Read about the highs and lows of 5774 – and everything in between.
“¢ The United States and Russia reach a deal to rid Syria of its arsenal of chemical weapons, promoting Jewish groups to suspend their efforts lobbying for U.S. strikes against Damascus.
“¢ Rabbi Philip Berg, founder of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles and teacher of Jewish mysticism for A-list celebrities, dies at 86.
“¢ William Rapfogel, the ousted leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York, is arrested on charges of grand larceny and money laundering. Investigators later say the scheme involving Rapfogel netted $9 million in illicit funds, including $3 million for Rapfogel himself. Rapfogel pleads guilty the following April and is sent to prison in July for 3 1/2 to 10 years.
“¢ In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama says the U.S. focus in the Middle East will be on keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace. Meanwhile, in a meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is more hopeful now for peace than he was in the mid-2000s.
“¢ The Foundation for Jewish Culture, a 53-year-old organization dedicated to promoting Jewish culture and the arts, announces it is closing.
“¢ Larry Ellison, CEO of the technology company Oracle, is ranked as the richest Jew in the United States, according to the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, which puts Ellison at No. 3. Other Jews making the top 20 are Michael Bloomberg (10, $31 billion); Sheldon Adelson (11, $28.5 billion); Sergey Brin (14, $24.4 billion); George Soros (19, $20 billion), and Marc Zuckerberg (20, $19 billion).
“¢ Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the first U.S. Supreme Court justice to preside over a same-sex marriage, the wedding ceremony of Michael Kaiser and John Roberts.
“¢ A landmark study of U.S. Jews by the Pew Research Center finds the Jewish intermarriage rate has risen to 58 percent and that among the 22 percent of American Jews who describe themselves as having no religion, two-thirds are not raising their children as Jews. The survey also estimates the U.S. Jewish population at 6.8 million, roughly the same estimate arrived at by Brandeis University researchers analyzing 350 separate population studies.
“¢ The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a pan-European intergovernmental organization, overwhelmingly passes a resolution calling male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” and putting it in the same class as female genital mutilation. Israeli President Shimon Peres joins the chorus of voices protesting the decision. In November, the group’s leader assures Jews that the council does not seek to ban Jewish ritual circumcision.
“¢ Addressing the Anti-Defamation League’s centennial conference, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, vows that the United States will not cut a bad deal with Iran.
“¢ A day after meeting with President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the U.N. General Assembly that Israel is ready to go it alone against Iran should it come close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“¢ Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who founded the Sephardic Orthodox Shas political party and exercised major influence on Jewish law, dies at 93.
“¢ New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is named the first recipient of the Genesis Prize, a $1 million award for a renowned professional capable of inspiring young Jews. The prize is funded by a consortium of Jewish philanthropists from the former Soviet Union.
“¢ Arieh Warshel, a U.S. professor born and educated in Israel, and ex-Weizmann Institute professor Michael Levitt are among the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize for chemistry.
“¢ Two Orthodox rabbis from the New York area and two accomplices are arrested for allegedly kidnapping and beating men to force them to grant their wives religious Jewish divorces, or gets.
“¢ Israeli forces discover a “terror tunnel” running from Gaza to an Israeli kibbutz. The tunnel is full of explosives and ends near an Israeli kindergarten.
“¢ Janet Yellen is named head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, becoming the third American Jewish central banker in a row and the first woman to hold the post.
“¢ Movement leaders at the centennial conference of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in Baltimore agree that significant rejuvenation is needed if Conservative Judaism is to reverse its negative trajectory. Rabbi Steven Wernick heads United Synagogue.
“¢ Israelis demonstrate against the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners.
“¢ Semen Domnitser, the former Claims Conference employee who was found guilty of leading a $57 million fraud scheme at the Holocaust restitution organization, is sentenced to eight years in prison. The scheme entails falsifying applications to two funds established by the German government to make restitution payments to Holocaust survivors.
“¢ In a survey of 5,847 European Jews, nearly one-third of respondents say they “seriously considered emigrating” from Europe because of anti-Semitism.
“¢ German authorities begin taking steps to identify the provenance of more than 1,400 works of Holocaust-era art found in the Munich home of Cornelius Gurlitt.
“¢ Joseph Paul Franklin is executed for killing a man at a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977. Franklin, 63, shot Gerald Gordon outside the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue as Gordon left a bar mitzvah. Franklin also is convicted of seven other murders throughout the United States and claims credit for 20 deaths between 1977 and 1980.
“¢ Forty families belonging to the charedi Orthodox extremist group Lev Tahor consider fleeing their Quebec homes because they fear that Canadian welfare authorities are poised to seize their children.
“¢ The United States and a coalition of world powers reach a six-month agreement with Iran to curb the country’s nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief while negotiations for a final settlement on Iran’s nuclear program are conducted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pans the deal as a “historic mistake.” The deal goes into effect on January 20.
“¢ Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who is a former Miss Israel, is cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming film “Batman vs. Superman.”
“¢ Swarthmore’s Hillel chapter becomes the first to join the so-called Open Hillel movement, which challenges Hillel International’s guidelines prohibiting partnerships with groups it deems hostile toward Israel. Hillel boards at Vassar and Wesleyan soon follow suit.
“¢ The Union for Reform Judaism announces at its biennial conference in San Diego that it has sold off half its headquarters in New York and is investing $1 million from the proceeds to overhaul the movement’s youth programming. Here, a group of women hold hands around the Torah during Shabbat morning services at the conference.
“¢ The membership of the American Studies Association endorses a boycott of Israeli universities. The controversial decision comes after months of debate and prompts several American schools to withdraw from the association in protest and dozens more to condemn the move.
“¢ Jacob Ostreicher, a New York businessman held in Bolivia since 2011, returns to the United States, in part thanks to efforts by actor Sean Penn. Ostreicher was managing a rice-growing venture in Bolivia when he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and accused of doing business with drug dealers.
“¢ The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association becomes the third U.S. academic body in less than a year to recommend that its members boycott Israeli universities.
“¢ After being pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is released from prison and leaves Russia, where he spent 10 years behind bars.
“¢ Philanthropist Edgar Bronfman dies in New York at 84. An heir to the Seagram beverage fortune, Bronfman was a longtime advocate on behalf of Jewish causes, serving as the head of the World Jewish Congress and financing many efforts to strengthen Jewish identity.
“¢ Amid a public debate in France over an allegedly anti-Semitic gesture called the quenelle, the French media publish a photo of a man performing it outside the Toulouse school where four Jews were murdered. Several French cities later announce they have banned performances by the comedian who popularized the salute, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.
“¢ Brooklyn chasidic real estate developer Menachem Stark is kidnapped, his lifeless body later found in a dumpster. The New York Post provokes outrage among many Jews with a cover calling him a slumlord and a headline asking, “Who didn’t want him dead?” Months later, a construction worker is arrested for the killing.
“¢ Ariel Sharon, the controversial warrior-turned-statesman who served as Israel’s prime minister from 2001 until 2006, when he was rendered comatose by a stroke, dies at age 85. Here, Sharon in 2004.
“¢ JTA and MyJewishLearning, which includes the popular parenting website Kveller.com, announce their intention to merge.
“¢ The Israeli government announces that it plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next 20 years to strengthen the Jewish identity of diaspora Jews, particularly young Jews, but the details remain fuzzy.
“¢ The chief rabbinate of Israel reaches an agreement with the Rabbinical Council of America to automatically accept letters from RCA members vouching for the Jewish status of Israeli immigrants. The agreement follows a temporary suspension by the chief rabbinate in accepting such letters from at least one well-known RCA member, Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, N.Y.
“¢ Two modern Orthodox high schools in New York stir controversy with decisions to allow girls who wish to don tefillin.
“¢ UJA-Federation of New York, the largest Jewish federation in North America, names attorney Eric Goldstein as its new CEO and successor to longtime CEO John Ruskay.
“¢ Actress Scarlett Johansson comes under criticism for serving as a spokeswoman for the Israeli company SodaStream, which has facilities in the West Bank. Johansson, who is Jewish, stands by SodaStream and resigns as a global ambassador for the British-based charity Oxfam, saying she and Oxfam have “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
“¢ The Israel Air Force is accused of attacking a warehouse of advanced Russian-made S-300 missiles in the Syrian port city of Latakia. Israel declines to comment on the attack.
“¢ A federal judge tosses out a $380 million sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Yeshiva University by 34 former students of its high school for boys. The suit alleged that the university ignored warnings of assault by two faculty members between 1969 and 1989. In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge John Koeltl rules that the statute of limitations has expired.
“¢ Longtime California congressman Henry Waxman announces his retirement. Waxman had represented California’s 33rd District since 1975 and was considered the dean of Jewish lawmakers.
“¢ Jewish philanthropist and humanitarian Anne Heyman, founder of the Agahozo-ShalomYouthVillage in Rwanda, dies during a horse-riding competition in Palm Beach, Fla.
“¢ The government of Spain approves a bill to facilitate the naturalization of Sephardic Jews of Spanish descent.
“¢ Staff at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem go on strike as the hospital, facing a huge deficit, teeters on the edge of bankruptcy and fails to pay its workers.
“¢ Abraham Foxman announces he is stepping down as national director of the Anti-Defamation League after 27 years in the post. Foxman, a child survivor of the Holocaust and one of the highest-profile American Jewish leaders, says he will step down in July 2015.
“¢ Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, top the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the top 50 U.S. donors to charitable causes in 2013. In December, the couple gave 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than $970 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
“¢ Alice Herz-Sommer, the 110-year-old Holocaust survivor and concert pianist whose life is the subject of a documentary, dies a week before the film wins an Oscar.
“¢ The Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, eastern Ukraine, is firebombed, sustaining minor damage. The attack comes amid growing turmoil in Ukraine following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych.
“¢ Alena Druzhynina of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, wearing a white helmet, entered Independence Square in Kiev to bring food to an 82-year-old pensioner who has been homebound since the violence began.
“¢ AIPAC leaders emphasize bipartisanship and mutual respect at the group’s annual policy conference in Washington. The conference follows a bruising period in which the pro-Israel lobby had championed a new Iran sanctions bill, only to back down when it becomes clear the bill lacked the necessary support from the White House and congressional Democrats to pass.
“¢ In one of many low-level skirmishes over the course of months, Israeli aircraft strike several targets in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians fire rockets into Israel, sending Israelis into bomb shelters.
“¢ David Hellman, a New York personal trainer, pleads guilty to using violent means to force recalcitrant husbands to give their wives a Jewish writ of divorce, or get. Hellman, who faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, was one of 10 men arrested in October 2013 in an FBI sting operation.
“¢ Yeshiva University is at risk of running out of unrestricted cash in the near-term future, warns Moody’s Investors Service, which says deep and growing operating deficits are likely to continue at the university due to “poor financial oversight and high expenses.” In May, YU will announce that the Montefiore Health System is assuming operational control of YU’s Albert Einstein School of Medicine.
“¢ Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is found guilty of accepting bribes in the corruption case involving the Holyland real estate development in Jerusalem. Olmert, who is convicted of receiving about $150,000 in bribes through his brother, Yossi, becomes the first former Israeli prime minister to be convicted of taking a bribe. The crime carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison.
“¢ Casino magnate and conservative backer Sheldon Adelson buys another Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon, making him the owner of several of Israel’s major right-wing media outlets and two of the country’s four major newspapers.
“¢ Mobilized by the death of Samuel Sommers – the 8-year-old son of Rabbi Phyllis and Michael Sommers, whose struggle with leukemia was documented on a popular blog called Superman Sam – 73 Reform rabbis shave their heads to raise $600,000 for pediatric cancer research. Locally, they include rabbis David Widzer, shown here, Paul Jacobson, and Joel Mosbacher.
“¢ American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross goes on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment in a Cuban jail and the lack of American assistance. Later in the year, in ailing health and with no prospect of release, Gross bids goodbye to his family during a prison visit.
“¢ White supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, kills a man and his grandson outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and then shoots to death a woman at a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away. None of the victims are Jewish, highlighting the diverse constituency served by America’s Jewish institutions.
“¢ After weeks of near breakdowns in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel suspends all negotiations after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party signs a unity accord with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. President Obama responds by saying it may be time for a pause in Middle East peacemaking. Kerry later expresses regret for saying that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid” state or a non-Jewish one if the two-state solution is not implemented. U.S. negotiators blame Israel for the talks’ collapse. Here, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, right, and Fatah’s Azzam Al-Ahmed are at a press conference
“¢ Gennady Kernes, the Jewish mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is shot in a suspected assassination attempt, leaving him in critical condition. The shooting comes amid growing violence between Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists in eastern Ukraine and forces loyal to the new Ukrainian government in Kiev. Kernes is airlifted to Israel for treatment.
“¢ The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations rejects J Street’s bid for membership. J Street, the liberal Washington group that lobbies for increased American pressure to bring about a Mideast peace deal, lost its bid for membership in the main communal group on foreign policy issues by a vote of 22-17, with three abstentions. J Street needed the support of two-thirds of the conference’s 51 members to gain admission.
“¢ Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million after being caught on tape making racist comments to his girlfriend. He is heard saying that his views reflect the way the world works, and as evidence he says that black Jews in Israel “are just treated like dogs.” His girlfriend is heard countering that as a Jew, Sterling should know better than to advocate discrimination, citing the Holocaust as an example of where racism can lead.
“¢ An arm of the private equity firm Bain Capital buys the Manischewitz Company, the iconic producer of kosher packaged goods, for an undisclosed sum. According to The New York Times, the new owners are expected to promote the word “kosher” as an indication of quality food rather than just a religious term.
“¢ Genealogical research reveals that the late archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, technically was Jewish. O’Connor’s mother, Dorothy Gumple O’Connor, was born Jewish but converted to Catholicism before she met and married O’Connor’s father.
“¢ New York’s 92nd Street Y, a Jewish center for arts and culture, names its first non-Jewish executive director, Henry Timms. Shortly afterward, Sol Adler, the previous longtime executive director, who was fired after revelations that he had a long-term affair with his assistant, hangs himself in his Brooklyn home.
“¢ An Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitism survey finds “deeply anti-Semitic views” are held by 26 percent of 53,000 people polled in 102 countries and territories covering approximately 86 percent of the world’s population. Critics say the survey’s 11 questions are not accurate gauges of anti-Semitism.
“¢ Maccabi Tel Aviv wins the Euroleague basketball championship by beating favored Real Madrid, 98-86, in overtime.
“¢ Novelist Philip Roth receives an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Now considered one of the greatest living American writers, Roth had caused outrage early in his career with his sometimes stinging portrayals of Jewish life. In 2012, Roth announced his retirement.
“¢ The Jewish community of Sharon, Mass., is shocked as the rabbi of Temple Israel, Barry Starr, resigns amid allegations that he used synagogue discretionary funds to pay about $480,000 in hush money to an extortionist to hide a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old. Starr apologizes to the congregation in an email.
“¢ Far right parties make gains in European Parliament elections, including Greece’s Golden Dawn.
“¢ The European Union says it has banned the import of poultry and eggs produced in West Bank settlements.
“¢ A gunman kills four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. Several days later, Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French national of Algerian origin, is arrested in connection with the attack.
“¢ Pope Francis travels to Israel and the West Bank, visiting the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and the West Bank security fence, among other sites.
“¢ Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin of the Likud party is elected president of Israel, defeating Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua in a 63-53 runoff vote. Rivlin formally succeeds Shimon Peres and becomes Israel’s 10th president in late July.
“¢ Rep. Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in American history, is upset in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by a Tea Party challenger. Dave Brat, an economics professor, wins handily after attacking Cantor for drifting from conservative principles. Days later, Cantor resigns his post as majority leader.
“¢ Weeks after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title, David Blatt becomes the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Blatt had played for an Israeli kibbutz team in 1979 after his sophomore year at Princeton and then competed for the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1981 Maccabiah Games. He returned to play nearly a decade professionally in Israel.
“¢ Three Israeli teenagers, later identified as Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, are kidnapped in the West Bank from a hitchhiking post. Israel responds with three weeks of intensive searches, including mass arrests in the West Bank of Hamas members and the re-arrest of dozens of Palestinians released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal. Three weeks on, Israeli authorities find the teens’ bodies and announce that the boys were believed to have been killed the night they were kidnapped. The incident sparks the revenge killing by Jews of an Arab teen, riots and a surge of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces responds by launching Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s deadliest foray into Gaza since its 2005 withdrawal – on July 8.
“¢ Rachel Fraenkel, whose son, Naftali, is one of the three murdered teenagers, speaks at the funeral. The families’ strength and goodness impress the nation and the world
“¢ Israel announces that the suspect in the April 14 killing of Israeli Police Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi is Ziad Awad, a West Bank Palestinian released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.
“¢ The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) votes 310-303 to divest from three American companies that do business with Israeli security services in the West Bank. Heath Rada, the moderator of the assembly, says it’s not a “reflection for our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers,” but Jewish leaders say it will have a “devastating impact” on their relations with the church.
“¢ New York Jewish teenager Josh Orlian’s raunchy stand-up routine on “America’s Got Talent” cracks up the judges, but his Orthodox day school isn’t tickled.
“¢ Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the father of the Jewish Renewal movement, which sought to introduce more music, dance, and meditation into prayer and Jewish life, dies in Boulder, Colo., at 89.
“¢ Israel launches its third major Gaza operation in six years. Dubbed Operation Protective Edge, the campaign begins with 10 days of intensive airstrikes in Gaza. After several failed cease-fire attempts, a ground invasion of Gaza follows. Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, striking as far away as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and a Haifa suburb. In four weeks of fighting before a 72-hour cease-fire in early August, some 1,800 Palestinians are reported killed. Israel comes under heavy criticism for attacks that kill children, strike U.N. facilities and damage civil infrastructure. Israel blames Hamas for using civilians as human shields and schools, hospitals and U.N. facilities as weapons depots. The death toll in Israel includes 64 soldiers and three civilians. Several of Israel’s casualties are due to Palestinian infiltrations of Israel through tunnels burrowed under the Israel-Gaza border. Israel’s prime minister says destroying the tunnels is one of the war’s main objectives.
“¢ A riot outside a French synagogue is one of several incidents related to the Gaza war that threaten Jews in Europe. The riot by Palestinian sympathizers outside the Synagogue de la Roquette in central Paris traps some 200 people inside the building. A street brawl ensues between the rioters and dozens of Jewish men who arrived to defend the synagogue.
“¢ Most foreign airlines suspend flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv after a Hamas-fired missile strikes nearby. The suspensions, prompted by a flight ban issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, last two to three days.
“¢ Iran and the major powers, led by the United States, agree to extend negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program for another four months, citing progress in a number of areas. But the potential deal breaker remains: Iran does not want to reduce the number of its centrifuges, and the world powers say they won’t accept Iran maintaining its existing capacity for uranium enrichment.
“¢ As the fighting in Gaza wanes and Israeli troops begin to pull back, Israel experiences several terrorist attacks inside the country perpetrated by West Bank Palestinians, including a tractor attack in Jerusalem.
“¢ The 72-hour cease-fire that brought Operation Protective Edge to a halt expires, and Gazans resume intensive rocket fire against Israel. The Israeli military responds with airstrikes inside Gaza. The sides then agree to another 72-hour cease-fire.
“¢ The University of Illinois rescinds a job offer to Steven Salaita, a professor of American Indian studies, following a series of anti-Israel tweets from him, including missives comparing Israel to the Ku Klux Klan. Following a public outcry, university chancellor Phyllis Wise relents and submits Salaita’s candidacy to the university board while making it clear that she does not support his hire. In September, the board votes 8-1 to reject Salaita’s hire. Salaita threatens to sue.
“¢ Joseph Raksin, an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, is shot and killed on his way to Sabbath services in North Miami Beach. Some activists say the murder was a hate crime, but more than a month on police still have no arrests and say the motive for the killing remains unclear.
“¢ The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House took the extraordinary step in July of halting the Pentagon’s delivery of U.S.-made Hellfire missiles to Israel in the midst of its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. The denial came as the Obama administration urged Israeli restraint in its Gaza operation and days before Israel rebuffed a cease-fire proposal from Secretary of State John Kerry. A State Department spokeswoman denies any change in policy, saying, “Given the crisis in Gaza, it is natural that agencies take additional care with deliveries as part of an interagency process.”
“¢ Writer and liberal activist Leonard Fein dies at 80. Fein had founded Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, and co-founded Americans for Peace Now and Moment Magazine. A few weeks later, Fein’s older brother, Rashi Fein, a Harvard professor known for his contributions to medicine and social policy, dies at 88.
“¢ In a rare instance of violence from the Gaza conflict reverberating in New York, a Jewish couple is accosted by pro-Palestinian assailants on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The incident prompts Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the head of a prominent modern Orthodox day school in the neighborhood, Ramaz, to consider instructing students not to wear their kippot in public. He later changes his mind.
“¢ Celebrants rededicate Nariman House, the reconstructed Chabad house in Mumbai, India, that was closed after Pakistani terrorists killed six people there, including Chabad emissaries Gabriel and Rivky Holtzberg, as part of a massive attack in November 2008 that left 166 people dead.
“¢ Hamas and Israel agree to a cease-fire that ends their 50-day war. In all, the war leaves an estimated 2,200 Palestinians dead. Sixty-seven soldiers and six civilians are killed on the Israeli side, including two soldiers who die of their wounds after the cease-fire is completed and a 4-year-old boy killed shortly before the truce. Brokered by Egypt, the cease-fire stipulates that Israel and Egypt open all border crossings to allow international humanitarian aid and construction materials to enter Gaza. In Israel, the verdict is mixed over whether the Israeli operation achieved its aims.
“¢ Israel sets off international condemnation with its announcement that it is appropriating nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land near the Gush Etzion bloc. Peace Now says it is Israel’s largest West Bank land grab since the 1980s.
“¢ Jewish journalist Steven Sotloff, an American-Israeli who had been taken captive while covering the Syrian civil war, is beheaded by ISIS, the outlaw group that has declared an Islamic state in parts of Iraq and Syria. ISIS publishes video of Sotloff’s beheading and that of another American and a Briton, fueling the U.S. decision to expand its airstrikes against ISIS and enlist other countries in the cause.
“¢ Joan Rivers, a Jewish comic who broke barriers for women in comedy and on television, dies at age 81.
“¢ Rabbi Brant Rosen decides to quit his 17-year pulpit job at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., after his outspoken criticism of Israel becomes too divisive for his congregation. Rosen is one of the leaders of the rabbinical council of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group the Anti-Defamation League lists as one of the top 10 anti-Israel organizations in the United States.
“¢ A group of 43 reservists from the Israel Defense Forces’ famed 8200 intelligence unit causes a stir by publicly vowing to stop collecting information on Palestinians. “The intelligence gathered harms innocents and is used for political persecution and for invading most areas of Palestinians’ lives,” the reservists write in their public letter to Israel’s prime minister and IDF top brass. “Our conscience no longer permits us to serve this system.” The IDF says it will take disciplinary action against the reservists.
“¢ More than two weeks after over 40 United Nations peacekeepers from Fiji are kidnapped from the Golan Heights by the Al Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated rebel group in Syria, the peacekeepers are released and cross the Golan border into Israel.
“¢ Four Ohio University students are arrested when a fracas erupts during their protest over the Student Senate president’s “blood bucket challenge” of Israel in which Megan Marzec filmed herself dousing herself with a bucket of fake blood to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Her video echoes the ALS “ice bucket challenge” campaign designed to raise money for and awareness of ALS.