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Haredi girls’ school in Beit Shemesh ordered out of secular school building

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 06:09

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A haredi Orthodox girls’ school that began operating on one floor of a secular school in Beit Shemesh must vacate the building.

Under an agreement struck with the Jerusalem District Court, the Mishekenot Da’at school will move out of the second floor of the Safot VeTarbuyot school and operate out of mobile classrooms placed in the schoolyard.

The 110 haredi students must leave the building by Nov. 10, and all barriers and dividers must be taken down, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

The court called on the Ministry of Education and the city of Beit Shemesh to “conduct negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive, long-term solution for the housing of all educational institutions in the city as soon as the coming academic year, including Mishekenot Da’at and Safot Ve’tarbuyot.”

The presence of the haredi school and the erection of barriers between students of the two schools in both the schoolyard and building sparked protests by the secular school’s parents and secular city lawmakers.

Beit Shemesh, which is about 19 miles from Jerusalem, has been a flashpoint for conflicts between haredi and secular residents over the role of religion in the public sphere.

Syrian rebels discover Russian spy post near Israeli border

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 05:46

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Syrian rebels discovered a joint Russian-Syrian secret spy post in a town on the Golan Heights near the border with Israel.

The facility was used as a cover intelligence collection base, the rebels said, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday. It collected information from rebel groups in Syria and of Israeli military forces, according to reports.

Footage of the base taken by the Free Syrian Army and posted on YouTube showed a map detailing locations of Israeli army positions in Israel’s North. It also uncovered photos of senior Russian intelligence and military officials visiting the facility.

The rebels captured the base in Tel Al-Hara, south of the Quneitra border crossing with Israel, over the weekend, according to reports.

The facility may also have been used to spy on Saudi Arabia and Jordan, according to the Daily Beast.

Israel has not officially commented on the discovery.

Spanish city reconnects to Jewish past with Sukkot cultural festival

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 05:20

(JTA) — The city of Toledo in central Spain is launching a two-day cultural festival themed around the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The festival, which ends on Oct. 12, will feature Sephardic music; workshops on how to build a sukkah – a flimsy hut where Jews eat during the holiday in memory of their ancestors’ nomadic existence in the Sinai Desert; and Sephardic cuisine.

“It’s a way for this city to reconnect to a Jewish past that was so rich, it was a second Jerusalem,” said Hugo dos Santos, a Portuguese man whose tourism firm, Meet Spain, is helping the municipality set up the Sukkot festival for the second year.

In 1391, there were five Talmudic schools and 10 synagogues in Toledo — once home to one of the Iberian Peninsula’s largest Jewish populations. The city’s Jewish population was converted to Christianity or exiled in the following years as part of the Spanish Inquisition – a campaign of religious persecution against Jews and other non-Christians led by the Spanish royal house and church. Today, fewer than 100 Jews live in Toledo.

Lawmakers in Spain and Portugal recently advanced legislation which would offer Spanish nationality to any proved descendants of Iberian Jews, or Sephardim. In parallel, dozens of municipalities that are rich with Jewish patrimonial sites in both countries have formed a network designed to promote the preservation and celebration of Sephardic heritage sites and culture.

Last year, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain asked the Spanish Catholic Church to hand over a museum which used to be synagogue and later a church.

Built 834 years ago, the Ibn Shushan Synagogue – or Santa Maria la Blanca church – is one of Spain’s most popular museums. It drew approximately 300,000 visitors in 2010, half of them locals.

Masked Palestinians riot on Temple Mount on eve of Sukkot

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 04:57

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Masked Palestinians rioted on the Temple Mount after it was opened to visitors on the eve of Sukkot.

The rioters threw rocks, concrete blocks and firebombs at police at the Mughrabi gate entrance to the Temple Mount on Wednesday morning. Four policemen were injured during the violence. Five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police.

Police said they dispersed the rioters. The Palestinian Maan news service said that several of the protesters holed up in the Al Aksa Mosque, and said that police then locked them inside the mosque. Visits to the Temple Mount continued undisturbed.

There are more visitors to the Temple Mount this week due to the influx of travelers for the Sukkot holiday, leading to more tension at the site that is holy to both Jews and Palestinians.

The riots come after weeks of rioting and unrest at the Temple Mount and in eastern Jerusalem.

The police announced Tuesday that it would increase security at the Temple Mount and throughout Jerusalem for the Succot holiday.

The unrest also comes after Israeli news reports that The Ministry of Tourism is looking into a plan to open a second gate for Jews and other non-Muslims to enter the Temple Mount.

They currently use the Mughrabi Gate, whose entrance originates from the Western Wall plaza.

Palestinian leader and PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the plan would end the possibility for peace.

“Israel is creating a new reality at the expense of Palestinians, their religious rights, sites, and historical identity,” Ashrawi said, according to Maan. “They are violating the sanctity of religious sites without consequences, which completely terminates possibilities for peace and will ultimately drag the whole region into disastrous clashes.”

Ashrawi is a Palestinian Christian.

Orthodox, Reform have opposite takes on Supreme Court gay marriage move

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 04:34

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Reform and Orthodox groups had opposite takes on the Supreme Court decision not to hear gay marriage cases, effectively extending the right to a majority of the states.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to leave in place lower court rulings that have the potential to bring marriage equality to more than half of the states is cause for celebration for those Americans who will now be able to marry the person they love, no matter their gender,” the Religious Action Center of the Reform Jewish movement said in a statement Tuesday after the court turned away five appeals of lower court rulings permitting gay marriage.

The effect of the denial was to increase from 19 to 30 the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal.

Agudath Israel of America said it remained committed to the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“Agudath Israel of America remains committed to defending marriage as it has been understood since time immemorial: the sanctioned union of a man and a woman,” the group said in a statement. “We do not believe that the constitution demands an abandonment of history.”

State Dept. brings over Israeli, Palestinian hoops coaches

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 04:27

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. State Department is bringing 30 Israeli and Palestinian youth basketball coaches to the United States to promote understanding.

“This exchange program is part of the U.S. Government’s efforts to assist those who believe people of different nationalities, ethnicities, and creeds can live alongside one another constructively and peacefully,” the department said in an Oct. 7 statement.

The Oct. 5-19 program in New York, Washington D.C. and Stamford, Conn., will emphasize “conflict resolution, sports management, and leadership,” the statement said.

The tour culminates a two-year program and participants will be expected to continue to participate in follow-up upon their return.

Facebook completes purchase of WhatsApp

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 03:50

(JTA) — Facebook completed its purchase of the the mobile messaging service WhatsApp for nearly $22  billion in cash and stock.

The transaction was completed on Monday, Facebook paid about $ 2 billion more than when the deal was announced in February due to a rise in the price of Facebook shares.

Facebook named WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum to its board Monday. Koum, 38, grew up a Jewish and “a rebellious little kid” in a poor village outside of Kiev, Wired reported in February. Koum and his mother immigrated to the United States when he was 16 to escape the “troubling political and anti-Semitic environment,” according to Forbes.

“I’ve also known Jan for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected,” Zuckerberg, who also is Jewish, wrote on his Facebook page when the deal was first announced.

WhatsApp, a free mobile messaging service similar to texting, has more than 450 million users, with an additional million joining every day, according to reports. Users pay a $1 yearly fee to use the WhatsApp app; the first year is free.

Facebook said at the time that the purchase was announced that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently after the purchase.

The merger was approved by U.S. antitrust authorities in April, and by the European Union on Friday.

Brooklyn coffee shop owner apologizes for calling Jews ‘greedy infiltrators’

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 17:12

(JTA) — A Brooklyn coffee shop owner who called Jews “greedy infiltrators” on social media has apologized.

Michael Avila, owner of The Coffee Shop in the Bushwick neighborhood, offered “deep and sincere apologies” on Monday to anybody he may have hurt with his rant published last week on his sites. The rant reportedly went viral.

He told DNAinfo New York that his mother’s best friend, who is Jewish, and other friends showed him how he could better choose words to make his point and not offend.

In the rant, Avila said that he wanted his neighbor to sell his building, “BUT NOT be bought out by Jews.” He said Jews “function via greed and dominance.”

He said in his statement to DNAinfo New York, “If I could go back in time, out of my love for Bushwick (as it always was) my post would have looked more like the following — ‘I believe it is wrong for any persons to buy real estate and then dislocate people from their homes for the purpose of self-service.’ ”

Avila also removed his social media sites on Monday.

Four species cleared for air travel

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 17:08

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection once again will allow the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot.

However, travelers may be asked to open containers so that their religious items can be checked for invasive pests, according to the notice posted this week on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.

The Transportation Security Administration, as in previous years, said the containers would be inspected for security purposes.

The four species permitted in airports, security checkpoints and on airplanes are a palm branches, myrtle twigs, willow twigs and a citron. Willow twigs from Europe are not allowed entry.

The Orthodox Union has published a succot guide for travelers online.

“We are gratified by the ongoing sensitivity of these agencies to the religious concerns of our community,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s vice president for federal affairs and its Washington director, who has been working with the relevant federal agencies on these issues for more than two decades. “They are taking meaningful and appropriate steps to accommodate our religious needs.”

Succot begins on Wednesday night.

Designer Galliano back in fashion world two years after anti-Semitic rant

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 17:04

(JTA) — British fashion designer John Galliano is returning to work in the fashion industry two years after he was fired from Christian Dior for an anti-Semitic rant caught on video.

Galliano has been hired as the creative director of the Paris-based fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, the company announced Monday.

Dior fired Galliano in March 2011 after he was filmed making anti-Semitic statements at a Paris bar. Galliano stated his love for Adolf Hitler and told people he believed were Jewish that their mothers should have been gassed. He later blamed his outbursts on addictions to drugs and alcohol.

A French court ruled in September 2011 that Galliano in several incidents had made “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.” He was sentenced to a suspended fine and no jail time.

Following the anti-Semitic tirade, actress Natalie Portman, who was serving as a spokeswoman for Dior, issued a statement condemning Galliano and saying “I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”


Ralph Goldman, former JDC head and a builder of Israel, dies at 100

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 15:25

Then-Israeli President Shimon Peres, standing, greets Ralph Goldman at a salute for the former American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee leader’s 100th birthday in 2014. (Courtesy JDC)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ralph Goldman, who as a young man helped shepherd the State of Israel into existence and later devoted his professional life to bringing humanitarian relief to Jews across the globe, has died at 100.

Goldman, who worked with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee since 1968 — he served twice as its chief executive and still held the title of honorary executive vice president — died Tuesday in Jerusalem, where he had lived for decades.

Active in arming and populating prestate Israel, he went on to lead the effort to bring American technical know-how and educational techniques to the fledgling state.

“Ralph was an iconic and transformative figure who embodied the notion that all ‘Jews are responsible for one another’ throughout his long and extraordinary life,” said JDC’s CEO, Alan Gill.

Born on Sept. 1, 1914, in the town of Lechovitz in what is now Ukraine, Goldman at 11 immigrated with his family to a Jewish suburb of Boston, where he attended the local public schools during the day and Hebrew school five days a week in the late afternoons. In 1934, graduating from Hebrew College, he delivered the valedictory speech in Hebrew.

As a young man, Goldman was involved in local Zionist endeavors. In 1937 he won a contest sponsored by a student Zionist organization for his essay on Stalin’s idea of creating a “homeland for the Jews” in Siberia. He was awarded a fellowship to spend a year in British Mandate Palestine, where he participated in the establishment of Kibbutz Hanita in the Galilee.

He later recalled two months during the 1938 fellowship spent in Jerusalem, where he and some friends sought out Zionist leaders such as Berl Katznelson, Moshe Sharett and Menachem Ussishkin — barely known in the outside world, but heroes to the young Zionists.

“We simply said to them please tell us what’s happening, and they took us seriously,” Goldman said in an undated interview posted on YouTube.

Goldman returned to the United States and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s in social work from Harvard.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, first in the United States, then in England. At the conclusion of World War II, he was stationed in Germany, where he was assigned to assist Jews in Displaced Persons camps.

He was active in the New York operation of prestate Israel’s army, the Haganah, helping to buy and lease airplanes and ships to transport immigrants from Europe to Palestine, and assisting in the effort to recruit personnel for the nascent force. Through this work Goldman met and befriended Teddy Kollek, who would later become the longtime mayor of Jerusalem.

Decades later, Goldman still registered embarrassment when he was reminded of his purchase of the President Warfield, a one-time ferry. Named for the shipping magnate uncle of Wallis Simpson — the Baltimore socialite and notorious admirer of Hitler who had married King Edward VIII — the boat was flat bottomed, unsuitable for long sea voyages and barely made it across the Atlantic to Marseilles, where 5,000 Jewish refugees awaited passage to British Mandate Palestine.

His Haganah colleagues were furious with Goldman but, desperate to move, they prepared the boat for launch, with Goldman helping to manage the passage across the Mediterranean.

It was rechristened the Exodus, and its standoff outside Haifa became a symbol of Jewish resistance to Britain’s refusal to allow in Jews.

Goldman became a close confidant and adviser to Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and in 1951 was in charge of the prime minister’s initial visit to the U.S. as head of state. He spent several years after that coordinating a U.S. program that delivered technical know-how to emerging countries; a 1951 announcement in New York said he was heading up the search for “skilled workers” to train Israelis.

He later served as executive director of the American-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Israel Education Fund, an arm of the United Jewish Appeal that helped establish and improve high schools in Israel.

Goldman joined the JDC in 1968 when he became the associate director of its Israel operation, establishing its department for the care of the elderly and introducing innovations in early childhood care. He would serve as the chief executive of JDC from 1976 until 1985, and again from 1986 until 1988.

Goldman was a driving force in JDC’s low-profile activities behind the Iron Curtain, and in the 1970s and 1980s brought JDC programs back into the open in communist countries. He led sensitive negotiations with Soviet leaders, navigating JDC’s return to what would become the former Soviet Union almost immediately after its collapse.

Asked in 2012 how he pulled off such negotiations without the benefit of diplomatic training or accreditation, Goldman said, “I was representing the Jewish People. I couldn’t afford to fail.”

Limmud FSU, together with the Jewish community of Belarus, last month celebrated his 100th birthday as part of the opening gala celebrations at the beginning of a Limmud FSU conference held in Vitebsk.

Goldman was honored at JDC’s centennial celebration in Jerusalem in May.

His son, David Ben-Rafael, a senior Israeli diplomat, was killed in the March 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina.

Goldman is survived by his daughters, Judith Baumgold of Jerusalem and Naomi Goldman of New York; a daughter-in-law, Elisa Ben-Rafael of Jerusalem; and six grandchildren, as well as great-grandchildren.

Netanyahu orders crackdown on Arab-Israeli protesters in eastern Jerusalem

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:40

(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israeli law enforcement to be more aggressive in combating violent Arab protests in eastern Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, at a special meeting of police and Shin Bet security service chiefs, Netanyahu said that forces should be strengthened in conflict areas and “should act aggressively against rioters,” the French news agency AFP reported, quoting a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Since July, when an Arab teen was murdered by Jewish extremists, Arab youths have been a constant presence on Jerusalem streets and are throwing stones and gas bombs at police and vehicles.

Police said three officers suffered minor injuries Tuesday after being hit by stones and bottles hurled by Arab-Israelis in the Old City. Police say they have arrested more than 700 Arabs in eastern Jerusalem since July, including at least 250 minors.

Gardeners discover bag of ISIS flags in northern Israel

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:30

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Gardeners in the Israeli city of Nazareth Illit discovered a bag containing about 25 ISIS flags.

Israel Police have opened an investigation into the discovery of the flags on Tuesday in an industrial area of northern Israeli city. The possession of materials from the jihadist group was outlawed in Israel several weeks ago.

“When something like this is discovered in the heart of a Jewish city, it needs to light up many warning signs,” Nazareth Illit Mayor Alex Gadalkin told Ynet.

In late September, a 24-year-old Arab-Israeli from Kfar Kana who was suspected of being associated with ISIS was arrested and questioned.

Earlier in the month, another Arab-Israeli was arrested for allegedly traveling to Syria and training with ISIS. Contact with the group also was made illegal.

Ancient mikvah, World War II-era graffiti found near Beit Shemesh

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:24

The steps of a 1,900-year-old mikvah discovered near Beit Shemesh. (Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

(JTA) — A highway expansion project in Israel has led to the discovery of a nearly 2,000-year-old mikvah.

The ritual bath was discovered at Ha-Ela Junction, near the city of Beit Shemesh, during archaeological excavations conducted prior to widening Highway 38, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a news release.

In addition to the 1,900-year-old mikvah, archaeologists discovered fragments of pottery vessels and a large 1,700-year-old water cistern whose ceiling bore graffiti engraved by two World War II-era Australian soldiers.

Assaf Peretz, an archaeologist and historian with the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the soldiers left their names — Cpl. Phillip William Scarlett and Patrick Raphael Walsh — serial numbers and the date, May 30, 1940. They belonged to a division that was stationed in prestate Israel during the British Mandate and training for combat in France, but France surrendered before the troops were ready and the soldiers were ultimately sent to Egypt in October 1940.

The Australian unit would fought at the front in the Western Desert, Peretz reported after researching the names in the Australian government archives.

“If the relatives of these people are acquainted with the story, we’ll be happy if they contact us and we’ll share with them the warm greetings left behind by Scarlett and Walsh,” the news release said.

Yoav Tsur, excavation director on behalf of the authority, said in the release, “The finds from this excavation allow us to reconstruct a double story: about the Jewish settlement in the second century CE, probably against the background of the events of the Bar Kokhba revolt, and another story, no less fascinating, about a group of Australian soldiers who visited the site c. 1,700 years later and left their mark there.”

At the authority’s request,the Netivei Israel Company, which is widening Highway 38, has agreed to alter the construction plan in order to preserve the finds there and rehabilitate them.

Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards accepting nominations for 2015

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:52

(JTA) — The Helen Diller Family Foundation is accepting nominations for the 2015 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, which recognize Jewish teens for their leadership and innovative social action projects.

Fifteen teens, up to five from California and 10 from communities throughout the United States, each will receive $36,000 for the award, which recognizes the teens’ philanthropic efforts. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 14.

The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards have granted more than $2 million to 55 U.S. Jewish teens. Last year’s recipients came from California, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Georgia and Illinois.

Past recipients have made their mark through projects including building soccer fields and water wells to bring people together in war-torn regions of the world; donating textbooks and school supplies to financially strapped schools in California and around the globe; collecting and distributing shoes to homeless children so they can participate in life outside their shelters; and raising awareness and changing attitudes about bullying and autism through peer-to-peer programs.

The awards is one of a number of projects funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties, to develop leadership in teens and enhance Jewish education.

“The Foundation believes in the importance of shining a spotlight on exemplary Jewish teens to build future generations of strong Jewish leaders,” said Helen Diller, president of the foundation. “It is our hope that the awards will not only validate the social efforts of a generation of Jewish teens but empower them to continue on their philanthropic journeys to repair the world.”

Israeli gov’t officials meet to discuss Ebola preparedness

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:47

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel, aiming to increase its preparedness to deal with the Ebola virus, will increase its efforts to find people who have entered the nation from several west African countries.

That was among the measures agreed to at a meeting on Monday of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with government officials.

The countries named were Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, which have seen the greatest spread of the virus. The Health and Foreign ministries will continue to urge Israelis to avoid traveling to those countries.

Joining Netanyahu at the meeting were Yael German, the health minister; Yisrael Katz, the transportation and road safety minister; and Deputy Interior Minister Fania Kirshenbaum. Also, representatives of the Israel Police, Airports Authority and Foreign Ministry participated in the discussion.

On Sunday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced it would send three mobile emergency clinics to west Africa in an effort to prevent the spread of Ebola.

Last week, the Israeli government reportedly denied a U.S. request to assist in medical relief in Ebola-stricken west African countries.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “very confident” that the city’s hospital system could handle an Ebola outbreak, and that New York has a “much more aggressive and coherent game plan” than other U.S. cities to fight a potential Ebola case, The Associated Press reported.


Norma Spungen, former Spertus archivist, dies

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:15

CHICAGO (JTA) — Norma Spungen, the former archivist at the Chicago Jewish Archives at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, has died.

Spungen died Sunday at the age of  87.

As the archivist at Spertus from 1986 to 1996, Spungen curated and assisted with several major exhibits mounted at the institute dealing with many important themes in Jewish history. She later was named archivist emerita and also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society.

Her professional work included an interest in Jewish women who were active in social service and philanthropy. Spungen’s research appeared in articles in the Illinois Library Journal and Jewish Social Studies, and she lectured widely on topics in Jewish history.

“She was a remarkable source of inspiration for scholars doing research at Spertus Institute,” said Tobias Brinkmann, the Malvin and Lea Bank associate professor of Jewish studies and history at Penn State University, who conducted research at the Spertus Institute for his dissertation.

Kathy Bloch, the institute’s director of collections, described Spungen as “an exceptionally lovely person — warm, intelligent, funny and very serious about her work.”

The recollections by Brikmann and Block were included in a statement issued by Spertus.

Spungen’s daughter, Elisa Spungen Bildner, is a past president of JTA. In 2007, she and her husband, Robert, paid tribute to Spungen by making a lead gift in her honor to digitize the JTA Archive.

Spungen is survived by her husband of 61 years, Kenneth; by her children and their spouses, Elisa and her husband, Robert Bildner; Charles and his wife, Amy; Jeffrey and his wife, Joni; and Andrea; and by 11 grandchildren.

Religious observance protects Jewish teens from suicide, study finds

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:04

(JTA) — Religious Jewish teens are far less likely to attempt suicide than their secular Jewish counterparts, a new study finds.

The study, led by researchers from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine and Clalit Health Service’s Geha Mental Health Center, and published last week in the journal European Psychology, bolsters previous research that religious faith may offer some protection against suicide.

Researchers interviewed 620 Jewish-Israelis aged 14-17 and asked them to define their degree of religiosity as “secular,” “observant” or “ultra-Orthodox.” They found that the most religious were 45 percent less likely to exhibit suicidal thoughts and behaviors than the less religious.

Study co-authors Dr. Gal Shoval and Dr. Ben Amit claim that theirs is the first study that examines the relationship between Jewish religiosity and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors in adolescents.

In contrast to similar studies on religious Christian teenagers, who reported feeling less depressed than their secular peers, the religious Jewish teens still reported high levels of depression despite their decreased tendency for suicidal thoughts.

“Using statistical tools, we demonstrated that the protective effect of the practice of Judaism was not associated with a decreased risk of depression,” Amit said. “Instead, it enhanced effective coping mechanisms.”

The researchers attributed their results in part to Judaism’s spiritual and communal support, as well as its prohibition against suicide. They see their findings as having important clinical implications regarding risk assessment and suicide prevention.

An online version of the Israeli study was published by European Psychiatry in June. It is scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the print journal.

Pollard’s release listing changed back to November 2015 from life

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 08:01

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reverted to a 2015 release date in its listing for Jonathan Pollard from life.

The listing had appeared for several days as life on the bureau’s “find an inmate” search engine, but on Monday it returned to Nov. 21, 2015, when Pollard is first eligible for parole under sentencing guidelines in 1987. The former U.S. Navy analyst was sentenced to life for spying for Israel.

Ed Ross, a prisons bureau spokesman, told JTA that both decisions were “administrative” in the sense that Pollard’s status had not changed, but added that he did not know if either decision — to change the listing to life and back again — was in error.

Being eligible for parole does not mean Pollard will be released. His advocates say that parole is unlikely because the U.S. government continues to deny Pollard access to classified documents that could make his case.

Pollard’s wife, Esther, said she and her husband preferred the life listing because the 2015 date gave a false impression that mitigated against public pressure on President Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence.


Planted bomb wounds 2 Israeli soldiers near Lebanese border

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 07:55

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israeli soldiers were injured by a bomb planted near the border with Lebanon.

The soldiers were taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. A Hezbollah cell called the Ali Hassan Martyr Unit took responsibility for the attack, Haaretz reported.

The Israeli military returned fire with tank shells into southern Lebanon following the attack, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed.

The bomb was “planted with the intention of attacking IDF soldiers,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

The incident comes two days after the Israeli military said its troops fired on two suspects infiltrating into Israeli territory from Lebanon. The suspects escaped and returned to Lebanon.

Lebanese security sources told the Daily Star that Israeli soldiers fired on a Lebanese army patrol in the Sheba Farms area near the border with Israel, wounding one soldier.