News

Haredi violence in Beit Shemesh catches Israel’s attention

Haredi Orthodox men clash with police in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, Dec. 26, 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90/JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — For several years now, the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh has been the site of on-again, off-again religious violence. But it wasn’t until the plight of a fearful 8-year-old girl from a Modern Orthodox immigrant family from America was broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 over the… Read more »

In a remote New Mexican valley, a Jewish skiing legacy at Taos

Ernie Blake, founder of Taos Ski Valley, with his wife, Rhoda, in an undated photo. (Courtesy Taos Ski Valley)

TAOS, N.M. (JTA) – One of the most wonderful things about skiing is the sense of seclusion, the incomparable quietude and serenity of standing atop a 12,000-foot peak surveying miles and miles of snow-covered emptiness. Somehow the prosaic concerns of the everyday world don’t seem to reach there. So… Read more »

When the Jews went to North Korea

Jack Rosen, second from left, the chairman of the American Council for World Jewry, in Pyongyang with a top North Korean official and other members of an ACWJ delegation in this undated 2009 photo. (Courtesy ACWJ)

  WASHINGTON (JTA) – When a delegation from the American Council for World Jewry went to North Korea, its agenda was typical of visits by Jewish organizations to developing nations: promote outreach to Israel, offer to broker assistance and training, gently raise problematic defense relations with Israel’s enemies. Pyongyang’s… Read more »

Brandeis book sale to benefit scholarship fund

The Tucson chapter of Brandeis National Committee will hold its annual book sale at the Foothills Mall from Jan. 13 to 22. The sale will feature more than 50,000 books, including collectibles and first editions. “Someone said it takes a village,” says Meg Sivitz, Brandeis book sale chair, “but… Read more »

Film festival will feature love, loss, intrigue

It’s not just the free popcorn that draws hundreds of moviegoers to the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, which will run for its 21st year at the Tucson Jewish Community Center Jan. 12-22. It’s the lineup of films, from dramas to comedies to animated shorts, with themes that are… Read more »

Ketubah exhibit to open with champagne

The Jewish History Museum will hold the grand opening of its fourth annual ketubah exhibit on Sunday, Jan. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. The exhibit will be on display Jan. 4 through Feb. 5 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Fridays from… Read more »

JFSA grants for senior transportation expanded

Transportation programs for local Jewish seniors are increasing, thanks to grants from the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Senior Task Force. This grant program is a major expansion of services for the Jewish elderly that began last year when the Federation funded Jewish Elder Access, which is administered by… Read more »

Langs contribute to food bank challenge

Janet Lang and Jim Peebles

Tucsonans Barry and Janet Lang have teamed up with Jim and Sandy Peebles to launch the “Lang/Peebles $60,000 Fill the Shelves Challenge” to benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. One in four children in Pima County is at risk of hunger. Increased demand, coupled with decreased government… Read more »

JFSA lead gifts event named for Diamonds

Donald and Joan Diamond

To recognize the continuing leadership of Joan and Donald Diamond in supporting the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s philanthropic efforts, JFSA has named one of its annual campaign events the Joan and Donald Diamond Lead Gifts Event. Thirteen years ago, Joan and Donald Diamond hosted what would become the… Read more »

JFSA young men plan Israel adventure trip

Michael Wexler (left) and Andrew Isaac

Drive ATVs across the Golan Heights. Take a segway tour of Jerusalem. Climb Masada. Take speed boats near Caesarea. Float in the Dead Sea. Spurred by the success of the Young Women’s Mission to Israel in 2010, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona created the first Young Men’s Mission… Read more »

Teen nominees sought for Zehngut award

The Women’s Philanthropy Advisory Council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona is accepting nominations for the Sixth Annual Bryna Zehngut Mitzvot Award, recognizing an outstanding Jewish girl who is currently a high school junior or senior. The award, named for the late community leader, will honor a teen… Read more »

Congregation M’kor Hayim: Tucson’s new Mussar hotspot

Rabbi Pamela Wax

Mussar is making a comeback, at least here in Tucson. Traditionally an Orthodox approach to daily life that developed in 19th century Eastern Europe, the introspective spiritual practice adds another layer of participation to Judaism. “There are many ways that Judaism brings fulfillment to our lives through Torah, mitzvot… Read more »

Israeli officials escalate war of words with N.Y. Times

Netanyahu adviser Ron Dermer, right, cited a recent column by Thomas Friedman, left, in accusing The New York Times Op-Ed page of anti-Israel bias. (Photos: Rebecca Zeffert, Flash 90/Miriam Alster)

Israeli officials are stepping up their criticism of The New York Times, slamming columnist Thomas Friedman and arguing that the newspaper is an unfit venue for an Op-Ed from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a scathing letter first leaked last week to The Jerusalem Post, Ron Dermer, a top… Read more »

Healing and hope for Tucsonans on Jan. 8 anniversary

(Above) Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from the Jan. 8 gunshot wounds that nearly took her life, serves a Thanksgiving meal to airmen and retirees at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Nov. 24 with her husband, Mark Kelly. (Photo from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Facebook page)

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron of Tucson’s Congregation Cha­verim has plenty of “Gabby moments” on her mind these days. Aaron, who has been Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ rabbi for a decade, will never forget the sight of Giffords lying gravely wounded at the University Medical Center when Aaron visited her on Jan.… Read more »

For Jews, Vaclav Havel wasn’t just a friend but a champion of freedom

Memorial candles in Prague for Vaclav Havel, who died this week. Jewish groups and leaders said the former Czech president was a symbol of freedom, Dec. 18, 2011. (David Short via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Vaclav Havel was a friend of the Jews and of Israel, but prominent Jews who mourned his passing this week said the Czech leader’s greatest legacy was his universal message of freedom. “Vaclav Havel was one of the few islands of intellectual freedom in the sea… Read more »

Amid tensions with allies abroad, Netanyahu shoring up power at home

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on Dec. 12, 2011 at the Israeli Business Conference held at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. (Flash 90/Marc Israel/JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — He may be a lightning rod for criticism abroad, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is consolidating power at home. On Dec. 5, Netanyahu announced that elections for leadership of his Likud Party would be held Jan. 31. The decision came as something of a surprise; primaries… Read more »

New Yorkers producing film on Israel’s Six-Day War victory

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The Six-Day War in 1967 was a brilliant military victory, a turning point in Israel’s history. Similar glory by Americans on the battlefield no doubt would have led to the production of a half-dozen films with John Wayne single-handedly wiping out the Arab armies. Yet… Read more »

West Point’s Jewish choir sings for the president and diversity

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama listening to a performance by the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 8, 2011. (Pete Souza/Official White House Photo)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — It doesn’t get more “only in America” than this: A Christian president with an African-born Muslim father throws a Chanukah party at the White House, and the featured act is the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir — a group that serves as a beacon of Jewish pride… Read more »

In Mallorca, a year of breakthrough for descendants of Jews

PALMA, Spain (JTA) — A stone’s throw from the majestic Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, commonly referred to as La Seu, is a dusty cobblestoned alleyway that serves as a hidden reminder of Mallorca’s complex Jewish past. Carrer de Monti-Sion, or Mount Zion Street, has borne witness to… Read more »