Global Year in Review: Our Year-view Mirror

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A look back at the people and often-turbulent events that made headlines around the globe in 5774.

This past year was one of the most trying in recent history for the Jewish people. From the bloody Gaza war between Israel and Hamas to the eruption of virulent — and often violent — anti-Semitism across the globe, we were buffeted on all sides. Adding to the external threats was the stark reminder in the form of the Pew study on American Jewry that we face internal challenges to our Jewish future as well. Despite all the doom and gloom, there were moments of victory and celebration — both personal and collective —as our community came together to support Israel, pass historic legislation and find meaning in our Jewish lives.

Here is a photo essay of some of the global events affecting world Jewry that stood out in 5774:

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 remembering the year’s final passages

The year saw the death of many who made a difference in Israel, around the world and here at home. Those lost included former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in January; the legendary “voice of Israel,” Arik Einstein, in November; journalist Steven Sotloff murdered by ISIS in September; and comedienne Joan Rivers, also in September. Locally, final goodbyes were said to, among others, philanthropist businessman Lewis Katz; Rabbis Aaron Landes and Aaron Felder; and
the longtime basketball legend Red Klotz.

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Anti-Semitism’s deadly impact here and abroad

According to a poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, 26 percent of people globally hold “deeply anti-Semitic views.” Synagogue bombings in Ukraine, protests in Europe and Australia in the wake of the Gaza war and a fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Belgium underscored why nearly a third of European Jews polled in November said they seriously considered emigrating. The United States also had its fair share of incidents, including April’s attack on the Jewish Community Center of Kansas City (left) and an assault on a Temple University student in August.

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Unimaginable loss, unavoidable war

The formation of a Fatah-Hamas unity government, the ensuing collapse of peace talks and the abduction and murder of teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel precipitated a summer of deadly clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas. After incessant rocket attacks against civilians, Israel launched Operation Defensive Edge, with airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza, discovering in the process a complex system of “terror tunnels.” The toll of the 50-day conflagration included the deaths of 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians. More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, including the revenge attack of a Palestinian teenager from Jerusalem. The Iron Dome missile defense system was hailed as a miracle, preventing more deaths in Israel. The war sparked violent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations around the world.

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survey says: jewry in flux

The Pew Research Center’s October study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” featured copious data and observations on the present and future status of American Jewry. It unleashed a torrent of commentary and reaction as everyone sought to dissect its ramifications. Among the findings: There are an estimated 6.8 million self-identifying Jews in the United States; 69 percent of those surveyed felt an attachment to Israel; 90 percent who identified as Jews by religion and are raising children said they are raising them Jewish or partly Jewish; and 22 percent said they had no religion.

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sports figures on the ball

Jewish athletes were well-represented across the sports spectrum in 5774, from JCC Junior Maccabi to college and professional levels. But it was a non-player who made arguably the biggest waves this year. David Blatt (inset), who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an upset victory in the Euroleague Championship in May, left the team to become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he’s teaming up with players LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Another big story in sports was the unexpected run made by the Israeli team through the World Lacrosse Championships in July. The team, which was only formed in 2010, made it to the quarterfinals.

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blown away by political headwinds

This was not a good year for Jewish politicians, neither those already serving nor those running for election. Pennsylvania’s only Jewish elected official in Congress, Allyson Schwartz, gave up her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to run for governor, where she lost in the Democratic primary to Tom Wolf. And the Jews running to replace her as representative of the 13th District, Daylin Leach and Marjorie Margolies, both lost in the Democratic primary to Brendan Boyle. The House lost even more Jewish representation this year as longtime Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in office since 1975, announced his retirement. And in one of the biggest political upsets in recent memory, the body’s highest-ranking Jewish Republican, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his primary in June to a Tea Party candidate. In Israeli politics, Likud’s Reuven Rivlin succeeded Shimon Peres as the country’s president in July.

 

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