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Ukraine rabbi: U.S. Jews helped us beat Russia’s anti-Semitism propaganda

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 07:55

(JTA) – Jewish communities in Ukraine and the United States have conducted a coordinated and successful effort to refute Russian claims that Ukraine’s revolution unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic acts, one of Ukraine’s chief rabbis said.

“We’ve been working very closely with the organized Jewish community to counter the propaganda that is coming out of Russia about anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich said on Tuesday at a news conference in Kiev. “In many ways we feel we’ve won the battle, maybe not the war. There’s a lot less of that anti-Semitism propaganda coming out of Russia today.”

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged accusations of anti-Semitism since the eruption last year of a revolution that in February led to the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych, whom critics described as a corrupt Kremlin puppet. Ukrainian Jewish groups, including Bleich’s Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, became very critical of the Kremlin after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March, in a move that triggered an ongoing armed conflict between pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east and Ukrainian government troops.

Bleich said the Jewish communities of Ukraine acted in unison with American ones to counter Russian claims, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that the Crimean annexation was to protect minorities, including Jews. “Everybody was coordinated. This wasn’t done with everybody doing his own thing,” Bleich said.

Bleich noted the work of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE), an international nonprofit organization that promotes interethnic ties and was founded by the Canadian industrialist James Temerty.

On Tuesday, Bleich’s organization and UJE awarded the annual Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Award to Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian Jewish oligarch who is one of Ukraine’s richest people and most generous philanthropists. Last year, Temerty received the award.

From his residence in Lviv, Sheptytsky helped hide more than 150 Jews during the Holocaust, and he protested the Nazi murder of Jews. But his Holocaust-era record remains controversial because he initially welcomed the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, thinking it preferable to Russian domination under the Communist regime, according to the University of Toronto’s Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine.

Argentine students paint over anti-Semitic graffiti in public park

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 07:42

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentine students from four non-Jewish schools joined forces with the local Jewish community, the national political Jewish umbrella and the municipal government to paint over anti-Semitic graffiti.

The students painted tolerance messages and art over neo-Nazi inscriptions at the Parque Urquiza public park in the city of Parana, in the Argentine province of Entre Rios.

Entre Rios is the province that once housed agricultural settlements sponsored by Baron de Hirsch in the late 1880s.

The public park was vandalized with Nazi symbols and also the inscription in German “Achtun juden,” or “Warning Jews.”

“It is the first time that this type of response has occurred and it is a precedent; this establishes the position of the civil society and the government against Nazi symbols in public spaces,” Diego Dlugovitzky, the representative for Parana City to the DAIA national Jewish political umbrella, told JTA.

The action was proposed by the local Jewish community to Parana Mayor Blanca Osuna, who agreed immediately.

Representatives of the local Jewish community, the DAIA, students, the mayor  and local media attended the Nov. 14 event at the park.

“I think these type of attacks are a shame for all of us, and today´s action  is a contribution to the education of our youth,” Osuna said.  “We do this with the Jewish community, but we are doing this because society needs to care for  its members and honor their history.

“We were invited to collaborate in the painting to cover the sins, the aggression on the Jewish community. We wanted to fix this, because we think that it is wrong, and we came to help. We are happy to have been called, and doing this is important despite the different religions that everyone comes from,” student Magdalena Tudor, from  the Edupro School, told local media. Students from the Sarmiento and La Salle schools and Estudiantes Club also participated in the event.



UCLA student government passes Israel divestment resolution

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 06:58

(JTA) — The UCLA undergraduate student government passed a resolution that calls for the University of California to divest from American companies that are accused of abusing Palestinian human rights.

The student government passed the divestment resolution by a vote of 8 to 2, with two abstentions on Tuesday night.

The vote comes nine months after the student government rejected a similar resolution by a vote of 7-5, which came amid threats to student representatives and accusations that the campus Jewish community had not been consulted on the resolution. The issue of Israel policy has been a controversial one at UCLA — it became a central campaign issue in recent campus elections, and members of student government were accused, though not found culpable, of conflict of interest for taking sponsored trips to Israel.

Introduced by Students for Justice in Palestine, the resolution calls for divestment from Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Cemex and Cement Roadstone Holdings — companies whose products divestment backers said were used by the Israeli military to violate Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

About 250 students attended the Undergraduate Students Association Council meetingon Tuesday night, the UCLA student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, reported. There were 90 minutes of public comment on the resolution during the meeting, though only students who supported the proposal spoke, according to the newspaper.

Representatives from Hillel at UCLA, Bruins for Israel and J Street U made a special 15-minute presentation during which they explained their opposition to the resolution. Students for Justice in Palestine also made a presentation, saying that the university should divest from the companies because they because they either contributed to the construction of settlements in the West Bank or provided weapons used in attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the Daily Bruin.

Student groups that co-sponsored the resolution include the Afrikan Student Union, Armenian Student Association, MEChA de UCLA, Samahang Pilipino, Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, Queer Alliance and Bruin Feminists for Equality.

After the vote, Students for Justice in Palestine hailed the vote as “a milestone victory for social justice,” touting the measure’s broad support across the UCLA political spectrum.

In a joint statement, Bruins for Israel and Hillel at UCLA denounced the vote, declaring: “This vote represents one of several attempts by a small, vocal coalition of students to improperly utilize student government to purport to speak for the entire undergraduate community.”

Sen. John McCain to receive Spirit of Jan Karski Award

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 06:41

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The U.S.-based Jan Karski Educational Foundation has awarded its Spirit of Jan Karski Award 2014 to U.S. Senator John McCain.

The award is given annually to people who work to defend human rights, prevent genocide, and promote the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.

Karski, who was not Jewish, was an officer of the Polish Underground during World War II and was among the first to provide eyewitness accounts to the Allies of Nazi Germany’s murder of the Jews.

Andrzej Rojek, chairman of the foundation, said the foundation’s council was unanimous in its decision to honor McCain. “It’s a reward for courage and opposing acts of international aggression. Senator McCain has his entire life served affairs that resonate with the ideas of Karski,” said Rojek in a statement.

The ceremony will take place on Nov. 20 at the Polish Consulate in New York.

Meanwhile, the Jan Karski Institute for Tolerance and Dialogue opened on Nov. 16 in Kielce in a building where a pogrom against Polish Jews occurred in 1946.

Bogdan Bialek, president of Polish Jan Karski Association, said that the Institute will be involved in creating dialogue between people from different cultures.

In a related incident, it was revealed that the family of Jan Karski was not invited to the grand opening last month of the core exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which includes Karski in its exhibition. “Nobody from the museum ever contacted me,” Karski’s niece, Dr. Wieslawa Kozielewska-Trzaska, told the Forward.

“The museum did not cooperate directly with the members of the family of Jan Karski mentioned in Forward’s article, hence as a museum we did not issue a direct invitation,” Grzegorz Tomczewski, a spokesman for the museum told JTA.



Haredi-raised Jew sues Quebec for allowing substandard yeshiva education

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 06:35

MONTREAL (JTA) —A formerly haredi Orthodox Jew is suing the Quebec government for $1.25 million for not enforcing provincial education guidelines and thus, he argues, leaving him virtually illiterate and unemployable.

Yonanan Lowen, 36, attended two still-operating haredi  yeshivas north of Montreal where instruction was only in Yiddish. He says he never learned to read or write English or French, nor did his schools follow the public school curriculum as the law requires.

That, he says, left him with no potential for a real future in the province despite having several children to support after an arranged marriage at age 18.

Born in Great Britain, Lowen came to Quebec at age 10. He is blaming the education ministry, youth protection officials and a local school board for allowing the schools to continue operating.

He left the haredi Orthodox community in 2010 before moving to Montreal.

Although he now teaches a few hours each week at a synagogue, Lowen says he suffers from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

U.S. condemnations of synagogue attack cite incitement as a factor

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:45

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Condemnations of the deadly Jerusalem synagogue attack by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, leading Congress members and top Jewish groups included calls on the Palestinian leadership to roll back incitement.

“The Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path,” Kerry said in London, where he was meeting with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond.

Two Palestinian attackers wielding an axe, knives and guns killed four worshippers in a synagogue Tuesday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof before police shot the attackers dead. A Druze police officer died that night from a gunshot wound to the head suffered in the shootout.

Top U.S. Jewish groups including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who named Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as an inciter in part because Abbas has blamed Israel for unrest on the Temple Mount, a site holy to Jews and Muslims.

“Abbas knows full well that Israel has no designs on the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem and, in fact, has made every effort to safeguard them,” David Harris, the AJC director, said in a statement.

J Street praised Abbas for condemning the attack but condemned what it called the moral equivalence of other Palestinian figures.

“We reject other comments by Palestinian officials, including one posted on an official Fatah Facebook page attempting to justify this attack as a response to conditions in the West Bank or recent Israeli actions,” the dovish pro-Israel lobby said.

A number of congressional leaders also singled out the Palestinian Authority, calling for greater vigilance against incitement. They included Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee; and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Today’s attack is yet another example of the Palestinian Authority’s campaign of incitement to violence against Israelis and Jews,” Royce said.

In testimony Tuesday following the terrorist attack, Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, reportedly told a Knesset committee that Abbas was not responsible for the violence. Abbas was not interested in terrorism, nor was he leading Palestinians to terrorism, although some Palestinians might misconstrue his criticisms of Israel as incitement, Haaretz quoted Cohen as saying.

Cohen said the critical factor were Jewish provocations, including high-profile visits to the Temple Mount.

Policeman’s death raises synagogue attack death toll to 5

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:24

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The number of victims in the terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue rose to five with the death of a police officer.

Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druze village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee, died Tuesday evening from a gunshot wound to the head suffered in a shootout with the two Palestinian assailants in that morning’s attack at Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov. The synagogue is located in the fervently Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood of western Jerusalem.

Seven others were injured in the attack, some critically.

Eyewitnesses told the Times of Israel that Saif was shot while protecting another police officer. He is married and the father of a 4-month-old daughter.

Four worshippers, all rabbis, also were killed in the attack, which took place during services. Three of the dead are dual American and Israeli citizens; one was also a British citizen.

Israeli police killed the two assailants, Palestinian cousins Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal of eastern Jerusalem.

AJC fires Boston staffer for Open Hillel breach

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:03

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Jewish Committee fired a staffer who offered to share with Open Hillel activists an off-the-record recording of a conference call with the director of Hillel.

Danny Blinderman, who works in AJC’s Boston office, said in an email exchange with members of Open Hillel that he would join the call led by Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut on “Israel on Campus,” the Free Beacon reported Tuesday, and offered to share “all things of relevance” with an Open Hillel listserv.

Open Hillel is a small network of Jewish student campus groups that reject Hillel International’s precepts banning events with speakers who advocate boycotting Israel and working with groups that are seen as hypercritical of Israel.

Ken Bandler, the AJC spokesman, said in a statement that the organization learned after the fact that the call “was shared with unauthorized outsiders.”

“This constituted a serious breach of trust,” Bandler said. “Accordingly, the individual who shared the information is no longer employed by AJC.”

New York state monitor’s report slams majority Orthodox school board

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 16:53

NEW YORK (JTA) — A monitor appointed by New York state to investigate a troubled school district issued a harshly worded report slamming the the majority haredi Orthodox school board.

In his report Monday, Hank Greenberg said the East Ramapo Central School District gave preferential treatment to Orthodox students who do not attend the district’s public schools, The New York Times reported. He said the board’s fiscal management was “abysmal” and that the district is “on the precipice of fiscal disaster.”

Greenberg, a former counsel to the state attorney general, recommended appointing a fiscal monitor empowered to overrule the school board and superintendent while also providing additional funds to the district.

According to The Journal News, Greenberg’s proposal would be “the most dramatic intervention in a school district by New York state in more than a decade” and is expected to be approved by the New York Board of Regents and then sent on to the State Legislature.

The Rockland County district encompasses a suburban area where haredi Orthodox Jews, who attend yeshivas, make up more than half the population. The public school students are mostly black or Latino.

Since 2005, when the elected school board became majority Orthodox, the district, which has made significant budget cuts, has been accused of not allocating adequate funds to the public schools. Community activists also have alleged that the board improperly diverted taxpayer funds to benefit area yeshivas and used public dollars for special-education services at private schools, even when comparable services were available in public institutions.

In a briefing to reporters, the Times reported, Greenberg said the East Ramapo board did not act “out of base or venal motives.”

“What I have found is that you have a board deeply influenced and informed by the community from which they’ve come — so concerned about the children of that community that it has blinded them to the needs of the entire community,” he said.

Greenberg said that the district made sharp cuts to public school spending while significantly increasing spending on transportation and special education for yeshiva students, going well beyond the state-mandated requirements for such spending.

According to Greenberg, the district has depleted its emergency reserves, including funds it is legally required to maintain for insurance, liability and other potential costs.

Greenberg also criticized the board for not allowing the public to attend many of its meetings and for dismissing critics by accusing them of anti-Semitism.

He did not recommend a state takeover, however.

In a statement, the Times reported, board president Yehuda Weissmandl said he was “uncomfortable with some of the characterizations” in the report, but “hopeful that it will lead to progress for the children of the district.”

Palestinian man, Jewish man attacked in Jerusalem in separate incidents

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 16:43

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian man said he was attacked by Jewish teens in the center of Jerusalem.

The man told police that three teenagers in Safra Square called him over to get a light for their cigarettes. As he neared the teens, they cut his leg with a box-cutting knife, the man said.

The Palestinian Maan news agency called the alleged assailants “Israeli teens.”

Police said they are investigating the incident.

A couple of hours later a Jewish-Israeli, 20, riding a bicycle told police that he was attacked by two Arabs with an iron rod in the Old City of Jerusalem who fled. The man was taken to Hadassah Medical Center. Police are searching for the attackers.


Spain’s Congress recognizes Palestinian state reached through talks

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 16:00

(JTA) — Spain’s Congress unanimously passed a nonbinding motion calling on the government to recognize Palestinian statehood, but added that it must be reached through negotiations with Israel.

The text passed Tuesday by the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house, was the result of lengthy negotiations on the precise wording of the draft motion between the ruling Popular Party and the opposition Socialist Workers’ Party, which filed the motion last month.

The motion calls on the government to “recognize Palestine as a state” but also adds that such recognition “must be the result of a negotiation process between the parties that guarantees peace and security for both.”

The Popular Party, which has 185 seats out of 350 in the Spanish Congress, said hours before the vote that it would support recognition of a Palestinian state only if it is the result of talks with Israel.

Israel and the United States also maintain that the recognition of a Palestinian state should be the result of talks between the parties.

The future Palestinian state is described in the motion as “a sovereign, democratic and independent state,” the Cadena SER radio network reported. The original draft filed by the Socialist Workers’ included the word “contiguous,” but it was dropped from the approved text.

Daniel Fernandez of the Spanish pro-Israel ACOM group told JTA that he considered the vote a “major achievement” because “what started out as a pro-Palestinian initiative basically became an endorsement of Israel’s policy.”

The vote in Spain follows votes in Britain’s House of Commons and Ireland’s upper house, which both approved nonbinding motions recognizing the state of Palestine without any reference to negotiations as a condition. Sweden also recognized a Palestinian state last month without such a stipulation.

New York increases security around synagogues

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 13:25

(JTA) — New York City increased its police presence at synagogues and other locations in the wake of an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left five dead.

“The NYPD is following developments in Jerusalem closely and working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor any further developments,” the city’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, said in a statement. “As of now, there is no specific credible threat to New York City.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio asked New Yorkers to remain alert and report suspicious activity, WCBS-TV reported. He said that the NYPD is “in close contact with its liaison post in Israel.”

The FBI said in a statement that it is “aware of the situation” and was “working in close collaboration and cooperation with the appropriate Israeli allies and partners.”

In his statement, de Blasio said, “New York City stands in solidarity with Israel at this difficult time, and we hope and pray for a peaceful and secure future for all of its people.” The mayor said he was “horrified and heartbroken” by the attack.

Spanish ruling party: No Palestine recognition without peace talks

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 13:18

(JTA) — Spain will recognize a Palestinian state only if it is born out of peace talks with Israel, the country’s ruling party said.

The statement Tuesday by Alfonso Alonso, the spokesman of the Popular Party’s faction in the Congress of Deputies, was issued hours ahead of a vote on a nonbinding draft motion favoring immediate recognition that was filed last month by the Socialist Workers’ Party.

The same day, two Palestinian terrorists killed four people during morning services at a Jerusalem synagogue.

“We consider that taking unilateral steps does not help movement down the path of peace,” Alonso said in a statement. “We do not intend to recognize a Palestinian state unless it is obtained through negotiations that take into account both parties’ positions.”

The Popular Party has 185 seats out of 350 in the Spanish Congress. The Socialist Workers is the second largest party with 110 seats.

The Spanish draft motion follows the adoption last month of a similar nonbinding motion in Britain’s House of Commons and in Ireland’s upper house. Also last month, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said his country would recognize Palestine. Another draft motion was submitted to France’s lower house for a vote later this month.

British Jews warned to remain vigilant following Jerusalem, Antwerp attacks

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 13:05

(JTA) — Following the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue and the stabbing of a Jewish man in Belgium, the security unit of British Jewry advised vigilance around Jewish institutions.

The Community Security Trust issued the warning Tuesday in a security bulletin that contained nine instructions to Jewish institutions, including a call to “ensure visible external security patrols take place to deter and detect hostile activity” and immediate reporting to police of any suspicious behavior.

The instructions were issued in the wake of Tuesday’s Jerusalem attack that left five dead, but “also following the stabbing of a Jewish man on his way to synagogue in Antwerp on Saturday,” the bulletin noted.

“CST is not aware of any specific threat to the Jewish community in the UK. However, we urge everyone to remain vigilant and to report and challenge suspicious activity immediately to Police and CST.”

Eric Pickles, Britain’s secretary of state for communities and local government, called CST chief executive David Delew to discuss the Jerusalem attack and express support, CST said.

Across Europe, Jewish communities expressed shock and outrage at the attack.

CRIF, the umbrella of French Jewish communities and organizations, expressed its “horror.” Its president, Roger Cukierman, said that the presence of Hamas, which praised the attack, in the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would “disqualify [the legitimacy] of initiatives for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.”

The Consistoire, the organ responsible for providing religious services to many Jewish communities in France, convened its council for a session on the attack. The religious body said in a statement that the attack “reached a new level of barbarism” and sent its condolences to the families of the victims.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement, “Jewish communities around the world are united this morning in immeasurable grief.”

Obama condemns synagogue attack, calls for calm in Jerusalem

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:06

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama named the three American victims in denouncing a terrorist attack in Jerusalem and called for calm to prevail in the city.

“I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

Kupinsky, 43; Levine, 55; and Twersky, 60, were all dual U.S.-Israel citizens. Also killed was a dual British-Israeli citizen, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68.

“There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians,” Obama said. “At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.”

On Tuesday night, Druze police officer Zidan Saif, 30, died of gunshot wounds suffered in the shootout with the assailants.

Israel and Palestinian leaders in recent weeks have exchanged accusations that the other side is provoking violence in the city centered on access rights to the Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site, known to Muslims as the Haram a-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam.

Israeli synagogues instructed to hire security guards

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:17

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In the wake of a deadly attack in Jerusalem, synagogues throughout Israel have been instructed to place security guards at their entrances.

Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovich, also announced on Tuesday that his office would ease requirements for gun licenses.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security consultation in his Jerusalem office following the morning attack on the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in western Jerusalem that left four dead, including three with dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship.

Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the two Palestinian terrorists who perpetrated the attack, according to a statement from his office following the meeting.

A series of additional decisions also were made in order to strengthen security throughout the country, the statement said.

Along with Aharonovich, other participants at the security meeting were Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Shin Bet director Yore Cohen, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, State Attorney Shay Nissan, Jerusalem District Police Commander Moshe Derik and the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

Following the attack, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, said that Jews in Israel should not pray in a synagogue unless there is an armed guard. Yosef called on the government to help in funding the extra security.

“In every other public place security guards are stationed; there is no reason synagogues should remain defenseless,” Yosef said, according to the NRG news website.



Jewish man beaten at Brooklyn train station in apparent anti-Semitic attack

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:08

(JTA) — Three assailants beat an identifiably Jewish man while shouting anti-Semitic epithets at a Brooklyn train station.

A bystander who intervened in the attack on Monday in the Williamsburg neighborhood also was attacked, the New York Daily News reported, citing the website JPUpdates.com.

The Jewish man, who was identified as a tourist from Israel, was beaten with his own umbrella after he discovered them trying to take something out of his pocket. They called him a ‘dirty bloody Jew’ and a ‘f—ing Jew’ during the attack, according to the newspaper.

The attackers fled on a Manhattan-bound train.

The New York Police Department’s hate crimes unit is investigating the incident, The Associated Press reported.


Three of synagogue terror attack victims are U.S. citizens

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:02

Hundreds of Israelis mourn at the funeral of three of the victims killed earlier in the day when two Palestinian terrorists from east Jerusalem entered the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue in the Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem, with pistols and axes, and began attacking Jewish worshipers, Nov. 18, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rabbi Moshe Twersky, the grandson of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, was identified as one of the four people killed in a Jerusalem synagogue attack.

Twersky, 60, was among the three dual Israel-U.S. citizens killed in the Tuesday morning attack during services at the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in western Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.

He was the dean of the Torat Moshe Yeshiva, an advanced level English-speaking yeshiva attended mostly by post-high school students from English-speaking countries.

Soloveitchik, known as the Rav, was the founder of modern Orthodoxy. Twersky was the son of rabbi and author Yitzhak Twersky of Boston.

At least eight worshippers also were injured, some seriously, including two police officers who engaged in a shootout with the assailants, who were killed at the scene.

Twersky was the first of the victims to be identified. The other three were named early Tuesday afternoon.

They are Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, and Kalman Zeev Levine, 55, residents of Har Nof who were born in the United States, and Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, an immigrant from Britain.


More Madoff money brings total to $10.3 billion going back to investors

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:02

(JTA) — Victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme will split another $500 million, bringing the total recovered to $10.3 billion.

Trustee Irving Picard on Monday announced a settlement with two “feeder funds” that are being liquidated in the Cayman Islands. The funds had invested with Madoff but had withdrawn their profits from Madoff’s firm in the six years before it collapsed. Investors in those funds are also entitled to recoup some of their losses.

The settlement must be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, which has scheduled a Dec. 17 hearing to consider approval of the deal, according to The Associated Press.

Picard has distributed to bilked investors nearly $6 billion of the $10.3 billion recovered in the past six years.

Madoff, 70, is serving a 150-year sentence at the medium-security federal prison in Butner, N.C., for a scheme believed to be the largest of its kind in U.S. history. He pleaded guilty in March 2009.

The scheme affected a disproportionate number of Jewish individuals and organizations.


Spanish mayor issues apology for ‘Jewish dog’ slur

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 08:53

(JTA) — The mayor of a Madrid suburb apologized through a spokesman for using the term “Jewish dog” during her campaign.

The office of Collado Villalba Mayor Mariola Vargas issued the apology on Friday to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, or FCJE, in connection with Vargas’ remark during a news conference in which she denied allegations that she has foreign bank accounts and urged listeners to believe her because “I’m no Jewish dog.”

“Mariola Vargas apologizes for her remarks on Nov. 12,” a municipal spokesman wrote in an email to FCJE, which had complained to the mayor — a member of Spain’s ruling Popular Party – over the pejorative.

Maria Royo, a spokeswoman for FCJE, said the apology was appropriate but added that the slur “once again reveals the deep roots that Judeophobia has in our country,” she told JTA, adding that such slurs are offensive to Jews even if they are not intended to insult them. “In other countries, people who make such statements are not permitted to occupy a public office.”

Anti-Semitic pejoratives are a divisive issue in Spain, where many use the phrase “kill a Jew” to describe the consumption of alcohol, and where official dictionaries contain the term “Judiada,” which literally means Jewry but whose definition is “Bad action that is considered, with bias, to belong to Jews.”

David Hatchwell, president of the Jewish Community of Madrid, told JTA on Monday, “There is anti-Semitism in Spain, feeding on a lot of ignorance about Jews. But there is also a Jewish revival and a government policy to honor Spain’s Jewish heritage. And unlike in Paris, where wearing kipah is an invitation to harassment, you can expect no such problems in Madrid.”