeting a community’s beating heart

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (JTA) — Every Friday at noon, my 2-year-old daughter and I rush through the doors of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City here to meet my father for lunch. We are usually late, and the JCC’s Heritage Center, catering to active seniors (and their… Read more »

Kansas City shootings highlight threat of ‘lone wolf’ attack

A policewoman and police car are seen at the entrance of the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., following the fatal shootings there, April 13, 2014. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The suspect in deadly shootings at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City made no secret of his hateful views, but nobody anticipated the attack that claimed three lives on Sunday. The shooter was identified as Frazier Glenn Miller, a 73-year-old white supremacist. The attack illustrates… Read more »

As U.S. tries to save talks, Kerry touts past progress, says ‘fight is over process’

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies during aSenate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 8, 2014. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration is sticking with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for now despite a crisis that has threatened to scuttle talks. That’s the message U.S. officials were peddling as a top State Department team was in the region turning over the engine attempting to restart the… Read more »

Pollard, settlement freeze, prisoners in the mix amid peace talks crisis

Israelis calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard during President Obama's visit to Jerusalem, March 19, 2013. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

 WASHINGTON (JTA) — Possibilities raised during efforts to resolve the current crisis over Israeli-Palestinian peace talks include freeing Jonathan Pollard, a partial settlement freeze, guarantees that Palestinians won’t push for international recognition and a mass prisoner release.  Officials close to the talks confirmed to JTA that U.S. Secretary of… Read more »

In Hobby Lobby contraceptive case, arguing about kosher butchers

Demonstrators rally ouside of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby March 25, 2014. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — For 20 or so minutes last week, the issue of religious freedom was cast as a struggle between working women and Muslim and Jewish butchers. The pointed questions posed March 25 to the Obama administration’s chief lawyer by three U.S. Supreme Court justices got to the… Read more »

In Vegas, GOP Jews focus on Israel, while contenders focus on Adelson

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, March 29, 2014. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (JTA) — The GOP Jewish faithful descended in force on Sin City, turning out in record numbers and striking a feisty, combative tone at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference. According to organizers, some 400 people attended the gathering, where they were feted with poker and golf… Read more »

U.S. scrambles as prisoner release, Jewish state issues threaten to sink talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Obama administration is scrambling to salvage Israeli-Palestinian talks threatened by disputes over core identity issues for each side: recognition of the state’s Jewish character for Israel, the release of prisoners for the Palestinians. Martin Indyk, the peace process envoy for U.S. Secretary of State John… Read more »

Post-army travelers or Dead Sea scammers? Congress and State Dept. at odds over Israeli visas

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) delivers remarks during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Policy Conference on March 3, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The battle between members of Congress and the State Department over tourist visas for Israelis features two competing archetypes of the young Israeli traveler. The lawmakers paint a picture of a world traveler, matured by service to country, who deserves a break from the stresses of the… Read more »

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum’s tale of two cities

Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum spoke at the Mobile World Congress on Feb. 24, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Jan Koum’s birthday was Feb. 24, but he received his big gift early. The Ukraine-born CEO and founder of WhatsApp has catapulted from relative unknown to a poster boy for rags-to-riches immigrant triumph since his rapidly growing messaging company was sold last month  to Facebook for a record-breaking $19… Read more »

After bruising Iran sanctions battle, AIPAC conference is all about comity

U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), at left, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) deliver remarks during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Policy Conference in Washington. (Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 WASHINGTON (JTA) — You’ve got your rousing church choir, your multi-denominational trio of rabbis quoting Torah, your montages of Israelis and Palestinians coming together and, above all, your pleas to please, please, please be nice to one another. Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, Jew, Christian, black, white, Hispanic — the… Read more »

Southern supermarket giant Winn-Dixie bets big on kosher

The deli counter at Winn-Dixie's Boca Raton store is larger than that of many kosher-only supermarkets. (Uriel Heilman)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (JTA) – Stroll past the kosher section of most large supermarkets in America and you could be forgiven for thinking that Jewish diets consist mainly of jarred gefilte fish, unsalted matzahs and Tam-Tam crackers. Not so at the Winn-Dixie supermarket in this affluent South Florida suburb.… Read more »

Devorah Halberstam’s path from bereaved mother to counterterrorism authority

Devorah Halberstam honored Raymond Kelly, the former commissioner of the New York Police Department at a gala dinner at the Jewish Children's Museum in May 2013. (Jewish Children's Museum)

NEW YORK (JTA) – When a 16-year-old Lubavitcher named Ari Halberstam was gunned down on the Brooklyn Bridge on March 1, 1994 by a Lebanese livery cab driver, the killing seemed to be a cut-and-dried case. The shooter, Rashid Baz, was captured the following day and confessed to police.… Read more »

Jewish communal awareness of disabilities is growing, but advocates say not enough

Children with disabilities and their peers kayaking at the Conservative movement's Camp Ramah Wisconsin. (Courtesy National Ramah commission)

NEW YORK (JTA) — In the coming months, six young Jews with disabilities will start paid internships at major Jewish federations through a pilot program. If successful, the program will expand to communities throughout North America. In the fall, Manhattan’s first Jewish day school for children with special needs… Read more »

Anti-Semitism in America today: Down, but not out

Members of the National Socialist Movement rally near Los Angeles City Hall on April 17, 2010. (David McNew/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — When Abraham Foxman steps down next summer from his longtime post as national director of the Anti-Defamation League, he’ll be leaving his successor with a much brighter picture on anti-Semitism in America than when Foxman joined the organization in 1965. In an age when anti-Semitic… Read more »

Presbyterians push back against church group’s anti-Zionist study guide

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Presbyterians who engage in dialogue with Jewish groups are scrambling to undo what they say is the damage caused by a congregational study guide assailing Zionism distributed by a group affiliated with their denomination. The guide, “Zionism Unsettled,” posits that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fueled by… Read more »

Sid Caesar, TV and comedy pioneer, dies at 91

Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows” with co-star Imogene Coca (Wikimedia Commons) Read more: http://www.jta.org/2014/02/13/news-opinion/sid-caesar-tv-and-comedy-pioneer-dies-at-91#ixzz2tEslJNrS

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sid Caesar, regarded as the founding father of American Jewish comedy and live original sketch comedy, has died. Caesar, who reportedly has been in failing health for a year, died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 91. He is best known… Read more »

As confab nears, AIPAC still trying to figure out its legislative agenda

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference on March 5, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The highlight of AIPAC’s year is the final day of its annual policy conference, when thousands of activists ascend Capitol Hill to lobby for the passage of the organization’s legislative priorities. But just three weeks before the conference, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is facing… Read more »

As Kerry works on peace framework, Jewish groups keeping low profile

Martin Indyk, the U.S. special envoy for Ben Gurion International Airport on Jan. 5, 2014. (Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — As the Obama administration prepares to unveil a framework plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Jewish groups have responded by laying low. In contrast to the noisy Iran sanctions contretemps between the administration and much of the pro-Israel community, the leading centrist Jewish groups… Read more »