United States

Schools struggle to stay open in US

By Paul Berger, September 3, 2009

Ray Levi, head of the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, has had to increase aid for struggling parents, freeze teachers’ pay, reduce benefits and cut support staff.

So it is perhaps a sign of how fragility has become a fact of life for American Jewish day schools that Mr Levi is upbeat. “Despite all the problems we face, I think there is a lot of promise for day schools in America,” he says.

Enrolment remains high and his primary school has strong communal support. But others are not so fortunate.


Oy! You’re killing me. Laugh? I hardly started

August 27, 2009

Have you heard the one about the Jewish woman suing her daughter-in-law for telling too many mother-in-law jokes?

Comic Sunda Croonquist, who is a regular on the Hollywood comedy circuit, is being taken to court by her husband’s mother, Ruth Zafrin, for allegedly spreading false, defamatory and racist lies about her. Mrs Zafrin seeks damages and requests that Ms Croonquist remove any offensive statements from her website and routines.


Hebrew school opens - but it is not Jewish

By Paul Berger, August 20, 2009

After a bumpy start and a last-minute scramble to find a home, New York’s first state-funded primary school to specialise in the teaching of Hebrew will open its doors on Monday.

The Hebrew Language Academy is open to Jews and non-Jews alike. Because it is publicly funded and America has a strict separation between church and state, the school had to be vetted by New York State’s board of education to ensure there would be no religious instruction.


American Jews ‘losing their faith’

By Simon Rocker, August 13, 2009

The number of American Jews who regard themselves as culturally rather than religiously Jewish has almost doubled in a decade, according to new research.

American Jews who identify by ethnicity have increased from 20 per cent to 37 per cent of the American Jewish population since 1990, while the proportion of those who follow any of the streams of Judaism has dropped by more than a fifth in the same period.


Envoy could be sacked after Israeli policy attack

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 13, 2009

An Israeli diplomat could be forced to resign following the publication of a letter he wrote criticising the government’s foreign policy.

The consul in Boston, Nadav Tamir, wrote in his letter that the government’s current attitude towards the American administration was causing Israel “strategic damage” and harming the “special relationship” between the countries.


NY crash pilot was Jewish businessman

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2009

The pilot killed in this weekend's New York plane and helicopter collision was a wealthy Jewish philanthropist who used the plane in which he died in to transport sick people to hospital for charity.

Steven Altman, 60, a property tycoon from Ambler, near Philadelphia, was flying the plane in clear weather, with his brother Daniel and his 15-year-old nephew Douglas when he hit a helicopter and crashed into the Hudson River, Manhattan.


Rabbis fight cremations in US

By Sue Fishkoff, California, June 18, 2009

As increasing numbers of Americans choose cremation, a national organisation of liberal burial societies is trying to promote burial among the non-Orthodox.

“We’re going on the positive offensive rather than the negative ‘don’t get cremated’ route,” said Rabbi Stuart Kelman, president of Kavod v’Nichum, a North American consortium of burial societies.


Bibi bows to US as settlers removed

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2009

London became the venue this week for discussions between the Israeli and American leaderships over a new co-ordinated policy towards Iran and the Palestinians.

A team headed by Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor has been meeting a White House team to discuss President Barack Obama’s plans to talk to Iran about its nuclear programme.

The Israelis hope to receive a definite time limit to American talks.


Shul ‘terror plot gang’ in court

May 21, 2009

Four suspected terrorists have been arrested by police who claim they caught them planting bombs near two Synagogues in the Bronx area of New York.

State prosecutors say James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, planned to detonate a car filled with plastic explosives outside the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Centre.

In April the group are said to have agreed on the synagogue they intended to attack and conducted surveillance.


Cash crisis crippling US schools

By Gary Rosenblatt, May 21, 2009

Jewish day schools, found to be the most effective means of maintaining affiliation among young people in an increasingly assimilated American community, are in serious economic crisis.

Two burning questions are emerging: Can they survive? And who cares?

There are about 200,000 youngsters attending some 700 day schools and yeshivot in the US, about 80 per cent of which offer an Orthodox curriculum.

Ten per cent are Conservative schools, eight per cent are “community”, or non-denominational, and the rest are Reform.