Death penalty protest

Cantor Leads Jewish Movement to Abolish Death Penalty

As Texas inmate John Hummel was executed on Wednesday evening for killing his pregnant wife, 5-year-old daughter, and father-in-law in 2009, Cantor Michael Zoosman was reciting Kol Nidre to a crowd of protestors at the U.S. Supreme Court.  Zoosman, a former prison chaplain and founder of L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty, says he recited the sacred Yom Kippur prayer to “atone for the national sin of the death penalty.” His prayer was part of the 28th annual “Starvin’ for Justice,” a four-day liquid-only fast and vigil starting June 29, co-sponsored by several abolitionist organizations. “The death penalty says infinitely more about our society that allows it than the human beings condemned by it,” he says.  Staked out on lawn chairs in 95-degree heat, the group of about 30 sang, gave speeches and took turns ringing a...

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Collage of images: Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court building, Trump with a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews

Trump’s Parting Gifts

Despite a failed reelection campaign, Donald Trump and his team registered several notable gains this election season. Trump slightly increased the share of Black and Hispanic Americans voting for him, alongside an impressive turnout from a small but well-organized subgroup: Orthodox Jews. According to polls and estimates, more than 80 percent of Orthodox Jews cast their vote for Trump, making them one of his most approving constituencies in the nation.

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American Jews Largely Support a Liberal Replacement for RBG

Just as the remarkable life she lived, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, sparked a mix of awe, appreciation and political controversy. And the coming days will provide much of the same: a celebration of the life of a trailblazing legal giant who served for many as the nation’s moral compass, and at the same time, a fierce partisan battle over the appropriate timing of choosing Bader Ginsburg’s successor.

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The AJC, the Supreme Court and Jennifer Rubin

by Theodore Samets Jennifer Rubin is angry. Really, really angry. What’s got Rubin, one of the loudest right-wing voices on Israel in the United States, with her perch at The Washington Post’s blog “Right Turn,” so upset? The American Jewish Committee’s refusal to join eleven other Jewish organizations in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of M.B.Z. v. Clinton. M.B.Z. v. Clinton is the case that the Supreme Court will hear this fall brought by Naomi and Ari Zivotofsky, American citizens who wants their young son’s U.S. passport to list his place of birth as “Jerusalem, Israel,” instead of simply “Jerusalem.” This doesn’t merely refer to East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel but considered by the U.S. government to be “occupied territory.” This is West Jerusalem, Israeli territory since the 1948 War of Independence. Per Rubin: Not...

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Sonia Sotomayor and the Menorah

By Jeremy Gillick Among the many decisions made by New York Court of Appeals judge and newly nominated Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor is a 1993 ruling to allow a Chabad rabbi from White Plains, New York to display a large menorah in a public park. The city had rejected several similar requests by Flamer in previous years, but that didn't prevent the rabbi from celebrating. From Sotomayor's ruling: Shortly around sundown on December 1, 1991, the first day of Chanukah, Rabbi Flamer and approximately thirty other individuals gathered in Tibbits to celebrate the beginning of Chanukah. Rabbi Flamer brought a two and one-half foot menorah, which was not lit. The gathering lasted approximately twenty minutes, during which time the assembled group performed several traditional dances. Ironically, the city's ban seemed to stem largely from Jewish opposition....

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