’Tis the season for tension over religious displays in public spaces, and the latest flareup was triggered by Santa's appearance at a Hoboken public school. The event triggered bureaucratic maneuvering and a noisy web-based debate edged with hostility toward Jews.
Last week, a parent complained about the longstanding tradition at Hoboken’s Salvatore R. Calabro Elementary School to allow children to pose for Santa photos, said Superintendent Mark Toback, who would not reveal the parent’s name.
In thinking about the top Jewish stories of 2010, it occurred to me there wasn't a single major church-state battle on the list. That's a big change from, say, a decade ago.
Almost two years into the administration of President Barack Obama the faith based initiatives created by his predecessor are mostly still in place, and groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State are howling mad.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Jewish defense organizations long -- and proudly -- have upheld a delicate principle in defending the First Amendment: Hate the speech, defend the speaker.
But a Supreme Court case whose arguments were scheduled for Wednesday have put that precept to the test: A Maryland family is suing the Westboro Baptist Church for picketing the funeral of its scion, Matthew Snyder, a soldier killed in a noncombat accident in Iraq.
Lay leaders of the American Jewish Congress appear to have one motto: “Never say die.”
Despite closing their offices and discharging 10 staffers last month as part of a reorganization,” the group’s president and at least one board member said they still believe the organization could rebound. But it will have to do it without Marc Stern, its general counsel for 11 years and the man who served as co-executive director for the past two year.
Coming back from an Internet-free vacation, I learned that Marc Stern, the longtime legal guru of of the American Jewish Congress, has signed on to serve as associate general counsel for legal activity of the American Jewish Committee.
That should put a conclusive end to speculation about a merger between the two groups whose similar names have given generations of Jewish journalists fits, for the simple reason that with Stern's defection, the AJ Congress has absolutely nothing the American Jewish Committee could possibly want.
News this week that the American Jewish Congress has suspended activities due to financial problems is depressing, though not unexpected. The once-proud organization, founded in 1918, and long the voice of liberal Jewish activism, lost much of its distinctiveness in recent years. As its membership declined and staff was reduced, it played a diminished role in domestic affairs, though remained known for its expertise on church-state issues.
(JTA) -- The American Jewish Congress has suspended its activities after running out of funds.
The suspension of the venerable Jewish-American advocacy organization's activities, confirmed to JTA on Sunday by acting co-executive director Marc Stern, comes after months of rumors that the organization was on the verge of collapse after losing most of its endowment in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
As of Sunday afternoon there was no mention of the suspension on the AJCongress website.