Op-Ed: What the American Jewish Congress gave American Jews

Jerome A. Chanes (Courtesy of Brandeis University)

NEW YORK (Forward) — With the American Jewish Congress apparently closing its doors, there won’t be many mourners saying Kaddish. Instead, the prevailing communal sentiment will probably be: “We have too many agencies; one less will not matter.” The serious financial problems that had plagued the AJCongress over recent… 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 »

Direct talks are needed to advance peace

NEW YORK (JTA) — In the history of the State of Israel, never have there been preconditions for face-to-face peace talks. While it was not obligated to do so, the Israeli government last November ordered a 10-month freeze in new building projects in the West Bank. This sign of… 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 »

Stuart Levy: The man trying to make Iran sanctions work

Stuart Levey

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Stuart Levey was given a big stick when the Bush administration made him the first under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. But the stick only started to hurt its targets — terrorist groups and rogue nations — when he figured out how… 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 »

Can Kutsher’s, the Catskills’ last kosher resort, be saved?

The lake at Kutcher's offers boating and fishing. (Uriel Heilman)

MONTICELLO, N.Y. (JTA) — For Yossi Zablocki, it was the phone call of a lifetime. Last February, the manager at Kutsher’s Country Club, the last kosher resort hotel in the Catskill Mountains, called him in a panic with news that owner Mark Kutsher was thinking of retiring and closing… Read more »

Toward a broader Israeli-Diaspora relationship

Danny Ayalon (Israel Foreign Ministry)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — “Every Jew, no matter how insignificant, is engaged in some decisive and immediate pursuit of a goal,” the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote nearly 200 years ago. Throughout history, Jews have numbered disproportionately among Nobel Prize laureates, acclaimed scientists, philosophers, economists and in many… Read more »

Overcome denial in Israel advocacy

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Some people see the world not as it is but as they would like it to be. Psychologists have a term for this: They call it living in denial. Sadly, denial colors the way too many leaders of established institutions in the American Jewish community look… Read more »

In a race of Jewish candidates, the challenger targets Schakowsky on Israel

Jan Schakowsky

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Joel Pollak has traveled from liberal to conservative in his young lifetime, and now he hopes to take Chicago’s storied Lakefront with him. The Harvard Law School graduate, 32, is running a quixotic campaign against U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who has held the seat since… 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 »

Faisal Shahzad, jihadi, undercuts Obama, president

Jaw-dropping court testimony by Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, singlehandedly undermines Obama administration efforts to ignore the dangers of Islamism and jihad. Shahzad’s statements stand out because jihadis, when facing legal charges, typically save their skin by pleading not guilty or plea bargaining. Consider a few examples:… Read more »

Lamenting the gulf on Tisha B’Av

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Alas, this year on the Ninth of Av, Tisha B’Av, when we darken our mood and grieve our losses, should we add a lament for what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico? On a day when we acknowledge by chanting kinot, laments, the Jews… Read more »

Chabad schools, gets schooled in diplomacy at D.C. confab

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Chabad emissaries usually associate Washington with their emphasis on education, but this year they got a taste of foreign policy suasion while handing out some, too. Hundreds of emissaries from across the United States and the world descended on the U.S. capital for two days last… Read more »

Don’t exclude in the name of inclusion

Nathan Diament (courtesy of the Orthodox Union)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Lynn Schusterman, a passionate and impactful philanthropic leader in the American Jewish community, has called upon Jewish organizations to adopt policies that will foster greater inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Jews in the community. Specifically, in a recently published essay, Schusterman asked “all Jewish… Read more »

Embrace LGBT Jews as vital members of the community

Lynn Schusterman (Schusterman Family Foundation)

TULSA, Okla. (JTA) — Next week, as millions of people around the world celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we in the Jewish community will mark the occasion with a pivotal milestone: the first-ever Jewish LGBT Movement Building Convening, to be held June 27-29 in California.… Read more »

Drake, a black Jew, is hip-hop’s newest star

In a culture of misfits and outsiders, Aubrey “Drake” Graham is the ultimate outsider — a big-time black Jewish rapper. His star is rising rapidly on the hip-hop scene. Though fans have followed the Jewish-Canadian Drake since his days as basketball star Jimmy Brooks on the Canadian soap “Degrassi:… 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 »