While a religiously split Jewish community was verbally sparring over which U.S. Senate candidate to support, many notables were putting their money where their mouth was.
They were contributing to what is being considered the most expensive Senate race in history, with about $33 million being spent. At the same time they were looking to support the candidate they felt meshed best with their own interests, whether it be the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn or the Conservative and Reform Jews of Manhattan.
A newspaper ad by a Yeshiva University-linked Orthodox rabbinical group is denouncing the Wye agreement as a violation of Jewish law that threatens the lives of all Jews in Israel.
But the rabbinic group called Ichud Harabonim, or Union of Rabbis, is itself being criticized for using language some say evokes the violent rhetoric used against the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin — who was assassinated three years ago this week.
As Jewish supporters of both Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and Rep. Charles Schumer milled around their respective campaign headquarters Tuesday night, they all spoke of the “defining moment” that cost D’Amato his Senate seat — his now-infamous “putzhead” gaffe.
“It was a defining moment,” said former Democratic Deputy Mayor Abraham Biderman at the Schumer victory party at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown.
Some kids growing up in south Brooklyn in the 1960s had heroes such as Mickey Mantle, John F. Kennedy or The Beatles. For Madison High School graduate Chuck Schumer, it was his grandfather Jacob, a Polish immigrant.
“My real hero is my grandfather,” Schumer said fondly during a recent interview.
It was a quiet, touching moment, free of the increasing nastiness of the campaign trail, in which Schumer, the veteran Democratic Brooklyn congressman, is locked in a contentious, too-close-to-call battle to unseat longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.
His given name is Aaron, the same as the first High Priest of the Children of Israel. He wears garments similar to those worn more than 2,000 years ago by the kohanim (Jewish priests) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
But this Aaron, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland whose mother died in Auschwitz, is a priest of a different kind. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 15, he has risen to become Archbishop of Paris.
Catholics will now be able pray to a Jewish-born nun for divine intervention. That’s because on Sunday, Pope John Paul II made Edith Stein, a German-born Jewish convert to Catholicism, into an official saint of the Catholic Church.
It is the first time in history that the Vatican has elevated a Jewish convert to sainthood, said Rabbi Leon Klenicki, interfaith affairs director of the Anti-Defamation League. But the canonization of Stein, who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, has re-opened wounds in the Catholic-Jewish relationship.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres stressed the need for a Palestinian state, a national unity government in Israel, and reducing the power of religious parties, during a wide-ranging speech last week at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel.
In what is being hailed as a major development in interfaith affairs, John Cardinal O’Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, is calling for the Vatican to quickly open its secret Nazi-era archives.
The comments by Cardinal O’Connor mark the first major initiative by a Christian leader in the long-running struggle to gain access to the Catholic Church’s sealed documents in Rome. Jewish leaders have been calling for access to try and determine the relationship between the Vatican and Nazi Germany during and after World War II.
The nation’s largest Modern Orthodox rabbinical group is preparing to denounce the legal principles used by some advocates of agunot — Orthodox Jewish women whose husbands refuse them a religious divorce. Within the next few weeks, the Jewish legal court associated with the Rabbinical Council of America, Inc. will issue a detailed response calling the halachic principles published by Agunah, Inc. “erroneous and misleading,” said Rabbi Yonah Reiss, director of the New York-based Bet Din of America.
Members of fire-ravaged Central Synagogue on Manhattan’s East Side expressed heartfelt appreciation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his brief visit to show support for the congregation devastated by an Aug. 28 blaze.
The visit last Sunday marked Netanyahu’s first official trip to a Reform synagogue since he took office two years ago. Reform movement leaders said it signified progress in their attempt to gain greater recognition in Israel.