Tuesday, September 22nd 2020   |

First Person

First Person: Hurricane Harvey the peak of devastating 3-year period of floods

By JACOB KAMARAS

(JNS.org) — 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 as a spectator, it feels trite to be putting on my “journalist’s hat” while countless others are either suffering or...

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 bear their scars on my DNA, because the Jewish day school where I teach received a bomb threat this spring,...

First Person: The day the Nazi called me Shlomo

By RON KAMPEAS

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 Civil Liberties Union, Charlottesville had allowed the march at Emancipation Park — or Lee Park, the protesters’ preferred name.

That...

At Jerusalem Jewish media summit, focus is on Israeli-Diaspora divide

By ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL

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 hint: The weather is fine, and while apparently there’s plenty of sunshine, there’s not much clarity when it comes to...

Leonard Cohen, my father and me

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ

(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 a musician whose name she did not know, but who had come from far away to perform for Israeli troops...

Fear and loathing, but mostly loathing, on the campaign trail

By BEN SALES

(JTA) — Some of us are voting for Trump. Most of us are voting for Clinton. But we Jews are all afraid.

There are the scandals, yes. There are emails and sexual assault allegations and emails and fraud and racism and anti-Semitism and emails. There are issues like refugees and settlements and Iran and not destroying the country.

But mostly there is fear. It’s the...

When Shimon Peres needed a speechwriter — and I needed a nap

By BEN HARRIS

(JTA) — It was 9 o’clock on a weekday evening and I was lounging around my Brooklyn apartment in pajamas when the call came summoning me to a Midtown Manhattan hotel. Shimon Peres needed a speechwriter; I was a speechwriter at the time for Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

It was the fall of 2001, and Peres was in town for the annual traffic...

How my JTA reporting about an anti-Semitic cartoon changed my views of Belgium — for the worse

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — I used to think I had a pretty good understanding of what it means to be Jewish in Belgium.

A longtime observer of that polarized binational country, whose dysfunctions and successes often reflect those of the European Union headquartered in its capital, Brussels, I have family ties there and am fluent in the local languages.

But I had to readjust my understanding of Belgian Jewry’s...

Another year, another flood for Houston’s Jews. What now?

By JACOB KAMARAS

(JNS.org) — For the second straight year, this is a story that I wish I didn’t need to write. But for the second straight year, I’m left with no choice but to help my local Jewish community heal through the best way that I know how to do so—writing.

minent community leader, being rescued on a canoe. The image could subsequently be seen on Jewish news websites...

Why I hired a Belgian butcher to circumcise my son

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — They warn you that parenting means doing a bunch of stuff you never imagined yourself doing.

I had always assumed this applied to saying to children things like, “You watch your tone of voice, young lady” or, “Let’s not eat things we find in our underwear.”

But in my case, the moment came before my son was even born, when I found myself begging...