Hate crimes, religious freedom, Kiryas Joel on radar screen in new legislative session; Ferraro’s announcement makes for tough Jewish choices.
As the state Legislature resumes sessions this week, beginning with the governor’s State of the State address Wednesday, numerous Jewish concerns linger on the agenda. They include efforts to pass a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — recently voided by the U.S. Supreme Court — and the indefatigable but luckless bias crime bill.
Back when men wore fedoras to ballgames, a balanced ticket in New York Cityís ethnic politics was simply a Jew, an Italian and an Irishman. Not only has that gone the way of wicker seats on the subway, but that a Jew is running for Congress in Brooklyn is something youíd never know from reading The New York Times.
Ariel Sharon has been wounded more often on the printed page than on the battlefield, culminating in several long-ago libel suits. But in his latest incarnation as foreign minister, the old soldier is gathering some unexpected garlands.
Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak’s efforts to assemble his “dream team” — a broad-based, unprecedented 96-member coalition government — got off to a rocky start this week when the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas party rejected his demand for the resignation of its leader, Aryeh Deri.
“We won’t go crawling to any government,” said outgoing Interior Minister and Shas negotiator Eli Suissa. “Whoever wants us will get us as we are. We won’t be performing any cosmetic surgery in order to get into a coalition.”
Harold Tanner of Scarsdale, the immediate past president of the American Jewish Committee, became the surprise nominee to chair the major American Jewish umbrella organization after the nominating committee failed to reach a consensus on the four candidates first interviewed. Sources familiar with the process said that the seven-member nominating committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations reached out to Tanner and his supporters last Thursday and asked that his application be submitted after it deadlocked.
In the end, the fight over whether Reform and Conservative leaders could sit on powerful religious councils in Israel apparently turned on a Talmudic loophole. By a vote of 50-49, the Knesset this week adopted a bill crafted to keep Reform and Conservative representatives off religious councils, which dispense millions of dollars to religious institutions throughout the country.
Rush Limbaugh, just before his blitz on black quarterbacks, said presidential candidates claiming Jewish ancestry is ìgetting out of hand.î Limbaugh was ticked off by reports that the retired Gen. Wesley Clark is descended from five generations of rabbis before being raised as a Christian.
As Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone began campaigning for a third term, some pro-Israel activists tried to generate support for his opponent by whispering that the two-term incumbent was insufficiently supportive of Israel.
But in almost every respect Wellstone, who died in the crash of his campaign plane in remote northern Minnesota last week, was more representative of the Jewish political tradition than almost anyone else in political life.
National Democrats are hoping that a longtime Jewish lawmaker and former UJA national chairman can rescue a Senate seat that is in danger of falling to the Republicans.
On Tuesday former Sen. Frank Lautenberg agreed to replace Sen. Robert Torricelli, whose bid for a second term was abruptly aborted in the face of corruption charges and polls showing him running well behind Republican newcomer Douglas Forrester, as the Democratic nominee.