An Israeli coalition, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, Israeli Holocaust survivor organizations and the Knesset's pensioner affairs minister, is calling on the Claims Conference to give Israel a larger share of Holocaust restitution funds and more control over distribution decisions.
Despite renewed international pressure on Israel and Syria to restart peace talks, people are not very excited by the prospects.
Israel's Finance Ministry is proposing substantial cuts to Ethiopian immigration next year.
As the people of northern Israel finally return to their homes, they're going back to more than empty streets, freshly dug gravesites and a beefed-up military presence. They're also coming home to a radically altered physical landscape.
With the fighting along Israel's northern border showing no sign of letting up, Israel's most popular summer tourist region has been turned into a battle zone. Instead of the sounds of kids splashing in swimming pools and canyons, there is a constant booming of artillery shelling and tank fire. Instead of birds quietly hovering in the skies over the Hula Nature Reserve, attack helicopters and fighter jets streak across the sky headed north, into Lebanon.
Years of Kassam rocket fire at Sderot have shattered the sense of normalcy in this desert town. The fire has become so intense in recent weeks -- often three or four rockets a day -- that daily life here has come to a virtual standstill.
A variety of officials from nonprofits operating in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip discussed the challenges of operating in Hamas-run territory at a conference last week on nonprofits, human rights and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Ehud Olmert, Kadima Party head and prime minister-elect, has proposed an Israeli withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank -- facilitating, he says, the creation of a Palestinian state. He also called on Palestinians to compromise on their dreams in order to live next to Israel in peace.
Along with thousands of other Ethiopians fleeing their country, which at the time was ruled by communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Jews settled in refugee camps in Sudan and waited for Mossad operatives to take them out.
Indalo -- Ethiopians are known by their first names -- is one of the lucky ones among thousands of Ethiopians seeking to immigrate to Israel from one of Africa's poorest countries.
"In the beginning, I didn't want to go to Jerusalem because I was scared of the journey," confessed Shirva Goyto'om, one of the lone Jews remaining in the province. Shirva lives in a small town about 30 miles west of the city of Shire, which itself has but one paved road.
They've come here and to slums in the city of Gondar from their rural villages, abandoning their farms and occupations as blacksmiths, potters and weavers to live near the aid compounds and, more importantly, to be close to the Israeli officials in whose hands their fate rests.
Perhaps no single party outside the Israeli government is as vital to Ethiopian aliyah as the American Jews committed to help paying for it. So this month, when the United Jewish Communities (UJC) brought a group of 100 people from America's wealthiest Jewish communities, including Los Angeles, to the straw-and-mud huts of one of the poorest countries on earth, it was a signal to the Israeli government that American Jewry is serious about its own role in bringing Ethiopians to Israel.
Jewish educators hope one of the largest gifts ever for Jewish education in America will prompt other philanthropists to follow suit.
Paul Kurzberg, an Israeli from Pardess Hanna, was in the office of his New Jersey moving company on Sept. 11, 2001, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
Like many Israeli movers in the New York area, Kurzberg, who was in his late 20s, was not legally authorized to work in the United States. But on Sept. 11, that thought was distant from his mind as he and his friends piled into a company van after the second plane hit the World Trade Center to find a better vantage point to photograph the historic terrorist attack.
It proved to be a critical mistake.
It seems there was nothing American Jewish communal officials wanted more than for 5764 to be a year of Jewish passion.
Increased pressure from officials of American Jewish organizations is driving preliminary talks on a new deal to bring thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel before famine takes a heavy toll on the community remaining in Ethiopia.
Coming on the eve of a federation-sponsored trip to Ethiopia, federation leaders, advocates for Ethiopian Jews, representatives of Jewish humanitarian groups and Israeli government officials met recently in Jerusalem to discuss new ways of expediting the emigration process for thousands of Falash Mura left in Ethiopia. The Falash Mura are Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity, often under social pressure, but who have resumed practicing Judaism and whose Jewishness is accepted by all three major Jewish religious denominations, including Israel's chief rabbinate.
One recent Friday night in a Paris suburb, Gerard Benichou was walking home from synagogue services when an Arab assailant, yelling "dirty Jew," jumped him from behind and began pounding his face.
Thousands of screaming girls. Packed nightclubs. Love-crazy fans. Ron Gartner has seen it all.
That is, on television, of course.
In real life, Gartner is an up-and-coming singer who, while not exactly drawing the sorts of crowds that come to Eminem shows, is packing the social halls of senior centers across the nation singing the tunes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other big-band and Motown standards. His fans may be closer in age to Bob Hope than Britney Spears, but Gartner is quickly becoming the newest big thing in the senior-home entertainment circuit.
Originally a denizen of what he calls the shmatte business -- the garment industry -- Gartner, 58, is building a second career by singing big-band favorites in nursing homes, senior centers and gated retirement communities all over the country. Now, on the eve of the release of his first CD, "Someone Like You," Gartner is bringing his show to Southern California for two performances, on April 10 at Leisure World, a gated community in Laguna Woods, and on April 13 at the Indian Ridge Country Club in Palm Desert, where Gartner is playing the Desert Cancer Fund Dinner Dance.
When the U.S. House and Senate voted last week to pass resolutions authorizing the use of military force against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the domestic political debate surrounding the war issue was brought to rest, at least for the time being. But for many people across the nation and around the world, Congress' political decision merely fueled the heated ethical debate surrounding the legitimacy of waging such a war.
It takes a visit to Argentina to understand just how bad this crisis really is.
Five months ago, Beatrice Ballageure was struggling to make ends meet as a single, 47-year-old Jewish woman living in the capital city of an economically depressed Argentina. She had lost her job several months earlier, but she owned her own apartment and had enough money in the bank to afford basic expenses. She had friends with jobs, and she knew she could rely on her family if real trouble ever came. Then the bottom fell out of Argentina's economy.