Even though nearly three years of secret, unofficial Israeli-Syrian talks have ended, the Israeli who conducted the negotiations has not given up and believes it would take only four to six months for both sides to reach an agreement. Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said he and his Syrian-American counterpart, Ibrahim Suleiman, have been invited to discuss their talks at an April 12 meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
(JTA) — Presidential candidate John Edwards said he believes in school prayer, as long as teachers do not lead it. The former North Carolina senator, a candidate for the Democratic nomination, said this week on Belief.net that “allowing time for children to pray for themselves, to themselves, I think is not only OK, I think it’s a good thing.” Edwards also said that although he does not believe America is a Christian nation, “there’s a powerful Christian thread through all of American history.”
(JTA) — Producers of an Israeli dance show said they were detained as a potential threat while taping in New York. Yoav Tzafir and Tzivka Hadar, who produce the televised contest “Born to Dance,” said Sunday that while preparing to tape in New York last week they found themselves in New Jersey and decided to tape the ride back. But their cameras got the attention of undercover police.
In one of the largest donations to a Jewish institution, William and Karen Davidson on behalf of Guardian Industries Corp. in Michigan contributed $75 million to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem for the construction of a new inpatient tower.
In announcing the gift, William Davidson of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said in a statement that his family’s connection to Hadassah stretches back to 1917 when the organization’s founder, Henrietta Szold, spent a week in his family’s home.
The friction between ORT Israel and the rest of the worldwide ORT organization has intensified since their split last September, with ORT Israel suing for the right to continue using its name and World ORT opening its own office in Israel, The Jewish Week has learned. “I don’t think we can have any relations,” Zvi Peleg, director general of ORT Israel, said here regarding the break with World ORT.
TThe agreement in Mecca reached between Hamas and Fatah last week halted internecine warfare between the two groups but it failed to finalize the platform or makeup of their new coalition government, thereby casting doubt on the success of Monday’s Israeli-Palestinian summit in JerusalemSome Israeli officials reportedly sought to postpone the meeting, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who convened the summit, was said to have insisted that it proceed. Few expect anything positive.
Two new reports released this week paint a new picture of the American Jewish community, suggesting it numbers more than 6 million — not the 5.2 million reported by the United Jewish Communities’ 2000-2001 study — and that the high rate of intermarriage is creating “two Jewries.”
“The gaps between the in-married and intermarried are so large and persistent that it seems we are developing into two distinct populations: the in-married and the intermarried,” wrote sociologist Steven M. Cohen.
A survey of Conservative clergy released last week found that more than 80 percent eat warmed fish in non-kosher restaurants, prompting the chairman of the movement’s rabbinic kosher subcommittee to begin writing a legal opinion that will likely restrict what Conservative Jews may or may not eat in non-kosher restaurants.
As widely expected, a large majority of Conservative rabbis, cantors, professionals and lay leaders support gays and lesbians becoming rabbis and cantors, although about half have their doubts as to whether it is compatible with Jewish law. And a majority of professional and lay leaders admitted to being “confused” and “somewhat embarrassed” by a rabbinic law committee’s decision in December to both accept and reject gay ordination.