National

For new Reform leader Richard Jacobs, big tent movement is the idea

Rabbi Richard Jacobs of Scarsdale, N.Y. was tapped to be the new president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Union for Reform Judaism)

NEW YORK (JTA) — For the man tapped to lead American Jewry’s largest religious denomination, keeping the movement’s 900-plus synagogues welcoming to the unaffiliated, inspiring for members and a home for disaffected traditional Jews may require a high-wire balancing act. As a former dancer and choreographer, Rabbi Richard Jacobs… Read more »

Is Obama’s J-Dar off? Probing, once again, the ‘kishkes question’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Does President Obama need a “Shalom Chaver” moment a la Bill Clinton? More fraught back-and-forth between the organized Jewish community and the Obama administration again has brought to the fore the question of what the president feels in his gut toward Israel and the Jewish people.… Read more »

Do Congressional hearings on Muslim radicalization leave room for nuance?

A rally in the suburban New York town of Massapequa, Long Island, protesting the stereotyping of Muslims is timed ahead of congressional hearings on Muslim radicalization convened by Rep. King, the local congressman, Feb. 22, 2011. (longislandwins via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Are the congressional hearings on radicalization among American Muslims an instance of McCarthyism, or is the opposition to them political correctness run amok? Jewish groups may disagree on why, but there appears to be wide consensus that the congressional hearings led by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.),… Read more »

For J Streeters, pro-Palestinian is pro-Israel

The detractors of J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying organization, like to portray the organization’s leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami, as so far to the left of mainstream American Jewish opinion as to be out of bounds. If they think Ben-Ami is too much of a lefty on Israel, just wait… Read more »

Charlie Sheen, John Galliano and the Jews — anti-Semitism or nonsense?

CBS fired actor Charlie Sheen from the sitcom "Two and a Half Men" following a series of bizarre outbursts that started wtih a tirade referring to Chuck Lorre, his Jewish boss, as Chaim Levine. (Angela George/Creative Commons)

Expressions of anti-Semitism by public figures generally follow a certain script in the media. The politician/actor/public figure says something construed as offensive/hostile/ insensitive to Jews. Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, issues a condemnatory statement demanding penance. The offender expresses regret. If he deems it sufficient,… Read more »

America’s new face in Tel Aviv? Shapiro expected to garner ambassadorship

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — When Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell sat down for an interview before a crowd of nearly 1,000 last year, his interlocutor, New York Times columnist David Brooks, wondered why the political heavyweight had agreed to openly discuss a matter as sensitive as his… Read more »

What the Civil War meant for American Jews, then and now

WALTHAM, Mass. (the Forward) — The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is upon us. April 12 is the anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, the war’s opening shot. From then, through the sesquicentennial anniversary on April 9, 2015 of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House… Read more »

Obama: Israelis should soul-search about seriousness on peace

President Barack Obama meets with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in the State Dining Room of the White House, March 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

NEW YORK (JTA) – President Obama reportedly urged Jewish communal leaders to speak to their friends and colleagues in Israel and to “search your souls” over Israel’s seriousness about making peace. In an hourlong meeting Tuesday with about 50 representatives from the Jewish community’s chief foreign policy umbrella group,… Read more »

Jewish leaders joining union showdown in Wisconsin over governor’s proposal

A growing number of Jews in Wisconsin are joining the protests in Madison against a budget-cutting proposal by the governor to eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for public-sector employees. “Judaism has long stood for the rights of the worker, beginning with the biblical injunction of Deuteronomy: ‘Do not take advantage… Read more »

Pressing Israel in U.N. remains a U.S. taboo, veto on settlements resolution shows

Contruction worker labors at a consturction site in the Har Homa neighborhood, south of Jerusalem, Feb. 20m 2011, a day after the United States vetoed a U.N. draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction as illegal. [Gili Yaari/Flash 90/JTA]

NEW YORK (JTA) — In the run-up to last week’s U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal, the Obama administration faced a dilemma. The administration views Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegitimate, and has made few bones about… Read more »

Jewish victim of Jan. 8 shooting heals — and speaks out

Suzi Hileman, shortly after the 2011 shooting, displaying some of the hundreds of cards and letters she received from well-wishers around the world. (Sheila Wilensky)

Three bullets ripped through Suzi Hileman’s body during the Jan. 8 shooting rampage that killed her 9-year-old neighbor and friend Christina-Taylor Green, and wounded 12 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Hileman, who is Jewish, told the AJP, “I choose to look forward. I’m thinking about what I can do… Read more »

Groups worry over domestic budget cuts

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish groups expressed concerns about proposed Obama administration cuts in poverty assistance, but praised the U.S. budget for preserving aid to Israel. The White House’s proposed budget, released Feb. 14, projects cuts in programs such as heating for the poor and in blocs of money funneled… Read more »

Battle over Mideast transit ads heating up across U.S.

The pro-Israel group StandWithUs was forced to revise this ad before it could be run on commuter rail platforms around san Francisco. (StandWithUs)

NEW YORK (JTA) — With public bickering over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict already having spilled over into university student senates, corporate pension boards and even local farmers markets, the latest battlefield in the debate over the conflict is municipal transit systems. In several major U.S. cities, advertisements on public buses… Read more »

In sign of Dems’ precarious hold on center, pro-Israel hard-liner Jane Harman quits Congress

Rep. Jane Harmon, shown speaking at an October 2009 event of the Center for American Progress, hinted at her frustration with an increasingly polarized Congress in explaining her resignation to constituents. [Center for American Progress]

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jane Harman, a Jewish Democrat who made her reputation in Congress as a tough-talking advocate for carrying a big stick, is transitioning to the world of speaking softly. Harman, 65, a tireless advocate in Congress of both the U.S.-Israel relationship and of strengthening the intelligence community’s… Read more »

Dilemma of pro-Israel groups: To talk Egypt or not

Pro-Israel groups are caught in a dilemma over whether to back Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or his opponents, such as those seen here gathering in Cairo on Jan. 25, 2011 to call for his ouster. (Muhammad Ghafari)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — As Egypt convulses, pro-Israel groups and U.S. Congress members are seized by the ancient maternal dilemma: If you have nothing nice to say, should you say anything at all? The question of whether to stake a claim in the protests against 30 years of President Hosni… Read more »

News analysis: Lieberman’s legacy: bridge builder or burner?

Sen. Joe Lieberman, right, talks to Gen. David Petraeus at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Afghanistan during a congressional delegation tour, Nov. 10, 2010. (Joshua Treadwell)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Joe Lieberman ascended to national prominence by building one bridge at a time. Then, having reached the pinnacle by becoming the Democratic nominee for  vice president in 2000, he spent 10 years burning bridges. Ultimately, Lieberman’s most celebrated bridge — between America’s non-Christian, non-establishment minorities and… Read more »

Debate rages on over Palin’s ‘blood libel’ claim

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The post-shooting debate over political civility is cooling down, but passions are still raging over Sarah Palin’s claim that critics were guilty of perpetuating a “blood libel” against her. Palin’s initial use of the term, in a Jan. 12 video message, drew sharp rebukes from liberal,… Read more »

Israeli population in U.S. surges, but exact figures hard to determine

Israeli ex-pats were among those who showed up in Los Angeles for an Israel Independence Day celebration. (Courtesy Israeli Leadership Council)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — The number of Israelis living in the United States grew by about 30 percent over the past decade, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau figures. Some 140,323 people living in the United States today were born in Israel, up from 109,720 in 2000. Of… Read more »