Mike Pence to make first visit to Auschwitz, meet Netanyahu in Poland

(JTA) — Vice President Mike Pence will visit Auschwitz, his first visit to the Nazi death camp in Poland. Pence will visit the site on Friday with Polish President Andrzej Duda, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing a senior White House official. The vice president will be in Warsaw… Read more »

In downtown Brussels, once vibrant synagogues are now dying or sold

BRUSSELS (JTA) — Growing up, Joel Rubinfeld was always up for going with his parents to their downtown synagogue here. The sermons were OK, he said, but the real clincher was the full-size ping-pong table at the Sephardic Synagogue on Pavillion Street. “Placing that table was a stroke of… Read more »

This band of musicians with disabilities wanted to represent Israel at Eurovision. Their Sabbath observance became a problem.

The Shalva Band had a shot at becoming Israel's representative at the Eurovision contest. (Screenshot from YouTube)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Shalva Band, a group of musicians with various disabilities, didn’t expect to advance so far in the competition to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest in May. But they made it all the way to the finals — and won’t find out if they… Read more »

First bar mitzvah in centuries celebrated at reopened Budapest shul

(JTA) — A synagogue that was returned recently to Hungarian Jews following centuries of disuse hosted its first bar mitzvah in 332 years. The young celebrant, Yonatan Sebok, had his rite of passage event on Jan. 26 at the Buda Castle Synagogue, which reopened in September, the website reported Wednesday.… Read more »

African Jewish communities get some mainstream recognition after years on the margins

Rabbi Capers Funnye, left, and Martha Leah Williams, at the Jewish Africa Conference in New York, Jan. 29, 2019. (Josefin Dolsten)

NEW YORK (JTA) — At a conference here on Jewish life in Africa, Magda Haroun spoke of being only one of a handful of Jews left in Egypt, a country that was once home to a Jewish community of 80,000. Abere Endeshaw Kerehu shared the struggles faced by the… Read more »

As cold weather batters populations worldwide, JDC calls for support of winter aid efforts

Nadezhda B. shovels coal provided to her by the JDC and the JDC-supported Hesed Social Welfare Center outside Odessa, Ukraine, despite cold temperatures. (JDC)

(New York, NY) As extreme weather is sweeping across the United States and Europe, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is urging the public to support local and global winter aid efforts aiding poor populations. JDC has provided winter aid this year to more than 9,500 poor Jews, including… Read more »

German Jewish leader gets threats after criticizing far-right party

(JTA) — A German Jewish leader has been receiving verbal threats since she criticized Germany’s strongest right-populist party in a Holocaust Remembrance Day address. “Since then, almost every minute, I have received wild insults, threats and insults by email and telephone,” Charlotte Knobloch, 86, head of the Jewish community… Read more »

40 years later, the ‘Holocaust’ miniseries returns to Germany

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Actress Tovah Feldshuh attends the "Queen Of The Mean: The Rise And Fall Of Leona Helmsley" Play Reading at the Actors Temple Theatre on April 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steven A Henry/Getty Images)

BERLIN (JTA) — For Sigmount Koenigsberg, the most searing scene in the U.S.-made “Holocaust” miniseries broadcast here 40 years ago was when a German child throws photos of a Jewish family into a fireplace. The pictures curl up and melt in the flames. The moment “somehow burned into me,” recalls… Read more »

Poland’s main Jewish umbrella group elects its first woman leader

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The main Jewish umbrella group in Poland has elected its first woman leader. Monika Krawczyk was chosen as the board chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, which deals with restitution matters, among other issues. “I think it is a great honor… Read more »

Terrorist attacks in Israel decrease sharply despite 3 deaths

(JTA) — The number of terrorist attacks against Israelis dropped by 75 percent last month over November, but it was also the deadliest month since March with three people killed. The downturn in attacks was mostly due to Hamas inactivity along the border with Gaza, the Israel Security Agency… Read more »

‘The Invisibles’ tells the story of Jews who somehow survived in Nazi Berlin

Aaron Altaras plays Eugen Friede in "The Invisibles." (Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment)

(JTA) — In May 1943, after years of killings and deportations, the Nazis declared Berlin “judenfrei,” or free of Jews. What they didn’t know was that approximately 7,000 Jews remained in hiding in the city, and not only in attics and basements — often in plain sight. “The Invisibles,”… Read more »

How going to synagogue regularly turned me into a dumpster diver

Cnaan Liphshiz examines binned avocados at Amsterdam's Albert Cuyp Market, Jan. 5, 2018. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

AMSTERDAM — I was recently offered a handout while rummaging for food in a heap of trash as my two small children looked on. It happened all because I wanted to start attending synagogue regularly. To be clear, I’m writing this neither as a plea for pity nor an indictment against… Read more »

In northern Brazil, Sephardic converts are giving dwindling Jewish communities a new lease on life

Many in Brazil have converted to Judaism under the supervision of Gilberto Venturas, an Orthodox rabbi, shown here with his wife, Jacqueline. (Courtesy of Sinagoga sem Froteiras)

RECIFE, Brazil (JTA) — Preparing to leave this city’s main Jewish community center, Sabrina Scherb peeks beyond its blast-proof gate into a quiet street strewn with branches and shredded mango fruits. The debris, left over from an overnight tropical storm, is not what’s worrying Scherb, a 22-year-old university student… Read more »

Genetic study finds widespread Sephardic ancestry in Latin America

An Orthodox Colombian family shown in 2012. A new study revealed "widespread" Sephardic genetic ancestry across Latin American countries. (Paul Smith/For the Washington Post)

(JTA) — In a genetic study of 6,589 people from five Latin American countries, about a quarter displayed traces of what may be Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Geneticist Juan-Camilo Chacón-Duque and his colleagues published their findings last week in Nature Communications magazine, in an article titled “Latin Americans show wide-spread… Read more »