Jack Newfield, Crusading Columnist

Staff Writer
Jack Newfield, a columnist driven by commitment to social justice and political accountability, died Monday at 66. The cause was cancer. Newfield was a supporter of Israel and also wrote extensively on matters regarding black-Jewish relations. Growing up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, he attended a school that was 75 percent black, and traveled in the South as a young man to demonstrate for civil rights in the early 1960s. He was once incarcerated with Michael Schwerner, who was later murdered in Mississippi.

Gun Shy On Gun Control

Assistant Managing Editor
After last week’s record-setting carnage at Virginia Tech, the National Council of Jewish Women reacted by calling for a “renewed effort” on gun control. “As the toll from gun violence mounts, we feel compelled to ask, how many more tragedies will it take to spur lawmakers to take decisive and effective action …?” asked the organization’s president, Phyllis Snyder, in a statement. The organization is not alone in pressing for stricter measures to control firearms; it is an agenda item of almost every mainstream Jewish group.

Feingold: Bill Of Rights Not Suggestions

Staff Writer
Taking his campaign to censure President Bush to Brooklyn this week, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin — who may be the next Jewish candidate for the White House — called on “the weak of heart in Washington” to join his cause. Support thus far has been underwhelming. Only two other senators, both fellow Democrats, have backed Feingold’s resolution to reprimand the president for authorizing wiretaps in anti-terrorism surveillance without federal warrants “and then misleading the country about the existence and legality of the program.”

A Friend ’Til The End

Staff Writer
In March of 1994, barely three months into Rudolph Giuliani’s term as New York’s 107th mayor, a gunman opened fire on a van full of chasidic students crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Four yeshiva boys who had been visiting the Lubavitcher rebbe were wounded, one fatally. Within hours the mayor was live on television, offering a reward and promising to use every available law enforcement resource to capture the terrorist. He held two more news conferences in the ensuing 24 hours, the latter to announce the arrest of gunman Rashid Baz.

Taking Rudy Personally

Staff Writer
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.

Enigmatic Style Marked Spitzer’s Public Life

Assistant Managing Editor
Over the past 14 years, I’ve never had the opportunity to interview a major political figure as often as I have Eliot Spitzer during his three runs for attorney general, his two terms in that office and his slam-dunk campaign for governor. And yet I never felt like I knew much about him at all.

Solidarity On Stage

Staff Writer
Story Includes Video: 
When Yeshivah of Flatbush High School students take the stage on Dec. 28 to perform “Noah! Ride The Wave,” they will be embracing the concept of giving chizuk, or strength, on two levels. The musical was produced by women in West Bank settlements as an emotional outlet following years of terror attacks that began in 2000 following the collapse of negotiations with the Palestinians.

Violence Down, But N.Y. Anti-Semitism Still Rising

Assistant Managing Editor
New York continues to be the anti-Semitism capital of the United States, with a 23 percent jump in incidents of harassment and vandalism in 2007, even as the national total dropped 13 percent, the Anti-Defamation League reported in its annual audit this week.

Through A Lens, Darkly

Assistant Managing Editor
Martin Fletcher wasn’t alive during the Holocaust but, in a way, he’s spent his entire career covering it. Fletcher’s parents fled Austria as the Nazis came to power, settling safely in England. But they lost almost their entire families, the once-comfortable lives they left behind and, in a sense, their faith in the world.

Getting A Bump From ‘Juno’

Assistant Managing Editor
Barry Louis Polisar wasn’t up for an Oscar on Sunday night, but his work made a brief appearance in the 80th Academy Awards broadcast. The scene from Best Picture nominee “Juno” included the harmonica solo from “All I Want Is You,” a song Polisar wrote 30 years ago that is featured in the film’s opening credits. A singer and writer of children’s books and music, Polisar was thrilled when approached by “Juno” director Jason Reitman for permission to use the song after he stumbled across it on iTunes.
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