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Recipes for disunity

For decades, haredi-Orthodox authorities have sought to tighten their control over Israel’s already strict interpretation of personal status questions, such as who may marry and whose conversions are kosher in the eyes of the state. The latest attempt comes from the Sephardic haredi party Shas, which last week submitted a bill to the Knesset that would invalidate all conversions to Judaism performed in Israel except for those performed under the auspices of the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate.
Wednesday 05/10/2017
Facing the toxic brew of politics and religion
Posted: May 10, 2017

Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine your rabbi dedicating his Yom Kippur sermon to why he will be voting for Candidate X come Election Day, and why you should, as well.

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Wednesday 05/03/2017
Is this really happening in NYC?
Posted: May 03, 2017

Gentrification is a serious issue in many large cities. Rising real estate values, which are generally a sign of economic health, can bring with them upper-income residents who displace lower-income tenants from developing neighborhoods. There is nothing new about this problem. But are Jews to blame for it? One Democratic candidate for the New York City Council is arguing that they are.

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Wednesday 04/26/2017
A new dawn at the UN?
Posted: April 26, 2017

On Sunday, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a series of statements that were unusual for the world body and its chief executive. He vowed to take action to end anti-Semitism and called denial of Israel’s right to exist a modern form of anti-Jewish hatred.

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Wednesday 04/19/2017
Spicer’s Yom Hashoah lesson
Posted: April 19, 2017

It would be simple to play the moral outrage card on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s confused comparison of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons and Adolf Hitler’s refraining from gassing enemy troops on the battlefield (but killing millions of Jews with that method to effect his Final Solution). But we detect no anti-Semitism in Spicer’s April 11 statement, for which he apologized twice. Anyone who does has either too much time on their hands, or a different agenda.

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Monday 04/10/2017
Bye, bye Bannon
Posted: April 10, 2017

In another sign that the Trump administration is moving toward greater stability and more traditional governance, the president last week signed an executive order removing White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon from the National Security Council. Bannon’s appointment to the council and to its principals committee was roundly criticized as the infiltration of a radical nationalist political operative into the national security system – a toxic mixture. His removal solved that problem, and is seen as a sign of the growing influence of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army three-star general.

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Wednesday 03/29/2017
The bomb threatener
Posted: March 29, 2017

We were as surprised as anyone else by the arrest of a suspect in the bomb threats against JCCs and other Jewish institutions in the United States and abroad, even as we counseled three weeks ago that “at least until we get a better idea of who did what, and why, we need to be careful not to impugn one political side or the other for incubating the perpetrators.”

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Wednesday 03/22/2017
America the loser with ‘America First’
Posted: March 22, 2017

In selling the new administration’s astonishingly thin budget proposal last week, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney said that it “represents a president who is beholden to nobody but the voters.” “He is following through on his promises,” Mulvaney went on. “We did not consult with special interests on how to write this budget. We did not consult with lobbyists on how to write this budget. The president’s team wrote this budget, and that’s what you’ll see in the numbers.”

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Tuesday 03/14/2017
One voice against hate
Posted: March 14, 2017

It is a rare day when the entire U.S. Senate speaks with one voice. That day was March 6, when a sixth wave of bomb threats were phoned in and emailed to Jewish institutions across the country. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and FBI director James Comey, all 100 senators called for “swift action with regard to the deeply troubling series of anonymous bomb threats.”

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