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Yeshiva University, a pillar of Orthodox Judaism, launches master’s program for Christian students

(JTA) — Emily Talento grew up with Jewish friends and relatives on Long Island, attending Passover seders, bar and bat mitzvahs and Shabbat dinners. When she arrived at Cedarville University, a private Baptist university in Ohio, she found herself explaining Jewish traditions to her many classmates who had never met a Jew before.

Now, Talento is continuing her Bible studies at a religious university. But it’s safe to say that she won’t encounter the same lack of knowledge about Jews this time. That’s because she’s one of eight Christian students embarking on a course of study at Yeshiva University that’s designed just for them.

In the two-year Hebraic Studies Program for Christian Students at the Modern Orthodox flagship, Talento and her cohort will take courses on Jewish history, biblical Hebrew, post-biblical literature and more.

“I’m excited that everything is coming from the Jewish perspective,” Talento said.

The new program is a joint initiative of Y.U. and the Philos Project, an organization that says it “seeks to promote positive Christian engagement in the Near East.” Philos is a partner of Passages — a Birthright-style program that brings young Christians on group tours of Israel — and it also organizes Christians to demonstrate against antisemitism.

The launch of the Christian students’ program is a sign of a growing bond between Orthodox Jews and religious Christians, who have increasingly found common cause on everything from conservative domestic politics to support for Israel. It is also an experiment in whether a school founded more than a century ago to accommodate the observances and sensibilities of Orthodox students in a majority-Christian country can now create an intentional space for Christians to study Judaism as well.

“Within the broader Protestant world, but particularly evangelicals, there’s been, I’d say in the last 50 years, just a really intense interest in the Jewish context of the New Testament, in particular Second Temple Judaism,” said Daniel Hummel, a historian of American religion and the author of “Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israeli Relations.” (Philos, while founded by an evangelical Christian, identifies itself as ecumenical.)

That interest, Hummel said, has required encounters with Jews. “That’s sort of been the pattern,” he said. “You learn from Jews about their beliefs, and then you sort of take that thinking back to the New Testament texts, which then reshape how you read those texts.”

The program is part of an existing master’s degree program at Y.U.’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Y.U.’s undergraduate programs are separated by gender, are explicitly geared toward Orthodox Jews and combine traditional Jewish text study with a secular college education. But the university’s graduate programs, including Revel, are open to non-Jews, and Revel describes itself as a “genuinely non-denominational school.”

This year’s “pilot class” of eight Christian graduate students, who come from a mix of evangelical, Pentecostal and Baptist backgrounds, began with Hebrew Bible courses this summer. The students hail from California, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Mozambique. Five students are studying remotely, and three plan to be on campus in New York beginning in the fall semester.

Christian students enrolled in the master’s program for Jewish studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, most of whom will study remotely, recently toured the New York campus. (Courtesy Yeshiva University)

“Our real goal is for the Christian students to gain a deeper understanding of the Jewish roots of Christianity,” said Jonathan Dauber, Revel’s director of external programming and Y.U.’s head of the Philos partnership. “It’s also a program that’s meant to foster dialogue and understanding between Jews and Christians because the Jewish students and Christian students are together.”

What sets the new program apart from the rest of the Jewish studies school is that it is a “curated pathway” for Christian students, Dauber said — though aside from the biblical Hebrew classes, the students will take the majority of their courses with other Revel students. Y.U. also hopes to create space outside of the formal classroom where students can interact, such as on a museum visit or via other cultural activities.

Some Christian groups and individuals have appropriated various Jewish rituals for Christian purposes, hosting “Christian seders,” blowing a shofar, or ram’s horn, at prayer or marketing Christian takes on the mezuzah. Those practices have also sparked backlash from both Jewish and Christian clergy. But Hummel felt that the Christian students in the Y.U. program would be unlikely to take on Jewish rituals or seek to missionize to their classmates.

“It’s Yeshiva that’s hosting it, and so the power dynamics are a bit different than if it was Christian space,” Hummel said. “It would be a real uphill battle for a Christian to go into Yeshiva University and expect some type of big success with conversion.”

Institutionally, Yeshiva University is not expecting proselytizing to be an issue either. Ahead of the program’s launch, the university’s rabbinic leadership even issued a ruling that the program was permissible according to Jewish law.

“The Philos students also understand that themselves, that their purpose is to study and to learn about Judaism, that it’s not to try to convince or persuade,” Dauber said. “So that’s really not something that we’re worried about.”

Jews and Christians have studied together in religiously affiliated academic settings in the past. In 2018, Philos ran a leadership program for its Black members at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College, where they met with rabbis and African-American pastors to discuss Black and Jewish relations. That same year, David Nekrutman became the first Orthodox Jew to graduate from Oral Roberts University, an evangelical private university, with a masters degree in Christian studies.

The Y.U. program is different because students will undertake sustained enrollment at an Orthodox school.

“This is, in a lot of ways, an experiment,” said Robert Nicholson, president and founder of the Philos Project. “Can Christians and Orthodox Jews study together? Does it even work?”

He added, “Just the mere fact of forging a partnership with an Orthodox institution, to me, is a way of moving the ball down the field in Jewish-Christian relations.”

Hummel said that the partnership “isn’t just out of nowhere.” Modern Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians also share what Hummel referred to as a “theological framework” around Zionism, which is understood as “a real covenant between God and the Jewish people that entails Jews being able to control their homeland.”

Talento, who came in not knowing the Hebrew alphabet, has enjoyed her classes so far. Learning to read biblical Hebrew is “something I couldn’t even imagine being able to do,” Talento said. Knowing Hebrew, she says, lets her “get more into the mindset of the author than you could reading a translated, English-language” text.

Later, she’ll be taking a class on the history of Judaism from the fall of the Second Temple through the Holocaust, and a class on Paul the Apostle, titled “Paul: Profile of a First-Century Jew.” It will be offered in the fall over Zoom and is open to any master’s degree student.

Talento, who has gone on a Passages trip to Israel, is not sure what she will do when she graduates from the program. She has worked for Passages in the past and has attended pro-Israel conferences held by advocacy organizations such as StandWithUs and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. She is considering pursuing a career in the nonprofit world, working for Philos, or elsewhere in Israel advocacy.

“God only gives me the next step,” she said. “If you would have told me I was doing this a year ago, I would have said, ‘This is so cool — but I don’t even know how I was going to get there.’”


The post Yeshiva University, a pillar of Orthodox Judaism, launches master’s program for Christian students appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israel Second Best Place in the World to Retire, New Study Finds

The Tel Aviv skyline. Photo: Reuters

Despite its ongoing war with Hamas to the south in Gaza and escalating tensions with Lebanese Hezbollah to the north, Israel has been ranked as the second best country in the world for retirement, according to a new study.

ConfidenceClub, a company based in the United Kingdom dedicated to helping retirees, released its “Aging Gracefully Index,” which examined 39 countries to determine the best places to retire. The study utilized information such as economic data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation and the cost of living database known as Numbeo, among other sources, to assign scores to and rank each country.

Israel came in second place, receiving a score of 85, which was only bested by Iceland’s total score of 87. Finland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland rounded out the top five.

South Africa ranked last with a score of 43, slightly edging out Greece, Latvia, Slovakia, and Italy for the other bottom-five countries in descending order.

The study focused on data-driven variables to assign total scores including elder emigration, quality of health care, life expectancy, safety, and life satisfaction.

Notably, the survey – conducted after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel — placed the Jewish state among the safest countries to retire to. Israel’s safety score was equivalent to those of Denmark and Switzerland. According to the study, “safety isn’t just about low crime rates, it’s about creating an environment where seniors can enjoy their golden years with peace of mind.”

The Aging Gracefully Index also ranked Israel high in its “Elder Balance” variable — meaning Israel’s aging population is supported by a strong working one. Alternatively, the study found that a country like Japan struggles from a high aging population and a relatively small working age one.

Israel ranked highly for retiree life satisfaction. The survey defined life satisfaction as a reflection of “how content people are with their lives, considering factors like economic stability, social connections, and personal fulfillment.”

Similar to the index’s life satisfaction variable, Israel routinely ranks toward the top of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. In March, Israel dropped one spot to fifth in the list of the world’s happiest countries. Finland was ranked the happiest country.

The Aging Gracefully Index also examined the best cities to retire to with the same criteria as it did with countries. Tel Aviv ranked the third best city for retirement after Reykjavik and The Hague — which came in first and second, respectively.

The post Israel Second Best Place in the World to Retire, New Study Finds first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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The Ongoing Crisis of Antisemitism in K-12 Education

An empty classroom. Photo: Wiki Commons.

If you think antisemitism is bad at the university level, wait until you read what’s happening in K-12 schools across the country.

A concerned teacher recently reached out to me, horrified by the content being used to educate students about antisemitism. The materials provided by the National Education Association (NEA), particularly a document from Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), are filled with misinformation and, in my view, are themselves antisemitic.

This teacher has tirelessly sought support from various Jewish organizations to address these concerns, but she keeps hitting a wall. It seems that many organizations are reluctant to do battle with a powerful union like the NEA, leaving this teacher and others like her without the necessary support to combat these problematic educational materials.

The JFREJ document propagates a specific political agenda, portraying Israel as a white settler colonial state and ignoring the complex history and diverse demographics of Israel and the Jewish people.

JFREJ’s document suggests that Jews with light skin are complicit in white supremacy — and that’s not the only Jew-hating piece of trash in this document.

By choosing to use this material, the NEA is making a political statement. This choice reflects an alignment with far-left perspectives rather than a balanced approach to addressing antisemitism.

By choosing a Jewish organization that does not represent mainstream Jewish thought, and in fact, an organization that most of the Jewish community believes spreads antisemitism, the NEA is insulting the Jewish community by defining antisemitism according to its radical agenda.

Jews for Racial & Economic Justice is a fringe group that has aligned with far-left ideologies, and partners with other ostensibly Jewish, but really antisemitic, organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace.

Recent headlines have been filled with reports of rising antisemitism on college campuses, but the more insidious threat lies in our K-12 schools. Ethnic studies programs, particularly those following the radical Liberatory Ethnic Studies (LES) model, are indoctrinating young students against Israel by falsely labeling it a white settler colonial state. This biased education fosters a generation of young antisemites.

There are disturbing trends in K-12 education. Jewish students are being targeted not only by their peers, but also by teachers and administrators. Parents have described their alarm as antisemitism infiltrates their children’s curriculum.

In Washington State, ethnic studies have infiltrated every aspect of K-12 education, evolving from a vague legislative suggestion into a mandate. Aggressive advocacy groups with deep pockets push for ethnic studies to be the lens through which all education is viewed, promoting a Marxist and Maoist-based liberatory model.

This model explicitly positions Palestinians as marginalized and Israel as a white colonialist oppressor, distorting history and legitimizing antisemitic views among young students.

The Liberatory Ethnic Studies (LES) model, rooted in power and oppression analysis, aims to transform the school system into an agent of change, often at the expense of academic excellence and democratic values.

Throughout California and other states, antisemitism in K-12 schools has become increasingly prevalent, particularly following the October 7 mass murder and rape of Israelis.

Reports detail shocking behaviors such as second-graders being told to write anti-Israel messages, teachers encouraging unsanctioned student protests in support of Gaza, and Jewish students being harassed with antisemitic slurs. Some teachers have even suggested that Israelis were responsible for the violence inflicted on them.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and other Jewish organizations have been inundated with calls from concerned parents, especially in the Bay Area, reporting these incidents.

The Israeli American Council reported a 690 percent increase in antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents in K-12 schools within three months of the October 7 attack. These incidents ranged from student bullying and vandalism, to discriminatory class materials and teacher statements.

The reluctance of Jewish organizations to confront the NEA underscores the significant influence that powerful unions hold over educational policies. The struggle of the teacher I mentioned to gain support highlights a broader issue, where political considerations often overshadow the need to address serious concerns like antisemitism. The NEA’s powerful position makes it daunting for individuals and smaller organizations to challenge their decisions.

For educators seeking comprehensive and balanced resources on antisemitism, organizations like the ADL offer materials designed to combat hate and educate students without political bias. Their resources help ensure that schools promote understanding and respect rather than division and misinformation.

The current wave of antisemitism in our schools is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. It is time for the Jewish community and other concerned groups to take a stand and demand better from powerful unions like the NEA. Only then can we hope to create an educational environment that is truly inclusive and free from antisemitism. This effort is not just about addressing the present concerns, but is part of a broader mission I discuss in my forthcoming book, From Outrage to Action: A Practical Guide to Fighting Antisemitism.

Howard Lovy is a Michigan-based author, book editor, and journalist who specializes in Jewish issues. He is currently working on a book, From Outrage to Action: A Practical Guide to Fighting Antisemitism. His novel, Found and Lost: The Jake and Cait Story, will be released in 2025. You can find him on his website or on X.

The post The Ongoing Crisis of Antisemitism in K-12 Education first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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The Associated Press Removes Threats of Violence and Hamas Support From Articles

Vandalism outside the home of Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak. Photo: New York Mayor Eric Adams’ Twitter account.

Even as authorities from Sydney to Brooklyn were still investigating and removing pro-Hamas graffiti, the Associated Press engaged in a scrubbing of a different sort.

In a June 10 article about the anti-Israel vandalism of the US consulate in Sydney, the Associated Press initially whitewashed a menacing symbol used to denote support for Hamas since the terror organization’s Oct. 7 terror massacre of murder, rape and countless other atrocities (“Australia PM urges activists to ‘turn down the heat’ after US consulate vandalized over Gaza war“).

The AP euphemistically reported about the symbols used to express support for the designated terror organization as follows:

Two inverted red triangles, seen by many as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, were also painted on the front of the building.

A screenshot of the AP’s headline about the vandalism in Australia, along with an accompanying video which briefly shows the red triangles:

Given that Hamas uses the red triangle in its videos documenting attacks on Israelis, it signifies support for the designated terror organization. “Resistance” doesn’t quite convey the horrors that went down on Oct. 7.

The New York Post detailed the association of the red triangles with Hamas terrorism:

The triangle became a prevalent symbol online and offline beginning in November 2023 following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s aggressive retaliatory offensive, according to the Anti Defamation League.

It first appeared in propaganda videos from the al-Qassam brigades — Hamas’ military wing — to highlight an Israeli soldier that was about to be killed or wounded in a targeted attack by the terrorists.

In the clips, the red triangle followed the target, which was then hit with a sniper’s bullet, a rocket-propelled grenade or another deadly blast.

“Though it can be used innocuously in general pro-Palestine social media posts, the inverted red triangle is now used to represent Hamas itself and glorify its use of violence in many popular anti-Zionist memes and political cartoons,” the ADL says on its website.

For example, the group said, anti-Israel protesters will put the symbol over an image of Israeli soldiers or on a Star of David “as a way to call for further violent resistance.”

In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, the AP moderately improved its explanation of the red triangles, revising the sentence to at least include reference to Hamas:

Two inverted red triangles, seen by some as a symbol of Palestinian resistance but by others as supporting the militant group Hamas, were also painted on the front of the building.

While an AP video paired with the article briefly showed the red triangles defacing the US consulate, the AP’s still photographs made do with boarded up windows. The accompanying captions also ignored the sinister red triangles:

A couple walks past the boarded windows at the U.S. consulate as police investigate the vandalism in Sydney, Monday, June 10, 2024. A suspect is believed to have smashed nine holes in the reinforced glass windows of the building in North Sydney after 3 a.m., a police statement said. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Meanwhile, red triangle vandalism took an even darker turn when the pro-terror symbol, used repeatedly to mark targets, appeared June 11 on the New York co-op building where Anne Pasternak, the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum, lives.

In coverage of that incident, the AP didn’t simply scrub the pro-Hamas significance of the symbol. Instead, the AP entirely sliced the ominous red triangles out of the story, which referred only to red paint. In his Jan. 13 article, Philip Marcelo selectively reported (“Apparent Gaza activists hurl paint at homes of Brooklyn Museum leaders, including Jewish director“):

People purporting to be pro-Palestinian activists hurled red paint at the homes of top leaders at the Brooklyn Museum, including its Jewish director, and also splashed paint across the front of diplomatic buildings for Germany and the Palestinian Authority early Wednesday, prompting a police investigation and condemnation from city authorities.

Mayor Eric Adams, in a post on the social platform X, shared images of a brick building splashed with red paint with a banner hung in front of the door that called the museum’s director, Anne Pasternak, a “white-supremacist Zionist.”

But the images that Mayor Adams shared didn’t merely show “a brick building splashed with red paint” and a banner denouncing Pasternak as a “white supremacist Zionist.”

Adams’ post on X includes four photographs of the vandalism, all displaying the huge red triangles which absolutely cannot be missed. And yet AP chose not to note the presence of the threatening imagery, much less explain its significance.

This is not peaceful protest or free speech. This is a crime, and it’s overt, unacceptable antisemitism.

These actions will never be tolerated in New York City for any reason. I’m sorry to Anne Pasternak and members of @brooklynmuseum‘s board who woke up to hatred like this.

I… pic.twitter.com/vi17PumBoM

— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) June 12, 2024

The AP’s ubiquitous photographers — the prolific bunch churns out 1.2 million images annually — also didn’t manage to capture the shocking scene of Pasternak’s home defaced with what amounts to a murder threat.

Instead, the cadre of photojournalists suffice with an image of the German consulate, which was vandalized with red paint, apparently applied in an abstract arrangement, sans red triangles. Like Marcelo’s article, the photograph’s caption also paints over the pro-Hamas imagery, referring to a random splashing of color:

Red paint covers portions of the entrance to the German consulate building, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in New York. Pro-Palestinian protesters have vandalized locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum and United Nations in New York City, throwing red paint across their entrances in opposition to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (AP Photo/Sophie Rosenbaum)

Not only does the caption neglect to note the Hamas-linked graphic, it also ignores that the “locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum” were private homes.

It’s not just Hamas graphics that are subjected to AP’s scrubbing. A pro-Hamas organization also gets sanitized.

Here’s how the AP’s Marcelo whitewashes the pro-Hamas Within Our Lifetime group:

The protest group Within Our Lifetime and other organizers of that demonstration said the museum is “deeply invested in and complicit” in Israel’s military actions in Gaza through its leadership, trustees, corporate sponsors and donors — a claim museum officials have denied.

He says not a word about the organization’s support for Hamas. According to ADL, Within Our Lifetime:

has hosted or co-sponsored at least 78 anti-Israel rallies many of which included explicit support for violence against Israeli civilians by U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations  Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollahthe Houthis and affiliated individuals such as Leila Khaled and Hamas’ military wing spokesperson Abu Obaida. WOL also expressed enthusiastic support for Iran’s unprecedented April 13 drone-and-missile attack on Israel.

Marcelo similarly sluices down Within Our Lifetime’s horrifying and deep embrace of terror at the demonstration outside the Nova Festival massacre last week. His censored account states:

The paint attacks came the same week that Within Our Lifetime organized a large demonstration outside a New York City exhibition memorializing victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival. The group called it “Zionist propaganda” and dismissed the music festival, where hundreds died, as “a rave next to a concentration camp.”

The AP spares its readers from the most disturbing aspects from the event. As The Times of Israel reported:
Protesters set off flares, flew flags of Hamas’s armed al-Qassam Brigades terror wing and of the Hezbollah terror group, and carried banners with slogans such as “Long live October 7” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.”
 On June 11, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced the antisemitism of the pro-Hamas crowd outside the Nova Festival exhibit, twice citing those most heinous lines:

What was even worse, or at least adding salt into the wounds was that just a day or two after I visited the exhibit, protestors gathered outside the exhibit chanting repugnant antisemitic phrases, donning banners that read “Long Live October 7th” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” How low can you go ?

Having visited the exhibit and seeing those young people and then knowing and seeing on film what happened to them at the vicious hands of Hamas, and then having people come outside and protest and say “Long Live October 7th” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” How repugnant. How despicable. How terribly unnerving that humanity could sink that low.

And yet, at this low point for humanity, AP has relegated these repugnant slogans glorifying mass murder to the dustbin of history.

Tamar Sternthal is the director of CAMERA’s Israel Office. A version of this article previously appeared on the CAMERA website.

The post The Associated Press Removes Threats of Violence and Hamas Support From Articles first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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