The JW Q&A

A weekly interview with notable figures and names in the news.

Putting America’s Humanitarian Duty Into Practice Aiding Iraqi Refugees

07/28/2015
Staff Writer

While studying at Yale Law School seven years ago, Rebecca Heller traveled to Israel on a fellowship, and made a side trip to Jordan, where she met with Iraqi refugees. Moved by their plight and the need for legal aid, she founded the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program, which recruited lawyers and law students to offer assistance on a pro bono basis.

The organization, now named the International Refugee Assistance Program, has assisted the resettlement of more than 3,000 people from more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sudan and Syria. For her work, Heller, a visiting clinical lecturer at her alma mater, was recently named the 2015 recipient of The Charles Bronfman Prize, which is awarded annually to someone under the age of 50 “whose work is informed by Jewish values and has global impact that changes lives and inspires future generations.” At 33, she was the prize’s youngest recipient.

Steve Lipman

When Bibimbap And Blintzes Share The Family Table

Helen Kim and husband Noah Leavitt are the leading experts on Asian-Jewish intermarriage in the United States.

07/21/2015

Whitman College professors Helen Kim and her husband, Noah Leavitt are the leading, and virtually only, experts on Asian-Jewish intermarriage in the United States. The two — she’s Korean-American, he’s Jewish — recently spoke with JTA by phone from Walla Walla, Wash., where they live with their 6-year-old son Ari and 3-year-old daughter Talia. This is an edited transcript.

Helen Kim and Noah Leavitt, parents in an Asian-Jewish family, have pioneered study of such intermarriages.   Kim-Leavitt family

(Google) Search For Jewish Talent

07/14/2015

Mimi Kravetz worked on employment branding at Google as a human resources marketing executive, helping the company attract and keep top talent by fostering an unconventional yet wildly successful work environment. Now, she plans to bring her own skills in recruiting and development to Hillel International as the organization’s first chief talent officer. Kravetz spoke to The Jewish Week from Silicon Valley, where she will launch Hillel International’s new West Coast office in August. This is an edited transcript.

Mimi Kravetz: New Hillel hire comes from branding shop at Google.

Finding Common Ground In A City Of Differences

Tel Aviv native Rabbi Aryeh Stern was elected the capital’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi last October

07/07/2015
Staff Writer

Rabbi Aryeh Stern, a native of Tel Aviv who has served since 1982 on the staff of Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav yeshiva, a leading religious Zionist institution, was elected the capital’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi last October. For political and bureaucratic reasons, the city’s two chief rabbi posts, chosen by religious and political figures, had not been filled for almost a dozen years. The rabbi, 70, who, unlike many charedi Israelis, has served in the Israeli Army in two wars, and his children and grandchildren have also done Army service. The Jewish Week interviewed him during a recent visit he made to New York for a Rabbinical Council of America conference. This is an edited transcript.

Rabbi Aryeh Stern: “Now there are people who actually answer to the public.”

A New Look, Message For An Historic Institution

06/30/2015
Staff Writer

Ann Toback, executive director of the Workmen’s Circle since 2008, has led the organization through a rebranding process in which it has adopted a new Jewish learning-based mission rooted in intergenerational learning and cultural celebration. Taking a page from its history of progressive activism, Toback, a former union leader, has also launched an activist agenda focused on making $15-an-hour the national minimum wage. This is an edited transcript of The Jewish Week’s interview with her last week.

Ann Toback: Workmen’s Circle is creating new “opportunities for Americans to connect to their Jewish culture.”

Spotlighting Anti-Semitism In Sweden — And Beyond

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein filed for asylum in her own country as violent hate crimes against Jews increased.

06/16/2015

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, 34, is a writer and political activist from Stockholm. Formerly a political adviser for the conservative coalition in Sweden, she now writes regularly about global anti-Semitism for such publications as The Jerusalem Post, Commentary and Mosaic magazine. From her perch in Stockholm, Hernroth-Rothstein has become a vociferous advocate for her local Jewish community — and more widely, for European Jewry  —arguing that local and state governments need to be held accountable for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel legislation. The Jewish Week interviewed Hernroth-Rothstein by email. This is an edited transcript.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein says anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise and should be an issue on everyone’s mind.

‘The Status Quo Is Tolerable’

Professor Efraim Inbar says there's no alternative right now to fighting Hamas every few years.

06/09/2015
Staff Writer

Efraim Inbar is a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of its Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (the BESA Center). Inbar holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago and has served as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University. His specialty is Middle Eastern strategic issues with a special interest in the politics and strategy of Israeli national security.

Efraim Inbar: Hostile states pose a bigger threat to Israel than do movements like Hamas or Hezbollah.

Spreading ‘The Truth’ About The Jewish State

The problem in Europe is that people don't know the 'facts,' says Ofir Akunis, an Israeli politician.

06/02/2015
Staff Writer

Ofir Akunis was recently appointed to a ministerial post in Israel’s communications ministry. A former deputy speaker of the Knesset to which he was elected in February 2009 and a former spokesman of the Likud Party, Akunis, 42, had served as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. He was in the city as a representative of the Israeli government at Sunday’s Celebrate Israel Parade.

Israeli minister Ofir Akunis: “People in Europe don’t know the facts” about Israel.

Poland’s Jewish Revival Seen Continuing Apace

Sebastian Rejak has a role that's rare in Europe; he's an envoy of the Polish government to the Jewish diaspora.

05/26/2015
Staff Writer

Raised a Catholic in Lublin, Sebastian Rejak has served for the last year and a half as the special envoy for Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs for relations with the Jewish diaspora, one of a few nations in Eastern Europe with such a diplomatic position. He has a working knowledge of Hebrew, Jewish history and aspects of Jewish culture and history. He was here last week as part of a brief mission introducing himself to leaders of the American Jewish community. This is an edited transcript of the interview.

Polish special envoy Sebastian Rejak: The revival “is not only about Orthodox minyans.”

A Military Man Leaves The Theater

Born in a displaced person camp in Paris, Rabbi Jacob Goldstein retired as an Army chaplain after 38 years.

05/20/2015
Staff Writer

Rabbi Jacob Goldstein retired last month after 38 years as a U.S. Army chaplain having reached the mandatory retirement age of 68. He held the rank of colonel and was the longest serving Jewish chaplain in the U.S. military.

Rabbi Goldstein, who was born in a displaced persons camp in Paris after World War II, immigrated with his family to the United States shortly after his birth. He graduated from the Lubavitch Rabbinical Seminary, where he was ordained. He currently serves as an assistant commissioner of housing for New York State, as a chaplain with the U.S. Secret Service, and as chairman of Community Board 9 in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn. The Jewish Week spoke with him last week by telephone. This is an edited transcript.

Col. Jacob Goldstein: Spent nearly 40 years as an Army chaplain.
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