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  • Jewish chair of Florida's Democratic Party arrested at abortion rights protest

    Ben Sales|Apr 14, 2023

    (JTA) — Nikki Fried, who chairs Florida’s Democratic Party, was arrested at a protest for abortion rights in the state capital, along with 10 other demonstrators. The protest on April 3, which took place outside Tallahassee City Hall, was in opposition to a proposed six-week abortion ban in Florida that the state senate passed Monday evening. The bill must pass the state House of Representatives before heading to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Fried, who is Jewish, previously served as Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, a rare De...

  • Anti-Jewish incidents jumped nearly 20 percent in 2021

    Ben Sales|Mar 17, 2023

    (JTA) - A new FBI report found that anti-Jewish incidents increased nearly 20% in 2021 relative to 2020, but decreased relative to prior years. The updated FBI statistics released Monday counted 817 anti-Jewish criminal offenses reported by local law enforcement agencies in 2021, up from 683 in 2020 - a year when people largely stayed off the streets for a substantial period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 numbers, however, represent a 15% decline from 2019, when the FBI reported 963...

  • Israel's dual crises, explained

    Ben Sales|Feb 24, 2023

    If it feels like there’s an overload of news out of Israel — a sea of flags at a Jerusalem protest, police sirens outside of a synagogue — that’s because there is. Israel has been consumed by two escalating crises that both appear to be crescendoing at the same time. And even though they feel separate, they’re intertwined in at least one big way. Allow us to explain: Israel is simultaneously contending with two things: a wave of Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli military raids in the West Bank, and massive protests of a government plan to...

  • JCC Manhattan's new director wants to help people 'reclaim pre-COVID life'

    Ben Sales|Jan 28, 2022

    \(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Almost exactly 18 months ago, as the U.S. settled into its first pandemic summer, the Upper West Side’s flagship Jewish community center delivered some bad news to its staff: more than a third of them would be laid off or furloughed. The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan joined JCCs nationwide in cutting staff when in-person programming abruptly shut down that spring and summer. Facing the devastating wave of COVID that hit the city at the time, the JCC Manhattan found itself unable to offer the range of services...

  • Israeli minister promises progress on prayer space

    Ben Sales|Dec 17, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Israel will set plans in motion to renovate the non-Orthodox prayer space at the Western Wall, an Israeli official said Tuesday in New York. The current Israeli government is expected to implement an agreement, shelved under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that would expand an area of the holy site where men and women could pray as they please. But speaking to journalists at the Israeli consulate in New York City, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said that before it formally implements the 2...

  • Former champ Yuri Foreman is now the 'Vegan Boxing Rabbi,' certifying kosher doughnuts

    Ben Sales|Dec 17, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) - Yuri Foreman's professional peak as a boxer arguably came 11 years ago, when he faced off against Miguel Cotto in a marquee boxing match at Yankee Stadium. The match, dubbed the "Stadium Slugfest," was a super welterweight title fight that had been promoted on huge posters at subway stops around the city. Foreman was a world champion who had won his belt the year prior. Cotto was one of the best boxers in the world, and won the fight by technical knockout in the...

  • Facing protest from his socialist allies, Rep. Jamaal Bowman opens up about his recent trip to Israel

    Ben Sales|Dec 10, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Speaking to a group of college students, Rep. Jamaal Bowman expressed no regret about taking a recent trip to Israel and the West Bank with the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, despite intense backlash from his socialist allies. He did, however, have harsh words for Israel’s government. “I left less optimistic about a two-state solution because of the reality on the ground,” he said in the question-and-answer session Monday. “Of course, I still believe in it and working toward making it happen but I think the...

  • Here's what Marty Markowitz, former Brooklyn borough president, has to say about Marty Markowitz of 'The Shrink Next Door'

    Ben Sales|Nov 26, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Marty Markowitz, the former borough president of Brooklyn, has never listened to the popular podcast called “The Shrink Next Door.” He’s only vaguely aware that it’s now a TV series with an A-list cast. He does know, however, that he and the main character share the exact same name. “‘The Shrink Next Door’?” he said when a reporter called Friday. After hearing a brief description of the story, he said, “The one with Marty Markowitz?” “Shrink,” which premieres on Friday on Apple TV+, is based on the true story o...

  • In speech to Jewish group, NY Gov. Kathy Hochul calls out Democrats who are 'questioning our commitment to Israel'

    Ben Sales|Nov 26, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — In what was billed as her first speech to a Jewish audience as New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul vowed to fight hate crimes and criticized fellow Democrats over their positions on Israel. The speech, delivered virtually to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York on Wednesday night, hit the usual notes sounded by Hochul’s predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in August in the face of sexual misconduct allegations. Hochul pledged to fight antisemitism and help bolster security at Jewish institutions....

  • The real Jewish story behind the Will Ferrell-Paul Rudd series 'The Shrink Next Door'

    Ben Sales|Nov 19, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) - One of the first images of "The Shrink Next Door," the limited series premiering Friday on Apple TV+, is of a smiling man wearing a huge kippah, chatting at a party in the Hamptons. The party, viewers will later find out, is being held at the summer home of Marty Markowitz, a garment district merchant whose life becomes increasingly dominated by his psychiatrist, Isaac "Ike" Herschkopf. The series is based on a true story that was first told in a popular 2019...

  • Sally Rooney: Israeli publishers can't put out my new book for now, but Hebrew translation 'would be an honour'

    Ben Sales|Oct 22, 2021

    (JTA) — The bestselling author Sally Rooney said she decided not to publish her latest novel with an Israeli publishing house because she supports a boycott of Israel, but added that a non-Israeli press could still publish the book in Hebrew. Rooney’s statement, made on Tuesday, confirms a report by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last month that Rooney declined to sell Hebrew publishing rights for her new book, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” to Modan Publishing House, an Israeli press that published her first two novels in Hebrew. The Jewish...

  • Israeli PM Naftali Bennett to American Jewish leaders: 'We have to redesign our relationship'

    Ben Sales|Oct 8, 2021

    NEW YORK (JTA) - The first thing Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, facing a room full of the leaders of the American Jewish community: "I wish my mom were here." The son of American immigrants to Israel, Bennett, like his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks a fluent, nearly accentless English, and spent years living in the United States as both a child and an adult. But in other crucial ways, Bennett sounded different from Netanyahu in his first public address to American Jewish...

  • Seattle City Council won't bar police from training with Israeli forces

    Ben Sales|Oct 8, 2021

    (JTA) — In a contentious meeting last week, the Seattle City Council narrowly voted down legislation that would have prohibited the city’s police department from conducting training with Israeli forces. The bill, which was defeated by a vote of 5-4 at the council’s meeting on Sept. 20, was conceived following the May conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Its lead sponsor was a socialist council member, Kshama Sawant, who also led a protest in June seeking to block an Israeli cargo ship from docking at Seattle’s port. The defeat of the bil...

  • Los Angeles teachers union votes to postpone Israel boycott motion indefinitely

    Ben Sales|Oct 1, 2021

    (JTA) — Los Angeles’ main teachers union voted Thursday to indefinitely postpone a motion in favor of boycotting Israel. For months, the United Teachers of Los Angeles, which has approximately 30,000 members, has been debating a motion to support BDS, or the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. The motion was first raised in the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May. It has since been adopted by several local chapters of the union. The resolution calls for the union to “endorse the international campa...

  • Survey of Jewish fraternity and sorority finds most respondents experienced antisemitism on campus

    Ben Sales|Oct 1, 2021

    (JTA) — A survey of members of AEPi and AEPhi, the most prominent national Jewish fraternity and sorority, found that large numbers of respondents have experienced antisemitism on campus. The survey also found that about half of respondents have felt the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus or in virtual campus settings. A slim majority said they “are somewhat or very reluctant to share their views on Israel,” according to the survey. The survey was commissioned by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a legal organ...

  • Poway shooter pleads guilty to 113 hate crimes charges

    Ben Sales|Oct 1, 2021

    (JTA) — The man who opened fire on a synagogue in Poway, California in 2019, killing one and injuring three, has pleaded guilty to a 113-count federal hate crime indictment. The guilty plea comes with a recommended sentence of life in prison plus 30 years. The charges the shooter faced, which also relate to his arson of a mosque a month earlier, carried a maximum sentence of the death penalty. “The defendant entered a synagogue with the intent to kill all those inside because of his hatred for Jewish people, and days earlier used fire in an...

  • Iraq issues arrest warrant against activists who called for normalization of ties with Israel

    Ben Sales|Oct 1, 2021

    (JTA) — Hundreds of Iraqi civic leaders and activists attended a conference calling for the country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. But Iraq’s government rejected the call and is now seeking to arrest the leaders of the conference and may also try to arrest other attendees for the crime, under Iraqi law, of aiding and abetting ideas that support Zionism, according to Haaretz. Earlier, governmental leaders had said in a statement that the demand for normalization of ties with Israel “was not representative of the population’s...

  • Josh Mandel, Jewish Ohio Senate candidate, compares Biden's vaccine mandate to the Gestapo

    Ben Sales|Sep 17, 2021

    (JTA) — The latest politician to compare government vaccination efforts to Nazi Germany is Josh Mandel, a Jewish Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio. In a video last Thursday protesting President Joe Biden’s upcoming requirement that a large portion of private sector employees either get vaccinated against COVID or get tested weekly, Mandel instructed his social media viewers not to comply with the requirement. In doing so, he compared Biden to the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police force that played a major role in carrying out the Hol...

  • FBI reports drop in number of antisemitic crimes in 2020 amid rise in total hate crimes

    Ben Sales|Sep 10, 2021

    (JTA) — The FBI recorded the largest number of hate crimes last year since 2008, including spikes in the number of anti-Black and anti-Asian hate crimes. Anti-Jewish hate crimes dropped from 953 in 2019 to 676 last year, a decrease of 29 percent. Anti-Jewish crimes again made up the majority of hate crimes based on religion in the annual report, which scholars and officials have cautioned not to view as a comprehensive reflection of the state of hate crimes in America. In total, the FBI announced Monday that it recorded 7,759 hate crimes n...

  • Natan Sharansky offered advice to cope with COVID lockdowns - now, he's recovering from the virus

    Ben Sales|Aug 27, 2021

    (JTA) — When the world shut down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Natan Sharansky figured his experience as a Soviet political prisoner meant he had a thing or two to teach the millions of people who were suddenly confined to their homes. So he recorded a video providing his advice that went viral among the many Jews around the world who have long seen him as a sage figure. Nearly a year and a half later, Sharansky, 73, announced on Facebook that he and his wife, Avital, had contracted the disease. The Israeli couple had both been v...

  • Progressive Jewish leaders condemn AIPAC for ads slamming 'Squad' members

    Ben Sales|Aug 27, 2021

    (JTA) — Dozens of progressive Jewish leaders have signed a letter condemning the Israel lobby AIPAC for social media ads targeting Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the group of progressive Congress members known as “the Squad.” J Street, a liberal Israel lobby and rival of AIPAC, spearheaded the letter. In its ad about Omar, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said the Minnesota Democrat sees “no difference between America and the Taliban, between Israel and Hamas, between democracies and terrori...

  • The Anti-Defamation League and Hillel are now working together to document antisemitism on campus

    Ben Sales|Aug 13, 2021

    (JTA) — Over the last year, Jewish college students took it upon themselves to combat antisemitism at their schools. Now, two major Jewish organizations are working together to play a stronger role in fighting antisemitism on campus. Some of the student activists documented incidences of antisemitism at colleges nationwide, often submitted anonymously, while others have taken a confrontational tone on social media. With some portraying themselves as the ideological successors to early Zionist activists, the students often argue that a...

  • Alleged assailant in stabbing of rabbi charged with hate crime

    Ben Sales|Jul 23, 2021

    (JTA) — The suspect in the stabbing of a Boston Chabad rabbi has been charged with committing a hate crime and civil rights offense. Khaled Awad, 24, was arrested Thursday after allegedly stabbing Rabbi Shlomo Noginski outside of his school and synagogue in the Brighton neighborhood. Noginski survived the stabbing and has been released from the hospital, which he called a “miracle.” Awad was charged initially with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a police officer. Prosecutors now have added the h...

  • Alleged assailant in stabbing of rabbi charged with hate crime

    Ben Sales|Jul 16, 2021

    (JTA) — The suspect in the stabbing of a Boston Chabad rabbi has been charged with committing a hate crime and civil rights offense. Khaled Awad, 24, was arrested Thursday after allegedly stabbing Rabbi Shlomo Noginsky outside of his school and synagogue in the Brighton neighborhood. Noginsky survived the stabbing and has been released from the hospital, which he called a “miracle.” Awad was charged initially with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a police officer. Prosecutors now have added the h...

  • University of Chicago's Jewish community reels with the loss of 2 students

    Ben Sales|Jul 16, 2021

    (JTA) - Rabbi Anna Levin Rosen has counseled Jewish students at the University of Chicago through crises before. But she says the last two weeks have been "devastating." First, Ilan Naibryf, 21, disappeared in last month's Surfside, Florida, building collapse. He had been visiting with his girlfriend, Deborah Berezdivin, whose family owned two units in the building; neither of them has been found yet. Then, last week, Max Lewis, 20, was struck by a stray bullet while riding the train back from...

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