Don't be alarmed if you visit the Newark headquarters of telecommunications giant IDT, open the coat closet and stumble upon a lanky man in jeans, a wrinkled work shirt and running shoes. That's just Howard Jonas, the company's 48-year-old founder, chairman and controlling shareholder.
Since the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) reported that 52 percent of Jews were marrying non-Jews, the American Jewish community has been split on how to respond. While many on the left have called for greater outreach and acceptance for interfaith families, others have urged the community to more aggressively promote "inmarriage."
Israel supporters in Cambridge, Mass., have hit back hard in response to a small faculty campaign urging Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) to divest from companies doing business in Israel.
Many Jewish early childhood programs are not as effective as they might be at teaching Judaism, because their educators lack strong backgrounds in Jewish education and the programs' goals for religious education are often vague.
The North American Jewish federation system has designated five priority areas for allocating funds from its Israel emergency campaign.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, David Novak reassessed his life and decided to become a rabbi.
In a campaign reminiscent of one undertaken during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel's survival was at stake, the North American federation system is hoping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Israel in the coming months.
Robert Schrayer, chair of the United Jewish Appeal Federation Campaign of the United Jewish Communities (UJC), said the situation in Israel now "may be even more drastic than things were in 1973."
"It's different because it's a different kind of conflict, but just as serious, if not more so," he said.
Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, a Conservative school, is raising its tuition by $1,000 for next year -- more than twice the usual rate of increase -- to make up for shortfalls in its endowment revenues.
Enron Fallout in Houston.
A new study reporting decreased identification with Judaism and rising intermarriage rates is generating concern, but not shock, in the Jewish community.
Instead, many leaders see the new findings, released last week, as a continuation of trends reported in the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey. Rather than viewing the study as a call to radically change course, most see it as a signal to step up existing efforts to strengthen Jewish continuity.
U.S. Orthodox Jewish leaders are outraged by an Israeli Reform leader's comments drawing comparisons between fervently Orthodox Jews and the Islamic fundamentalists who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The AJWS -- which supports anti-poverty and community support projects in developing nations -- is believed to be the only Jewish organization that funds projects in Afghanistan, a country controlled by the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban regime since 1996.
At the start of the Jewish year last Rosh Hashana, American Jews seemed on the cusp of fulfilling all their dreams. This year the major terrorist attack on American soil will no doubt have overshadowed every other event of the year.
The Borough Park section of Brooklyn is one of America's most visibly Jewish neighborhoods.
On several residential blocks of one- and two-family brick homes, almost every front door has a mezuzah. Modestly dressed women push strollers, while girls in dresses and boys in tzitzit and kippot play on the sidewalks. Sixteenth Avenue, one of the main drags, is lined with religious study centers and yeshivot, small synagogues and Judaica stores.
And in the middle of it all is an agency that runs a treatment program for Orthodox Jewish pedophiles.
A women's tefillin set with a beaded velvet box and blue satin straps.
A silver "Kiddush" cup in which ceremonial wine passes through a delicately crafted silver net formed from the Hebrew word for "blessed."
A sukkah with brightly painted walls made of the long, plastic
strips found in industrial-sized refrigerators -- and furnished with stools and a mirrored table symbolizing the self-reflection expected during the High Holy Days.
Jennifer Kessler always knew she would spend a year between high school and college studying at a girls' yeshiva in Israel.
Results of the two new studies are mixed enough that translating them into policy recommendations will not be easy.
Regardless of whether the mother is Jewish, most interfaith families -- even those raising their children as Jews -- incorporate substantial Christian celebrations into their lives, often including more Christian aspects as the couple and their children age.
According to a new study, however, most American Jews not only don't know it's Hebrew but aren't even familiar with the term tikkun olam.
Michele Frankel of Fort Lee, N.J., wants her fifth-grade son, Roger, to get a Jewish education, but she also wants him to be able to go to baseball practice and complete his regular-school homework.
A physician might be queen of the operating room, or a lawyer king of the courtroom, but put them up on a bimah, and without some serious background, they'll feel fumbling, foreign and clueless.
Exactly two weeks before a controversial last-minute presidential pardon made him a household name in the United States, Marc Rich was sitting in the VIP section at a mega-event for Birthright Israel in Jerusalem.
With abundant commercials, carols and "holiday specials" crowding the airwaves and bright red and green decorations adorning most neighborhoods, American Jews can scarcely ignore Christmas.
For those who look up to the American Jewish clergy, it has not been a good year. Last week, one of the Reform movement's most prominent rabbis was suspended from the movement's rabbinical association for past sexual misconduct.
In a speech that was the centerpiece of the North American Jewish federation system's gathering in Chicago this week, Israel's prime minister recalled being a small child when he heard of the United Nations' 1947 vote to partition Palestine.
Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the longtime leader of the Reform movement best known for his support of outreach to intermarried couples and recognition of patrilineal descent, has died at the age of 75.He died early Wednesday morning from heart failure at his home in Westport, Conn. As president of Reform Judaism's Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) from 1973 to 1996, Schindler - who viewed Judaism as a dynamic faith - championed a number of dramatic changes.
The umbrella organization for North American Jewish federations is now the seventh largest charitable organization in the United States, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
When word got out last week that Janet Engelhart had been named executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island - making her the only woman professional at the helm of one of the 40 largest federations - she received a flood of phone calls.
Most were colleagues and friends offering congratulations. But more than five - and the ones that Engelhart found most touching - were from young women professionals at Jewish organizations asking her to be their mentor.
Shirley Kotler of Los Angeles said her commitment to day schools stems from her interest in "perpetuating Judaism."
Derided as too touchy-feely for some tastes, programs like "spiritual journey" are promoted by their advocates as a way to keep Jews interested and active in their synagogues.
Four years ago the Reform temple did something that is standard marketing in the for-profit world, but unusual for a Jewish organization: It offered one-year trial memberships.
When it's not summer, the congregation has twice as many people every Shabbat, forcing it to rent space at a nearby church and offer two separate Friday night services.
With Hadassah Lieberman's rise to fame as wife of vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, the name Hadassah had become a household word even in non-Jewish homes.
Minutes after the official announcement that her husband would be the first Jewish vice presidential candidate on a major ticket, Hadassah Lieberman stepped on the national stage.
Boteach, a 33-year-old Lubavitch showman whose provocative books and flair for marketing have drawn international attention to Jewish teachings on sexual ethics, is no newcomer to such staged debates.
Elliot Maltz had a Bar Mitzvah two years ago, but he says his Hebrew school experience was "really boring" and "discouraged me from future practice."
If you get a phone call in the next few months from a stranger with lots of questions, don't assume it's a telemarketer.
Yeshiva University is enmeshed in its own battle over gay and lesbian couples less than a month after the Reform movement affirmed the right of its rabbis to officiate at same-gender commitment ceremonies.
Spawned from the merger of the United Jewish Appeal and the Council of Jewish Federations, the UJC says it is attempting to transform a system that had traditionally been top-down and somewhat mysterious in its decision-making to one that is more open.
It's bad for Jewish unity, but not as bad as the decision to recognize the children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers as Jews.
That's how Orthodox and Conservative rabbis are viewing the Reform movement's recent decision last week to affirm the right of its rabbis to officiate at gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies.
An advertisement that appeared in 80 American Jewish newspapers last week, including this one, looked fairly innocuous.
The title of a film, "The Rabbi," appears in Hebrew-style lettering, above a close-up shot of a bearded, yarmulka-wearing man praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
"The unforgettable story of an Israeli rabbi and his struggles in modern society," the ad says. "The drama of this family relationship will move and inspire you."
What it does not mention is that "The Rabbi," a one-hour made-for-television film broadcast on stations throughout the country last weekend, is about a "messianic Jew" who gradually convinces his Orthodox family that he did not abandon Judaism when he took "Yeshua" into his heart -- the name "messianic Jews" use for Jesus.
Also omitted from the advertisement is the fact that "The Rabbi" was produced by Morris Cerullo, a San Diego-based Christian missionary who describes himself as a "servant of God."
When a 30-something British financial investment manager took a few years off to study Jewish texts in Israel, he was struck by the differences between the financial and Jewish communal worlds.
In a sign that the new Jewish buzzwords of "renaissance and renewal" are intrinsically linked to education, a top Jewish education professional has been tapped to oversee a national push to infuse Jewish life with more meaning.
The Anti-Defamation League is setting itself apart from Israel and most other American Jewish organizations in its refusal to boycott Austria.
The release on bail this week of three Iranian Jewish prisoners has raised hopes for their future, but not alleviated concerns that they and the other 10 accused of espionage will not receive a fair trial.
President Clinton is expected to appoint Rabbi Irving Greenberg to head the voluntary council overseeing operations at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, according to White House sources.
The field's low prestige and low salaries -- in the New York area teachers average $20,000 with no benefits -- as well as a surge of other career options now available for women, make recruitment of new teachers extremely challenging.
A film on the 1972 Olympic Games massacre of Israeli athletes has received an Oscar nomination for best documentary, while a Welsh film about the romance between a Jewish boy and a Welsh girl is in the running for best foreign film.
Reform and Conservative leaders -- who have been lobbying for years to have their rabbis, institutions and practices recognized in the Jewish state -- do not expect the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak to usher in an era of change.
The two-page statement, which seeks to spell out just exactly what Reform Judaism is about, was discussed for close to two years, underwent six drafts, garnered more than 30 amendments and sparked heated debate among Reform rabbis and their congregants.