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Poll: Jews back party more than Obama

 
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WASHINGTON – Jews are backing Barack Obama based primarily on traditional identification with the Democratic Party, a new study finds. The support has less to do with the presidential candidates’ positions on issues or other factors, according to the report released Monday by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

The report attempted to determine why Jews supported Obama by 30 percentage points more than non-Jewish whites did in simultaneous polls taken in early September. The poll of 1,596 Jews was taken by Synovate shortly after the Republican Party convention and before all four debates and the stock market decline. It found Jews favoring Obama over McCain by a 51-25 percent margin, with 24 percent undecided — which the authors reconfigured to a 67-33 margin for Obama after throwing out the undecided voters and counting only those who had made a decision. A similar process found 37 percent of non-Jewish whites backing the Democrat.

The report finds that such a discrepancy could not be explained by differences in education or income, or by their stands on issues. For example, the study found that Jews are about as equally concerned with social welfare issues — health care, education, and poverty — as non-Jewish whites and Hispanics and less concerned than blacks. Instead, the report states support for Obama can best be explained by Jews’ “historic, passionate, and high significant commitment to the Democratic Party and the liberal camp in America” — with the numbers finding that Jews are “excessively” connected to the party and a liberal political identity.

“I was surprised,” said Hebrew Union College professor and Berman Archive director Steven M. Cohen, one of three authors of the study. “I thought Jews were voting more in line with issue orientation.” But Jews, he said, “do not look like extreme liberals” when one looks at their stands on issues. Israel fell in the middle — eighth out of 15 — when Jews were asked how to rate their issues of importance. Those who rated Israel more important also were more likely to back McCain.

JTA

 
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Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.

 

Shabbat in the White City

Fair Lawn man aims for Guinness-record dinner in Tel Aviv

Jay Shultz is determined to set a new world record while promoting Tel Aviv — usually cited for its nightlife and startup culture — as a great place to spend Shabbat.

The 37-year-old Fair Lawn native, who has lived in Israel since 2006, has earned a reputation as the “International Mayor of Tel Aviv” after a series of grand-scale initiatives geared at positioning his adopted city as welcoming haven for young professional immigrants.

His latest exploit: Through his popular White City Shabbat program, which offers communal meals for young Israelis and immigrants at local synagogues, Mr. Shultz launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to sponsor the world’s largest Shabbat dinner.

 

Lighting up Africa

Frisch raises money for solar technology with fashion show

What do the students at a New Jersey Jewish high school and 450,000 residents of rural African villages have in common?

Since 2008, the nonprofit agency called Innovation: Africa — iA — has brought Israeli solar technology to provide clean water, drip irrigation, and refrigeration to villagers in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. And for the last three years, this UN-award winning program has been a focal point for the Frisch School in Paramus.

An African Encounter Night and Africa-themed fashion show held last month exposed students and parents to iA’s work and raised another $3,300 toward Frisch’s goal of contributing $10,000 to light up a sister school in East Africa using solar panels.

“The fact that Frisch has decided to educate children on wider global issues is remarkable and demonstrates a break from the norm,” said Emma Goldman, Innovation: Africa’s outreach coordinator.

 

RECENTLYADDED

Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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