United States

On this day: Louis D. Brandeis dies

By Jennifer Lipman, October 5, 2010

With the appointment of Elana Kagan this year there are now three Jewish judges sitting on America’s highest court, and there have been eight in history. But Louis Dembitz Brandeis was the first.

Born in 1856, in Louisville, Kentucky, his parents came to America from Europe. They sent their son for education in Germany He never attended college but managed to gain entrance to Harvard Law School, becoming one of its youngest students to be admitted to the bar.

He became a lawyer in Boston, making a name for himself as the champion of the underdog with fights for minimum wage laws.

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Rahm Emanuel launches Chicago bid

By Jennifer Lipman, October 4, 2010

Rahm Emanuel has launched his campaign to become mayor of Chicago.

The Jewish politician announced on Friday that he was stepping down from his position as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

Mr Emanuel, a former Illinois congressman, also served as a political aide to President Bill Clinton.

In a video statement, Mr Emanuel spoke of his father, who fought for the Irgun in the run-up to Israel’s independence.

He said: “My father came to Chicago as an immigrant from Israel. I was born here – and my wife Amy and I raised our three children here.”

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Rahm Emanuel set to announce White House departure

By Jennifer Lipman, September 29, 2010

Rahm Emanuel is expected to reach a decision within days as to whether he will remain the White House chief of staff.

Mr Emanuel, 50, is widely believed to be planning to swap Washington politics for Chicago where he will mount a bid to become the city’s new mayor.

He has spent his career working for Democrat politicians, serving as a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998.

But there has been speculation for some time now that he will leave President Obama’s administration to run in Illinois, both his home state and where Mr Obama served as senator.

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Ex-Islamist takes war on hate to USA

By Jennifer Lipman, September 28, 2010

Ed Husain, the Muslim co-founder of a British counter-extremism organisation, is to take the "battle of ideas" to America.

Mr Husain, 34, who set up the Quilliam think tank in 2007, will leave the organisation this November to become a senior fellow at the US Council for Foreign Relations (CFR).

He is also planning to take on an academic role at an American university and work on a follow-up book to The Islamist.

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New Israel Fund halts grants to non-Zionists

By Nathan Guttman, September 28, 2010

The New Israel Fund will no longer give grants to any group that "works to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel".

The new guidelines were released late last month following months of deliberations, in an attempt to clarify the group's relationship with grantees that question Israel's definition as a Jewish state.

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On this day: Ethel Rosenberg is born

By Jennifer Lipman, September 28, 2010

From a New York Jewish family, Ethel Greenglass was one of only two people in American history to be executed for spying during peacetime. The other was her husband, Julius.

After a lengthy trial, the Rosenbergs were found guilty of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. It was the height of the Red Scare and Joe McCarthy’s witch-hunt. Americans were consumed with rooting out those people who were not true “patriots”.

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Steve Jobs fights Jewish journalism student

By Jennifer Lipman, September 21, 2010

A Jewish student from New York spent Yom Kippur thinking about Steve Jobs after she received an email from the Apple chief executive telling her to leave him alone.

Chelsea Kate Isaacs described Mr Jobs as rude after he refused to help her with her university coursework. The 22-year-old former model, who studies journalism at Long Island University, had asked him for a comment for an article she was writing about the iPad. The university has launched an initative providing students with iPads.

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Hebrew schools for non-Jewish children

By Paul Berger, September 21, 2010

It's Thursday morning and 25 boys and girls are leaping on the spot in four lines, counting out jumping jacks in Hebrew.

"Echad! Shtayim! Shalosh!"

These are second grade students at the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, in which children - the majority of whom are not Jewish - study a large part of their curriculum in Hebrew.

When it opened last year, the HLA was only the second Hebrew-language charter school in America. Within a few years it could be among up to 30 such schools.

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Israel may swap spy for settlement freeze

By Jennifer Lipman, September 21, 2010

Israel is believed to be considering a peace deal under which construction in the West Bank would remain halted in return for the freeing of a Jewish American jailed by the US for spying in 1987.

A freeze on settlement building is due to expire on September 24 and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that he will leave the recently revived Middle East talks if it is not extended.

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Free speech: the burning issue

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 21, 2010

Prior to the recent anniversary of the Islamist attacks on the World Trade Centre and other American targets, an obscure American pastor threatened to publicly burn copies of the Koran on the lawn of his church in Gainesville, Florida.

The publicity given to this (subsequently withdrawn) threat sparked worldwide condemnation. Other Christian communities in the neighbourhood were joined by leaders of Muslim and Jewish congregations in berating pastor Terry Jones and his self-declared "International Burn a Koran Day."

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