President Praises Community Efforts to Free Gross

December 17 remarks from President Barack Obama on the release of Alan Gross: “I wanted to begin with today’s wonderful news. I’m told that in Jewish tradition one of the great mitzvahs is pidyon shvuyim. My Hebrew’s not perfect. But I get points for trying. But it describes the redemption. The freeing of captives. And… Read More

Statement from Gross on Return Home from Cuba

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Upon returning home from five years of imprisonment in Cuba, Alan Gross had the following to say: “Chag Sameach.  What a blessing to be a citizen of the United States of America.  Thank you President Obama for everything you have done today. I want to acknowledge the extraordinary and determined efforts of my wife of… Read More

What Matters Most
In new Israeli elections, security issues returning to fore

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TEL AVIV — This government was supposed to be different. During the last election campaign in 2012, Israelis seemed to tire of the existential issues that have plagued the country for decades. Barely anyone talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Long-simmering social tensions over the rising cost of living and the economic burdens of the underemployed… Read More

Yesha Council Pushes for Alternative Solutions

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Israelis living in the West Bank have a message to politicians and world Jewry: The two-state solution is no solution. Members of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization that represents the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and, up until the 2005 Israeli disengagement, Gaza, have ramped up outreach in an effort to open up dialogue… Read More

A Safe Haven
In Montreal, Jews from France see a future for themselves

A concern for safety pushed Julie and Nathanael Weill and their sons Eytan and Lior to move from France to Montreal.

TORONTO — When Dan Charbit and his wife, Gaelle Hazan, moved to Montreal from Paris two summers ago, it was meant to be a temporary fix — a yearlong attempt for Charbit to reboot his stalled career as a special-effects artist in Quebec’s thriving film and television industry. They agreed to fly home if the… Read More

Soldier for His People
Back in St. Petersburg, former refusenik encourages Jews to emigrate

Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch stands at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport, where he was arrested in 1970.

ST. PETERSBURG — Through the backseat window of a black KGB car, Yosef Mendelevitch could see university students his age hurrying to take their finals. It was June 15, 1970, and the 23-year-old Mendelevitch had just been arrested along with 11 accomplices for trying to hijack a plane to escape the Soviet Union. On the… Read More

Behind the Scenes
In Eilat, tourism decline drives economic woes

Zili Grossman, a former PR 
professional for Eilat’s hotel scene, now runs an aid organization for the city’s poor.

EILAT, Israel  — Zili Grossman did public relations for “half the hotels” in Eilat, she says. She was the mayor’s press adviser. Her job took her to festivals, bowling alleys, theaters and miniature golf courses — the gamut of tourist attractions in Israel’s best-known resort town. After a career shift, she opened up a fashion… Read More

A Revelation
Museum ready to illuminate millennium-long Jewish history of Poland

Photos courtesy of M. STAROWIEYSKA, D.GOLIK/POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Given that half of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust came from Poland, many descendants of Polish Jews may be surprised to learn about the current hospitable environment for the Jewish population of their ancestors’ country. Poland experiences far less anti-Semitism than the typical European country and is home to a burgeoning… Read More

Horror in Har Nof

Israeli police and rescue workers remove the body of one of the four victims. One witness said, “This is one of the most shocking scenes ... people just bled out.” (Photos Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Robin Kahn and her husband, Simon, have lived in the Jerusalem suburban neighborhood of Har Nof for more than 22 years. This past Tuesday, their morning began like any other with Simon leaving at 7 o’clock for early morning prayer services at his synagogue. Normalcy ended soon thereafter. “He called me, which is strange because… Read More

Har Nof: ‘Scenic’ Home to Families, Learners

Standing above the western approach to Jerusalem, the neighborhood of Har Nof lies far from the Israel capital’s center. In English, Har Nof means “scenic mountain,” a nod to the hills on which the neighborhood sits. Home to a large number of yeshivas and seminaries, it is known for its haredi Orthodox population and was… Read More