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  • ISRAEL AT 50 Israel’s anniversary bash recalls Truman’s bold move

    LOS ANGELES, May 5 (JTA) —On May 12, 1948, two days before David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence, a tense meeting of momentous importance to the survival of the nascent Jewish state took place in the White House Oval Office. At stake was whether the United States would recognize the as-yet unnamed State of Israel and…

  • Reform rabbis urge Knesset to reject conversion legislation

    ANAHEIM, Calif., June 25 (JTA) — America’s Reform rabbis have lashed out at controversial conversion legislation in Israel, warning that its passage “would devastate the Israeli-Diaspora relationship and cause severe and deleterious consequences in the political, philanthropic and religious realms.” The bill, now pending in the Knesset, would codify the Orthodox establishment’s control over conversions…

  • Oscar nomination may boost Israeli’s career in Hollywood

    LOS ANGELES, March 3 (JTA) — Michele Ohayon was nursing her 2-month- old baby when the phone rang with the announcement that her film, “Colors Straight Up,” had been nominated for an Academy Award. At that early hour, 5:45 a.m., she immediately picked up the phone in her Hollywood home to call Jerusalem and break…

  • California, survivors slap Italian firm with subpoenas, suit

    LOS ANGELES, Feb. 8 (JTA) — One of Europe’s largest insurance companies has been hit with subpoenas by the state of California — and with a $135 million suit by a family — for allegedly stonewalling demands to pay out on policies taken out by Holocaust victims and survivors. The Italian company, Assicurazioni Generali, was…

  • Controversy erupts over Swiss WWII labor camps

    LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 (JTA) — Talk to Jews from Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia or Hungary who somehow escaped the Nazi dragnets and made it to safety in Switzerland, and they will assert, usually with considerable emotion, some or all of the following statements: * During World War II, Switzerland split up Jewish refugee families, putting…

  • ISRAEL AT 50 An American Jewish volunteer reflects on the last ‘good’ war

    LOS ANGELES, March 30 (JTA) — As the American Jewish community celebrates the 50th anniversary of Israel’s independence, those of us who went over to fight as volunteers in the fledgling country’s armed forces can look back with special pride and remembrance. We were privileged to take part not only in a momentous chapter of…

  • Spielberg’s ‘The Last Days’ highlights stories of survival

    LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2 (JTA) — “There was no magic to our survival. It was sheer, pure, unadulterated luck, for men and women infinitely more worthy perished,” said Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) last week at an advance screening of “The Last Days,” the first feature documentary by Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History…

  • Six years after ‘Schindler’s List,’ Spielberg still devoted to his quest

    LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2 (JTA) — It’s been six years since Steven Spielberg directed “Schindler’s List” and established a foundation that has videotaped the testimonies of tens of thousands of survivors worldwide, but his emotional connection to the Holocaust remains as intense as ever. After hearing thousands of testimonies, “each is more compelling than the…

  • Short Jew’ receives award from friends of Hebrew University

    LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (JTA) — “We’re here to honor a short Jew,” said “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander to open a gag-filled evening with a serious purpose. The vertically challenged honoree was Hollywood star Billy Crystal, who, surrounded by fellow Hollywood stars and close to 900 fans, accepted the National Scopus Award of the American…

  • Judge in California rules firm must face Holocaust-era lawsuit

    LOS ANGELES, Jan. 26 (JTA) — In a precedent-setting decision, a Los Angeles judge has ruled that European companies can be sued in California courts for non-payment of life insurance policies dating back to the Holocaust era. Monday’s ruling stemmed from a $135 million suit against Italy’s largest insurance firm, Assicurazioni Generali. But the decision…