Is it possible to stay entertained for “eight crazy nights?” For the wintertime extravaganza of Hanukkah, Israel offers a wide selection of cultural, culinary and religious activities to pack any tourist or resident’s schedule. Ahead of Hanukkah 2017, JNS presents eight ways to mark the holiday—one for each night—in Jerusalem and throughout the Jewish state.
President Donald Trump’s announcement of policy changes on Jerusalem was the subject of much of the conversation at the Dec. 6-10 conference of American Jewry’s largest religious denomination. Ahead of the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) biennial convention, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs had called Trump’s announcement “ill-timed,” breaking with the relatively broad Jewish communal support for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The lights we kindle on Hanukkah may commemorate a miracle that secular Jews may disdain as a fairy tale, but they are also a reminder that it takes the extraordinary efforts and faith of ordinary Jews to keep the flame of Jewish civilization alive. That’s something we should hope the growing numbers of American Jews of “no religion” would embrace, writes JNS Editor in Chief Jonathan S. Tobin.
Hanukkah and children’s books go together like latkes and applesauce. These days, the marketplace overflows with books that reflect both the holiday’s miracles and the nuances of growing up Jewish in the 21st century. Experts say there’s a certain quality of magic in the best of these books—making them the kinds of gifts that keep giving. “They have to celebrate being Jewish in a diverse world and transmit powerful values to the new generation,” says Joy Getnick, director of Jewish life at the Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester.
In October, the State Department notified UNESCO that America would withdraw from the U.N. cultural body. The U.S. cited the need for fundamental reform, mounting arrears and “anti-Israel bias” at the organization. But the problem is much deeper: UNESCO does not consider Jewish culture and heritage worthy of protection, writes columnist Sean Durns.
A surge in alleged Israeli strikes on targets in Syria appears to suggest a new Israeli urgency to block Iran’s spread into the war-torn country. So far, neither Iran nor its terror proxies have retaliated. Yet the lack of retaliation is not something that can be counted on forever, warned Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It is clear that in the cost-benefit calculation…they ran through their considerations and concluded that launching a war [against Israel] is not something they should do. There is no telling when their considerations will change,” Amidror told JNS.
For many NGOs, besmirching Israel’s name is the goal, not improving the universal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis. The disconnect between real human rights work and hollow social media advocacy campaigns is stark. There is little evidence that internet-based slacktivism generates lasting change, writes columnist Rena Young.
The “P is for Palestine” children’s book that is causing so much controversy presents anti-Israel propaganda and deeply disturbing justifications for “intifada” violence. But it also contains one very important truth—the author helps remind readers of the true nature of Palestinian nationalism, writes JNS columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations pervaded Europe last weekend as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the continent days after the Trump administration’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The civilian protests as well as widespread opposition to the White House’s Jerusalem policy changes within the European political establishment may serve to deepen the chasm between Israel and Europe.
Jerusalemite opinions about President Donald Trump’s landmark policy changes on their city run the gamut, reflecting the diversity of the Israeli capital itself. In an effort to take the pulse of the holy city’s mood following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as well as Trump’s announcement of plans to move the American embassy there, JNS spoke with various Jerusalemites from east to west and from natives to immigrants.
Like so many pins in a bowling alley, the treacherous former Argentine leaders who signed a secret pact exonerating Iran of its responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires are, finally, collapsing under the rolling weight of judicial scrutiny. During the same week that saw President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the events that took place in Argentina are vitally relevant to the future of the Middle East, where Iran—with or without a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem—remains the greatest threat to Israel and to the region, writes JNS columnist Ben Cohen.
The Palestinians need to learn that no matter what dangerous illusions of conquest they are teaching their children, Israel will never cede its capital of Jerusalem—not after 3,000 years of history. They need to learn, once and for all, that Israel is here to stay. In this way, Trump’s announcement of American policy changes on Jerusalem was a sorely needed dose of reality therapy for the Palestinians, writes columnist Sarah N. Stern.
That President Donald Trump embraced the reality of Israel’s capital and the rights of the Jewish people to Jerusalem in a way that didn’t foreclose the theoretical possibility of a two-state solution helped shore up the pro-Israel consensus. But while the support for Trump’s move is encouraging for those hoping to strengthen the bonds between American Jews and Israelis, celebrations must be tempered, writes JNS Editor in Chief Jonathan S. Tobin.
Avi Gabbay, a leader of Israel’s political left and presumably one of the top challengers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a future election, has surprised the Israeli public with what many consider right-wing rhetoric. Yet it remains unclear if Gabbay’s positioning represents a real shift or merely a pre-election bid for wider support. JNS spoke with Knesset members from across the political spectrum to assess Israel’s changing political map.
It’s not often that the American Jewish community is united on issues pertaining to President Donald Trump, or on any political topics for that matter. But Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his expression of the intent to move the U.S. embassy to that city drew widespread support from Jewish organizations, dovetailing with the expected backing of Christian Zionist groups.