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 »

Attacks by radical settlers on Israeli army spark debate

YITZHAR, West Bank (JTA) — Charred tires and boulders pushed to the sides of the road leading to Yitzhar, a West Bank Jewish community near Nablus, were among the signs that residents had made an effort to prevent Israeli soldiers and police from entering the settlement. Patches of grease… Read more »

Can Reform Jews be politically conservative? Yes, say the “1 percent”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, left, was one of the conservative voices at this year's Reform biennial and Rabbi David Saperstein was one of the many liberal voices, Dec. 15, 2011. (Union for Reform Judaism)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (JTA) — It’s not easy being a political conservative in the most liberal of Jewish religious denominations. Just ask the 40 or so people among the more than 5,000 attendees at last week’s biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism who showed up for a… Read more »

New Iran sanctions: administration gets some of the leeway it sought

WASHINGTON (JTA) — New sanctions targeting Iran’s financial sector and its sale of crude oil give President Obama leeway to moderate their possible impact on oil markets and to use carrots as well as sticks to sway third parties into isolating the Islamic Republic. The sanctions target any foreign… Read more »

What’s daily life like for Palestinians in Israeli prisons?

Samer al-Issawi spent five time in five Israeli prisons for shooting at Israeli soldiers before he was released in the first phase of the swap for Gilad Shalit. (Linda Gradstein)

OFER, West Bank (JTA) — When Israel releases 550 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday in the second phase of the Gilad Shalit exchange deal, the freed men and women will be leaving behind thousands of fellow Palestinians in Israeli jails. According to the Israeli Prison Service, there are 6,640 Palestinian… Read more »

At RJC forum, Republican hopefuls preview their lines of attack

Mitt Romney speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition presidential candidates' forum on Dec. 7. (Republican Jewish Coalition)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran’s nuclear program appears to be racing ahead. The Middle East peace process is in shambles. And a series of recent flare-ups have highlighted ongoing tensions between the Obama administration and elements of the pro-Israel community. It was against this backdrop that six Republican candidates took… Read more »

Shoah Foundation gathers stories of Rwandan genocide

LOS ANGELES (The Jewish Journal) — The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is home to more than 52,000 videotaped testimonies about the Holocaust, and people searching the archive’s index enter a single keyword into their queries more than any other: “Auschwitz.” “Auschwitz seems to be the one that people go… Read more »

Seeking Kin: ISO orphaned former Tel Aviv flatmates

JTA’s new column, “Seeking Kin,” aims to help reunite long-lost friends and relatives. BALTIMORE (JTA) — The Ellbogen children, Edna and Michael, nearly became Mordechai “Moti” Malkin’s adopted siblings in early 1950s Israel. Six decades later, the 66-year-old Herzliya resident wants to know what’s become of them. When Paul… Read more »

Fred Karger for president: A gay Jewish Republican’s White House dream

LOS ANGELES (Jewish Journal) — In the course of an election campaign, most presidential candidates talk about what they’ll do if — or, if they’re particularly bullish, when — they’re elected. But Fred Karger isn’t like other Republicans running for president, and not just because he’s openly gay and… Read more »

In tiny Gibraltar, an outsized Jewish infrastructure

Members of Gibraltar's largely Sephardic, largely Orthodox community pick up children from the communiyt's primary school, which is seeing record enrollment. (Alex Weisler)

GIBRALTAR (JTA) — Four synagogues, a mikvah, a kosher coffeehouse and separate boys and girls religious high schools. Combined, they suggest a community far larger than just 750 Jews. But Gibraltar — the tiny British overseas territory of 30,000 that sits at the foot of Spain and at the… Read more »

Gender segregation growing among haredim

Some of the hundreds of Israelis demonstrating March 13, 2010 against the segregation of men and women on buses in certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

On the No. 3 bus line in Jerusalem, women passengers pay their fare and walk directly to the back to find a seat. Men, most of them haredi Orthodox, sit in the front section. Behind them, following a space of about two feet separated by the rear doors of… Read more »

Handmaker hosts holiday party

Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging will hold a multicultural holiday celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 2:30 p.m., focusing on winter holidays from around the world, including Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Entertainment will include harpist Vesna Zalusky, who will play a medley of holiday songs. Activities will include… Read more »

Weintraub Israel Center family Chanukah party planned

The Weintraub Israel Center will hold its first community-wide, family-oriented early Chanukah party on Sunday, Dec. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. “There are only two Jewish communities in which this holiday is so significant — the United States and Israel,” says Guy… Read more »

Guided by Hashem, Tucsonan dedicates life to art, service

Tucson artist Lynn Rae Lowe in her Metal Arts Village studio (Sheila Wilensky)

Judaism is a profound part of life for Tucson metal artist Lynn Rae Lowe, who is known for her award-winning chanukiot and other Judaica. But it wasn’t always so. Men like her father who returned from World War II wanted to assimilate into American society. “They didn’t want to… Read more »

JETCO now benefits three kindergartens, THA

This fall, the Jewish Education Tax Credit Organization (JETCO) added another kindergarten to the list of schools that receive scholarships from Tucson’s only Jewish private school tuition tax credit program. Temple Emanu-El’s Olga and Bob Strauss Center for Early Childhood Education and Kindergarten joins Congregation Anshei Israel’s Esther B.… Read more »

Chaverim brick patio to memorialize Ember

Congregation Chaverim is creating a brick patio in memory of Karla Ember, former cantorial soloist, who was stabbed to death in September 2010. A former boyfriend was convicted of first-degree murder in the case on Dec. 6. “Karla was one of the bright lights of our congregation and there… Read more »

At Chanukah, communities help needy families in Tucson and across U.S.

Members of Mitzvah Magic, a program of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, packed Chanukah gift baskets for needy families.

In August, in the heat of the summer, a Boston-area mother of three began to worry about how she would pay for Chanukah gifts. Across the country in San Francisco, a 33-year-old Russian-born mother of six said that thinking about this Chanukah made her cry. Both women — Lauren… Read more »

Handmaker, TMC to build $4.5 million dementia care center

Art Martin, CEO of Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging, at the press conference announcing a $4.5 million dementia care center Handmaker wil build with Tucson Medical Center. The new facility will be located on the Handmaker campus.

Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging and Tucson Medical Center announced Wednesday that they have received a $3 million challenge grant to create a center for dementia care. Handmaker, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, secured the $3 million grant from the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation… Read more »

Ad campaign flare-up obscures bigger challenge: Luring home Israeli expats

Among the ads in Israel's recently canceled campaign to lure expats home was this spot that one critic described as "Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews."

NEW YORK (JTA) — A few different sparks led to last week’s flare-up over a two-month-old Israeli ad campaign to lure home expatriates in the United States. An ad suggesting that a child of Israelis living in America would mistake Chanukah for Christmas. The claim by an influential blogger… Read more »