Judaism is always ‘tikkun olam’ — and more

NEW YORK (JTA) — I have no patience for survival Judaism. Whenever I hear someone talk about what Jews must do in order to “survive,” I head for the door. Joel Alperson has joined the long list of Jewish communal leaders offering a formula for Jewish survival. Along the… Read more »

Judaism is more than ‘tikkun olam’

OMAHA, Neb. (JTA) — At least a portion of my hometown of Omaha, Neb., may well be under water in the coming days. Pumps are in place at various locations, including at a nuclear power plant located not far from town. The Missouri River, which borders our city, has… Read more »

With protests, Israelis are seeking the revival of the welfare state

Members of a young adult group in Kiryat Malachi, Israel, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, recruited other young adults from the city to demand affordable housing. The sign reads, “Welcome to the tent city — Kiryat Malachi.” About 100 people joined the protest on July 25. (Courtesy Jewish Agency for Israel)

The wave of protests sweeping Israel is about much more than the lack of affordable housing: It’s a grass-roots demand for a major redistribution of the nation’s wealth. In social terms, protesters are calling for a more caring government attuned to the needs of young, middle-class citizens who serve… Read more »

Norway attacks spotlight far-right outreach to Jews, Israel

(JTA) — For decades after World War II, far-right political movements in Europe stirred up for Jews images of skinheads and Nazi storm troopers marching across the continent. But in recent years, as European xenophobia has focused on the exploding growth of Muslims on the continent, right-wing anti-Semitism has… Read more »

Op-Ed: Implementing a historic mandate for deaf Jews

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Conservative movement, through its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, has taken a historic step in acknowledging that deaf and hard-of-hearing people are entitled to stand with the Jewish community as equals. Not only did the law committee vote to recognize the users of… Read more »

San Francisco’s proposed circumcision ban is no parochial concern

NEW YORK — Circumcision, or brit milah, has long been the stuff of cheap jokes and comedy. But in recent weeks, what used to be nothing more than harmless fare has taken on a much more serious tone. So-called “intactivists” on the fringe left of American politics have pushed… Read more »

Pressure mounts on Palestinians to abandon U.N. statehood gambit

JERUSALEM — The pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to back down from plans to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September is intensifying. Squeezed by a combination of concerted American pressure and intense Israeli diplomacy, some top Palestinian leaders are urging the Palestinian Authority’s president to… Read more »

Democrats launch major pro-Obama pushback among Jewish voters

President Obama is a stalwart friend of Israel. That’s the message some top Democratic Jewish figures are promoting to push back against the notion that Obama is out of step with the pro- Israel and Jewish communities. This month, two figures associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee… Read more »

Ahead of Palestinian U.N. gambit, Europe is in play

It was a sign that ties between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations remain strong despite the apparent tensions last month when the two leaders met at the White House. On June 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shot down a French proposal for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks… Read more »

On Shavuot, seeking more Naomi in our lives

Ruth’s day is coming. Not the Ruth with all the home runs. The other Ruth, the biblical one who hit an eternal shot for Jews by Choice. We read her book and story on Shavuot. Her words of commitment spoken to her mother-in-law, Naomi, travel over time to us… Read more »

Diplomatic fallout Israel’s worry on Palestinian bid in General Assembly

While U.S. officials are running a full-court diplomatic press against the Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition of statehood this September and officials at international Jewish organizations are trying to convince foreign leaders to oppose statehood, the Israeli government appears to be taking a different approach: acceptance. On Monday, Israeli… Read more »

What strategies can U.S. use to derail Palestinian statehood at the U.N.?

Remember the tension a couple of weeks ago between Israel and the United States? That was all about avoiding tension between Israel and the rest of the world. That’s what Obama administration officials are telling Jewish officials looking ahead to September, when the Palestinians are expected to press for… Read more »

For Obama, Bibi tensions subside, political problems begin

That Israel problem President Obama had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Old news. That Israel problem Obama has with Congress? And with his party? That’s just beginning. In two successive speeches — one to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on May 23 and another to a joint… Read more »

Abbas – Rewriting Middle East history

Response to Abbas editorial in The NY Times, May 17, 2011 May 18, 2011 | Eli E. Hertz   “Repeat a lie often enough and people will begin to believe it.” Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels   ABBAS: In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered… Read more »

Op-ed: Entebbe and bin Laden raids underscore U.S.-Israel alliance

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nearly 35 years ago, on July 4, 1976, the streets of America were aglow. The nation was celebrating the bicentennial — the 200th anniversary of its independence. In Israel, too, the streets were radiant. Israel Defense Forces commandos had rescued some 100 hostages held captive by… Read more »

Op-ed: Reform Judaism must move beyond ‘personal choice’

SAG HARBOR, N.Y. (JTA) — Change is afoot in American Reform Judaism. A new president of the Union for Reform Judaism has been selected. The movement has launched a series of nationwide public forums to discuss its future. Hundreds of Reform rabbis have endorsed a plan toward achieving greater… Read more »

Op-ed: Elevate more female rabbis into leadership roles

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (JTA) — On a recent trip to Berlin with a dozen other Conservative rabbis, we made certain to stop at the apartment building that Regina Jonas once called home. I had never heard of Jonas, but to the four female rabbis in our group she was… Read more »

Palestinian unity presents Israel choice: go for broke or shun at all costs

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank cityof Ramallah hold a rally advocating Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, March 15, 2011. A reconciliation deal was announced in late April (Ruben Salvador/Flash 90/JTA)

Skeptics and optimists in Israel are squaring off following the surprise reconciliation between the two rival Palestinian factions. The skeptics argue that by mending fences with Hamas, a terrorist organization that denies Israel’s right to exist, the secular Fatah party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has shown… Read more »

Op-Ed: From the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials, a challenge for today

Nazi defendants listen to testimony at the post-World War II Nuremberg trials, which set a precendent for prosecuting crimes agains humanity. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of John W. Mosenthal)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sixty-five years ago at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, 22 defendants stood in the dock. They represented a cross-section of Nazi diplomatic, economic, political and military leadership, and became the first people in history to be indicted for crimes against humanity. A tribunal of… Read more »