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After 5 Attacks, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs Ponders Future

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 07:09

After the latest attack on his home, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs sat down on his couch, picked up the phone and made three calls.

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Prague Jews Elect David Peter as Chief Rabbi

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 17:50

The Jewish community of Prague elected Rabbi David Peter, a native of the Czech capital, as its new chief rabbi.

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'Magic in the Moonlight' Isn't That Bad and Neither Is Woody Allen

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 16:34

Reviewing Woody Allen’s ‘Magic in the Moonlight,’ Ezra Glinter said the director should have quit while he was ahead. Jay Michaelson finds the argument morally and aesthetically wrong.

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Rabbi Attacked by Thugs at Australia Mall

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 07:53

A visiting rabbi from Jerusalem was threatened and verbally abused by a gang of youths in a shopping mall in Western Australia.

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Palestinians riot at Temple Mount for second morning

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 06:34

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Masked Palestinians attacked police at the Temple Mount with stones and firebombs for the second morning in a row.

Israeli security forces arrived at the scene of the incident at the Mughrabi Gate on Tuesday morning and pushed the protesters back into the Al-Aksa Mosque at the site. Twelve protesters were arrested and several police officers were injured.

The incident occurred on the morning of the fast day of Tisha B’Av, as thousands of Jewish worshippers gathered below the Temple Mount at the Western Wall for special prayers for the day of mourning, which marks the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount was open to visitors after the incident. Extra security measures were put in place in the old city for the fast day, according to police.

 

Visiting Jerusalem rabbi attacked at mall in Australia

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 06:10

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A visiting rabbi from Jerusalem was threatened and verbally abused by a gang of youths in a shopping mall in Western Australia.

Rabbi Avraham Shalom Halberstam, known as the Stropkover Rebbe, is visiting Australia on a lecture tour. On Monday he and his assistant were set upon by up to six pro-Palestinian youths at a major mall near a Jewish suburb, according to an eye-witness.

Danny Mayer, a modern Orthodox Jew who went to pick up the two ultra-Orthodox Jews, told JTA Tuesday: “I’m a bit shaken from yesterday. I’m the one who pretty much rescued the rebbe.”

He added: “They were surrounding him so I raced over to get him into the car and they surrounded the car screaming, ‘You are killing babies in Gaza.’”

Mayer said the teenage gang got “very agitated” and started banging on the car and spitting on it.

“I’ve been in Israel for seven years,” added Mayer, “and it wasn’t too far from being in an Arab village and trapped in a car. We absolutely felt threatened.”

“The Rebbe is shaken but OK,” he said.

When Mayer started taking photos on his phone the youths ran away, he said. “The wider community needs to know that Jews around the world are being affected because they are Jews,” Mayer said.

The incident has been reported to police and closed-circuit TV footage is being checked.

The incident comes less than two weeks after the walls of Perth’s only Jewish school were painted with graffiti that read “Zionist scum.” It also comes in the wake of police confirming a Perth-based Islamic preacher who described Jews as “filthy rapists” won’t be prosecuted under the state’s race hate laws.

Ian Britza, a state lawmaker in Western Australia, told JTA: “I was absolutely horrified. I condemn it in the highest possible terms.” The state government should publicly condemn it and even offer the rebbe a public apology, he said, adding “I’m not ashamed to be a friend of Israel.”

Halberstam, who runs several yeshivas in Israel, leads the Hasidic sect that originates from Stropkov, a town in Slovakia.

All God’s Griffins Got Wings at Cleveland Synagogue

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 06:00

Winged lions and Orthodox temples don’t usually go together. In the midst of a renovation, Cleveland’s historic Green Road Synagogue ponders removing the griffins for aesthetic reasons.

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Flamboyant First as Jewish Boat Floats in Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Fest

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 17:04

A Jewish boat debuted at the world famous Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade. Revelers included a rabbi and celebs — and vowed to battle hatred of all stripes.

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Rabbi Detained for Singing Songs at Auschwitz

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 15:37

An Israeli rabbi is demanding an apology from the administration of the Auschwitz memorial after he was detained while leading a group of Jewish teenagers.

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No Tisha B'Av Fast for Israeli Soldiers in Gaza

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 13:55

Israeli soldiers talking part in the Gaza operation are exempted from fasting on Tisha b’Av, the chief rabbis of Israel ruled.

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Israeli soldiers in Gaza exempt from Tisha b’Av fast, chief rabbis rule

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 12:31

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli soldiers talking part in the Gaza operation are exempted from fasting on Tisha b’Av, the chief rabbis of Israel ruled.

Rabbis David Lau (Ashkenazi) and Yitzhak Yosef (Sephardi) presented their ruling on Jewish law, or halachah, on Monday — the fast was to begin at sundown.

“As IDF soldiers are standing on the frontline and fighting and sacrificing their lives for the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, we hereby declare that according to Jewish law, soldiers on the frontline are exempt from fasting on Tisha B’Av, and all the mourning laws do not apply to them,” the ruling stated.

Tisha b’Av, which ends on Tuesday after sundown, commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.

Lau also ruled that during the nine days preceding the fast, when Jews refrain from listening to music, religious artists could perform for the soldiers to provide encouragement, Ynet reported.

A Punk Rocker, Tisha B'Av and Our Love of History

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 12:30

A punk rock musician taught Avi Shafran an unexpected lesson about Tisha B’Av. The rocker was bemused to hear that Jews still mourn the destruction of the temples.

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300 Rabbis Plead for Action To Free Alan Gross

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 11:47

Three hundred U.S. rabbis urged President Barack Obama to “take action” to secure the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba for attempting to establish Internet communications for Cuban Jews.

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300 Rabbis Plead for Action To Free Alan Gross

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 11:44

Three hundred U.S. rabbis urged President Barack Obama to “take action” to secure the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba for attempting to establish Internet communications for Cuban Jews.

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Israeli rabbi demanding apology after group prevented from singing at Auschwitz

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 11:09

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli rabbi is demanding an apology from the administration of the Auschwitz memorial after he was detained while leading a group of Jewish teenagers.

Rabbi Rafi Ostroff said he was threatened with arrest if his group of Australian and South African boys did not stop singing Jewish songs while visiting the site.

Ostroff, the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, was detained Friday and ordered to submit to 24 hours in jail or pay a $350 fine. He said he paid the fine since it was two hours before Shabbat.

The rabbi was leading a delegation from the Bnei Akiva youth group on a pilgrimage to the concentration camp.

Ostroff wrote on Facebook that “the guards of the camp hounded us all the time, shouting at us not to sing” as they prayed during the visit.

Ostroff said that in a “secluded part” of the Birkenau camp, the “boys spontaneously started singing ‘Ani Maamin.’ This was the song that prisoners sang on the way to be murdered there. A guard drove after us with his car and demanded that they be silent. I told him that I don’t have control over this as they are singing from their hearts. He then threatened to arrest me and called the police.”

The rabbi called on the memorial site guards to “be considerate and compassionate to Jewish groups. We are not visiting there out of curiosity. It is a journey to the depths of our souls.”

The memorial’s management told NRG, the website of the Maariv daily newspaper, that the behavior of the group was “disruptive” and “unacceptable.”

“The noise bothered instructors and other visitors who were there at the time. They also interfered with other visitors in sensitive places such as the crematorium building,” the camp administration said in a statement, according to NRG.

The management stressed that the incident was not related to the “Israeli origin” of the rabbi.

“There are different ways to remember,” its statement said, “but do not let that disturb others during their visit there.”

Malmo Rabbi Attacked as Anti-Semitism Surges

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 09:19

A rabbi from the Swedish city of Malmo was attacked by men who hurled objects at him from a car and used anti-Semitic pejoratives.

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Rabbi, congregant attacked in Malmo days after synagogue vandalized

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 07:28

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A rabbi from the Swedish city of Malmo was attacked by men who hurled objects at him from a car and used anti-Semitic pejoratives.

Rabbi Shneur Kesselman was assaulted on Saturday night along with a member of his congregation, the Sydsvenskan daily reported Sunday.

The attack, which resulted in no physical injuries, came two days after the southern city’s main synagogue was vandalized, when unidentified individuals smashed three of the building’s windows by hurling objects at them.

The assault against Kesselman, who has been the subject of dozens of similar attacks in Malmo over the past decade, happened as he and congregant Hugo Klein were walking away from the synagogue at 9 p.m.

According to the Sydvenskan report, a car approached them with several men inside who called out “f***ing Jews” and hurled a glass bottle at Klein and Kesselman. The bottle shattered on a wall behind them.

Earlier that evening, a lighter was thrown at the men from a passing car.

Malmo, a city of 300,000, is home to a few hundred Jews. One-third of the city’s population are immigrants from Muslim countries or their descendants.

Dozens of anti-Semitic crimes are reported annually in Malmo. Last month, a man was beaten there for displaying an Israeli flag in his window.

On April 16, the district of Skane, where Malmo is located, declined the Jewish community’s request to increase the number of security cameras around Jewish buildings, according to Michael Gelvan, chairman of the Nordic Jewish Security Council, and Per-Erik Ebbestahl, director of safety and security in the City of Malmo.

The municipality supported the request, Ebbestahl said.

District officials did not reply to request for further information by JTA.

Muslims, police clash on Temple Mount

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 06:31

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of Muslims wearing masks clashed with police on the Temple Mount.

The rioting began Monday morning when the site opened to Jewish and Christian visitors. The demonstrators threw rocks and firecrackers at officers, injuring at least five of them, according to reports.

The demonstrators retreated to the al-Aksa Mosque, where several were arrested, Ynet reported.

The site later opened to visitors.

The rioting occurred on the eve of Tisha b’Av, a 25-hour fast that marks the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of visitors visit the Western Wall during special prayer services for the day.

Meanwhile, overnight Sunday and early Monday morning, police arrested 12 people for rioting in eastern Jerusalem. Police said that some 430 Arabs have been arrested in the last month for rioting in the city.

Unanimous Vote on Iron Dome Funding Vital to Israel’s Security; Hamas Violation of Ceasefire Condemned

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 15:20

In response to the unanimous U.S. Senate vote authorizing emergency aid for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The news this morning that Hamas violated the agreed upon 72 hour humanitarian cease fire, killed two IDF soldiers, and kidnapped Givati Brigade Officer Hadar Goldin is as outrageous as it is predictable. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Goldin and his family, as well as the families of the all the IDF soldiers who have been killed since the start of Operation Protective Edge. We also pray for all the innocents who have suffered throughout the past several weeks of warfare. It is tragic that Hamas’ unwillingness or inability to abide by the terms of the ceasefire to which it agreed has now led directly to renewed bloodshed.

The events of the last twelve hours make clear how vital U.S. support for Israel’s security has been and how critical it remains. That is especially true of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which has played an invaluable role supporting the safety of Israelis. For this reason, we welcome today’s Senate unanimous passage of legislation providing an additional $225 million for Iron Dome. Congressional action to replenish funding for Iron Dome is essential to helping protect Israeli civilians from the rockets Hamas continues to launch from Gaza and we urge the House to swiftly pass this measure.

Above all, we continue to pray for a just resolution to the conflict that so that Israelis and Palestinians alike may soon know lasting peace.

Leonard Bernstein sculpture unveiled at Tanglewood

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 11:55

LENOX, MASS. (JTA) – A bronze sculpture of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), one of the last century’s towering musical figures, was unveiled last week at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).

The sculpture, by artist Penelope Jencks, is the second in a series planned depicting Tanglewood’s most iconic music figures, according to a statement issued by by the BSO. The first sculpture, also by Jencks, is of Aaron Copland, Bernstein’s teacher and mentor, who in 1940 recommended the young Bernstein for Serge Koussevitzky’s conducting class at Tanglewood.

Over the next 50 years, Bernstein, who went on to lead the New York Philharmonic, and later conducted around the world, frequently in Israel, became a highly-anticipated presence at the renowned music center, known for its pastoral scenery.

“Tanglewood has always been, and will continue to be, the spiritual home of Leonard Bernstein,” said composer and Academy Award winner John Williams, whose donation to the BSO is funding the sculpture series. A courtyard at the music center is named after Bernstein.

The themes of many of Bernstein’s scores, including his Kaddish Symphony and Chichester Psalms, reflected his Jewish roots. The son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrant parents, Bernstein wrote of the early musical influence of Solomon Braslavsky, the European-born and trained vocal director and organist at Boston’s Congregation Mishkan Tefila, the family’s synagogue.

Bernstein, who taught at Brandeis University from 1951 through 1956, launched the school’s Festival of Creative Arts in 1951 and served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1976 to 81. He performed frequently in Israel, notably during the country’s founding years and during the 1967 Six-Day War. At age 70, Bernstein was named conductor laureate of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Bernstein was also a prolific composer for Broadway, with the musical “West Side Story” his most famous Broadway show.