First Person

I spoke to the creators of Belgium’s anti-Semitic carnival float. They’re not sorry.


(JTA) — I initially had some sympathy for the creators of an anti-Semitic carnival float in Belgium. Studying their CVs and past creations for the annual carnival of Aalst, I saw that they were a group of some 20 upstanding citizens — a fireman, a technician, an...
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When an old synagogue downsizes, what do you do with all its stuff?

ERIE, PA. (JTA) — There was some debate about putting the old synagogue building up for sale and moving to a new, smaller building, but not much. When a major pipe burst at Temple Anshe Hesed in 2012, the cost of repairing the nearly century-old building convinced the small but...
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First Person: What a liberal rabbi learned at the Trump Chanukah party


DES MOINES, Iowa (JTA) — A Jewish woman walks into the post office to buy Chanukah stamps for her holiday cards.

The person behind the counter asks, “What denominations?”

The Jewish woman responds, “Oy! Are we so polarized? Some Orthodox, some Conservative and some Reform.”

Yes, we...
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I was just accused of being an Israeli spy in the Dutch parliament


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — This week, only six months after I became a Dutch citizen, my wife congratulated me for being mentioned in parliament for my reporting on the Netherlands’ relations with Israel.

Flattered, I looked it up, expecting to find praise for my work. I was already...
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FIRST PERSON: Why I traveled to Las Vegas to help after the deadly shooting


LAS VEGAS (JTA) — We just got into our car and drove. Going to Las Vegas after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history felt like the right thing to do. As Americans and as Jews, we wanted to be a source of support and love in the...
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First Person: Hurricane Harvey the peak of devastating 3-year period of floods


( — As a member of Houston’s Jewish community writing about a devastating flood for the third time since May 2015, I’m at a loss for words. Sitting in the comforts of my third-floor apartment, where I’m fortunate enough to view the unprecedented waters of Hurricane Harvey...
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First Person: I am a rabbi, and my place was in Charlottesville

By Lizz Goldstein

(JTA) — I was in Charlottesville on Saturday. I felt called to go because white supremacy is a hateful ideology that has murdered millions throughout history and continues to kill.

I went because my family and ancestors suffered at the hands of anti-Semites throughout history, because I...
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First Person: The day the Nazi called me Shlomo


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (JTA) — The white supremacists, for all their vaunted purpose, appeared to be disoriented.

Some 500 had gathered at a park here Saturday to protest this southern Virginia city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the park. Pressured by the American...
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At Jerusalem Jewish media summit, focus is on Israeli-Diaspora divide


JERUSALEM (JTA) — I was in Israel for 36 hours before I saw daylight. Which can only mean one of three things:

1. The weather was lousy. 2. I am speaking metaphorically. 3. I am at a conference in the sub-basement of a Jerusalem hotel.

Here’s a...
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Leonard Cohen, my father and me


(JTA) — Using his M-16 assault rifle as a pillow, my father awoke abruptly from a dreamless sleep by the pleading voice of a young woman outside his tent in the Sinai.

The woman, a uniformed volunteer, was urging reservists like him to forego shuteye to hear...
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