World

At site of Nazi power, a chanukah menorah at Brandenberg Gate

A costumed Maccabee stands at a Chanukah menorah-lighting ceremony at Berlin's Brandenberg Gate, Dec. 1, 2010. (Toby Axelrod)

BERLIN (JTA) — Icicles formed on Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal’s beard as he helped set up the towering menorah in the center of Berlin. It wasn’t just any menorah among the thousands that the Chabad-Lubavitch movement erects every Chanukah in public locations around the world. Teichtal, the Chabad rabbi in the… Read more »

Populists’ anti-Islam message has European Jewish leaders worried

Geert Wilders, the rock star of European politics, is riding the crest of a populist tsunami. As the pro-Israel founder of Holland’s Party of Freedom let loose recently in Berlin, shouting that Islam is a threat to Germany’s identity, democracy and prosperity, his audience of 500 reacted with an… Read more »

Draft of anti-Jewish measure changing views of Vichy head

PARIS (JTA) — Nearly 70 years to the day since the passage of a pivotal anti-Semitic law in Vichy-occupied France, new evidence about who drafted the law is transforming some historians’ views of France’s wartime head of state, Philippe Petain. Until now the Oct. 3, 1940 law — dubbed… Read more »

South African museum to juxtapose Holocaust with Rwandan genocide

This architectural rendering shows the interior of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. "Khumbula" is the Zulu word for remember. (Lewis Levin)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — At a South African Holocaust museum that plans to open late next year in Johannesburg, the Holocaust will be featured beside a more local genocide: the Rwandan violence of 1994. The inclusion of the African mass murder is not a mere gesture toward… Read more »

European Conservatives, the new kids on the block, making strides

A recent survey of British Jewry showed a decline in every Jewish denomination since 1990 except for two groups: the strictly Orthodox haredi and the Masorti, or Conservative movement. Over those 20 years, both have nearly doubled. Researchers behind the report, published in May by the Board of Deputies… Read more »

Rumors sully Jewish response to imams’ trip to Auschwitz

Rumors surrounded a trip by a delegation of U.S. Muslim leaders to Auschwitz and Dachau in mid-August 2010 (no credit)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Eight imams bowed in prayer before a sculpture at Dachau vividly representing the Jewish dead of Europe. It’s a picture worth a thousand words of reconciliation and understanding. Yet even before its appearance in the Jewish media — on the front page of the Forward for… Read more »

Sarkozy’s security crackdown roils France, but Jews more circumspect

This Roma camp in Pantin, north of Paris, received an eviction notice at the end of July as part of the french president's crackdown on illegal Gypsy shantytowns (Devorah Lauter).

PARIS (JTA) — With a preponderance of voices from the international media, human rights groups, the French clergy and some politicians denouncing French President Nicolas Sarkozy for fueling negative ethnic stereotypes with his new immigrant-focused security crackdown, many Jewish community representatives in France are taking a more measured stance.… Read more »

Tucsonan assesses impact of Jewish aid in Haiti

Tucsonan Fran Katz, right, and Kim Rosenberg of Portland, Ore., haul rubble during a Jewish Federations of North America fact-finding mission to Haiti.

Tucsonan Fran Katz joined a national Jewish Federation of North America fact-finding tour to Haiti, from July 5 to 7, to see firsthand how American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee funds have aided Haitians since the January earthquake, which killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced more than 1.2 million.… Read more »

‘Dancing Auschwitz’ video gets mixed review

A YouTube video of a family singing and dancing at Auschwitz has received more than half a million hits and mixed reaction. Australian artist Jane Korman filmed her 89-year-old father Adolek Kohn, a former inmate at Auschwitz, and her three children dancing outside the infamous death camp in Poland,… Read more »

Anne Frank diary published as comic book

A graphic novel version of Anne Frank’s biography was released in the Netherlands. The 160-page book, launched July 9, uses text and illustrations to tell Anne’s story and make connections between her life and historical events during the period. According to Anne Frank House Museum spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker, the… Read more »

It’s all in a name: Tale of an orphan’s rescue from Chechnya

David Naumkin and Olga Elshanskaya, the Jewish Agency for Israel employee who took the 20-year-old from a Chechen orphanage to a Moscow asylum to work with him. (Anna Rudnitskaya/JTA)

MOSCOW (JTA) — In a room at a Jewish asylum in Moscow, the boy sits on the lower part of a bunk bed looking down at the floor. Headphones on his ears, he pays no notice to a visitor. Except for his name, David Naumkin, there is no evidence… Read more »

Recession fuels rise in Russian aliyah

MOSCOW (JTA) – Years after Russian immigration to Israel dipped and then plateaued, the global economic downturn appears to be sending it higher again. Starting last year, aliyah from the former Soviet Union grew 21 percent over 2008, with 6,818 Russian-speaking immigrants moving to Israel in 2009. In the… Read more »

Moscow exhibit gives a voice to Jewish Red Army soldiers

A Jewish Red Army veteran speaks at the "Writings and Reflections of Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army" exhibit in Mpscow. (Anna Rudnitskaya)

MOSCOW (JTA) — Lev Fein, a Jewish soldier in the Red Army, returned home to Minsk in 1945 to find a letter about his family being wiped out by the Nazis and the dire consequences of the occupation for Belarus Jews. “Father and Uncle Fein died on the third… Read more »

Riding the French countryside in the Jewish-Muslim friendship bus

The Jewish-Muslim friendship bus team talks to a Muslim activist in the central square of Besancon, France, June 10, 2010. (Sue Fishkoff)

BESANCON, France (JTA) — On a hot afternoon in early June, an unusual looking bus is parked in the central square of this historic city in eastern France. Passers-by cast sidelong glances at the brightly colored portraits on its side accompanied by such slogans as “Jews and Muslims say… Read more »

Gay pride parade used ruse to include anti-Israel group, critics charge

An official with Kulanu, shown here marching in the Toronto Gay Pride Parade in June 2009, says the Jewish LGBT group wants to galvanize a large number of marchers for this year's parade. (Creative Commons/Sweet One)

TORONTO (JTA) – Canadian Jewish organizations are saying they will not back down after an unexpected policy reversal that will allow an anti-Israel group to participate in this year’s Toronto gay pride parade. Organizers of the annual parade, one of the largest events on Canada’s cultural calendar, backtracked this… Read more »

Israelis are key to Central African nations’ development

Cameroonian soliders march in the country’s 50th anniversary parade May 20. Israel provides weapons training to Cameroon as part of the two countries’ expanding bilateral ties.

On a barren, 60-acre tract of land overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, bulldozer operators turn the earth while sweaty construction workers take a lunch break in the shadow of an improvised Zim shipping container. Inside an air-conditioned trailer nearby, Tel Aviv native Zvi Blum sits at his desk under… Read more »

With flotillas, vigils and marches, Jews press for Shalit’s release

Gilad Shalit supporters call for his immediate release on the “True Freedom Flotilla,” a New York event held June 24 that was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. (Michael Priest/JTA Photo Service)

Some 100 to 200 passengers in all, they came as members of a self-described True Freedom Flotilla intent on promoting a Middle East-related humanitarian mission. Instead of breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza, however, as was the goal of the flotilla of ships that was intercepted May 31 by… Read more »

In Venice, a Jewish disconnect between locals and visitors

Chabad yeshiva students gather near the Chabad House on the main square of the Venice Ghetto. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

VENICE, Italy (JTA) — It was a Friday afternoon in the heart of the historic Venice Ghetto, and I was chatting with the city’s chief rabbi, Elia Richetti, when his cellphone beeped. “It’s a text message from Gam-Gam Goodies, the Chabad-run pastry shop around the corner,” said the bespectacled… Read more »