No end in sight for downward spiral in Turkish-Israeli ties

Footage taken from cameras aboard the Mavi Marmara showing passengers preparing for a confrontation with Israeli soldiers, May 31, 2010. Turkey has demanded an apology for the deaths of its citizens aboard the flotilla ship, but Israel has refused, causing a major rift in ties between the two former allies. (IDF/Flash 90/JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The bad diplomatic news for Israel just kept getting worse. First Turkey announced that it was slashing the level of its diplomatic ties with Israel to the second secretary level, giving the senior Israeli embassy staff 48 hours to leave the country. Turkey also said it… Read more »

B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropy program takes artistic turn

Gertrude Shankman, a Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging resident, and Adam DeLuca in front of the B’nai Tzedek triptych, currently on display at Handmaker. The painting includes a poem by DeLuca. (Bryan Davis)

  Eighteen-year-old Adam DeLuca has participated in the B’nai Tzedek Tucson teen philanthropy program since 2007. Now starting his freshman year at the University of Arizona, DeLuca has also embarked on a lifetime of giving. “Before I joined B’nai Tzedek I understood that charity was a good thing,” DeLuca… Read more »

In Slovakia, being strategic about preserving Jewish heritage

Maros Borsky, vice president of the Bratislava Jewish community, standing in the Orthodox synagogue in Zilina, Slovakia. The shul is one of the sites on his Slovak Jewish heritage Route. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (JTA) — In 1989, on the eve of the fall of communism, the American poet Jerome Rothenberg published a powerful series of poems called “Khurbn” that dealt with the impact of the Holocaust on Eastern Europe. In one section, he recorded conversations he had had in Poland… Read more »

After terror attacks, rockets from Gaza and worries over Egypt border

Israeli soldiers carry an injured person on a stretcher at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba following a Palestinian terrorist attack near the Egyptian border, Aug. 18, 2011. (Shay Levy/Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – After deadly terrorist attacks in southern Israel, officials in Jerusalem are on alert for how Egyptian instability may be opening up more avenues for terrorists intent on attacking Israel. Thursday’s coordinated attacks north of Eilat by terrorists who crossed over the border from Egypt left eight… Read more »

Just how expensive is it to live in Israel?

Hundreds of Israelis protesting against the country's soaring cost of living in front of the knesset in Jerusalem, Aug. 2, 2011. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — What began in Israel in June as a Facebook-driven rebellion against the rising cost of cottage cheese, then morphed in July into tent encampments protesting soaring real estate costs, has since turned into a full-scale Israeli social movement against the high cost of living in the… Read more »

After 20+ years, enhancing identity still core of Hebrew High

Hebrew High students (L-R) Shane Weinstein, Ariel Nadler and Ben Bressler celebrate Purim 2011 with a hamantashen break. (Courtesy Hebrew High)

Sharon Glassberg was a member of Tucson’s second Hebrew High graduating class in 1980. Thirty years later, as director of the Coalition for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, she’s the principal of Hebrew High. The evening program’s main goal is still the same, to enhance… Read more »

Norway killer espoused right-wing philosophy

Flowers and candles outside the Domkirke Cathedral in Oslo serve as a memorial to bombing and shooting victims, July 25, 2011 (Alex Weisler).

BERLIN (JTA) — The confessed perpetrator in the attack in Norway that killed at least 76 people espoused a right-wing philosophy against Islam that also purports to be pro-Zionist. Anders Behring Breivik is charged with detonating a car bomb outside Oslo’s government headquarters, which houses the office of Norwegian… Read more »

Patriot games: Is Captain America too American?

The March 1941 front cover of "Captain America #1," the creation of two second-generation Jews, showing its titular hero punching Hitler in the face.

NEW YORK (JTA) — In March 1941 — nine months before the attack on Pearl Harbor impelled America to enter the Second World War — one colorful American hero already had joined the battle: Captain America. The famous front cover of “Captain America #1” showed its titular hero punching… Read more »

With Beckers, Tucsonans see Israel from biblical perspective

Bernadette Donfeld (left) and Esther Becker on a hill overlooking Shilo, where the Tabernacle was located for 369 years until destroyed by the Philistines. The photo was taken on a 2011 Southwest Torah Institute Israel trip. (Bob Donfeld).

      Rabbi Israel Becker and his wife, Esther, who have led Congregation Chofetz Chayim since 1979, have visited Israel dozens of times and lived there for extended periods in the ’60s and ’70s. But until last month, the Beckers had never led a group of their fellow… Read more »

Activists, Israeli Navy prepare for flotilla bound for Gaza

Supporters of the planned flotilla to Gaza participate in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Rome, Italy, on May 14, 2011. (Lucian via CC)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Navy is preparing to intercept the pro-Palestinian flotilla due to set sail for the Gaza Strip from Mediterranean ports later this week. Commandos from the Israeli Navy’s elite Shayetet 13 unit have spent weeks preparing to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza, including practicing new ways… Read more »

Politics, conversion, Gaza: Rabbis’ Israel trip is inside scoop

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon of Temple Emanu-El in front of the Knesset, where 30 American rabbis were briefed during a ‘Rabbis Engaging with Israel’ mission last month

It’s not unusual for rabbis to frequently visit Israel, but last month Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon of Temple Emanu-El enjoyed the rare opportunity of traveling to the Holy Land as part of a select group from around the United States and Canada that included 10 Reform, 10 Conservative and… Read more »

UA professor spearheads $16 million grant against obesity

ulian Barcelo plants an herb garden in March 2011 with students in his kindergarten class at the Davis Bilingual Magnet Elementary School.

Merrill Eisenberg is a dynamo — a medical anthropologist and assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health whose $16 million grant strikes at obesity from multiple fronts. “The bottom line is to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” says Eisenberg,… Read more »

Local women explore art, history, community in Argentina

Dawn Hunter (left) and Tandy Kippur in Buenos Aires on Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona 2011 Lion of Judah mission

Visiting a home for senior citizens may seem an unlikely highlight for a trip to Argentina, a land known for tango, sun and sea. But ask the 11 women who went on the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Lion of Judah mission to Buenos Aires April 3 to 8… Read more »

In West Bank, Palestinians marking Nakba Day encouraged by Arab Spring in fight against Israel

Stone-throwing Palestinians clash with Israeli troops near the Kalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, May 15, 2011. (Nati Shohat/Flash90/JTA)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (JTA) — Clouds of tear gas hovered over hundreds of rioting Palestinian youths on the road to Jerusalem, where demonstrations marking the anniversary of Israel’s founding 63 years ago turned violent. “I want a third intifada,” said Ala Barghouti, a 21-year-old accounting student, his nostrils stuffed… Read more »

Israel 63 Festival on Sunday, May 15 promises dance, food, fun — and democracy

Re-Vital Dance Ensemble will perform its new show, “Hatikvah,” at the Israel 63 Festival on May 15, 2011.

A dance performance by Israel’s acclaimed Re-Vital Dance Ensemble, which played to a standing-room-only crowd here two years ago, will be the climax of Tucson’s Israel 63 Festival, to be held Sunday, May 15 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. But the festival, celebrating… Read more »

Bin Laden’s killing raises immediate questions of security

Upon hearing the news of Osama bin Laden's death, jubilant crowds packed New York's Times Square in the wee hours of May 1, 2011. (Uri Fintzy)

NEW YORK (JTA) – For years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans waited in fear for the next strike by al-Qaida on U.S. soil.… Read more »

Local teens commit to tell survivors’ stories on Yom HaShoah and beyond

Bill Kugelman talks to Hebrew High students. (Jonathan Vanballenberghe)

Picture a room full of teenagers, uncharacteristically still, hang­ing on to every word spoken by an 86-year-old man, who looks easily 10 years younger, with bushy eyebrows and salt-and-pepper hair, a yarmulke perched stubbornly on his head. “How long after liberation and after the war did it take you… Read more »

News analysis: Wasserman Schultz brings Jewish identity to top party role

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, right, with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at a Capital Hill reception for Jewish American Heritage Month, May 19, 2009. (Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s first day as a sophomore in the U.S. House of Representatives, on Jan. 8, 2007, was marked by a number of extraordinary achievements for a woman barely out of her first term. Named to the Democratic caucus leadership. Named to the all-powerful Appropriations… Read more »

Mock border fence rattles UA campus; Israeli-Palestinian section provocative

Max Rusinov, UA Hillel Israel Fellow, points to information about suicide bombings prevented by the Israeli-Palestinian border fence, posted on the mock border fence on the UA campus, March 23. (Sheila Wilensky)

If there’s a difference between the U.S.-Mexico border wall and the one dividing Israel and the Palestinian West Bank, you might not have known it by looking at the nearly 1,000-foot mock border fence on the University of Arizona campus last month. The fence was erected by student members… Read more »

Young Tucsonans rock to Federation beat at Tribefest

Hershel Cohen with Israeli hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari, who performed at the conference

Twenty-three young Jewish Tucsonans headed off to Las Vegas earlier this month — not to gamble, but to make up one of the largest delegations to Tribefest, the newly re-branded Young Leadership conference of the Jewish Federations of North America. “Connect, Explore and Celebrate” they did, along with more… Read more »