"I happen to be in Iraq and am looking for a place to spend Passover," read the e-mail message I received Monday night. That got my attention.
It was from a Jewish woman from Washington, D.C., who said she had arrived in Baghdad two days earlier as a consultant for USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development). She wrote she had come on short notice and had "no time to plan for Passover, aside from bringing a couple of boxes of matzah ball soup mix. No one else who is here is Jewish."
Entering a Borough Park public school early Tuesday, David Tilis was emphatic about his pick for president.
“I’m Jewish, so it has to be [George W.] Bush,” said Tilis, 21, a mortgage broker en route to casting his vote for the Republican incumbent. “I don’t understand how any Jew could vote for [Sen. John] Kerry. Yasir Arafat is for him.”
The scent of cardamom and rosewater wafted through the hallways of Manhattan Day School last Thursday, as the Upper West Side yeshiva held a festival to culminate several weeks of study about Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews.Youngsters at MDS, where most students are Ashkenazi, dressed in embroidered caftans, sequined chadors and elaborate turbans.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Alan Gross has been about communications all his life: The call-mom-everyday son, the family newsbreaker, the message guy for Jewish groups, the get-out-the-vote enthusiast for candidate Barack Obama, the technology contractor who helped the U.S. government bring the world's remotest populations into the 21st century.
Now, however, Gross, 60, of Potomac, Md., has been languishing for three months in a Cuban high-security prison and his rare conversations are monitored by Cuban officials.
Tel Aviv — They risked arrest in Syria and Lebanon to offer Israelis back home rare glimpses of their neighbors, but now a top Israeli national security commentator, a popular blogger and a travel journalist are under police investigation for breaking a decades-old law banning travel to “enemy” states.
Jerusalem — Having successfully recovered millions of dollars worth of Jewish property lost in the Holocaust, restitution experts in Israel and the U.S. are now setting their sights on the Arab world.
The Knesset Parliamentary Committee on the Restitution of Jewish Property announced plans this month to create a national center to register documents and testimony about the possibly “tens of billions of dollars” in property left behind by Jews who emigrated to Israel from Arab/Muslim countries.
Jerusalem — In the wake of this week’s agreement between the United Nations and Iraq, attention here turned to the threat posed by other countries in the Middle East with nonconventional weapons.
In addition to Iraq, “Iran, Syria, Egypt and Libya are all developing chemical and biological weapons at a rapid rate,” said Dr. Dany Shoham, a military expert at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs.
Jerusalem — Yossi Oren says he isn’t worried that Iraq will attack Israel with conventional, biological or chemical weapons.
“The situation is a lot better now than it was seven years ago,” asserts the 43-year-old Jerusalemite, referring to the 1991 Gulf War. During that six-week battle, Iraq lobbed 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
“Today,” Oren continues, “Israel has more sophisticated tools to destroy missiles. And anyway, I don’t think any Scuds will fall.”
Speaking before several dozen people munching on babaganoush and taboule and chatting away in Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish and English, the Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury invoked the hallowed name of Al-Andalus.
"And if we do not find it, we can build it in our hearts," he said at the reception for a literary event last week in the Soho studio of Iraqi-born sculptor Oded Halahmy.
Awareness of the very real danger posed by a nuclear Iran has become a given in Washington. But that may prove a mixed blessing as the issue gets sucked into the maws of partisan politics. In reality, the Iran threat is too important and too complex for the chest thumping, sloganeering and jockeying for partisan gain that define the Iran debate on the 2008 presidential campaign trail.
Politicians in both parties are vying to establish their hawkish bona fides. Tehran will “never” get the bomb under their watch, contenders promise; some