As criticism mounted this week against a top Israeli rabbi for comments which seemed to blame Holocaust victims for their own murders, the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party spiritual leader found support in an unexpected quarter.
American Rabbi Ronald Price, the head of a moderate Jewish group, told The Jewish Week that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s volatile words have been badly misunderstood, and unnecessarily prompted a firestorm of negative reaction from Israeli officials, American Jewish organizations and Holocaust memorial representatives.
Modern changes suddenly are afoot at Jerusalem’s ancient Western Wall. Two developments this week signal greater access for Jews who seek to pray in their own way at the 2,000-year-old surviving outer retaining wall of the Second Temple, Judaism’s holiest site.
In a landmark decision, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled Monday that women can hold group prayer services at the Wall, wear prayer shawls, read aloud from the Torah — and must be provided police protection.
The Israeli government this week detained a family of black, Jewish-American converts from entering the country, triggering concern by Conservative movement leaders who fear the emergence of a pattern of racial and religious discrimination.
‘Now Mount Sinai was altogether in smoke, for the Lord had come down upon it in fire.’ Exodus 19:18
It’s not every millennium that God descends onto a mountain for a chat with one of his creations.
In fact, according to Jewish tradition, it’s only happened once, about 3,250 years ago, on a modest mountain sometimes called Sinai.
In a surprising move, a leader of Brooklyn's large, generally hawkish Syrian Jewish community has lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for refusing to talk with Syria, as pressure built on multiple fronts on Washington and Jerusalem to dialogue with Damascus.
Jack Avital, a longtime confidante of Ariel Sharon and chairman of the Sephardic National Alliance, told The Jewish Week last week he planned to publish an open letter to Olmert laying out his case against Israel's rejection of such talks to the Syrian Jewish community.
For a man witnessing a debacle in real time, Rev. Louis Sheldon, a leader of the Christian Right political movement, sounded amazingly sanguine Tuesday night: even as an early AP exit poll indicated that almost one-third of white Evangelicals chose a Democrat for Congress.
"We know that in America the people are with us," insisted the founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, one of the largest groups in the Christian right. "They're just confused."
Jewish leader Israel Singer, under fire on several fronts, announced Tuesday that he would not run for re-election as president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Singer, former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress before his ouster last March, said he had decided not to run because, having lost his WJC position, “I don’t really have a platform or a party, as it were, to run from.”
The decision marked Singer’s effective withdrawal from the last prominent communal position he held.
Chicago — Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s maiden speech to the pro-Israel lobby last week saw a man described by early supporters as an ardent dove on Israel take flight as a bird of considerably more hawkish mien.
Obama, Illinois’ Democratic junior senator, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last Friday that he was committed, above all else, to “peace through security” for the Jewish state.
While Duvid Feldman was attending a conference in Tehran last week that questioned the reality of the Holocaust, back home in Monsey, his 10 children were “suffering” at the hands of other ultra-Orthodox children thanks to “foolish” media coverage of the event, his wife said Tuesday.
American Jews and their allies ramped up a campaign this week against a British union promoting an academic boycott of Israel aimed at pressuring it to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza — even as some British Jews said the union’s drive was going nowhere.