Kids’ Soccer Leagues Aim to Bridge Israel’s Religious Divide

Members of the Tzav Pius team for 13-year-olds sing the team anthem following a practice.
(Ben Sales)

PARDES HANNA, Israel — When Yoel decided, at age 8, to begin observing Shabbat, there was one problem: It meant he couldn’t join most of Israel’s youth soccer teams, which played games on Saturday. Yoel, now 12, has always lived in the increasingly large gray area between Israel’s starkly divided religious and secular Jewish societies…. Read More

Brazil’s Jews Scale Back on Kids’ Birthday Extravaganzas

Eduard and Mariana Zagury held a third birthday party for their twins, Gabriel and Daniela, at a fancy “party house” in Rio, but they chose the venue for its innovative educational approach.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Mini roller-coasters, Ferris wheels, monorails and zip lines are just some of the over-the-top attractions featured at birthday parties for Rio’s privileged under-10 set — including the overwhelming majority of Jewish kids. At “casas de festa” (party houses), parents often pay several thousand dollars for lavish themed decorations and amusement-park style… Read More

Beyer Bill Opposes Religious Litmus Tests for Immigrants

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced a bill last week that would ban the use of religious litmus tests as a means of denying admission to immigrants, refugees and international visitors coming to the United States. Beyer said he acted in response to “political rhetoric vilifying select religious groups and increasingly hostile rhetoric toward religious freedom… Read More

Second Round of Chabad Hearings Begins

Rabbi Velvel Belinsky testifies at a Baltimore County Board of Appeals hearing. (Marc Shapiro)

The battle over a Chabad synagogue proposed to be built in a residential neighborhood in Pikesville has entered a second series of hearings at the Baltimore County Board of Appeals. The decision by an administrative law judge, who heard the case over the course of eight hearings between June and November 2015, was appealed, and… Read More

Netanyahu Keeps Calling for Talks with Abbas. Is He Serious?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Israel Defense Forces deputy chief of staff Yair Golan alongside President Reuven Rivlin at an Israeli Independence Day ceremony for outstanding  soldiers on May 12. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 via JTA)

TEL AVIV — For a leader often accused of not wanting to talk peace with the Palestinians,  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sure does a lot of talking about wanting to talk to the Palestinians. In a series of three statements this month, Netanyahu repeatedly stressed the need for peace with the Palestinians. He called… Read More

JHU Bestows Highest Honor on Power Couple

Ellen Heller (Provided)

When members of John Hopkins University’s class of 2016 walked across the stage at Royal Farms Arena on Wednesday to receive their degrees, there were eight others there receiving honorary doctorates for being leaders and innovators in their fields. Among those eight was a husband and wife who have left long-lasting impacts on the criminal… Read More

Envisioning the Future JCC Biennial celebrates history, looks ahead

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More than 500 representatives of Jewish Community Centers from around the world convened in Baltimore this week for the JCCs of North America Biennial. The officials gathered to share their unique successes, discuss their concerns and look at how the continually evolving Jewish community poses challenges and opportunities for JCCs. The event also served as… Read More

White House Names Weissman as Jewish Liaison

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Being a White House liaison to the Jewish community can be a tough, thankless job. But Chanan Weissman, who was appointed to the position last week for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s time in office, is more than prepared, say many of his closest colleagues. Weissman, 32, is the first modern Orthodox Jew to… Read More

How the 2016 Election Is Upending Pro-Israel Orthodoxies

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WASHINGTON — When it comes to Israel, Democrats and Republicans simply do not see eye to eye, and for all their love of Zion, evangelicals will turn out for a candidate who is less than 100 percent on the issue. Welcome to the 2016 presidential election, when the conventional pro-Israel wisdom has been turned upside… Read More

Center Aims to Bring Human Trafficking Out of the Shadows

Opening the SAFE Center in College Park are, from left, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, founder and director Susan Esserman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and UMd.-Baltimore President Jay Perman. (Photo by Daniel Schere)

It was a night ride with law enforcement about two years ago that opened Susan Esserman’s eyes to an invisible crisis in Prince George’s County, one she wants to be much more known: human trafficking. Esserman, a Washington trade lawyer who previously served as the deputy U.S. trade ambassador during President Bill Clinton’s administration, had… Read More