World

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 »

New Zealand Jews plan to fight for shechitah

Chickens being kosher slaughtered on New Zealand's South Island in 2009. A new law banning shechitah is being challenged by the country's Jews.

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Barring a last-minute policy reversal, Jewish leaders in New Zealand appear certain to launch legal action against the government over its controversial new law banning kosher slaughter. Six Jewish leaders were granted a 30-minute meeting a week ago with Prime Minister John Key, the son… Read more »

In Europe, flotilla protests relatively small but Jews fear tensions with Turks

More than 700 people reportedly attended a rally outside the Israeli Embassy of London supporting Israel in the wake of the flotilla incident, June 2. (Adrian Korsner/JTA Photo Service)

Prague (JTA) — As thousands of protesters condemned Israel’s blockade of Gaza in cities across Europe, reactions within Jewish communities ranged from mild concern to alarm. On Saturday, June 5, 6,000 protesters marched in Germany, 20,000 in France and 2,000 in London against Israel’s actions in the May 31… Read more »

Question in Italy: How do we reach Orthodox Jews?

Rabbi Elia Richetti, the president of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly, mingles with tourists outside the Jewish Museum in Venice (Ruth Ellen Gruber/JTA Photo Service)

ROME (JTA) — The years-long battle that ended recently with the dismissal of the chief rabbi of Turin, Italy, highlights a 21st-century identity crisis afflicting the oldest Jewish community in the Diaspora. Rabbi Alberto Somekh, who like all recognized rabbis in Italy is Orthodox, had served as chief rabbi… Read more »

Exhibit at Schindler factory site recalls Nazi-era Krakow

The factory in which Oskar Schindler used Jewish slave labor during World War II has been turned into a Holocaust museum. (Patti McCracken/JTA Photo Service)

KRAKOW, Poland (JTA) — In January 1994, an American tourist stepped out of a taxi into a cold, drizzling rain and entered the Jarden Jewish Bookshop at the far end of the square in the Jewish quarter of Krakow. On the counter he splayed a weeks-old copy of The… Read more »

Germany’s Oberammergau Passion Play better, but not good

This scene in the Oberamergau Passion Play, showing Jesus' crucifixion, perpetuates the charge against the Jews of deicide, some Jewish critics say. (Passion Play/Obergammergau 2010/JTA Photo Service)

Berlin (JTA) — It’s a tradition that goes back hundreds of years in the Bavarian village of Oberammergau, nestled in the German Alps. After witnessing it in the 1930s, Hitler reportedly proclaimed, “Never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened… Read more »