One morning this past July, I visited the bet midrash (study hall) of Yeshivat Hadar in Manhattan. Nearly 50 young people were there, spending their summer in serious engagement with Jewish texts. The room pulsated with the vitality of a traditional yeshiva and the intellectual openness of a university.
At the urging of leaders in the Iranian Jewish community here, American Jewish leaders this week suspended their public campaign calling for the release of 13 Jews accused of espionage in Iran.
Instead, they are beginning to implicitly acknowledge the inevitability of a trial for the 13 by shifting their demands to the legal arena.
Charging that the FBI is being compromised by political concerns, activist Rabbi Avi Weiss is seeking a meeting with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to discuss why the July 4 shootings at Los Angeles International Airport have not been classified a terrorist incident: in apparent neglect of the Justice Department's own guidelines.
Two Brooklyn congressmen have joined a grassroots campaign to have the FBI officially designate the July 4 shootings at Los Angeles International Airport by an Egyptian gunman as a suspected terrorist attack.
"The FBI's failure to publicly acknowledge this fact is dangerous because it lessens the vigilance against similar acts ... in the near future," said Rep. Major Owens in a July 21 press statement.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, in a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller, urged Mueller to investigate the act as "a possible terrorist attack."
With tensions mounting on American campuses over anti-Semitism and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, hundreds of college presidents have signed onto a landmark petition calling for "intimidation-free" campuses.
But the document itself has become the subject of controversy.
That's because the statement, released by the American Jewish Committee, specifically mentions only intimidation against Jewish students.
As a result, some university presidents have declined to sign.
New York activist Rabbi Avi Weiss has asked a national rabbinic court to resolve a dispute with the American Jewish Committee over construction of a $4 million memorial project at the Belzec death camp in southeastern Poland, where a half million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in 1942.
This comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Rabbi Weiss last week against AJCommittee in New York Supreme Court to block the project, which is cosponsored by the Polish government.
Determined to stop construction of a "desecrating" sunken walkway through Poland's Belzec concentration camp, activist Rabbi Avi Weiss filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court against the American Jewish Committee, this time naming himself as a co-plaintiff.
But AJCommittee executive director David Harris labeled the lawsuit "frivolous" and defended the walkway, or "trench," as part of a necessary $4 million permanent memorial to the nearly half-million Jewish victims buried in mass graves at the death camp.