High-Tech And High Quality?

While online education comes under scrutiny, three new day schools experiment with ‘blended’ learning.
12/19/2011 - 19:00
Associate Editor

East Brunswick, N.J. — At New Jersey’s newest pluralistic Jewish day school, you’re more likely to find the students curled up in wingback chairs or sprawled on sofas than upright at desks.

“Here, you can sit on the couch and be comfortable,” says Rochel Rina, an eighth grader. “You don’t have to be at a desk. You can eat whenever you want. It’s very relaxed, very flexible. I love how there’s no bells annoying you all day.”

At the newly opened Pre-Collegiate Center of New Jersey.

Reform Meets Amid Challenges

Energy, Obama and handwringing over next generation at biennial.
12/19/2011 - 19:00

National Harbor, Md. — The metaphors abound. To Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the next president of the Union for Reform Judaism, it’s a gas station. To Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the outgoing president, it’s an anchor. To Stephen Sacks, the incoming chairman of Reform’s board, it’s a supermarket.

They’re all talking about the Reform synagogue, and they all agree on one thing: It’s not a place you can find very many Reform Jews from post-bar/bat mitzvah age through their 30s.

New Reform leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs at Union for Reform Judaism’s biennial outside Washington.

Republican Hopefuls Preview Lines Of Attack

Foreign policy, not social issues, is order of day at RJC forum.
12/12/2011 - 19:00

Washington — Iran’s nuclear program appears to be racing ahead. The Middle East peace process is in shambles. And a series of recent flare-ups have highlighted ongoing tensions between the Obama administration and elements of the pro-Israel community.

Candidates for president, including Newt Gingrich, top, and Mitt Romney, made a pitch for Jewish votes. JTA

Army Does An ‘About Face’ On Chaplain’s Beard

Brooklyn rabbi wins right to serve without shaving.
12/05/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

One year after filing suit against the U.S. Army for refusing to allow him to enlist as a military chaplain unless he shaved his beard, Rabbi Menachem Stern is to be sworn-in this week — beard and all.

Rabbi Stern, 29, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is to take the oath Friday in a ceremony in the Surfside, Fla., office of the Aleph Institute, an agency authorized by the Department of Defense to recruit, vet and endorse rabbis for the military chaplaincy.

Rabbi Menachem Stern.

Israelis In U.S. Blast 'Come Home' Ad Campaign

12/01/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

A $300,000 Israeli government campaign designed to entice Israelis living in the United States to return to Israel is being labeled “heavy handed” and “an outrage.”

“Instead of talking to us about what is positive about Israel and what is waiting for us should we come back, they are using fear tactics,” complained Yehudit Feinstein, 36, who has been living here 10 years.


From Commack To Tuba-Zangariya

With a nun on staff, and outreach to local and Arab-Israeli Muslims, the Suffolk Y JCC redefines community.
11/28/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

It’s called the Suffolk Y JCC in Commack, L.I., but it’s more like the county’s ecumenical heart.

Drop by on a Monday or Wednesday afternoon and you’re likely to see Sister Yolanta in her black-and-white habit serving food to a group of senior citizens.

Come back again and you might find Nazli Chaudhry, the Muslim chaplain at Hofstra University and board member of the Islamic Center of Long Island, working with three different groups of high school and college students from all different backgrounds.

Jewish and Muslim HAMSA participants on recent Israel trip.

Calif. Voters Facing Solomonic House Vote

In Sherman-Berman race of pro-Israel stalwarts, grass-roots strength faces off with Capitol Hill heft.
11/28/2011 - 19:00

Washington — The California race between Democratic congressional incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman is seen as pitting experience against energy, compromise against confrontation and — painfully for many in the Jewish community — pro-Israel stalwart against pro-Israel stalwart.

“These are two guys who are extraordinary leaders on issues of importance to those who care about Israel,” said a pro-Israel insider in Washington who, like many others in the community, asked not to be identified  in order not to offend either congressman.

Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman have been thrown against each other because of redistricting.

Frank Leaves As He Served: With A Sharp Wit

Massachusetts Democrat stepping down after 30 years in the House.
11/28/2011 - 19:00

Washington — Barney Frank’s talk of retirement was anything but retiring.

The veteran Jewish congressman’s announcement on Monday that he would not seek re-election was replete with the same caliber of verbal bombs — lobbed and received — that characterized much of his career.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, attributed his decision not to run in 2012 in part on what he said was the Republican polarization of the legislative process.

Rep. Barney Frank.

Growing Push For Pollard Pardon

Jewish leaders meet Biden in Thanksgiving week appeal.
11/21/2011 - 19:00

Washington — Four drug dealers, a trafficker in stolen goods, a gambler and a turkey made President Barack Obama’s Thanksgiving freedom list, but Israel’s best-known spy did not.

That doesn’t mean advocates of releasing Jonathan Pollard are giving up hope. Seven Jewish leaders who met Monday with Vice President Joe Biden said they were “encouraged” after more than an hour of back and forth.

Vice President Joe Biden.

Survivors Again Press Congress For Right To Sue Insurers

Hearing this week is latest attempt to allow survivors to press claims in state court; French rail case testimony also heard.
11/16/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

After years of getting the runaround from the German insurance giant Allianz, Herbert Karliner recently learned why he had been unable to collect on his father’s life insurance: the company claims his father cashed in the policy on Nov. 9, 1938 — the day of Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against Jews.

On that day, Karliner said, his “father’s store was burned down and he was taken from our home to Buchenwald,” a Nazi concentration camp.

Survivors demonstrated in Feb. against Allianz at a golf tournament the German insurance giant sponsored in Boca Raton, Fla.
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