Jacobs’ Ladder: Remembering the Jewish Community’s Relief Efforts a Decade after Katrina

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By Jonathan "JC" Cohen "[Jacob] dreamt that he saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it... And Jacob woke up and said, "God is here! God is in this place, and I didn't know it!" (Genesis 28:12, 16) When people ask me about my experiences immediately following Hurricane Katrina, I find myself sharing the same few stories again and again. I think it's because, for me, they powerfully illustrate how God was with us through those long, emotion-packed days and weeks. … [Read more...]

Viva Limmud Latin America!

Challah baking at Limud Buenos Aires

[To celebrate Limmud’s 35th year, eJewishPhilanthropy is offering a look into Jewish communities around the world through the eyes of Limmud volunteers. Limmud, the global grassroots Jewish learning movement founded in the United Kingdom in 1980, is today in 80 communities and 40 countries on six continents. Limmud - or, more accurately in Spanish, Limud - is igniting Spanish-speaking communities across Latin America. Limud Chile launched in June; Uruguay is holding its second annual learning festival on September 6; and Limud Bogota, in Colombia, is set to debut in February 2016. In this article, we take an in-depth look at three Limud communities: Buenos Aires, Mexico and Peru.] … [Read more...]

60,000 American Jews Live in the West Bank, New Study Reveals

Efrat; photo from Wikimedia Israel free image collection project.

By Judy Maltz Haaretz.com Roughly 60,000 American Jews live in West Bank settlements, where they account for 15 percent of the settler population, according to figures revealed Thursday by an Oxford University scholar and expert on this population. “This provides hard evidence that this constituency is strikingly over-represented, both within the settler population itself and within the total population of Jewish American immigrants in Israel,” said Sara Yael Hirschhorn, the author of the upcoming book “City on a Hilltop: Jewish-American Settlers in the Occupied Territories Since 1967,” scheduled for release by Harvard University Press in 2016. … [Read more...]

Alan H. Gill, JDC CEO, to Step Down in 2016

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Alan H. Gill, CEO of the American Jewish Joint distribution Committee (JDC), announced today his plans to step down in 2016 after more than two decades of service with the Jewish aid group. In order to ensure a seamless transition of executive leadership, Gill will continue as CEO through the transition to his successor and has agreed to serve as executive advisor through the duration of 2016. “It has been the greatest honor of my life that for more than two decades, JDC has been my second home and the main driver of my core belief that all Jews are responsible for one another,” said Gill. "I came to the decision that by next year, we will have achieved many of the critical milestones I set out to accomplish and it is the right time to return to Israel and my family there." Before relocating … [Read more...]

Pew: Orthodox Jews in some ways Resemble Evangelicals More than other Jews

JNS.org: A new report published by the Pew Research Center claims that Orthodox Jews more closely resemble evangelical Christians in their religious and political beliefs than other American Jews. “Indeed, in a few ways, Orthodox Jews more closely resemble white evangelical Protestants than they resemble other U.S. Jews,” the report stated. According to Pew, Orthodox Jews tend to identify as Republicans and take more conservative positions on social issues such as homosexuality than most other American Jews, who tend to be more politically liberal. “For example, similarly large majorities of Orthodox Jews (83%) and white evangelicals (86%) say that religion is very important in their lives, while only about one-fifth of other Jewish Americans (20%) say the same,” Pew said. The center … [Read more...]

The Iran Deal – a View from the Trenches

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By Keith Krivitzky I want to share with you some troubling aspects of this Iran deal that don’t primarily have to do with the deal itself, but with some of the reactions and ramifications I have been seeing from my perch at a Jewish Federation. 1. There is increasing vitriol in our discourse, and a lack of respect and tolerance for diverse viewpoints. In response to the approach our Federation has taken (which I think is smart and strategic, but did not consist of telling people simply to vote yes or no), here are some of the epithets shared with me: Dirty Traitor Shame on you (several times) You are worse than the enemies of the Jewish people You are responsible (in part) for the deaths of 4000 Americans in the Iraq war You are spineless You are just as bad as those who stood by … [Read more...]

Katrina’s Jews: Reflections on Privilege, History, and American Jewish Community

Menorah with one arm broken off, in Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans, taken April 2006. Photo courtesy Jewish Women's Archive and Rick Weil.

By Karla Goldman Hurricane Katrina’s assault on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast exposed the utter vulnerability of those at the bottom of our socio-economic system. The scandal of tens of thousands stranded in a stifling, putrid Superdome or of police officers shooting citizens guilty simply of crossing a bridge crystalized the failure of our societal balancing act. The dismal inability of local, state, and national government to respond to the crisis compounded the breakdown of the city’s physical infrastructure as the levees breached. The storm made clear that for those with limited resources and support networks, there simply is no net. Katrina taught essential lessons about inequality and privilege in contemporary America. Differences in social class, race, and ethnicity had a huge impact on … [Read more...]

Vienna’s Ringstrasse: A Jewish Boulevard

Lieben Family, Elise Lieben in the middle. Vienna, around 1870. Photo by Victor Angerer.

By Liam Hoare eJewish Philanthropy The reign of Kaiser Franz Joseph I, and the creation of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire, represented a golden age for Viennese Jewry. It was fleeting; a candle that burnt for just a moment but gave off a lovely light. The Jewish community of Vienna - the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien - was founded in the years following the revolution of 1848. This began a process of institutionalization and emancipation; the equal rights of Jews under the law were established in the constitution of 1867. Under Franz Joseph’s benevolent rule - known among Yiddish speakers as Froyim Yossel - the Jewish bourgeoisie played a key role in the economic and cultural development of Vienna, including Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and of course Theodor Herzl. Vienna’s … [Read more...]