National

Tucson Jewish community anguished over shooting rampage

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was gravely wounded on Jan. 8, 2011 in Tucson

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was holding her first “Congress on Your Corner”event since being re-elected in November. It was a typical sunny Saturday morning in Tucson in front of the Safeway market at Ina and Oracle, where some 25 to 30 people stood in line to have a word with… Read more »

Brouhaha in Texas House a Jewish test case for Tea Party

Texas state Rep. Joe Strauss looks set to stay in the powerful speaker's role after a broad coalition repudiated challenges based on his Judaism. (Office of Rep. Joe Strauss)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In Texas, the Tea Party passed its first Jewish test even before its legislators had been sworn in. Deeply conservative forces in the Lone Star State firmly repudiated the effort by evangelical Christians to unseat the powerful Jewish speaker of the Texas House of Representatives because… Read more »

PROFILE: Nancy Kaufman going national with model twinning social justice and Israel

Nancy Kaufman with Dean Jep Strait, left, Father Demetrios Tonias, Pastor Wesley Roberts and Bishop Gideon Thompson on a summer study tour in Israel in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Boston JCRC)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — With the prospect for the first American universal health care plan apparently dimming in Massachusetts because the three outsize personalities vital to its passage — the state’s governor, its House speaker and its Senate president — could not agree on the details, Nancy Kaufman came to… Read more »

A cutting-issue rabbi sues the Army: Let me keep my beard

Rabbi Menachem Stern, with his baby, Esther, says serving in the Army is "my calling and mission." (Mendy Chanin)

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week) — Menachem Stern’s bushy black beard is at the center of a federal court case. Stern, 29, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi from Brooklyn, N.Y., filed suit recently against the U.S. Army saying that a no-beard restriction violates his religious freedom. In January 2009, Stern had applied… Read more »

THE TRANSCRIPT Caught on tape: Kissinger

WASHINGTON (JTA) — As far as the Nixon-Kissinger relationship goes, the March 1, 1973 tape is par for the course of their complicated relationship: hard-nosed considerations of policy leavened with Kissinger’s adoring appraisals of his boss’ genius punctuated by Nixon’s hearty encouragement of such obsequiousness. The conversation relates to… Read more »

Kissinger tells JTA: Take remark on gas chambers in context

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, President Nixon (center) and Secretary of State Kissinger in a 1973 Oval Office meeting covered in newly released Nixon White House tapes. (White House Photo Office Collection)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — It should have been ancient, if unsavory, news: A cavalier reference to gassing Jews, an aside in a conversation nearly 40 years old. But the aside was pronounced by Henry Kissinger, a German-born Jew who fled Nazi horrors as a child and who has been honored… Read more »

The Obama White House — and Washington — celebrate Chanukah

From left to right, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the director of American Friends of Lubavitch, hanging onot his hat, joins Jack Lew, the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and Rabbi Abraham Shemtov on a crane as Lew gets ready to light the National Menorah on the ellipse in front of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010.

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Chanukah is a story of a people standing alone to keep its lights aflame. This year in Washington, the message was of a people standing with friends — and even the not-so-friendly — to douse terrible flames. President Obama hosted the annual White House Chanukah party… Read more »

WikiLeaks reveals secrets, backroom dealmaking — and cluelessness

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit on May 27, 2009. Leaked State Dept. cables reveal that diplomats advised Clinton to defer to Gheit's aggrandized notion of Egypt's importance. (State Dept./Michael Gross)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A careful reading of the WikiLeaks trove of State Department cables — which is laying bare some 250,000 secret dispatches detailing private conversations, assessments and dealmaking of U.S. diplomats — reveals a notable if perhaps surprising pattern: how often they get things wrong. Again and again… Read more »

Timing, noodging advance new push for Jonathan Pollard

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A combination of timing, diplomatic considerations and, above all, good old-fashioned noodging has culminated in the biggest push in years to free Jonathan Pollard. Insiders associated with the push, which resulted last week in a congressional letter to President Obama asking for clemency for the American… Read more »

Lame-duck Congress jeopardizes school lunch program for poor, groups warn

Hillel members from several New York City universities interacting with the homeless community during a resource fair in New York, Oct. 17, 2010. (JCPA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The framers of an interfaith effort with the grand goal of halving American poverty in the next decade had a small but focused message this week: Keep those school lunches coming. At a meeting Monday on Capitol Hill at an event attended by congressional staffers, the… Read more »

Beck under fire over Soros comments

Some Jewish groups are saying that Glenn beck, above, went too far with his criticism of George Soros. (Gage Skidmore)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Fox News provocateur Glenn Beck spent several days taking aim at billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros, but so far — at least within Jewish circles — the barrage appears to be backfiring. On his radio and TV shows earlier this month, Beck portrayed Soros as… Read more »

17 arrested in $42.5 million fraud at claims conference

Gregory Schneider, executive vice presdient at the Claims Conference, together with the U.S. Attorneys Office announced the discovery of a $42.5 million fraud scheme, Nov. 9, 2010. Claims Conference)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York has arrested 17 people for participating in a $42.5 million fraud at the Claims Conference. Those arrested include former and current employees of the Claims Conference, which distributes more than $400 million per year from the German government… Read more »

Jewish officials flex persuading muscles ahead of possible GOP wins

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Across the United States, Jewish community professionals are honing their skills of suasion, preparing to deal with a new crop of lawmakers who are unfamiliar with Jewish organizational priorities — and who are likely to be unenthusiastic once they’re in the know. This season of anti-incumbent… Read more »

Jewish heritage helped push Phillies’ manager Ruben Amaro into baseball

Ruben Amaro Jr., right, the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, joins Mayor Michael Nutter and the team’s mascot at a pep rally in Philadelphia during the playoffs in 2009. (Darryl W. Moran)

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — The son and grandson of professional baseball players, Ruben Amaro Jr. was as good a candidate as any to become a baseball lifer. Yet soccer was actually his “first love” as a kid, and he was good enough at the sport to qualify for a youth… Read more »

Battle over court access for survivors’ claims reaches Congress

WASHINGTON (Forward) — Holocaust survivors denouncing the Jewish establishment would be a spectacle in almost any venue — all the more so when it’s under the bright lights of a congressional hearing. The issue at hand recently before the U.S. House of Representatives’ subcommittee on commercial and administrative law… Read more »

Westboro case poses dilemma for Jewish groups

A girl affiliated with the Westboro Baptist Church pickets the offices of the Anti-Defamation League in the Pacific Southwest region, June 19, 2009. Creative Commons/k763)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish defense organizations long — and proudly — have upheld a delicate principle in defending the First Amendment: Hate the speech, defend the speaker. But a Supreme Court case whose arguments were scheduled for Wednesday have put that precept to the test: A Maryland family is… Read more »

With Emanuel and Axelrod gone, will the Jews have access to Obama?

Rahm Emanuel, seen here at a Chanukah lighting in Washington on Dec. 13, 2009, left the White House to run for mayor of Chicago. (Israel Bardugo for American Friends of Lubavitch)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — They were two Jewish aides who had offices within shouting distance of the Oval Office. But the Oct. 1 resignation of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff and the imminent departure of David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser, is raising the question of what… Read more »