Community Briefs

9th Circuit Upholds Holocaust Statute

A federal appeals court has upheld a California law designed to aid thousands of Holocaust victims and their families in obtaining compensation from European insurance companies.

Monday’s 3-0 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals marks the first time a higher federal court has upheld such a state statue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The court’s decision reversed a trial judge’s earlier ruling that California’s Holocaust Victim Insurance Act of 1999, authored by former Los Angeles Assemblyman Wally Knox, was unconstitutional.

The law requires any insurer doing business in California to disclose information about any policy sold in Europe between 1920 and 1945. Some 20,000 Holocaust survivors residing in the state and thousands of heirs can now obtain the information needed to pursue their claims. Arguing against the court’s decision were major European insurance companies and the U.S. Justice Department. The latter feared that the state law could worsen U.S. relations with other countries. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Pearl Murder Mastermind Sentenced to

A Pakistani court imposed a death sentence Monday on Ahmad Saeed Sheikh, the mastermind in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Three accomplices were sentenced to life imprisonment. They were also ordered to pay fines, totaling $62,200, with the money expected to go to Pearl’s widow, Mariane, and their infant son, Adam.

In a statement, the slain newsman’s parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl of Encino, his two sisters and his wife, said:

“We are grateful for the tireless efforts by authorities in Pakistan and the United States to bring those guilty of Danny’s kidnapping and murder to justice.

“Today’s verdict is the first chapter in this process. We hope and trust that the search for the remaining abductors and murderers will continue, so that all accomplices in this unthinkable crime will be brought to justice.

“We are confident that around the world, people will continue to be inspired by Danny’s courage and commitment to truth, humanity and dialogue, and we call upon them to rise against all forms of hatred and intolerance.” — TT

The Dangers of Radical Islam

Exactly 10 months after Sept. 11, the Rev. Keith Roderick, an Episcopal priest, spoke at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance on the dangers of radical Islam and jihad ideology — for Christians, as well as Jews. “I know I’m speaking to the convinced tonight,” Roderick told his audience, “I’m hoping you’ll become really convinced advocates.” The evening speech, co-sponsored by the Israel-advocacy group StandWithUs, attracted approximately 200 people to the museum’s Peltz Theater. Audience member Raphael Confortes, a regular attendee at Museum of Tolerance events, told The Journal “Most of the speakers are Jewish. I thought it would be interesting to hear an Episcopalian.” Roderick is the founder of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), an organization of Christian and Jewish houses of worship dedicated to improving the lives of non-Muslims living in Muslim countries. Roderick described some of the worst cases of abuse: in Sudan, where two million Christians have been killed since 1980; in Nigeria, where some states have begun imposing sharia (Islamic law) on the world’s largest Anglican population; and in Indonesia, where Christian villages are often attacked. CDHR proposed a declaration equating jihad and radical Islam with racism at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which was rejected. The group also held a rally at the U.N. building in January for “victims of jihad-terror.” In his speech, Roderick described Israel as “the only nation in the Middle East where Christians live as equals,” and said of the United Nations, “they need to understand, and we need to understand, that Israel is not the problem.” The text of the CDHR resolution equating radical Islam with racism is available at — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

New Chabad Campus Breaks Ground

Chabad Los Angeles broke ground for its new Bais Sonya Gutte Campus, an all-girls school slated to open September 2003. The four-story building will house Chabad’s nonsectarian co-educational Garden Preschool and Girls Schools, Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary and Bais Rebbe Junior High. Located at Pico Boulevard and Weatherly Drive, the 47,000-square-foot facility will hold almost 400 students, and will be the first all-girls’ religious elementary school in Los Angeles.

At the June 23 ceremony attendees included benefactors Karen and Gary Winnick, who donated $3 million toward the Bais Sonya Gutte Campus in honor of Karen Winnick’s grandmother, Sonya Gutte, and Andy and Beverly Liggett of L.A. Movers, who dedicated the Bais Chaya Mushka Girls School with a $1.5 million donation. Maurice Kraines and the Kraines family dedicated the Kraines Family Early Childhood Education Center with a donation of $1.5 million.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, teaches us that in the face of darkness, we must light a candle,” said Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, director of Chabad-Lubavitch on the West Coast and executive producer of Chabad’s “L’Chaim-To Life!” telethon. “That is what we are doing here today — building a campus where every child will have the opportunity to gain wisdom and knowledge and to learn to go out and illuminate the world with goodness and kindness.”

Chabad is also seeking to expand its boys campus, Yeshiva Ohr Elchanan Chabad, and has applied to the city for permits. — Staff Report