World

Jews find early signs from Pope Francis encouraging

Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, speaking at a B'nai B'rith Argentina event commemorating Kristallnacht, Nov. 12, 2012. (Courtesy B'nai B'rith Argentina)

ROME (JTA) — When the white smoke rose last week at the Vatican, signaling to the world that the College of Cardinals had chosen a new pope, Catholics weren’t the only ones waiting with bated breath. Jews, too, were eager to see whether the new pontiff would be someone… Read more »

Lautenberg Amendment, Soviet-era law now helping Iranians, gets lifeline

The Lautenberg Amendment paved the way for these Iranian Jews shown arriving at Kennedy Airport in New York in 1995 to come to the United States. (Courtesy HIAS)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – When the Lautenberg Amendment was introduced in 1990, it provided a mechanism for hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to exit their crumbling country and immigrate to freedom in the United States. Since 2004, it has served as a lifeline for religious minorities fleeing the Islamic… Read more »

Long the bane of Venezuelan Jews, Chavez is gone. Now what?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, right, shaking hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Venezuelan capital of Caracus, Nov. 27, 2009. (Omar Rashidi/PPO via Getty Images)

(JTA) — For more than a decade, Venezuelan Jews have been holding their breath, subject to the whims of a mercurial president who used his bully pulpit to intimidate, rail against Israel and embrace Iran. There was the police raid of a Caracas school in 2004, allegedly to search… Read more »

Austria beckons as recession, xenophobia prompt Jews to ditch Hungary

Demonstrators protesting racism in Hungary in Budapest, December 2012. (Bela B. Molnar)

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Three years ago, Fanni moved to Vienna from her native Hungary with her husband. Now she is pregnant. Though the couple would prefer to raise their child near their Jewish families in Budapest, rising nationalism and an economic recession are leading them to stay in Austria.… Read more »

Tucson MD met pope, spoke at Vatican on healing spaces

Pope Benedict XVI greets Esther Sternberg, M.D., of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, at the 27th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers in November 2012. (Photo courtesy of Fotografia Felici)

When Tucsonan Esther Sternberg, M.D., gave a talk on healing spaces in Lourdes, France, in June, little did she suspect it would lead to a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI or the opportunity to speak at the Vatican. Sternberg, director of research for the University of Arizona Center for… Read more »

Prisoner X affair raises charges of dual loyalty for Australian Jews

The grave of Ben Zygier in the main Jewish cemetery in Melbourne, where he was buried on Dec. 22, 2010 -- one week after he apparently hanged himself in Yigal Amir's cell at Ayalon Prison in Ramle. (Steve Yarrow)

SYDNEY (JTA) – As more details have seeped out about the mysterious life and death of Israel’s Prisoner X — identified last week by an Australian TV program as Ben Zygier — the wall of silence surrounding those who knew him has begun to show some cracks. On Tuesday,… Read more »

Jews vocal on both sides of France’s gay marriage debate

Eran, a gay Israeli-Frenchman, left, with son Elai-Gabriel and partner Jean-Louis at their Paris home, January 2013. (Courtesy Eran)

(JTA) — Wide-eyed and smiley, Elay-Gabriel seems utterly unaffected by the French media’s sudden interest in him. A dozen French journalists have visited the 18-month-old in recent months because he is trapped in a sort of legal limbo: He cannot obtain citizenship because the state does not recognize children… Read more »

Benedict’s papacy: a period of close Jewish relations with occasional bumps

Pope Benedict XVI praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 12, 2009. (Flash90/JTA)

ROME (JTA) — Pope Benedict XVI’s eight-year reign as head of the world’s 1 billion Catholics sometimes was a bumpy one for the Vatican’s relations with Israel and the wider Jewish community. But it was also a period in which relations where consolidated and fervent pledges made to continue… Read more »

Jews vocal on both sides of France’s gay marriage debate

Eran, a gay Israeli-Frenchman, with his son, Elai-Gabriel, attending a demonstration in Paris in favor of allowing same-sex marriage, January 2013. (Courtesy Eran)

(JTA) — Wide-eyed and smiley, Elay-Gabriel seems utterly unaffected by the French media’s sudden interest in him. A dozen French journalists have visited the 18-month-old in recent months because he is trapped in a sort of legal limbo: He cannot obtain citizenship because the state does not recognize children… Read more »

Documents show Venezuela spying on Jewish community

A chart said to belong to SEBIN, Venezuela's secret service, implicating Rabbi Pynchas Brener as the Mossad's top spymaster in the country. (Analises24)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Espacio Anna Frank says its goal is to promote tolerance by teaching the life story of the teenage diarist murdered by the Nazis. But is there something sinister lurking behind the Venezuelan organization’s benevolent facade? SEBIN, the Venezuelan intelligence service, seems to believe so. According… Read more »

International community remembers the Holocaust

Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, speaks at a special event on “Children and the Holocaust”, held to mark the annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, on Jan. 27, 2012.(UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

NEW YORK—Speaking in a voice fraught with emotion at the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor proclaimed, “The loss is unimaginable… the riches lost to the world untold. But, their spirit lives on, their dreams never died… Nothing can break the… Read more »

Report: Syria chemical arsenal within Hezbollah reach

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma in Moscow. Amid reports of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal falling within Hezbollah's reach, Assad reportedly remains "calm," perhaps due to Russia's deployment of a sizable naval force for an exercise off the Syrian coast. (Rakkar/Wikimedia Commons)

Israel is continuing to warn the world of the potentially devastating outcome if Syria’s chemical arsenal falls into the hands of rebels, or worse, Hezbollah, as Lebanese media outlets reported that the Lebanese terror group had already obtained some chemical weapons and long-range missiles. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who… Read more »

A divided Belgium nears a belated consensus on Holocaust-era complicity

Henry and Madeleine Cornet in their home near Brussels in the 1940s (Jan Maes)

As the sister of Belgium’s most powerful Nazi, Madeleine Cornet knew better than to inquire about the ethnicity of the three women she hired as housemaids in October 1942. Cornet did not want to further implicate herself by hearing what she already knew: Her new hires were Jews who… Read more »

More than a half-decade on, Italy is still years from opening first Holocaust museum

The design of Italy's Holocaust museum in Rome will feature a huge flattened black cube bearing the names of Italian victims. (Courtesy Rome City government)

ROME (JTA) — If all goes according to plan, a starkly modern, $30 million Holocaust museum will soon rise on the site of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s Rome residence. The site, also the location of ancient Jewish catacombs and now a city park, will be home to a museum… Read more »

Czech ‘Joe Lieberman’ could be Europe’s first elected Jewish president

Jewish Czech presidential candidate Jan Fischer, right, attending the Terezin memorial ceremonies to honor the victims of Nazi persecution, May 2012. (Courtesy Jan Fischer campaign)

If the pundits are correct, the Czech Republic may become the first country other than Israel to elect a Jewish president. Jan Fischer, 62, an understated former prime minister who led a caretaker government following a coalition collapse in 2009, is neck and neck in the polls with another… Read more »

Seeking Kin: A lasting image of a perished young poet

Jerusalemite Shlomo Achituv hopes to find the sister or some family of Sara Kucikwocz, pictured here, who was his student in their native Luniniec, Poland, but was killed in the Holocaust.. (Courtesy Shlomo Achituv)

The “Seeking Kin” column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. “The Cruel Winter” How awful is winter, how awful is frost To far-off lands the sparrow has fled The animals have hidden, too, in the caves Beneath the hills and in the forest valleys The trees wrap… Read more »

Seeking Kin: What became of three Grodno students?

The fate of three of the 15 students in the first graduating class of Grodno's Tarbut Gymnasium in 1930 (pictured with three of their teachers and the principal) remains a mystery. The three students, shown in the inserts, are Velvel Poliak, Yitzhak Levin/Levine and Max Margolis. (Courtesy Ruth Marcus)

The “Seeking Kin” column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. BALTIMORE (JTA) — In 2008, Ruth Marcus began looking ahead to 2010: the centennial of the birth of her late father, Yitzhak Eliasberg, and 80 years since Grodno’s Tarbut Gymnasium graduated its first class, Eliasberg included. Marcus,… Read more »

As new chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis faces a fractious British Jewry

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis will serve as Britain's next chief rabbi. (John Rifkin)

LONDON (JTA) — Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has big shoes to fill. Appointed this week as the 11th British chief rabbi, he will succeed Jonathan Sacks, an internationally renowned author and public intellectual who speaks frequently on moral, philosophical and theological affairs. The widespread assumption among British Jews has long… Read more »