Jewish fans of “Breaking Bad,” fear not: There’s finally a Jewish angle to the show.
The New York Jewish communal world reacted with shock this week to news that William Rapfogel, longtime head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and a major player in New York’s Jewish community, had been fired for alleged financial improprieties.
The Rabbinical Council of California (RCC), a local nonprofit consortium of Orthodox rabbis, has brought in two national kosher organizations to review the restaurants in Los Angeles under its supervision.
Chabad distributed some $15,000 in disaster-relief funds provided by the Orthodox Union to Oklahomans affected by the recent devastating tornado.
The U.S. Department of Education outlined new efforts to bring non-profit schools into federally funded programs, an initiative that had been sought by Orthodox Jewish groups, among others.
The U.S. House of Representatives easily passed legislation that makes clearer the eligibility of religious institutions for disaster relief.
The Obama administration simplified its definition of religious groups that would be exempt from allowing staffers contraceptive coverage.
President Obama's new gun control proposals drew broad Jewish communal support.
Top figures from the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements joined an interfaith call for greater gun controls in the wake of last week's school massacre in Connecticut.
Jews are being urged to pray during Yom Kippur services for an end to the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Jewish organizations are reaching out to help the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack by a suicide bomber in Bulgaria, which killed five Israeli tourists and a bus driver and wounded more than 30 others. To help, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Orthodox Union all are soliciting funds to aid the wounded and the families of those killed.
The Orthodox Union formally commented on pending Obama administration regulations mandating employer-sponsored health plans for contraceptives and sterilization.
On May 29, Los Angeles Yachad, a program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities, dimmed the lights and rolled out the red carpet for its second annual “Yachad Oscars” ceremony.
Members of the Orthodox Union met with a dozen senators on Capitol Hill during the OU's annual leadership mission to Washington. Among the lawmakers the nearly 100 participants heard from at a Capitol Hill luncheon Wednesday were Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced a resolution June 9 to reaffirm U.S. policy toward Israel.
The Reform movement said it was "alarmed" by the passage of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives reviving a program that funds scholarships at religious schools, while the Orthodox Union supported it. The Republican-majority House passed the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program on Wednesday by a vote of 225 to 195. The $100 million program, ostensibly enabling parents in Washington, D.C., to steer their children to schools of choice, effectively favors religious schools because its scholarships, typically around $12,000, are too low for secular private schools.
The Orthodox Union told Florida's House of Representatives that it backs a repeal of a law that bans public funds for faith-based schools, activities and charities. The law's current language bans public funds "in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."
Why is this Passover different than all other Passovers? On most Passovers, it is the liberal Jewish denominations that seek to reinterpret the holiday traditions, often viewing them through the prism of contemporary struggles for civil rights and environmental preservation.
The hiring of Bernard Feldman of Long Island as the kosher meat producer's new chief executive keeps the company in the good graces of the Orthodox Union, which said last week it would withdraw its kosher supervision if new management wasn't hired within two weeks.
UCLA historian Saul Friedlander, a child Holocaust survivor, has been awarded a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his definitive account of "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945."
The $10,000 award in the general nonfiction book category honors the 75-year-old scholar and Israeli citizen for his remarkable ability to evoke the entire Nazi era through a combination of meticulous research and a novelist's eye for personal, human detail.
With the kosher certification of more than 300 food factories in China, each producing multiple products, America's largest kosher-certification company, the Orthodox Union (OU), has more than doubled the number of certifications it does in China just in the past two years.
Community News Briefs
"American Attitudes Toward Religion in the Public Square," a national poll of 800 American adults conducted by the ADL in October, found that 64 percent believe religion is "under attack," and 53 percent of Americans believe that religion as a whole is "losing its influence" in American life.
Non-Jewish spouses should be encouraged to convert to Judaism, and their children should be raised in only one religion, the leader of the Reform movement announced at the movement's biennial convention in Houston last month.
The Orthodox Union will be holding its annual West Coast Torah Convention for three days starting Dec 22.
Shin Bet Links Up
Israel's Shin Bet security service went online Tuesday at www.shabak.gov.il. The Hebrew-only site contains information on the domestic intelligence agency as well as application forms for would-be agents interested in countering Palestinian terrorism or foreign spies, or in joining one of Israel's diplomatic bodyguard units. The Shin Bet's overseas counterpart, the Mossad, put up its own Web site last year.
Prayers for Pesach
The Orthodox Union is again operating a program for Passover to help Israeli soldiers. The group is selling prayer cards for $1 apiece that can be placed at Passover seder tables. Proceeds from the cards will be given to help soldiers and their families. More information is available at www.ou.org/israel.
It's not every day that people affiliated with a strident animal rights group talk turkey with those who oversee kosher slaughter.
But that's exactly what happened this week, when an unpaid adviser to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) discussed allegations of improper slaughtering practices at an Iowa kosher meat plant with the head of the Orthodox Union's kashrut division.
Some might have found the joke funny, but the Orthodox Union (OU) isn't laughing. In May, Castaic resident Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik started YidGear.com , an online T-shirt shop that features humorous Jewish slogans -- some mellow, some crude. One of the more sexually provocative designs featured the well-known OU kosher symbol with the phrase "Eat me -- I'm kosher," available on T-shirts, boxers and thongs.
Kalinsky, the director of the West Coast region of the Orthodox Union (OU), was speaking at a Ralphs on the corner of Pico Boulevard and Beverwil Drive, which, like many supermarkets in California, has a large range of kosher-for-Passover products, with enough in storage so that it does not disappear off the shelves with the first wave of Passover shoppers. It is Monday night, and about 50 people have gathered for the OU kosher-for-Passover supermarket tour, led by Kalinsky. The tour is essentially a guide for shopping for Passover: what products are OK to use without kosher-for-Passover supervision, which products need supervision and why and what are some of the ways that people can save money while doing their kosher-for-Passover shopping. The OU has done eight of these tours all over Los Angeles, in supermarkets from Canoga Park to Westwood, and they attract both the sheitl (wig)-wearing very religious types who have been observing Passover all their lives -- but want a refresher course in the products available -- to Passover novices who need basic knowledge about what makes something kosher for Passover.
City officials and the LAPD are working with Jewish community leaders to determine why two 911 calls went unanswered when a pellet gunshot shattered the front window of a building where a Jewish youth group was meeting the night of March 27.
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, director of the West Coast region of the Orthodox Union (OU), at whose headquarters the incident occurred, said police have since been very solicitous and cooperative in trying to figure out how the system broke down.
"They will do whatever they can to make certain that we not only feel safer, but are safer," Kalinsky said.
No one was injured in the attack.
Urging religious dialogue as a means to achieve peace, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, the chief rabbi of Israel, addressed a crowd of 500 at the West Coast convention of the Orthodox Union Dec. 20.
The day before a report came out confirming allegations that the Orthodox Union (OU) for years ignored signs that a top rabbi at the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) was abusing teens in his charge, Ayelet Fischer and 300 other teens were at the Marriott in Woodland Hills attending NCSY's West Coast regional conclave. And nobody was talking about Rabbi Baruch Lanner.
A lot of people have a lot of questions about the scandal involving the Orthodox Union and Rabbi Baruch Lanner.
While the adults are talking up the "sense of permanence" and "central address," Miriam Segura has a simpler way of expressing the significance of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth's (NCSY) new building - hanging out.