It’s list-making time, and this year I begin a new one — the top Jewish-making news stories. Here are my picks for 2015:
1. Anti-Semitic attacks escalate across Europe.
In January an Islamic terrorist killed four Jews inside a Paris kosher market, and in February a terrorist killed a synagogue guard in Copenhagen. The number of French Jews moving to Israel grew during the year.
2. American Jews divide over Iran.
In March Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected Israel’s prime minister. Earlier that month, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress on the dangers of the proposed Iran nuclear agreement. In September, despite Netanyahu’s opposition, a multinational accord was approved, but the public debate on the issue created rancor within the American Jewish community.
3. The BDS campaign gathers force.
In June, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ approved a resolution calling for the denomination to divest and boycott certain companies doing business with Israel. Critics charged the UCC and other boycott, divestment and sanction proponents were one-sided because they avoided any condemnation of the so-called Islamic State’s often murderous persecution of Middle East Christians and other religious minorities, the slaughter of innocents in the Syrian civil war, and other horrific human rights abuses in the region.
Following the BDS vote, UCC President John Dorhauer, questioned “if the benefits of our divesting from those companies is equal in cost to the relationships that we have with people who are critical to our movement towards justice.”
4. Jewish women in Israel make strides to achieve religious equality.
The “Women of the (Western) Wall” organization continued the fight for the right of women at Judaism’s holiest site to read from the Torah scroll, sing and pray, wear religious garments, and exercise other rights granted to men. Despite opposition from many Orthodox Jewish leaders, progress continues to be made, albeit slowly. (In the U.S., Rachelle David of Syosset, N.Y., was the first female graduate of an Orthodox yeshiva to become a cadet at West Point.)