Michael Steinhardt thinks American Jews need to stop focusing on religion

Posted on June 26th, 2017
By Ben Sales for JTA

Michael Steinhardt has poured millions of dollars into ventures for American Jews. But he’s no fan of American Judaism.

The hedge-fund billionaire turned mega-philanthropist is best known as the founder of Birthright Israel, the 10-day free trip to Israel for Jewish young adults. More recently, he’s founded a network of publicly funded Hebrew-language charter schools. His latest endeavor is a natural history museum at Tel Aviv University that will host exhibits on the flora and fauna of Israel and the Middle East.

JTA visited Steinhardt at his New York estate, where he spoke about why he thinks American Jewish education needs to change, what to do with the hundreds of thousands of Birthright alumni once they return home, and why he’s not worried about college students who rail against Israel.

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Tunisia Is Latest Arab Country To Ban ‘Wonder Woman’ Over Gal Gadot

Posted on June 19th, 2017
By JTA in The Forward

A Tunisian court has banned the showing of “Wonder Woman” because star actress Gal Gadot served in the Israel Defense Forces.

Tunisia joins Lebanon, which banned the screening of the film as part of its ban on all Israeli products. Jordan also is considering a ban on the film due to Gadot’s Israeli military service, and has temporarily banned screening until its culture review committee makes a final decision.

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A Jewish hipster haven in the heart of Chabad’s Brooklyn territory

Posted on June 12th, 2017
By Ben Sales for JTA

Soon after Nechama Levy moved to Brooklyn five years ago, she opened a bicycle repair shop. The spacious, high-ceilinged store was just down the street from a new pub with exposed brick walls.

Like many who have moved recently to the rapidly gentrifying borough, Levy, 33, was drawn to the area’s relatively cheap rents — at least back then — plus its bicycling culture.

Levy also ensconced herself in one of Kings County’s Jewish trends: a curated, artisanal type of liberal Judaism. Like much of brownstone Brooklyn, her neighborhood has a growing galaxy of independent prayer groups, or minyans — one of which Levy herself founded, the Brooklyn Women’s Chavurah, a women-led service.

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How the Six-Day War changed American Jews

Posted on June 5th, 2017
By BEN SALES in Jewish World News

On the morning of June 5, 1967, as Arab armies and Israel clashed following weeks of tension, Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg sat anxious amid his congregants at daily prayers—fearful that the Jewish people would face extinction for the second time in 25 years. “One of the people said, ‘They’re going to wipe out Israel. What’s going to be?’” recalled Greenberg, then the spiritual leader of a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

“I said, ‘They’re not going to wipe out Israel, and if they do, there’s going to be a sign up: The shul is closed.’ Faith could not go on with an unmitigated catastrophe of that size happening again.”

The fear felt by Greenberg pervaded the air in American Jewish communities that week. Two decades after the world learned the full extent of the Holocaust, Americans looked on from afar as Egypt and Syria threatened the young Jewish state.

Jonathan Sarna, then 12, remembers watching on TV as Israelis dug mass graves to prepare for potential slaughter. A teenage Yossi Klein Halevi remembers the broadcasts of mass rallies in Cairo calling for Israel’s death.

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Czech Parliament resolution calls for recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Posted on May 29th, 2017

The Czech Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the country’s government to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A majority of lawmakers voted for the measure on Tuesday ahead of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, the Czech news agency CTK reported. The report did not include the text of the resolution, which also did not appear in the relevant section of the website of the Czech Parliament.

According to CTK, the resolution states that the Czech government should advocate a position respecting Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and impede steps that distort historical facts and are motivated by an anti-Israeli hateful approach.

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