A provocateur to some, Michele Bachmann also offers Jewish voters common cause

Michele Bachmann

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Michele Bachmann in a bathroom confronted by two lesbians and screaming for help, or Bachmann at the Western Wall surrounded by Jews and weeping with joy. Where your politics are likely will determine which incident involving Bachmann you’d highlight. But supporters of Bachmann, a presidential aspirant… Read more »

Jewish camps review safety measures in wake of Ramah tragedy

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — It’s the nightmare of every parent — and every teacher, youth leader and camp director. When a child dies in an accident while in someone else’s care, the agonizing questions begin: Could we have done anything different? Were all the proper procedures followed? And above… Read more »

Arson attack exposes New York shtetl

New Square Grand Rebbe David Twersky strongly encourages residents of the heavily Chasidic suburban New York village he leads to worship at his synagogue, pictured here. (Alex Weisler/JTA Photo Service)

For years, this leafy Chasidic village about an hour north of New York City has been a shtetl-like haven where residents could live their strictly Orthodox lifestyle far from the temptations and bustle of the nation’s largest city. Out of view of all but very few, life in this… Read more »

Reform’s Religious Action Center a temple of Jewish political activism at 50

Reform movement leader Maurice Eisendrath, with Torah scroll, meets President John F. Kennedy, left, in the White House Rose Garden, along with several other leaders in 1961. (Photo courtesy Washington Jewish Week)

While driving through Miami in the early 1950s, Kivie Kaplan spotted a sign that would change his life and eventually alter America’s political landscape. It read:”No dogs, no niggers, no kikes.” That jarring discovery caused Kaplan, a wealthy Jewish American businessman, to declare, “I’m going to spend the rest… Read more »

The rise and fall of Anthony Weiner

Rep. Anthony Weiner, shown campaigning for New York mayor in August 2009, resigned from Congress adter being pressured by leading members of his Democratic Party. (Rep. Anthony Weiner)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — What happens when new media scandal meets ancient political calculus? Anthony Weiner, the Democrat from New York, found out on Thursday, when he delivered his resignation following intense pressure from party leaders. Top Democrats described for JTA the key factors that led to Weiner’s ouster: Their… Read more »

Andrew Breitbart, unabashedly ‘biased journalist,’ makes splash at RJC

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, pictured here addressing a Republican Jewish Coalition event in June 2011, has become a star in Republican circles after exposing Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner's lewd tweets. (RJC)

(Los Angeles) The TV cameras at the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s ballroom were there to cover a foreign policy speech by Newt Gingrich, but during the cocktail hour, all eyes at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Summer Bash were on Andrew Breitbart. While Gingrich was mingling privately at the June 12… Read more »

Homeland security partners with Jewish groups on security campaign

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In its first partnership with a faith-based community, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working with Jewish organizations to expand awareness of suspicious behavior. The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign will distribute posters and customized announcements in synagogues, Jewish community centers and related… Read more »

Shuttering of Yale program on anti-Semitism raises hackles

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Did Yale’s program on anti-Semitism die a natural death from lack of academic vigor, as the university says? Should it have been saved, as two major Jewish groups are arguing? Or was it killed for being politically incorrect about Muslim anti-Semitism, as alleged by others? The… Read more »

Meet Dan Lederman: the Jewish bail bondsman legislator from South Dakota

WASHINGTON (JTA) — AIPAC photo-ops? Check. Initiate and pass Iran divestment bill? Check. Pheasant-hunt fundraisers, sandbagging for flood protection and running a bail bonds business… Check. Could Dan Lederman, an energetic and peripatetic 38-year-old Republican state senator in South Dakota, set a new template for Jewish politicians? “He’s somebody… Read more »

Battle over proposed circumcision ban shaping up in California cities

Rabbi Gil Leeds, right, performs a brit milah in Palo Alto, Calif., in July 2010. The baby is being held by Mitchell Ackerson. [Alex Axelrod]

In November, San Franciscans will vote on a ballot measure that would outlaw circumcision on boys under the age of 18.   Although experts say it is highly unlikely the measure will pass — very few state ballot propositions pass in the state, much less one this controversial —… Read more »

From praise to anger, Jewish response to Obama’s speech runs the gamut

In a Middle East policy speech at the State Department, President Obama said the pre-1967 border should serve as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, May 19, 2011. (Pete Souza/White House)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — From accolades like “compelling” to accusations like “Auschwitz borders” to radio silence, to label the Jewish response to President Obama’s speech on Middle East policy as diverse understates matters. The very breadth of the Middle East policy speech — 5,600 words and covering the entire Middle… Read more »

Demjanjuk conviction hailed as long-awaited victory for justice

John Demjanjuk is wheeled into a Munich courtroom on Nov. 30, 2009 for the first day of his trial. The photo was taken by Sobibor death camp survivor Thomas Blatt. (Thomas Blatt)

BERLIN (JTA) — The guilty verdict pronounced May 12 against John Demjanjuk in a Munich courtroom was a long time coming. Following a trial that lasted a year and a half — capping more than three decades of legal drama — the 91-year-old former Ohio autoworker is now officially… Read more »

Proposed anti-sharia laws stir concerns that halachah could be next

With conservative lawmakers across the United States trying to outlaw sharia, or Islamic religious law, Jewish organizations are concerned that halachah could be next. If the state legislative initiatives targeting sharia are successful, they would gut a central tenet of American Jewish religious communal life: The ability under U.S.… Read more »

Israel debate tricky for Jewish professionals in Tucson, across U.S.

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

The speaker invited then uninvited. The signature on the petition removed. The activity joined, then unjoined. The job threatened. Rabbis and Jewish professionals increasingly are being faced with a dilemma over discussing divisive topics — especially regarding Israel — central to how they see their Jewish missions without losing… Read more »

Wanted: U.S. claimants of Holocaust-era assets in pre-state Israel

In Israel, restituting Holocaust-era assets isn’t just about getting European countries, banks and insurance companies to pay up. It’s also about finding the rightful heirs of thousands of pre-state assets in Israel whose original Jewish owners perished during the Holocaust. These include dormant bank accounts, real estate, bonds and… Read more »

How should Jews respond to bin Laden’s death?

New Yorkers gather near Ground Zero to celebrate the news that Osama bin Laden has been killed. (Richard via Creative Commons)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- When the news of Osama bin Laden’s death at U.S. hands hit the airwaves Sunday, America breathed a collective sigh of relief. Spontaneous celebrations broke out in front of the White House, as crowds gathered to wave the Stars and Stripes and chant their delight.… Read more »