From the White House to the Great Wall of China, religion last year played a key role in the debate about the future of this earthly plane. This is the time of year when religion reporters select their top stories of the past 12 months. The 1998 list is impressive in showing the relevance religion (in its role as a moral, ethical and spiritual force) has in world events.
With the nation riveted to the political turmoil in Washington, Jewish women at a conference in Woodbury were told that the Jewish community's clout depended on their involvement on the political stage.
"Political activism is necessary for the preservation of Jewish freedoms and institutions, and for the safety and security of Israel," said Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the Orthodox Union's Institute for Public Affairs. "Jews have reached a point of privilege in society because they have fought in the political arena and made their voices heard."
Without fanfare, nearly $60 million in Nazi gold that was hidden for 50 years at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York and the Bank of London in England is finally being put to good use. Since July, 600 needy Holocaust survivors in Britain have received $600 in cash, and thousands of needy East European survivors have received medicine and medical supplies.
“This is the first time that funds from Nazi gold bars have been paid out to victims of the Holocaust,” said Elan Steinberg, executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress.
Karola Ruth Siegel remembers a far and distant Germany. Maybe she was 6, maybe 1935. ìI was visiting my maternal grandparents, Oma and Opa, on their farm in Wiesenfeld. There were geese. I didnít like the geese to be cooped up. So I let them free, out of their pens. The geese went off into the village and everyone had to go catch the geese! It was a great commotion. I donít remember getting punished. Maybe because I was a favored granddaughter.
It’s not every day that City Council members win a victory against Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. So Ronnie Eldridge can be forgiven for gloating a bit last week when the mayor reversed his policy of banning press conferences by Council members on the steps of City Hall.
“It was impossible for him not to let us do it,” said the Upper West Side Democrat, who led a group of Council members in a defiant City Hall photo op two weeks ago, declaring that the mayor has overreacted to the threat against City Hall following recent U.S. action against terrorism.
The Reform movement admits it has a big youth problem. North American Judaism’s largest denomination (about 1.5 million members) says it has failed over the past 20 years to retain the interest of the majority of its teenagers past the age of 13.
To address the crisis, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations has announced a half-million-dollar youth initiative to help some of its 875 local congregations develop new programs to entice disinterested teens.