Tonight’s Congressional Races to Watch

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Along with the presidential race, we’re paying attention to congressional contests of Jewish interest and with Jewish candidates. Below are some of the races we will be watching tonight. 

The Community Votes

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In the hours before President Barack Obama won re-election,  Exponent staff members spoke with Jewish voters in polling sites throughout Philadelphia and Montgomery County. While the conversations were far from comprehensive or scientific, they offered a glimpse into how voters felt on this long-awaited Election Day.

Would Sandy Sandbag Rite of Passage?

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We always hear about children preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs by including a mitzvah project. But what happens when the congregation and its leaders turn the tables and do the mitzvah for a child about to enter Jewish adulthood? 

Republican Event Takes Aim at President’s Multiple ‘Failures’

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More than 550 people came to a Republican Jewish Coalition town hall event at Gratz College Nov. 1 as part of a final GOP push in Pennsylvania.

The Power of Prayer, the Power in Prayer

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Hazzan Harold Messinger of Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley wrote the following prayer this week, reflecting on the storm and its aftermath.

The Minds Behind Kosher Eatery

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A few days before the unveiling of Citron and Rose, an upscale kosher restaurant on the Main Line slated to open Nov. 7, a star chef and a prolific restaurateur who are guiding the enterprise talked to each other about what’s behind the concept.

PSU’s Spanier Now Facing Charges

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Graham Spanier, the Jewish former president of Penn State University whose parents fled Nazi Germany and who had been a big supporter of the campus Hillel, is now facing criminal charges. He was fired last year in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal that centered around former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Deluged Day School, Ruined Torahs and Devastated Communities Left in Sandy’s Wake

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When Rabbi Avremel Okonov arrived Tuesday morning at the school he co-founded 10 years ago in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, the water in the basement had already receded from the high water mark. It only came up to his knees. Everywhere he looked around his school, Mazel Academy, there was destruction. On the walls of the school’s lower level, which sits several feet below the street and just blocks from the Brooklyn waterfront, he could see the mark where the water level had risen. It was at head level.

In Toulouse, French President Vows to Fight Anti-Semitism

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MARSEILLE, France
 
France will clamp down on anti-Semitic hate speech online and elsewhere, French President Francois Hollande said at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
 
“We will relentlessly combat anti-Semitism, also on social networks where haters may have anonymity,” Hollande said at a press conference that he held on Thursday with Netanyahu at the Jewish school in Toulouse where three children and a rabbi were murdered in March.
 
In his speech, which followed a commemorative ceremony dedicated to the attack's victims, Hollande said that he would promote new legislation against hate speech.
 
“We will tear off all the masks, all the pretexts, to anti-Semitic hate," Hollande said. Addressing Netanyahu, he added: “I would like to remind you of the determination with which the French Republic has confronted anti-Semitism, not only wth words but with actions.”
 
A police report released last week highlighted French security authorities’ failures in handling surveillance of Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old Muslim radical who killed the four Jews on March 19 at Toulouse's Otzar Hatorah school.
 
The attack on the Jewish school came four days after Merah gunned down two French soldiers in a nearby town and eight days after he killed another French soldier in Toulouse. Merah was later shot and killed by police following a lengty standoff at his apartment.
 
“Every time a Jew is targeted because he or she is Jewish, it concerns Israel. That is the meaning of your presence here, which I understand,” Hollande told Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister was making his first visit to France since Hollande was elected president.
 
Netanyahu said that Hollande's presence expresses "the spirit of resistance to evil and tyranny." Netanyahu said that “anybody who doesn’t respect the human rights of Jews will not respect the human rights of other peoples.” He added: “It was not accident that the killer of Toulouse killed not only Jews but also French soldiers, Christian and Muslim alike.”
 
Netanyahu ended his speech with nine seconds of vigorous singing of “Am Yisrael Chai,” or “the people of Israel live on,” in response to “all of Israel’s haters, be they in France or at the Dolphinarium or Itamar,” the scenes of past attacks by Palestinian terrorists.
 
The chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, accompanied Netanyahu to Toulouse. Sharansky announced the establishment of a fund to help upgrade security in Jewish communities. The fund will support infrastructure upgrades and other security measures for communal institutions in small Jewish communities, including schools and synagogues.
 
Yaacov Monsonego, director of the Otzar Hatorah school and the father of one of the victims, told Hollande that his presence at the school shoulder to shoulder with Israel's prime minister attested to the French president’s devotion to confronting anti-Semitism.
 
“I let go of Miriam’s hand, and two minutes later she was executed just because she was Jewish,” Monsonego said, his voice choking with emotion. Merah gunned down his daughter along with two other boys and their father, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler.
 
“Hatred ruined my life and that of my wife, the tragedy plunged us into darkness. We felt alone,” Monsonego said. The empathy of the French people, Israelis and Jews and non-Jews from all over the word helped the community return to normal, he said, “but the pain continues to dwell in us."
 

Netanyahu Challenges the Left and Casts His Lot With the Right

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Political pundits have long debated who is the real Benjamin Netanyahu. Is he a pragmatist handcuffed by his right-wing support base and fealty to his late father’s nationalist vision? Is he a true right-wing ideologue whose apparent concessions to Israeli-Palestinian peace are but feints? Or is he merely a political survivor willing to do whatever it takes to stay in office, ideology be damned?