Thursday, September 16th 2021   |

First Person

First Person: What a liberal rabbi learned at the Trump Chanukah party

By DAVID KAUFMAN

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 are so polarized, both religiously and politically. Most reports about the White House Chanukah party noted that leaders of the Reform movement...

I was just accused of being an Israeli spy in the Dutch parliament

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ

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 kind of drafting, as journalists instinctively do, some grateful Facebook post on my integration success story.

There was just one...

FIRST PERSON: Why I traveled to Las Vegas to help after the deadly shooting

By ALISSA THOMAS-NEWBORN

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 face of terror. We wanted to stand with the victims and their families. With Yom Kippur only two days behind...

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...