Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Jackie Hajdenberg


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  • Espionage trial of American Jewish journalist Gershkovich

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jul 5, 2024

    (JTA) — The closed-door trial of American Jewish reporter Evan Gershkovich began in Russia on Wednesday, 15 months after his arrest there on espionage charges widely regarded as spurious. The trial is being held in Yekaterinburg, the city where Gershkovich, now 32, was arrested while on assignment as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in March 2023. He was held in Moscow before being moved prior to the trial, and appeared in court with his head shaven, as is customary in Russia. Jewish activists and organizations have mobilized to support G...

  • A new movie about fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg explores legacy of her mother's Holocaust experience

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jun 21, 2024

    (JTA) — Diane von Furstenberg’s design business was stagnating in the 1980s when she got a call that her mother had had a nervous breakdown in Europe. The breakdown, her mother’s companion said, may have been triggered by hearing German men speaking loudly. Her mother was cowering under a hotel concierge’s desk. Von Furstenberg, newly divorced and worrying about the future of her dress label, immediately headed to Europe with her children. She knew that her mother had survived the Holocaust, but...

  • Influencer Montana Tucker featured a freed Israeli hostage in a skincare promo

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jun 7, 2024

    (JTA) — Since Oct. 7, Montana Tucker has encapsulated the growing role of social media influencers in the sprawling effort to advocate for Israel. Tucker, who has more than 3 million followers on Instagram (in addition to 9 million on TikTok), has uploaded videos and photos from the communities devastated by Hamas’ attack and from Auschwitz. She’s posted speeches at rallies and tried to interview people at campus protests. At the Grammys in February, she wore a large yellow ribbon over her dress displaying the words “Bring them home....

  • 'The Commandant's Shadow' tells the true Holocaust story behind 'The Zone of Interest'

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jun 7, 2024

    (JTA) - In "The Zone of Interest," the Oscar-winning drama about life adjacent to Auschwitz, the children of Rudolf Höss, the Nazi concentration camp's commandant, are only dimly aware of the horrors unfolding on the other side of the fence. Now, a new documentary exploring what those real-life children knew, and when, is hitting theaters - and unlike "The Zone of Interest," it includes voices of Jews imprisoned at Auschwitz. "The Commandant's Shadow," directed by Daniela Volker and distributed...

  • Meet Jill Hausman, the real rabbi who grimaced through jokes about Jews on SNL's 'Weekend Update'

    Jackie Hajdenberg|May 31, 2024

    (JTA) - For Rabbi Jill Hausman, spiritual leader of the Actors' Temple in Manhattan's Theater District, working with celebrities comes with the job description. So when she saw an email on Thursday from "Saturday Night Live," asking her to be on that week's show, she knew she had to accept. "If opportunities come along, it's such great fun for me to be in something with other people," she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "If people come to me with an opportunity, as long as I can, I'll try...

  • Brooklyn day school principal taught 'Sesame Street' how to celebrate Shabbat

    Jackie Hajdenberg|May 31, 2024

    (JTA) - Amanda Pogany works as the director of a Jewish day school in Brooklyn. But recently, she added another bullet point to her resume: consultant for "Sesame Street." Pogany weighed in on three new episodes of the educational children's TV show, all of which feature human characters explaining Jewish traditions to the show's iconic puppets. (Two aired this spring, while a third will air next year.) In one, Elmo and Big Bird learn to make challah for Shabbat. In another, a child writes a...

  • Unrest on American campuses: Jewish students at Columbia feel discomfort and isolation following unrest

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Apr 26, 2024

    (JTA) - Yakira Galler, a first-year student at Barnard College, has had trouble sleeping. Galler has an apartment that looks out onto Broadway, which divides Columbia University's campus from Barnard, its women's college. Each night this week, she has heard crowds of protesters banging pots and pans, chanting "Intifada, revolution" and calling for the Ivy League university to divest from Israel. The street protests accompanied a much larger on-campus demonstration that devolved into unrest on...

  • Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Alex Edelman among Jews on Time's 2024 'Most Influential' list

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Apr 26, 2024

    (JTA) — The mother of 23-year-old Israeli-American Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, is one of nearly a dozen Jews on Time Magazine’s 100 “Most Influential” list, couched among comedians, writers, music producers, athletes, business executives, and politicians. Since Oct. 7, Rachel Goldberg-Polin has become one of the most prominent and indefatigable voices advocating for the release of Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza. She has attended an audience with Pope Francis, Zoomed with President Joe Biden and spo...

  • London police open investigation after Amy Winehouse statue is defaced with pro-Palestinian sticker

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Mar 1, 2024

    (JTA) - A bronze statue of the late Jewish singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse was defaced when a sticker with the Palestinian flag was placed over the statue's Star of David necklace. The management of Camden Market, where the statue is located, said the sticker was removed and that the incident had been reported to police, who are investigating. "Camden Market remains first and foremost, a place of diversity - a global destination that welcomes everyone," said the statement, which was posted to...

  • Michael Solomonov's famous Zahav hummus now available at Whole Foods - with kosher certification

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jan 26, 2024

    (JTA) - Israeli-American celebrity chef Michael Solomonov's renowned hummus has only been available in his Philadelphia and New York City restaurants - until now. Hummus using the recipe from Zahav, Solomonov's flagship Philadelphia restaurant, is now available at over 150 Whole Foods stores. The packaged hummus, like that at Zahav, doesn't use oil - just a lot of tahini. Unlike the hummus at Zahav, however, it is certified kosher, bringing the recipe to a new cohort of customers. The Whole...

  • A murder victim was anonymous for 13 years - Jewish genealogists found her name

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jan 19, 2024

    (JTA) — On March 29, 2011, the body of a decapitated woman was discovered in a vineyard in Arvin, a town just over the Los Angeles county line. Earlier this month, nearly 13 years later, the victim was identified as Ada Beth Kaplan, a Jewish woman who was 64 at the time of her death. The tortuous journey to cracking the mystery of Kaplan’s name involved a “long and hard” multiyear effort by a DNA-focused nonprofit, eight generations of family records and the work of two Jewish genealogists who understood just how thorny it can be, sometim...

  • The real story behind the movie 'One Life'

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Jan 12, 2024

    (JTA) — In a 1988 episode of the British television show “That’s Life,” British stockbroker Nicholas Winton was invited to sit in the audience as host Esther Rantzen dramatically revealed to him that the entire crowd was composed of the Jewish children — now adults — he had saved during the Holocaust. That tear-jerking clip periodically goes viral on social media, but now, Winton’s story is coming to bigger screens — in a dramatic film, “One Life,” where he is portrayed by two-time Academy Award-winning actor Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins wa...

  • Jewish groups ask Pope Francis to clarify Israel 'terrorism' comments

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Dec 8, 2023

    (JTA) — Jewish groups are criticizing Pope Francis for appearing to accuse both Israel and Hamas of “terrorism” in their ongoing war that started Oct. 7. “This is what wars do,” the pope said at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. “But here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism.” Francis’ comments followed separate meetings with Jewish relatives of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with family in Gaza on Wednesday. His remarks come a month after he called on Hamas to free the hostages being he...

  • Multiple US synagogues hit with anti-Israel, antisemitic graffiti

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Dec 8, 2023

    (JTA) — Over the course of a week, three synagogues across the United States were tagged with anti-Israel and antisemitic graffiti. The vandalism follows weeks of similar defacement at a variety of American Jewish sites, including cemeteries, Chabad Jewish centers, and Jewish buildings on university campuses. The incidents occurred more than a month into the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which has come alongside a reported spike in antisemitism nationwide. The recent vandalism targeted synagogues affiliated with three different r...

  • Harvard, Penn, Columbia announce steps to address antisemitism following campus turmoil

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Nov 10, 2023

    (JTA) — Three Ivy League universities have announced steps to fight antisemitism after weeks of turmoil on their campuses and others. Harvard University has put together a group of advisors to address antisemitism on campus, and both the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University announced that they would convene task forces on antisemitism. The announcements come as those schools and many others have contended with complaints that their administrations have not taken sufficient action to protect Jewish students or condemn Hamas f...

  • Threats to kill Jewish students at Cornell

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Nov 3, 2023

    (JTA) — Police at Cornell University were called to the school’s kosher dining hall, and the campus Hillel warned students to stay away from it, after anonymous antisemitic posts on a Greek life website that included threats to “shoot up” the building and kill and rape Jewish students. The posts, whose text has circulated widely on social media, were published Saturday and Sunday under pseudonyms including “hamas,” “jew evil,” “jew jenocide,” “hamas warrior” and “kill jews.” The posts have titles such as “jewish people need to be killed,” “e...

  • Andy Samberg plays a famous Jewish WWII photographer

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Sep 22, 2023

    (JTA) - An historic wartime photography partnership from the 1940s - often credited as the first to capture many of the horrors of the Holocaust - is getting the Hollywood treatment. Kate Winslet stars in "Lee" as model-turned-wartime-photojournalist Lee Miller, who often worked alongside David E. Scherman, a Jewish photographer portrayed in the film by Jewish actor and comedian Andy Samberg. The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend. Miller, then employed by...

  • Unilever wins pensioner shareholder case over Ben and Jerry's Israel boycott

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Sep 15, 2023

    (JTA) — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the multinational food company Unilever tied to Ben and Jerry’s 2021 announcement that it would stop selling ice cream in what it called “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Unilever is the ice cream maker’s parent company. The lawsuit, which was thrown out on Tuesday, claimed Unilever misled American investors by not immediately sharing the news of the boycott with them. The boycott, which sparked discussion across the Jewish world, is not in force: In December 2022, following a separate,...

  • Brooklyn kosher ice cream chain recalls all of its ice cream and frozen desserts due to listeria fears

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Sep 8, 2023

    (New York Jewish Week) — A kosher ice cream chain in Brooklyn is voluntarily recalling all of its ice cream and pareve frozen desserts after it was linked to a recent listeria outbreak from another kosher ice cream manufacturer. The recall was announced by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday and lists more than 90 frozen treats sold by the Ice Cream House, a chain of kosher dairy eateries in Brooklyn that was recently featured in an episode of the Netflix reality show “Jewish Matchmaking.” The chain has salads, sandwiches and pizza...

  • Jewish couple to sue state after foster care agency denied them services

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Sep 1, 2023

    (JTA) — A Jewish couple has grounds to sue the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services after a state-funded adoption and foster care agency denied them services because they are Jewish, a Tennessee appeals court ruled Thursday. The decision is the latest development in a long-running battle that began in 2021, when Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram turned to the Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greenville, Tennessee for foster parent training. The couple hoped to foster, and later adopt, a child. According to a lawsuit the couple...

  • Russian court extends pretrial detention of Jewish journalist Evan Gershkovich

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Sep 1, 2023

    (JTA) - A Russian court has extended the pretrial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for another three months. In a hearing on Thursday at Lefortovo District Court that was closed to press, a judge ordered Gershkovich to remain in detention until at least Nov. 30, a court spokeswoman said. Investigators from the FSB, a Russian state security agency, had requested the extension. Gershkovich, 31, is the American-born son of Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union. He was...

  • An unused synagogue in Connecticut could soon become affordable housing

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Aug 25, 2023

    (JTA) — A vacant West Hartford, Connecticut, synagogue building, shuttered in 2018, could soon turn into 49 apartments — including affordable housing, a local newspaper has reported. Agudas Achim, an Orthodox congregation established in 1887 that primarily served Romanian immigrants, moved to its third permanent location in the building in 1969. Five years ago, it merged with another congregation, United Synagogues, and the building went up for sale the following year. Now the property, which the city appraised at about $2.5 million, is und...

  • British city of York, site of a medieval pogrom, gets its first rabbi in 800 years

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Aug 18, 2023

    (JTA) - For the first time in 800 years, the British city of York, whose Jewish population was decimated in a medieval pogrom, will be home to a rabbi. Rabbi Elisheva Salamo arrived in York from California last week after decades of pulpit work in the United States, Switzerland and South Africa. She will take a part-time pulpit at the York Liberal Jewish Community, which is affiliated with a denomination akin to the American Reform movement. The congregation was founded in 2014 and now has...

  • Yeshiva University, a pillar of Orthodox Judaism, launches master's program for Christian students

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Aug 18, 2023

    (JTA) — Emily Talento grew up with Jewish friends and relatives on Long Island, attending Passover seders, bar and bat mitzvahs and Shabbat dinners. When she arrived at Cedarville University, a private Baptist university in Ohio, she found herself explaining Jewish traditions to her many classmates who had never met a Jew before. Now, Talento is continuing her Bible studies at a religious university. But it’s safe to say that she won’t encounter the same lack of knowledge about Jews this time. That’s because she’s one of eight Christian...

  • RFK Jr. on the people to blame for COVID

    Jackie Hajdenberg|Aug 4, 2023

    (JTA) — Speaking at an event geared toward Jewish voters on Tuesday night, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said, “The charge of antisemitism is one that cuts me.” Kennedy, the anti-vaccine theorist and Democratic presidential candidate, was responding to mounting backlash against his claim that COVID-19 was “ethnically targeted” to avoid Jews and Chinese people. That remark, made without evidence at a campaign event earlier this month on the Upper East Side, led to criticism from a range of figures including Jewish leaders and Democrats in Congress. He...

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