World

Young families bringing new life to Budapest synagogues

Rabbi Tamas Vero and his wife, Linda Ban Vero, outside Budapest's Frakel Leo street synagogue, where they head a growing congregation mainly made up of young families like themselves. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Linda Ban is a rebbetzin, but with a mass of curly hair and chunky rings on the fingers of both hands, she hardly fits the stereotype of a Central European rabbi’s wife. A mother of two in her mid-30s, Ban is married to Tamas Vero, the… Read more »

From neo-Nazi skinhead to black-hatted Jew: the journey of Pawel Bramson

Pawel Bramson, left, at the Jewish cemetary in Warsaw. (Kuba Wyszynski)

WARSAW (JTA) — Fifteen years ago, Pawel Bramson was a skinhead shouting anti-Semitic and racist slogans during soccer matches. He hated Jews and blacks – simply, he says, because you need someone to blame for what’s wrong in the world. These days he keeps kosher, wears the long beard… Read more »

N.Y. Chasid resorts to hunger strike after nearly a year in Bolivian prison

Jacob Ostreicher (Courtesy Miriam Ungar)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Supporters say he’s an innocent man caught up in the tentacles of a corrupt Latin American regime. Authorities in Bolivia, however, allege that he’s a shady businessman with ties to drug dealers and money launderers. What’s certain is that Jacob Ostreicher, a 53-year-old Chasidic Jew… Read more »

Plans for Schindler factory memorial crumbling

The lower part of the Schindler factory next to a demolished 19th century building (Eva Munk)

The windows are smashed, the doors stand agape and the keys in the rusting padlocks have not been turned for years. Still, despite the plaster clinging to the crumbling bricks in leprous sheets, the front looks salvageable. The back, however, tells a different story. Piles of debris block gaping… Read more »

Toulouse shooting spotlights problems of tracking hate crimes in Europe

BRUSSELS (JTA) — Jihadist websites eat up a fair share of Bart Olmer’s workday. He even has passwords to some closed hate forums. “Reading hate speech is part of the job,” says Olmer, who reports on intelligence services for Holland’s largest circulation daily, De Telegraaf. It’s an explanation he… Read more »

Sarkozy falls in first round of French vote, but not in Jewish eyes

Supporters of Nicolas Sarkozy awaiting his arrival at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, April 15, 2012. (Philippe Agnifili via CC)

PARIS (JTA) — Jewish voters couldn’t put incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy over the top in the first round of presidential elections in France. The Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande eked out a 1.4 percent victory on Sunday over Sarkozy, the center-right president, although Jewish community leaders said Sarkozy was the… Read more »

Marking 25 years, March of the Living uniting survivors with liberators in Poland

Young Jews entering the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp in Poland during the 2010 March of the Living. (March of Living International)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Bernhard Storch grew up in a Jewish family in Silesia, near Poland’s border with Germany. Like many Polish Jews, he moved quickly from town to town as the Nazis advanced in 1939, trying to avoid capture. Before long he was caught and sent to a… Read more »

YOM HASHOAH FEATURE: Monument honors helpers of Czech Jewish family that hid in woods from Nazis

Eva Vavrecka contemplating the horrific living conditions that her mother and grandparents endured in the forest to survive World War II. (Bruce Konviser)

TRSICE, Czech Republic (JTA) — Nearly 70 years after a Czech Jewish family sought refuge from the Nazis by retreating into a nearby forest and relying on non-Jewish locals for help, an American high school teacher has helped erect a permanent monument to their memory. Last week, several dozen… Read more »

With Sacks retiring, British Jews mixed on relevancy of chief rabbi

After 21 years, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is retiring as Britain's chief rabbi. (United Synagogue)

(JTA) — The search to replace Britain’s powerful longtime chief rabbi has gone international, but even as resumes are gathered and interviews conducted, some are questioning whether the position is still relevant and what it means today for the Anglo Jewish community. As chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks brought… Read more »

Tunisia’s Jews keep wary eye on political developments

Djerba Jews spending some time at the El-Ghriba Synagogue on Tunisia's southern island. (upyneroz via CC)

TUNIS (JTA) — Tucked on a quiet side street blocks from the Mediterranean Sea, the last kosher restaurant in the Tunisian capital is a thriving center of Jewish tradition in a country of 10 million with nearly an entirely Arab and Muslim population. Yet Jacob Lellouche, who has owned… Read more »

Kosher deli in England a Titanic survivor’s legacy

Richard Hyman, great-grandson of Titanic survivor Joseph Abraham Hyman, in front of the family business his great-grandfather started a year after the ship sank. (J.A. Hyman Titanics Ltd.)

Manchester, England is home to an estimated 20,000-30,000 Jews, roughly 40 percent of whom keep kosher. Three of the community’s six kosher butcher/delicatessen shops are run by Richard Hyman and his wife, Joanna. The 99-year-old family business, known to locals as “Titanics,” was born out of the most famous… Read more »

After Toulouse attack, French Jews are reconsidering Sarkozy

Women raising flags during a demonstration in Paris to protest recent murders in Toulouse, March 20,2012. (Daniel Hoffman)

PARIS (JTA) — With the first round of France’s presidential election less than four weeks away, the attacks that left four Jews and three French soldiers dead are reshaping the race — but for now it’s not clear exactly how. In the days leading up to the attacks, President… Read more »

Toulouse attack leaves French Jewish community shaken

Mourners surround the bodies of the victims of Monday's shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, during their joint funeral service in Jerusalem, March 21, 2012. (Uri Lenz/Flash 90/JTA)

PARIS (JTA) — When Arie Bensemhoun, a Jewish community leader in Toulouse, woke up Tuesday morning, he thought for a moment that the horrific shooting of three children and a rabbi at a local Jewish school might have been just a bad dream. “Then the reality hit and I… Read more »

Toulouse attack leaves French Jewish community shaken

Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, was the site of a shooting Monday that killed four people. (Ozar Hatorah)

PARIS (JTA) — When Arie Bensemhoun, a Jewish community leader in Toulouse, woke up Tuesday morning, he thought for a moment that the horrific shooting of three children and a rabbi at a local Jewish school might have been just a bad dream. “Then the reality hit and I… Read more »

Seeking Kin: Ohio man born in the Shoah’s shadow searches for answers about his past

Sol Factor, who was given up by a mother who was in a displaced persons' camp, is looking for information about his family tree. (Courtesy Sol Factor)

The “Seeking Kin” column aims to help reunite long-lost friends and relatives. BALTIMORE (JTA) — Sol Factor recalls a happy childhood in circa-1950s Boston suburbia with his physician-father Joseph, teacher-mother Bernice and younger sister Rachel. His first life, as Meier Pollak — born in 1946 near a displaced persons’… Read more »

No surprises in Putin victory, but question for Russian Jews is what comes next

Demonstrators in Moscow protest Vladimir Putin's re-election, including one carrying a sign reading "We are not an opposition, we are your employers!" with the word "fired" over a drawing of Putin's face, March 5, 2012. (Freedom House via CC)

(JTA) — With Vladimir Putin’s re-election as president of Russia pretty much a foregone conclusion, the question facing Russia was never what would result from last weekend’s election but what would happen after the vote. Thousands of protesters turned out Monday in a Moscow saturated with police and soldiers… Read more »

In face of desperate African poverty, Jewish woman provides a beacon of hope

Ruth Feigenbaum, founder of the Support Group of Families of the Terminally Ill in Zumbabwe, with AIDS orphan Ruth Thabini Dube. (Courtesy SGOFOTI)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (JTA) — Two years after moving to Zimbabwe from South Africa 20 years ago, Ruth Feigenbaum noticed that her gardener, James Phiri, was losing weight and looking ill. With the help of a physician friend, Phiri was diagnosed: Like nearly one in seven Zimbabweans, he was… Read more »