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. The number of American immigrants living in Israel, including their children, has been estimated at about 170,000. Speaking at the first of a … [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...]

Limmud Jerusalem Opens Today

The Solomon Brothers will be performing at Limmud Jerusalem (21:15 - 23:00) on Thursday evening followed by a Jlm Jam Session at 23:00.

Hundreds of Jerusalemites of all walks of life are converging today on Mt. Herzl to share and interact at Limmud Jerusalem (JLM). On offer among the 150 Hebrew and English sessions today and tomorrow are workshops, performances, and tours - even a sermon slam: “The Rabbi, the Teacher and the Vibrator,” and "Why Don't Israelis Stand in Line?!,” as well as "18 Jewish Foods: What Our Iconic Dishes Say About Our People," "The Devil Made Me Do It: Demons and Identity in the Dead Sea Scrolls," and "The Place of the Childless Man in Jewish Civilization." Additionally, several panels will take place, including: Jerusalem Culture? Not an Oxymoron, Not What You Think! Authority with Humility: The Use and Abuse of Power by Rabbis Religion as a Force for Peace Where the Political Peace Process has … [Read more...]

New Diaspora Ministry Initiative Could Open Israel’s Gates to Millions of non-Jews With Jewish Links

By Judy Maltz Haaretz.com Indicating a possible shift in government policy toward “emerging” Jewish communities around the world, Israel’s Ministry of the Diaspora has created a new committee to present recommendations on what it defines as “groups with ties to the Jewish people.” Member of these “emerging” Jewish communities are not allowed to immigrate to Israel today under the Law of Return, which provides citizenship only to individuals who have at least one Jewish grandparent or a Jewish spouse or who have converted to Judaism. “Emerging” Jewish communities cover a wide spectrum. They include groups that claim descent from the so-called “lost tribes,” such as the Bnei Menashe from northeastern India. They also include “bnei anusim” - descendants of Jews forced to convert during the … [Read more...]

In Israel, Summer Camps Rock With Joyous Judaism

Preparing for a photo of Chabad summer day campers in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem; courtesy Chabad.org/News.

Chabad operates the largest Jewish camping network worldwide, in which hundreds of thousands of children participate. By Sarah Leah Lawent Ra'anana, Israel - Driving down the tree-lined Rashi Street in this upscale suburb of Tel Aviv, before turning onto Yitzhak Nissim Street one will find a well-kept neighborhood with people out tending their lawns. A short way later there’s a lovely playground and beautiful yard, part of the Ilan Rimon School, where Rabbi Eliyahu and Sima Shadmi run the local Chabad-Lubavitch day camp. Their welcoming countenances extend to both children and adults; their warmth and wide smiles belie the enormous amount of energy humming beneath the surface. What’s immediately apparent is the amount of activity going on in the yard, on the playground, in every … [Read more...]

Israel’s Diaspora Ministry Convenes Public Advisory Committee to Counsel on Groups with Ties to Jewish People

Israel’s Ministry of the Diaspora has invited the public input for a special advisory committee which will submit recommendations on if and how to develop relations with large groups around the world with ties to the Jewish people. “Over the past few years there has been an increasing awareness of large groups of people who are not Jewish by any definition but who have some type of connection to the Jewish people.” said Dvir Kahana, the Director General of the Ministry of Diaspora. “Some of these groups want some kind association with the Jewish people and/or Israel which raise the question of what ties the government should have with them. As the Diaspora Ministry is in charge of the connection between the Jewish communities in the Diaspora and the State of Israel, we decided to convene this … [Read more...]

An Only In Israel Picnic

Shadmot Devora

By Aubrey Isaacs It started as a perfectly innocent family picnic. After a deeply rewarding but thoroughly exhausting summer, teaching a group of wonderful AMHSI students from all over the USA, my family and I traveled north for a few days of vacation in the mystical city of Tzfat. As we planned our trip, we took into account that we would need a stop for a picnic lunch on the way, to break up the long drive from my home in the Negev. Following a recommendation from a friend, we decided that we would stop at a water spring near the village of Shadmot Devora at the foot of historic Mount Tavor, where Deborah's forces had gathered to inflict defeat on Sisera and the Canaanites. We drove through Shadmot Devora and then followed a rough path through olive orchards and eventually found the … [Read more...]

OR Initiative Lights Up Israel’s Negev Region

Flowering poppies in the Negev, April 2012. Photo by Avishai Teicher; Wikimedia Israel free image collection project.

By Maayan Jaffe JNS.org “The younger generation of Israelis are looking for a challenge, to create,” says Ofir Fisher, co-founder of the OR Movement. “Every generation has to have its own interpretation of ‘Zionism.’” Fisher believes that for young Israelis in 2015, the Negev and Galilee regions provide the answer. “It’s not something secular, religious, right, left. It is something we can all connect around. The Negev and the Galilee are the solution to many of the problems Israelis are facing,” he says. The OR Movement (OR is the Hebrew word for light) was founded in 2002 by Fisher and three other young, idealistic Israelis dedicated to making former prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s dream of making the desert bloom a reality. The idea for OR, however, was planted several years prior … [Read more...]