National News

BY Larry Luxner
December 11, 2013

Can a simple handshake in South Africa someday lead to freedom for a Maryland man who’s been rotting in a Cuban jail for the last four years? On Tuesday morning, President Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro while both leaders were attending the funeral of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. The gesture, which the CONTINUE »

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Skepticism on Truman vindicated 50 years after Zionist leader Abba Silver’s death
BY Rafael Medoff
December 5, 2013

At the 50th anniversary of the death of American Zionist leader Abba Hillel Silver, newly-discovered documents appear to confirm his skeptical view of the Truman administration’s position on Jewish statehood. Silver, a dynamic rabbi and Zionist orator from Cleveland, passed away Nov. 30, 1963. During the 1940s, he spearheaded a nationwide campaign of rallies, petitions CONTINUE »

‘Cultural’ alternative to conversion is a bad idea
BY Harold Berman
December 5, 2013

The reputable car dealer’s advertisement in the local paper screams, “Brand New Mercedes — Only $500!” You get excited but think it sounds too good to be true. Upon closer inspection, it is. The car dealer is offering only the hubcaps of the Mercedes for $500. If you want the whole car, it will cost CONTINUE »

Conversion shouldn’t be the only path to joining the Jewish people
BY Steven M. Cohen and Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
December 5, 2013

Right now, there is just one way for someone who is not Jewish to become Jewish in a publicly recognized and officially authorized fashion: undergo religious conversion under the auspices of a rabbi. Whether the path to Jewish identification follows Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist or other auspices, conversion is explicitly and entirely religious in nature. CONTINUE »

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Reform biennial opening to outsiders in bid to revitalize movement
BY Uriel Heilman
December 5, 2013

First there was the Conservative movement’s October biennial conference, billed as “The Conversation of the Century” and opened up to presenters from outside the movement. Then came the November General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, which featured a “Global Jewish Shuk: a marketplace of dialogue and debate” led by young Israelis and CONTINUE »