National

New initiative seeking to improve Hebrew literacy among American Jews

Campers at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, N.Y., participating in a pilot Hebrew immersion program. (Ramah Day Camp)

NEW YORK (JTA) — For the first 3 1/2 weeks of the summer, one group of 5-year-olds at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, N.Y., was “very quiet” as the children went about the typical camp activities, according to Amy Skopp Cooper, the camp’s director. But in the fourth week,… Read more »

Reform biennial opening to outsiders in bid to revitalize movement

The last Reform biennial, held near Washington in December 2011, marked the passing of the torch to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, left, from Rabbi Eric Yoffie, right. (URJ)

NEW YORK (JTA) — First there was the Conservative movement’s October biennial conference, billed as “The conversation of the century” and opened up to presenters from outside the movement. Then came the November General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, which featured a “Global Jewish shuk: a… Read more »

Interim deal on Iran splits Congress on new sanctions bill

Sen. Mark Kirk, shown here with Sen. Kelly Ayotte testifying before a Senate committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Nov. 5, 2013, has been a leader in pushing for Iran sanctions. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  WASHINGTON (JTA) — They want to brandish a new stick against Iran, but hawks in Congress aren’t going to use it — yet. For all the disappointment they expressed following the deal on Iran’s nuclear program, skeptics in Congress appear to be willing to give the agreement brokered… Read more »

With Iran deal signed, what’s Netanyahu’s next move?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement, in his office in Jerusalem, Nov. 24, 2013 regarding the agreement reached in Geneva a few hours earlier between Iran and six world powers. (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — With an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in place, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu each face formidable challenges ahead. For Obama, the goal will be to move from the interim agreement to a broader and more permanent deal within six… Read more »

For messianic Jews, Bush speech a coup but acceptance elusive

WASHINGTON (JTA) — George W. Bush granted Messianic Jews a brief shining moment in the spotlight last week — and then just as quickly sent them back into the shadows. The Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Dallas had advertised Bush as the keynote speaker at its annual fundraiser on… Read more »

Why is France taking a harder line on Iran than the United States?

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, left, conferring with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the 68th United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 26, 2013. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — When reports emerged over the weekend that France’s hard line was responsible for the failure of negotiations over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, supporters and critics of the diplomatic push resorted to familiar stereotypes. Conservatives scoffed that even the conflict-averse French had outflanked President Obama. Leftists… Read more »

Federations provide emergency relief for Philippines typhoon

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America, is mobilizing a communal response to the super Typhoon Haiyan, which has wrought widespread destruction in the Philippines. JFNA today opened a mailbox for Federations to support relief efforts by the American Jewish Joint… Read more »

Whither the Jewish macher? Upstarts increasingly setting Jewish agenda

Nathan Lewin, left, and his daughter Alyza created headaches for major Jewish groups by persevering with a so-far unsuccessful lawsuit to get the State Department to recognize Jerusalem-born Americans as born in Israel. (Washington Week)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — On Sept. 27, the conservative political blogger Ken Berwitz was enraged — not by Democratic malfeasance, his favored bugbear, but by the policies of an Oklahoma-based chain of craft stores. Berwitz was bothered not only that Hobby Lobby was keeping Hanukkah tchotchkes off its shelves, but that… Read more »

Jerry Silverman: Not just talk when federations meet in Israel for G.A.

Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, at the 2012 General Assembly in Baltimore, Md. (JFNA)

NEW YORK (JTA) – This time, it’s not going to be just talking. There’s going to be listening and debating — and, eventually, action. That’s what Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, says will distinguish this year’s General Assembly, which is slated for Nov. 10-12… Read more »

Madoff, fire and theft: How Jewish nonprofits lost money

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Bernard Madoff. An unscrupulous contractor. Art that disappeared or was destroyed by fire — it’s not clear which. Bad, bad bookkeepers. And did we mention Bernard Madoff? These were among the causes of “material diversion” of assets — tax-speak for lost funds or property totaling $250,000… Read more »

Brainy Breslow clutch on the hill in Red Sox title bid

Craig Breslow is the Boston Red Sox nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable works.

(JTA) — When Craig Breslow entered Saturday night’s playoff game against the Detroit Tigers, FOX broadcaster Tim McCarver hailed the Boston Red Sox reliever — a Yale University graduate with a double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry — as the smartest player in Major League Baseball. But with… Read more »

Adam Grossman’s dream job: Packing Fenway Park

With Boston back in the World Series, Red Sox marketing guru Adam Grossman doesn't mind the longer work days or shorter preparation time for next season. (Billie Weiss for the Boston Red Sox)

(JTA) — You’d think Adam Grossman has a pretty easy job. After all, with the Boston Red Sox owning one of the most iconic brands in professional sports and gunning for their third World Series title in the past decade, how hard could it be to put fans in… Read more »

Yellen’s rise to Fed chief gains more attention for gender than faith

President Obama congratulates Janet Yellen after nominating her to head the Federal Reserve, Oct. 9, 2013. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Janet Yellen is soft-spoken, tough, methodological, flexible — and Jewish. President Obama’s announcement last week that he had tapped Yellen, 67,  to succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve made news in part because she would be the first woman in the top spot.… Read more »

Obama administration warns: Gov’t shutdown undermining Iran sanctions

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman testifies during the hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Oct. 14, 2011. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Is the U.S. government shutdown undermining the sanctions that helped bring Iran to Geneva this week for talks aimed at ending the standoff over its nuclear program? Top administration officials have been emphatically making the case that it is. Wendy Sherman, the third-ranked official at the… Read more »

Amid negative trends in Pew study, many Jewish funders see validation

If you’re pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Jewish identity building, what do you do when a survey comes along showing that the number of U.S. Jews engaging with Jewish life and religion is plummeting? That’s the question facing major funders of American Jewish life following the release… Read more »

Mashup: Jewish leaders respond to Pew survey

NEW YORK (JTA) — What would happen if some of the biggest players in American Jewish life sat down and debated the implications of the new Pew Research Center’s survey of U.S. Jewry? After last week’s landmark study, I talked to nine Jewish philanthropists and organizational leaders about the… Read more »

Amid negative engagement trends in Pew study, Jewish funders see validation

A 2009 event in the Washington area was part of an effort by groups focused on engaging young American Jews.

NEW YORK (JTA) — If you’re pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Jewish identity building, what do you do when a survey comes along showing that the number of U.S. Jews engaging with Jewish life and religion is plummeting? That’s the question facing major funders of American Jewish… Read more »

Netanyahu talks tough on Iran, leaves door open to ‘meaningful’ diplomatic solution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is prepared to confront Iran on its own in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The “credible military threat” against Iran that Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to hear while he was in the United States this week eventually emerged — from his own lips. The Israeli prime minister, in a blunt speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, warned that Israel… Read more »