The JW Q&A

A weekly interview with notable figures and names in the news.

‘Willingness To Connect’

Betty Ehrenberg joined leaders of other faiths and Pope Francis during his visit to Israel.

05/26/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Betty Ehrenberg, chair of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), the representative Jewish group that deals with other world religious bodies, was in Israel this week for the two-day visit there of Pope Francis.

Interfaith leader Betty Ehrenberg last year with Pope Francis. Photo courtesy of IJCIC

New OU Head Wants More Unified Organization

05/19/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Allen I. Fagin, a prominent attorney and former chairman of the Proskauer Rose law firm here, was appointed executive vice president and chief professional officer of the Orthodox Union in April after spending more than 20 years as an unpaid officer of the organization. He is the first person without rabbinic ordination to assume the role.

Allen Fagin: First non-rabbi to head Orthodox Union.

Likud Leader Wants Temple Mount Changes

A Jewish state without control of the sacred site is a 'contradiction,' says Moshe Feiglin.

05/12/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Moshe Feiglin is a deputy speaker of Israel’s Knesset, which joined a member of the Likud Party in January 2013. At the last election for his party’s head, he ran second to Benjamin Netanyahu. Feiglin, 51, is also president of Manhigut Yehudit (The 
Jewish Leadership Movement), which is the largest faction inside Likud. During his first year in office, he was the only coalition member to vote to end the Oslo “land for peace” process and to oppose the budget in order to prevent the release of Arab terrorists as part of a deal that restarted Palestinian peace talks. Feiglin was in New York last week. This is an edited transcript.

Moshe Feiglin: “Does just part of Jerusalem belong to Israel?”

John Turturro: Being Italian, Playing Jewish

05/05/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

John Turturro has portrayed a number of memorable Jewish characters. In his latest film, “Fading Gigolo,” which he wrote, directed and stars in, he plays a male prostitute named Fioravante, who pretends to be a Sephardic Jew. He sat down to talk about what it was like to direct Woody Allen, whether Liev Schreiber’s payes in the film were real and how a French actress and singer who isn’t Jewish nailed the role of a chasidic Jew. This is an edited transcript.

John Turturro, right, and Woody Allen star in “Fading Gigolo.”  Courtesy of Tribute Films

Shoah Statement Is ‘Significant Benchmark’

Rabbi Marc Schneier met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

04/28/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Rabbi Marc Schneier, spiritual leader of the Hampton Synagogue on Long Island and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, was in Israel for Passover when he was invited to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Rabbi Marc Schneier and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Mahmoud Alian

Going To Bat For The Rescuers

Stanlee Stahl runs the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which provides financial support to gentiles who rescued Jews.

04/23/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Stanlee Stahl has been executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous since 1992. Since 1986, the organization has provided $34 million in financial support to more than 2,500 gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Currently JFR supports 654 rescuers in 22 countries, with the vast proportion living in Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and Hungary. The foundation also runs a Holocaust education program that has trained more than 400 middle and high school teachers from the U.S. and Eastern Europe since 2000. On the eve of Yom HaShoah, The Jewish Week caught up with Stahl for a wide-ranging discussion on the rescuers she’s met and the impact of the group’s education program. This is an edited transcript.

Jewish Foundation for the Righteous’ Stanlee Stahl: Rescuers “were people like us.”

‘Something Has To Change’

Benjamin Ish-Shalom is chairman of an institute that prepares students for conversion by Israel's rabbinic courts.

04/13/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Benjamin Ish-Shalom is president and founder of Beit Morasha in Jerusalem. In 2000, the university founded the Institute for Jewish Studies-The Joint Conversion Institute; Ish-Shalom is its chairman.

Benjamin Ish-Shalom: Wants conversions handled by local rabbis, not Chief Rabbinate.

Modern Fundraising For A Modern Israel

Under the retiring Peter Willner, American Friends of The Hebrew University increased its fundraising considerably.

04/08/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Peter Willner will be stepping down this summer after 12 years as national executive director of the American Friends of The Hebrew University. During his tenure, AFHU increased its annual fundraising from $18 million in 2002 to $500 million by the end of 2013; last year the group raised $50 million. Willner spent more than 30 years in executive positions in the nonprofit sector, the Anti-Defamation League and UJA-Federation of New York. The Jewish Week caught up with him recently for a discussion about the philanthropic landscape in the Jewish community and the so-called “brain drain” of Israeli academics. This is an edited transcript.

Peter Willner: Stepping down from AFHU post amid concerns about Israeli “brain drain.”

Interpreting Noah For The 21st Century

Neuroscientist-turned-filmmaker Ari Handel talks about making "Noah" and rooming with a big-shot director.

03/31/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Ari Handel, a neuroscientist whose career path ultimately took him to Hollywood, is the co-writer, with director Darren Aronofsky, of “Noah,” which opened last week. (It was the top-grossing film last weekend, with a haul of $44 million.) Handel was the executive producer of “The Wrestler,” “Black Swan,” and “The Fountain,” which he also wrote. Handel and Aronofsky, it turns out, were suitemates at Harvard. In a phone interview, Handel spoke about the challenges in making the film, which he also produced, and the critics who say the film strays too much from the Bible. This is an edited transcript.

Ari Handel: “There is biblical evidence about the need to protect the land.” Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

From Lobbying To Hobbying

Ron Soloway is retiring after 25 years of advocating on behalf of the local Federation's social service agencies.

03/24/2014 - 20:00

Any time social service funds are threatened by a budget axe, or strained by a crisis, Ron Soloway is on the phone, at City Hall or in the statehouse, warning of the impact on vulnerable people served by UJA-Federation of New York’s network of more than 100 agencies. After 25 years of lobbying, most recently as managing director for external and governmental relations, the Brooklyn native, 64, is retiring in June. He looked back, and ahead, in a recent interview. This is an edited transcript.

Reading and lawn bowling will soon be on Ron Soloway's agenda, but social justice commitment won't fade.
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