Jewish Journal

Ben Harris

  • Waving the Zionist flag at Santa Cruz

    November 16, 2011 | 4:46 pm

    On the third floor of the Baskin Engineering building at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is going over points of Hebrew grammar.

    Her 25 students in first-level Hebrew — a panoply of African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and whites — call out the...

  • Here Comes The Sun: Jewish Groups Gear Up For Rare Ritual

    April 7, 2009 | 7:49 pm

    As sunrise broke over New York City on the morning of April 8, 1981, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi—at the time he was known just as Zalman Schachter—stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and sounded the shofar.

    For more than two hours after, Shachter-Shalomi...

  • Pro-Palestinian students, college debate divestment

    February 19, 2009 | 2:01 am

    Hampshire College insists it has not divested from Israel, but try telling that to pro-Palestinian students at the liberal arts school in Massachusetts or Israel defender Alan Dershowitz.

    Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group at Hampshire, issued a statement last week...

  • Israel Votes 2009

    Lieberman Loyalty Proposal Finds Support in U.S.

    February 11, 2009 | 5:59 pm

    As Yisrael Beiteinu vaulted into third place in Israel’s elections, capturing an estimated 14 to 15 Knesset seats, several American Jewish organizational leaders defended the party’s controversial leader, Avigdor Lieberman.

    Some liberal Israeli and Jewish groups have condemned...

  • Ziegler-Schechter Split Over Conservative Ideologies

    January 22, 2009 | 7:36 pm

    In a further sign that the American and international wings of the Conservative movement are moving in different ideological directions, American Jewish University’s rabbinical seminary has ended its longstanding residency program with Machon Schechter in Jerusalem, the only...

  • Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, leading Orthodox thinker, dies at 98

    December 11, 2008 | 12:51 am

    Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, a leading Orthodox thinker and an early champion of women's rights, died Dec. 1 in New York. He was 98.

    Tributes poured in from around the world last week, many of them praising Rackman for being an Orthodox pioneer in trying to ease the plight of agunot --...

  • Postville Jewish community struggles to survive after raid

    November 24, 2008 | 8:06 pm

    POSTVILLE, Iowa (JTA) -- After former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin was arrested earlier this month, Rashi Raices joined several dozen members of this town's Jewish community in volunteering the equity on their homes to guarantee his return to face trial.

    All told, they...

  • Shoah group halts talks with Mormons on posthumous baptism of Jews

    November 20, 2008 | 3:26 am

    A Holocaust survivor organization has broken off negotiations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) over its practice of posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Nazis.

    At a news conference Monday, leaders of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust...

  • Agriprocessors closed—now where’s the beef?

    November 20, 2008 | 2:49 am

    NEW YORK (JTA)--A supermarket in New Jersey with a large kosher section has shelves nearly empty of kosher beef. In New York, a kosher steakhouse says its customers are canceling reservations because choice cuts aren't always available. And the nation's largest kosher meat producer,...
  • Troubles at meat plants prompt increased fear of kosher beef shortages

    November 6, 2008 | 11:43 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA) -- With the kosher meat producer Agriprocessors facing mounting financial problems, and a fire-related shutdown at another major kosher producer, industry insiders say major supply disruptions are inevitable, and kosher consumers should brace themselves for some rough...
  • Will Wall Street crisis spur anti-Semitism?

    October 7, 2008 | 5:35 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—In the world according to the comedy writers at “Saturday Night Live,” the pyramid of complicity in the current financial crisis runs like this:

    On the bottom are poor and minority homeowners victimized by predatory lending. Next come condo-flipping yuppies out...

  • Thousands protest Ahmadinejad in New York—no Clinton, no Palin [VIDEO]

    September 22, 2008 | 9:33 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Thousands of protesters filled Dag Hammarskjold Plaza opposite the United Nations for a rally against Iran’s president, who came to town to address the General Assembly.

    “The message to him is please go home,” Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said at Monday’s...

  • Ahmadinejad at the UN: Palin, elected officials disinvited from rally amid controversy

    September 19, 2008 | 12:25 am

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Sarah Palin is being disinvited from the Jewish-sponsored Iran rally, sources told JTA.

    The move follows two days of controversy for organizers of Monday’s rally to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations.

    The controversy erupted after...

  • PETA hidden camera exposé costs Agriprocessors support of key expert [VIDEO]

    September 17, 2008 | 1:09 am

    An undercover video shot last month at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant has raised new questions about the company's slaughtering practices and cost it the support of one of the country's leading experts on animal welfare.

    Temple Grandin, an animal scientist who has served...

  • PETA says Agriprocessors misled rabbis about slaughter procedures [VIDEO]

    September 5, 2008 | 6:43 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—An undercover video shot at the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, is prompting new claims that the company engages in inhumane slaughter and that it misled a delegation of Orthodox rabbis who visited the plant in July.

    The video, shot undercover...

  • McCain team: Palin rejects views of church’s Jews for Jesus speaker

    September 3, 2008 | 4:48 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Vice presidential pick Sarah Palin says she doesn’t share the views of a Jews for Jesus leader who in a speech at her church suggested that violence against Israelis resulted from God’s judgment against Jews who have failed to embrace Jesus.

    David Brickner, the...

  • Campus groups offer students cash for Torah study

    August 21, 2008 | 12:31 am

    Several years ago, Rabbi Shlomo Levin hit on a new way to attract students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to classes at his nearby Orthodox synagogue. Instead of spending money on eye-catching advertising, Levin reasoned it would be simpler just to give the money directly...
  • Orthodox rabbis: Agriprocessors Iowa kosher plant passes muster

    August 5, 2008 | 6:58 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Organizers of a delegation of Orthodox rabbis say the Iowa meat-packing plant raided by federal immigration authorities in May bears no resemblance to its image as a place where safety lapses are routine and workers allegedly are abused and underpaid.

    Some 25 rabbis...

  • Conservatives release guidelines for ethical kashrut certification

    August 4, 2008 | 7:44 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—The Conservative movement released a policy statement and guidelines for its much-anticipated ethical kashrut certification, outlining the social justice standards companies are expected to meet if their foodstuffs are to qualify for the designation.

    According to the...

  • Agriprocessors raid slammed at Congressional hearings

    July 29, 2008 | 2:56 am

    WASHINGTON (JTA)—Witnesses at recent congressional hearings described the federal immigration raid on the country’s largest kosher plant as a travesty of justice, a national disgrace and an ambush.

    But comparing the government detention facilities where 300 illegal workers arrested...

  • Attempt to pressure China on Darfur loses to the Olympics

    July 23, 2008 | 2:34 am

    Sudan's president may soon be the target of an arrest warrant for the killings in Darfur, and Iran was blasted by the United States and Europe for testing the missiles it threatens to fire at Israel. But the international player accused of complicity in both developments appears to...
  • Agriprocessors raid fallout continues: Jewish liberals plan rally in Postville

    July 22, 2008 | 3:44 am

    NEW YORK (JTA)—An interfaith coalition is planning to demonstrate next week in Postville, Iowa, in support of justice for workers and comprehensive immigration reform.

    Spearheaded by Jewish Community Action, a Minnesota social justice group, the rally comes in response to...

  • U.S. Jews mourn soldiers, pledge to fight for Shalit’s return

    July 17, 2008 | 1:39 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA) -- At the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School here, Rabbi Dov Linzer decided Wednesday that it would be inappropriate to start the day like any other given the news that the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah in July 2006 were returned to Israel deceased....
  • Seeking to relaunch career, disgraced rabbi fights against sexual allegations

    July 9, 2008 | 4:47 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—A disgraced American rabbi with a tangled history of alleged sexual misdeeds is relaunching his career as a spiritual mentor and backtracking from an apparent confession he signed two years ago.

    Rabbi Mordechai Gafni acknowledged his “sickness” in 2006 after several...

  • Agriprocessors takes aim at government, gets boost as group drops boycott

    July 9, 2008 | 4:42 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—An Orthodox social justice group dropped its boycott of the embattled kosher meat producer Agriprocessors, saying the company is “beginning to take significant steps” to address claims of worker mistreatment at its plant in Postville, Iowa.

    Uri L’tzedek launched the...

  • Agriprocessors turns to homeless for help

    June 20, 2008 | 2:25 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—In an effort to restore lagging production at its plant in Postville, Iowa, the country’s largest kosher meat producer has been hiring workers from homeless shelters in Texas to replace employees detained in a massive federal immigration raid last month.

    According to...

  • New Presbyterian statement irks Jewish groups, sparks divestment fears

    June 19, 2008 | 4:07 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Just days before they are due to consider a range of motions on the Middle East at their biennial convention, the Presbyterian Church USA has released a document on combating anti-Jewish ideas. But Jewish organizational leaders say the statement is “infused with the...

  • Rubashkin: It’s all a lie

    June 4, 2008 | 1:16 am

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Aaron Rubashkin, the owner of the embattled kosher slaughterhouse Agriprocessors, denies he has engaged in unethical labor practices and blames the failure of U.S. immigration policy for his mostly illegal workforce.

    In the first substantive comments by an...

  • Conservatives adopt ruling on living wage

    June 2, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Just days after the Conservative movement became the only Jewish denomination to speak out against alleged worker abuse at the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the United States, the movement’s legal authorities voted to recommend that Jewish-owned businesses pay their...

  • Kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa dumps CEO

    May 28, 2008 | 10:38 pm

    Mounting pressure from Jewish groups and members of Congress has led the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the United States to start searching for a new CEO less than two weeks after federal agents arrested nearly 400 of its employees in a massive immigration raid.

    Aaron Rubashkin,...

  • Former workers speak out as Agriprocessors scrambles to keep plant open

    May 22, 2008 | 2:25 pm

    As the country's largest kosher slaughterhouse scrambles to stay open after a federal raid, former workers at the plant -- many of them still fearful of retribution from government authorities -- have begun to tell their stories, revealing new details of conditions there.

    Agents in...

  • Kosher meat plant raid wreaks widespread havoc

    May 21, 2008 | 4:39 pm

    In a makeshift courthouse at a cattle exhibition center in Waterloo, Iowa, Angela Noemi Lastor-Gomez appeared before a federal magistrate judge on charges that she had used false documents to gain employment at the nearby Agriprocessors meatpacking plant, the nation's largest kosher...
  • Some Jews still upset as Pope readies U.S. visit

    April 10, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    When news broke last year that Pope Benedict XVI was reviving an ancient prayer for the conversion of the Jews, the reaction in Jewish circles was outrage tempered by confusion.

    Communal leaders warned that the move would deal a serious blow to the four decades of progress in...

  • Hillel opens doors to non-Jews, campus at large

    April 3, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Hillel centers on university campuses were viewed not long ago as little more than the local Jewish hangout, a place where students could come for kosher meals or socialize with other Jews.

    But in a move that Hillel leaders say has been forced upon them by this generation's altered...

  • Conservative seminary in Israel pushes pro-gay event off campus

    March 26, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    In a sign of continuing friction among Conservative Jews over the issue of homosexuality, a ceremony in Jerusalem to mark the first anniversary of the decision to admit gays to the Jewish Theological Seminary was held away from the campus of the movement's main educational...
  • The human touch of Harold Kushner

    March 20, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    At 72, Rabbi Harold Kushner, the best-selling author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," leads a life that most of his rabbinic colleagues can only dream of.

    Having left the full-time rabbinate more than two decades ago, his days are largely spent writing and lecturing -- or...

  • Coen brothers, Chabon teaming up on ‘Yiddish Policemen’

    February 14, 2008 | 5:00 pm

    Senior Writer Brad A. Greenberg recently interviewed Chabon

    In some ways, it's a most natural shidduch.

    There's Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose best-selling 2007 book, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," marked a turning point in the author's growing...

  • Clinton wins N.Y. Jews, faces fight in California, nationally

    February 7, 2008 | 7:00 pm

    JewishJournal.com VideoJew Jay Firestone covers the election from a local perspective
    Hillary Rodham Clinton scored a major victory with Jewish Democrats in New York and New Jersey in Super Tuesday voting, Barack Obama won a majority of Jewish support in Connecticut and...
  • Candidate profile: Mike Huckabee

    January 31, 2008 | 7:00 pm

    Mike Huckabee was a barely known former governor of Arkansas when he attended an October house party on his behalf at the home of Jason Bedrick, New Hampshire's first Orthodox Jewish state representative.

    Which is probably why no major media outlets picked up on the Republican...
  • Ethiopian advocates push for 8,500 more olim

    December 20, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    With Israel's Interior Ministry on the verge of bringing its Ethiopian aliyah operation to a close, a coalition of Ethiopian advocacy groups is pressing the government to add another 8,500 would-be immigrants for the ministry's consideration.

    For now it seems nothing short of a court...

  • Modern Orthodoxy expands public roles for women

    December 13, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    When Dina Najman was hired last year to lead Kehillat Orach Eliezer, a traditional Orthodox-style congregation, it was hailed as a major, if controversial, step forward for the status of women in Orthodoxy.

    Barely a year later Kehillat Orach Eliezer -- an unaffiliated congregation...

  • Agudath Israel emphasizes outreach to non-Orthodox

    December 6, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Is it permissible for an Orthodox family to play host to a Jewish couple if they don't observe laws mandating sexual abstinence in the period surrounding menstruation?

    That was among the questions posed to two leading rabbinic authorities in late November at the 85th national...

  • Chanukah—it’s not just about a miracle anymore

    November 29, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    One of the Jewish calendar's most widespread and public observances, the Chanukah holiday has traditionally emphasized two miracles: the military victory of Jewish rebels over Greek invaders and the one vial of oil that lasted for eight nights.

    However, just as other holidays have...

  • Plenty of theater at the UN, but Iran nuclear issue still unresolved

    September 27, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The high political theater surrounding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York this week triggered plenty of protests, headlines and debates. But it remains unclear if, even after all the exertions this week, the international community has inched any closer to...
  • New Conservative seminary leader outlines goals

    September 8, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Long before he emerged as a leading scholar of American Jewry, and decades before he would be looked to as the potential savior of the Conservative movement, Arnold Eisen was gunning for a journalism internship at the Washington Post.

    As an undergraduate at the University of...

  • Turkey: Israel could suffer from Armenian debate

    August 30, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) reversal last week of its position on the Armenian genocide has set off a flurry of diplomatic activity in Turkey and Israel.

    Officials in Ankara and Jerusalem, in coordination with American Jewish leaders, were working this week to contain the...

  • ADL reverses policy, finally recognizes Armenian genocide

    August 23, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    In a dramatic reversal, the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) national director has issued a statement describing the massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as "tantamount to genocide."

    The ADL and its national director, Abraham Foxman, faced mounting...

  • What’s next after Hamas’ Gaza takeover?

    June 14, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Satellite TV from Arab channel claims to depict Hamas' execution of man in the streets
    The internecine violence between Hamas and Fatah has escalated into what some are calling a civil war. It's a battle not only for control of the Palestinian Authority, but...
  • Orthodox feminists make little progress on agunot

    February 22, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    With strident calls for action and threats of "taking to the streets" if the issue is not soon resolved, participants in the 10th anniversary conference of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) ratcheted up the rhetoric around the plight of agunot, "chained women" whose...
  • Bay Area takes on ‘progressive’ anti-Semitism

    January 25, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Three years ago, Jonathan Bernstein received an e-mail from a distraught political activist in the San Francisco Bay Area concerned about rising anti-Semitism among fellow political progressives.

    "The growing acceptance of anti-Semitic rhetoric is so commonplace it is not even...

  • Conservative rabbis open doors to gays, sort of

    December 5, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (JTA) -- By the time leading Conservative rabbis convened to discuss the movement's approach to homosexuality, talk already had turned to the day after.

    With the endorsement Wednesday of three conflicting teshuvot, or halachic responsa, by the movement's...

  • Reconstructionists try to manage growth

    November 30, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    When Dorshei Tzedek, a small Reconstructionist congregation in West Newton, Mass., began an explosive growth spurt in 1997, some of its members were concerned. The addition of more than 100 families had nearly tripled the congregation's size in just a few years, and some worried...
  • Groups hope new U.N. Secretary General will be fairer toward Israel than Kofi Annan

    October 19, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish officials are greeting the selection of Ban Ki-moon as the next U.N. secretary-general with cautious optimism, hopeful that the South Korean foreign minister will use the office to push for fairer treatment of Israel and more equitable application of international human rights...