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A statewide Jewish community of just 400 people is about to receive a leadership boost in a move that will also make history for the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz and his wife Mussie will be the new Chabad emissaries in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, helping Chabad reach a special milestone. Of the U.S. 50 states, all but South Dakota have Chabad centers. But that’s not the only historic aspect of the young couple’s arrival. Mendel Alperowitz will be the South Dakota Jewish community’s first full-time rabbi in decades. “In Brooklyn there are shuls and restaurants everywhere—it’s so easy to be Jewish,” says Rabbi Alperowitz. “In South Dakota they have to come together to create Jewish community, to celebrate Shabbat. It’s really an inspiration.”
Prominent dovish American Jewish leaders are distancing themselves from claims by two leading Israeli left-wing figures that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged the recent wave of Palestinian arson attacks. Leaders of dovish organizations including the Israel Policy Forum, Partners for Progressive Israel, and Americans for Peace Now took issue with the controversial anti-Netanyahu statements by Peace Now co-founder Amiram Goldblum and Member of Knesset Zehava Gal-On (Meretz).
Democratic and Republican lawmakers are vowing to challenge a limit on U.S. defense aid for Israel that President Barack Obama included in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations. The agreement—reached in September—guarantees Israel $38 billion in aid over 10 years, but it also states that if Congress increases the aid, Israel is obliged to return the extra funds. U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Texas), Randy Weber (R-Ariz.), and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday at Agudath Israel of America’s legislative luncheon in New York that the restriction is "unconstitutional" because it would interfere with the ability of Congress to fulfill its mandate as a co-equal branch of the federal government. Engel vowed to "fight every step of the way" to bring about the revocation of the aid limit.
After years of silence, the Obama administration has finally spoken out about an American citizen who was killed in Israel. There's just one catch. The focus of the administration's sudden concern is not one of the 141 Americans who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. It's a Palestinian-American terrorist who tried to murder Israelis, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds never spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war during World War II. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge, Roddie survived an arduous march through frozen terrain and was interned for nearly 100 days at Stalag IXA, a POW camp near Ziegenhain, Germany. “Son, there are some things I’d rather not talk about,” Roddie would tell his boys, Kim and Chris Edmonds, when they were young. When Roddie died in 1985, Chris, now a Baptist pastor, inherited his father’s war diaries. Now that his father’s wartime stories are known, Chris said his life has been “turned upside down.” The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies non-Jewish rescuers of Holocaust survivors and pays tribute to their courage, honored Roddie’s memory Nov. 28 with the Yehi Ohr Award during the foundation’s annual dinner at the New York City Public Library.
The New Israel Fund (NIF) recently received a grant to “research and report on anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses.” On the surface, this appears to be a welcome development—a progressive group being mobilized to confront a major social malady plaguing institutions of higher education. Beneath the surface of the Sept. 27 grant, however, are vested interests seeking to use this issue to cover up their role in fomenting the atmosphere that is hostile to Jewish students. The NIF is being paid by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund—a main backer of the anti-Israel activism that contributes to, enables and devolves into anti-Semitism on college campuses, writes Yona Schiffmiller of the NGO Monitor research institute.
Whether Jews concerned about Israel agree with Daniel Gordis, they generally not only read what he has to say, but his comments also become a primary source of discussion for days after his articles appear. This is no less true of the Conservative rabbi’s latest article, about Donald Trump's election victory. But this is less the voice of Gordis’s usual scholarly insight and moderation, and more a page from Lamentations reminding us of his love for Israel and the “danger” that a Trump victory brings to the world’s two largest Jewish communities. Columnist Abraham H. Miller writes why he disagrees with Gordis's assessment of the Trump win's implications for Israel.
Sometimes you’ll find the most splendid synagogues in the places you least expect. Such was the case during travel writer Dan Fellner's recent three-day trip to Boise, Idaho, a popular gateway for skiing, river rafting, and hiking that isn’t exactly known for being a hotbed of Jewish life. Yet just a five-minute drive from downtown sits the oldest continuously in-use synagogue west of the Mississippi River. And it’s far more than just a beautiful wood building. As Fellner learned, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel is the centerpiece of a surprisingly robust Jewish community with a fascinating history.
Any newspaper that makes political endorsements runs the risk of alienating readers who disagree with the publication’s candidate of choice. Angry letters and canceled subscriptions come with the territory. Against that backdrop, hundreds of American newspapers still endorsed presidential candidates in 2016. How did Jewish community newspapers handle this choice? A JNS.org analysis of website content from about 100 American Jewish news outlets found that Jewish media were more reluctant than their mainstream media counterparts to make endorsements, with a total of eight Jewish outlets endorsing Clinton and three endorsing Trump. JNS.org examines the decision-making processes and reader reactions at Jewish newspapers that endorsed candidates.
Our bitterly sectarian politics compromise the discussion of anti-Semitism—and more broadly racism and prejudice—in America today, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen. Some aspects of incoming White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s intellectual universe should be of concern to anyone who cares about the basic social empathies that are needed to sustain democracy—the same empathies that have been badly damaged by the growth of identity politics on left and right, Cohen writes.
Jewish organizations who had been at the forefront of anti-Semitism allegations against Stephen K. Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s newly named chief strategist and special counselor, softened their stance Thursday. Following the Anti-Defamation League's release of a new backgrounder on Bannon, National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman told JNS.org that she “will be hesitant to use the word anti-Semite going forward” when commenting on the incoming White House official.
A growing number of pro-Israel activists and Jewish community figures are expressing concern that Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will turn the Democratic Party away from Israel if he is elected party chairman. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat who represents a heavily Jewish district in Brooklyn, told JNS.org that Ellison "is the most radical candidate imaginable, someone who represents the extreme left wing of the party...Ellison is being backed by all the wrong people if you care about Israel."
The election victory by Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman who has never held political office and is a neophyte on foreign policy, has left many observers wondering about the future direction of U.S. policy abroad. Against that backdrop, supporters of Israel are immediately focusing attention on Trump’s approach to the much-discussed Iran nuclear deal, which was approved by the Obama administration and five other Western governments in July 2015. As a presidential candidate, Trump made a variety of comments regarding his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, ranging from calls for stronger inspections to entirely nixing the Obama administration’s signing of the pact. Trump “has cultivated a fair amount of ambiguity towards how he would approach the Iranian nuclear deal...this ambiguity is best exemplified by Trump's claims of both renegotiating and tearing up the [deal],” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Columnist Abraham H. Miller grew up a Democrat in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood. Despite the best efforts of gentiles, Lawndale ended up with the greatest concentration of Jews per square mile anywhere in the world. Some 70 percent of the residents were foreign born. Everyone spoke English, but Yiddish often became the language of commerce in mom-and-pop stores. Even if President-elect Donald Trump cannot deliver on each and every promise he made, it is refreshing that he spoke to the problems of people in decaying rural and industrial towns, in cities whose workers powered the machinery that drove back the armies of Germany and Japan and kept the world safe from tyranny, writes Miller.
The early returns on the Jewish vote in 2016 showed 24-percent support for President-elect Donald Trump and 71 percent for Hillary Clinton. In 2012, President Barack Obama garnered 69 percent of Jewish votes and GOP nominee Mitt Romney won 30 percent. Given the wild card of Obama’s tumultuous relationship with Israel, a more accurate understanding of the Jewish vote in 2016 is yielded by discounting the 2012 election. The new calculus reveals a potentially strong Jewish vote for Trump—and that analysis is supported by Florida, a hotly contested state that Clinton was favored to win but ultimately lost, writes Lori Lowenthal Marcus.
A Donald Trump administration embrace of Israel may gravely deepen the divide among American Jews and make it infinitely harder to sustain support for Israel as a bipartisan principle. A situation in which opposition to Israel is an integral component of the opposition to Trump should not be welcomed by anyone who cares about American-Israeli relations. These are the realities that, when the gloating stops, Trump and his acolytes will have to deal with. Let us hope, however forlornly, that wisdom will be their guide, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen in his analysis of the 2016 presidential election.
Anti-establishment Republican candidate Donald Trump earned what many considered a shocking victory over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton Tuesday, officially ushering in the countdown to a new era in U.S.-Israel relations. While the last eight years have been marked by policy disagreements between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, Netanyahu and Trump will agree on at least one major issue: opposition to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.