Federations To Dole Out $2.4 Million In Fire Aid

12/20/2010 - 19:00

JTA — The Jewish Federations of North America said the federation system will distribute $2.4 million to help Israel recover from the Carmel Mountain fire.

JFNA, the umbrella organization of the more than 150 Jewish federations in North America, made the announcement Monday.

The fires last week killed 44 people, scorched more than 10,000 acres of forest and burned 100 homes and structures, including much of the Yemin Orde Youth Village.

Media Watch: Who Is A ‘Real Jew?’

How much your heart breaks when you argue says a lot.
12/20/2010 - 19:00
Associate Editor

Pinocchio wanted to be “a real boy.” When he followed Lampwick to Pleasure Island and began smoking cigars, shooting pool and living the crude life until growing donkey ears and braying, was Pinocchio closer to being a real boy or a real donkey? At least Pinocchio had the decency to feel ashamed.

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen .

Wall Streeters Pledge $19.5 Million For UJA-Fed.

12/20/2010 - 19:00

One of UJA-Federation of New York’s major fundraisers, the charity’s annual Wall Street dinner, raised $19.5 million last week for its network of more than 100 social-service agencies. At the dinner, held Dec. 15 at the Hilton New York, more than 1,100 financial professionals, prominent business leaders, and philanthropists honored Peter W. May, president and founding partner of Trian Fund Management, and Michael B. Nierenberg, managing director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

BJ’s Building Buyback

12/20/2010 - 19:00

It’s back to the future, real estate style, for the popular Upper West Side congregation B’nai Jeshurun.

The Abraham Joshua Heschel School and BJ, as the shul is popularly known, have reached a deal for the sale of the Heschel School building, located at 270 W. 89th St.

Both parties declined to disclose the sale price; however BJ has successfully raised $20 million through a capital campaign to fund the purchase of the adjacent property. They expect to sign a contract early in the year.

B’nai Jeshurun has bought Heschel’s lower school building on West 89th; price tag thought to be $20 million.

Holbrooke’s Swiss Bank Diplomacy

12/20/2010 - 19:00
Staff Writer

By most accounts, Edgar Bronfman, the Seagrams heir and former head of the World Jewish Congress, was the hero of the historic Swiss bank deal. He is widely credited with launching the initiative that eventually led Swiss banks to agree to a $1.25 billion settlement to resolve claims that they hoarded bank accounts opened by Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

But with the death of Richard Holbrooke last week has come fresh details of the U.S. diplomat’s pivotal and secret efforts in 1996 to convince Swiss banks to take the steps that led to that settlement.

Richard Holbrooke played critical behind-the-scenes role in Swiss deal, says Elan Steinberg.

Jewish Culturomics

12/20/2010 - 19:00

L ast week, Google, in conjunction with a research team based at Harvard, released a new online tool called the Ngram Viewer that tracks culture through the words of 5.2 million books (4 percent of all books published). They call the quantitative analysis of this vast amount of data “culturomics,” a new research method in the humanities, linguistics and social science. JInsider test-drove the Ngram viewer (which can be found at using Jewish/religious terms to evaluate how often a word or phrase has appeared and how usage has changed over time.

Battle Of The Beanie Counters

Has Israel surpassed the U.S. in Jewish population yet? The demographers debate.
12/20/2010 - 19:00
Staff Writer

How many Jews are there in the United States? That’s the question at the heart of a lively debate between Jewish studies academics, demographers and sociologists attending this week’s Association for Jewish Studies annual conference in Boston.

In his “World Jewish Population, 2010” report, demographer Sergio DellaPergola, a professor of Israel-diaspora relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, pegged the number of American Jews at 5.3 million.

Numbers crunchers: Demographers Ira Sheskin, left, and Sergio DellaPergola.

Conservative Movement’s New Outreach

First ‘keruv’ workshops show denomination tipping toward openness to children of intermarried.
12/20/2010 - 19:00

San Francisco — What should a Jewish teacher say to a child who talks about helping grandma decorate the Christmas tree?

“What the teacher should not say is, ‘You’re not supposed to do that — you’re Jewish,’ ” says Rachel Glaser, education director of the religious school at Beth Israel Congregation, a Conservative synagogue in Owings Mills, Md. “That hurts the child and shuts a door.”

Conservative religious school teachers discuss how to be more welcoming to the children of intermarried parents .

Brouhaha in Texas House a Jewish Test Case for Tea Party

12/20/2010 - 19:00

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- In Texas, the Tea Party passed its first Jewish test even before its legislators had been sworn in.

Deeply conservative forces in the Lone Star State firmly repudiated the effort by evangelical Christians to unseat the powerful Jewish speaker of the Texas House of Representatives because he wasn’t a “true Christian conservative.”

Saving The Remnants Of Galicia

Israeli researchers teaming with Ukrainian academics to preserve Jewish history of area.
12/20/2010 - 19:00

Solotvyn, Ukraine — On a sloping green hill tucked between small farmsteads, the mottled graves of Jews buried here since the 1600s rise up like a forgotten forest.

Trudging through the mud between the tilted stones, their chiseled Hebrew lettering and renderings of menorahs sometimes barely visible, Vladimer Levin, an animated young historian who specializes in Jewish art, wants to save the gravestones.

The remains of a Jewish cemetery dating to the 16th century in the Ukrainian village of Solotyvn. Dina Kraft
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