- The National Council of Jewish Women praises the Senate for reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program: "Passage by the Senate heralds the culmination of a bipartisan effort to extend and improve this most important program. While small differences remain to be reconciled with the House version, the legislation should soon arrive on President Obama’s desk. After two vetoes by former President Bush, this time it will be signed into law."
- The Reform Movement has launched a new green initiative: Resources available include educational curricula, tools for an energy audit, worship materials, best practices from “green synagogues”, environmental holiday guides and resources on Israel and the Environment. The Greening Reform Judaism site also connects users to the environmental advocacy work of the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center as well as resources from other environmental organizations.
- J Street is once again courting controversy, urging its activists to thank Bob Simon of 60 Minutes for his "accurate and thoughtful" report last week about Israeli settlements: "Simon’s already getting an earful from CAMERA (the Orwellian-named Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) and others accusing him of anti-Israel bias. He needs to hear from us."
- There’s apparently another Jewish U.S. senator. New Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet talks to the Rocky Mountain News about his family background:
Bennet, 44, has begun to publicly speak about his own family’s story of struggle – about how his grandparents fled Warsaw after World War II and how his mother, not yet a teenager, was the only one who spoke English when they finally found their way to New York in 1950. He could, but does not, go into the more dramatic details: How his Jewish grandparents, imprisoned in the notorious Warsaw Ghetto, smuggled his mother – then a baby – out to the country through an underground network. …
Under Jewish doctrine, Judaism is passed down through the mother. Bennet is Jewish because his mother is. But even in Poland, the Klejmans were not observant, and he did not grow up practicing that religious tradition. His father, Douglas J. Bennet, is Christian but also did not actively worship. "I was raised with two different heritages, one was Jewish and one was Christian," Michael Bennet said. "I am proud that both heritages are part of me, and I believe in God."
- The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof said President Obama’s early activity in the Middle East was the talk of the Davos economic forum: Mr. Obama’s first moves are being greeted with vast relief by a broad range of players in the region. There’s also a whisper of hope that a serious American peace effort by Mr. Obama just might transform the Middle East, with the most promising route passing through Syria.