Right in the thick of One Direction’s early success, when Harry Styles was fast becoming an object of affection for teens — and, er, some of us slightly older than that — the pop star moved in with an Orthodox Jewish family.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Styles discussed moving in with his mentor, producer and director Ben Winston. It was supposed to be a quick crash, but turned into a much more prolonged stay.
“Two weeks later and he hadn’t bought his house yet,” Winston said. “It wasn’t going through. Then he said, ‘I’m going to stay until Christmas, if you don’t mind.’ Then Christmas came, and …”
Styles slept on a small mattress in the Winston family’s attic, and managed to avoid hopeful fans, who gathered in front of the empty house he had yet to move into. The family’s Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, the article noted, “with a strong family emphasis, helped keep him sane.”
“Those 20 months were when they went from being on a reality show, X Factor, to being the biggest-selling artists in the world,” Winston recalled. “That period of time, he was living with us in the most mundane suburban situation. No one ever found out, really. Even when we went out for a meal, it’s such a sweet family neighborhood, no one dreamed it was actually him. But he made our house a home. And when he moved out, we were gutted.”
If the “People of the Book” never take that book off the shelf and read it, do they still deserve the moniker?
Over two-thirds of Jews claim that they attend religious services at least a few times a year, but don’t press them on their religious knowledge: only 17% study religious texts weekly (ranking them second-lowest among religious groups, behind Hindus), and 65% “seldom or never” study religious texts, according to the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Survey. Perhaps that’s because 55% of Jews don’t believe that the Torah is the word of God.
In a separate Pew survey on biblical knowledge, Jewish respondents averaged 4.3 out of seven correct responses — higher than the overall average score of 4.1 and the average Christian score of 4.2, but much lower than Mormons (5.7) and slightly lower than atheists / agnostics (4.4). The survey included two questions on the New Testament, which the Jewish faith does not recognize as a part of the biblical canon.
As President Trump returned on Thursday to old accusations that foreign powers are cheating America on trade, it looked as if Steve Bannon – on the ropes for a number of weeks – might have a new lease on life within the administration.
“He’s manically focused on these trade issues,” Bannon told The New York Times. Skepticism of free trade was a hallmark of Trump’s White House bid, and was seen as part of the nationalist departure from Republican orthodoxy that Bannon helped engineer.
The president’s executive order called for an investigation into whether China or South Korea were engaged in unfair trade practices in their exporting of steel.
Before the executive order announcement, the West Wing’s moderates – including Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – seemed to be outmaneuvering the nationalists on economic policy and overall influence.
The president referred to Bannon as a “guy who works for me,” bragged that he was his own strategist and did nothing to tamp down rumors that Bannon soon might find himself booted out of the West Wing.
But as his polls sink and his administration seems unmoored, Trump might be returning to the red-meat message on the economy and trade partners that proved so popular in the heartland.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Texas House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill on Thursday banning state entities from dealing with businesses that boycott Israel or its settlements.
The bill follows the state Senate’s approval of a similar bill in March by overwhelming numbers. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a reconciled version of both bills next month.
In statements, pro-Israel groups that lobbied for the bills praised its passage.
“The relationship between the Jewish state and the Lone Star State is built upon shared values, including a rock-solid commitment to standing up for liberty – especially when it is threatened by radical Islamic extremism,” Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United For Israel, said in a statement.
Josh Block, CEO of The Israel Project, sounded a similar note.
“The people of the Lone Star State and Israel share an unbreakable bond based upon mutual values, and by passing this legislation – ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not fund discrimination – Texas has reaffirmed this important friendship,” he said.
The House bill requires that Texas maintain a list of companies boycotting Israel. Civil liberties groups have objected to such provisions in other states, saying they amount to a blacklist.
In some cases the lists, drawn from the media and other open sources, have proven inaccurate, including companies not boycotting Israel.
Liberal pro-Israel groups say that including prohibitions on boycotting settlements undercuts efforts to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Texas would be the 20th state with laws or executive orders banning state business with BDS-compliant companies.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jewish-American investor and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt has been selected as one of two Diaspora Jews to light an official torch at the state Israel Independence Day ceremony.
Steinhardt, the co-founder and major funder of Taglit-Birthright Israel, will join Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who delivered a prayer at the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January, as the first non-Israelis to light a torch in the ceremony on Mount Herzl scheduled for May 1.
This year’s Yom Haatzmaut theme is the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Another torch lighter with American roots is Rabbanit Chana Henkin, who moved to Israel from the United States in the 1970s with her husband, Yehuda. She founded and serves as the dean of the Nishmat institute, a Jewish learning institution that was one of the first to teach women Talmud and Jewish law. The Henkins’ son Eitam and his wife were killed in an attack on a West Bank road by Palestinian gunmen in October 2015.
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