November 21st, 2012
01:30 PM ET
By Joe Sterling, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - The code-red siren blaring in Israel on Tuesday hit close to home for Rabbi Adam Starr.
His wife and daughter were visiting the Jewish state Tuesday, where Israelis have been darting for cover from daily Hamas rocket fire.
Starr breathed easy after he got off the phone with his wife.
"She's in Jerusalem," said Starr, leader of the Young Israel of Toco Hills synagogue in Atlanta. "She called me to tell me she is OK."
But he and others in his congregation and across the country remain anxious over the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
September 14th, 2012
03:00 AM ET
By Lateef Mungin
(CNN) - Jewish groups are upset that the initial reporting about the anti-Islam movie known as "Innocence of Muslims" depicted the film as being financed by a group of Jewish donors.
The groups say the reporting was irresponsible and even dangerous.
"We are greatly concerned that this false notion that an Israeli Jew and 100 Jewish backers were behind the film now has legs and is gathering speed around the world," Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League said Thursday. "In an age where conspiracy theories, especially ones of an anti-Semitic nature, explode on the Internet in a matter of minutes, it is crucial for those news organizations who initially reported on his identity to correct the record."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center also blasted the early media coverage of the story.
The center said Thursday it is "deeply troubled that the project was initially falsely and widely depicted as a project of an American- Israeli and that the $5 million was raised by 100 Jews. We remain deeply worried that those initial media reports are being used by Islamist extremists to further fan the violent anti-Semitism that is a part of that sub-culture of hate."
September 5th, 2012
05:39 PM ET
By Jessica Yellin, CNN Chief White House Correspondent
Washington (CNN) – Democrats voted to update their party's platform Wednesday evening at their convention to include a reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, as well as the insertion of the word "God," neither of which was included in their platform this year but was in previous platforms.
The change, proposed by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland immediately after the convention was gaveled into order on Wednesday, required a two-thirds voice vote, but was declared as adopted after three voice votes which brought delegates to their feet, shouting their yeas and nays. Democratic sources told CNN prior to the vote that it was to take place by acclamation.
"I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we've expressed in our party's platform,"Strickland, who chaired the party's platform committee, read. "In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party's platform should as well. "FULL STORY
July 27th, 2012
10:33 PM ET
By Tom Foreman and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
(CNN)—Mitt Romney will be glad handing and photo opping in Israel until Monday during the second leg of the presumptive GOP nominee's international campaign trip.
It is unmistakably aimed, in part, at a traditional Democratic voting bloc: Jewish Americans who are politically active in fundraising, campaigning and voting.
"I think Mitt Romney is going to Israel certainly to court the Jewish vote," said Randall Balmer, the chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College and author of "God in the White House."
"It's definitely sending a message that Israel is important for Romney, that he, he has warm feelings about Israel, that he cares about Israel," said Nathan Guttman, a Washington correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward. "It's sort of important for this kind of a Jewish electorate. But again, we should keep in mind that this is the minority of Jewish voters."
He added, "Most of them are Obama voters to start with; they won't be swayed by it; they don't really care much."
But Romney may have an even larger voting bloc in mind during his trip.
July 5th, 2012
03:29 AM ET
By Joe Sterling, CNN
(CNN) - Archaeologists are reveling in the discovery of an ancient synagogue in northern Israel, a "monumental" structure with a mosaic floor depicting the biblical figure of Samson and a Hebrew inscription.
The synagogue - dating to the fourth and fifth centuries in both the Talmudic and late Roman periods - is in Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in the country's Galilee region, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said.
Jodi Magness, a professor of early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the building was found in a recent excavation.FULL STORY
April 30th, 2012
12:24 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - Columnist and gay-rights advocate Dan Savage is standing by his comment that “we can learn to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about gay people” at a recent conference for high school students, a line that prompted some to walk out and spurred intense online debate.
In a blog post on Sunday, Savage wrote that his remark at a conference for the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association was "being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue.”
“I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised," Savage wrote. "I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against — and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying 'motivated by faith') — because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong.”
March 29th, 2012
09:19 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.
(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?
Answer: None of them.
One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban - slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.
Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.
Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.
March 21st, 2012
10:45 AM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) - The four victims of Monday’s shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, were buried Wednesday morning – not in their home community but, after an overnight flight from Paris, in Jerusalem.
Though two of the young victims were born in Israel, the Consistory of Paris, which represents Jewish communities, told CNN that all the victims were being buried there for reasons of faith, not nationality. Being laid to rest in Israel, the birthplace of Judaism, ensures that their remains will not be tampered with, the group said. It also added that 40% of practicing French Jews are buried in Israel.
French religious Jews aren’t alone in wanting this, and the reasons run deep.
February 3rd, 2012
09:13 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
Atlanta (CNN)–Bishop Eddie Long has been called anointed, but he was recently awarded another title, as shown in a video that’s gone viral. He’s now a king.
Long was wrapped in a “Holocaust Torah” and crowned a king during a recent Sunday ceremony at New Birth Missionary Church, his suburban Atlanta congregation.
A visiting rabbi wrapped Long in the Torah, which he said was recovered during the Holocaust. The rabbi then directed four men to lift a seated Long in his chair and parade him before the New Birth congregation.
Long wiped tears away as he looked over his cheering congregation.
January 27th, 2012
10:40 AM ET
By Joe Sterling, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - When the editor of a Jewish newspaper here wrote this month that the Jewish state might consider assassinating an American president, his column made national headlines and provoked a Secret Service inquiry.
The most striking criticism came from the Jewish community itself, which collectively held its nose and harshly denounced the column by Andrew Adler, who is also the owner of the weekly paper, the Atlanta Jewish Times. Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman called Adler's words "irresponsible and extremist."
Adler apologized and resigned as editor, but some see the episode as the latest example of an increase in divisive, over-the-top rhetoric within American Jewish communal life, revolving largely around the hot-button issue of Israel and its policies toward the Palestinians.
The tensions have provoked Jewish groups across the country to launch programs aimed at lowering the political temperature in their own religious communities.
Israel is not "one of the great unifying factors" that it once was in the Jewish community, said Samuel Freedman, author of "Jew vs. Jew: the Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry.”
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.