Nation and World Briefs

Geiderman Named Holocaust Commission Vice Chair

President Bush named Joel Geiderman as the vice chair of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Geiderman, co-chair of the department of emergency medicine at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, previously served on the council, which oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Bush also appointed Michael Morris of Georgia and Jay Stein of Florida to the council on Aug. 18.

Settlement Expansion Planned

“There will be building in the [West Bank] settlement blocs,” Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted as saying in the Jerusalem Post on Monday, as security forces prepared to evacuate two settlements in the northern West Bank in the final stage of the government’s withdrawal plan.

Sharon vowed that the Gush Emunim and Ariel blocs would remain Israel’s forever, and stood by his decision to connect the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement to Jerusalem, despite the fact that it has drawn censure from Washington.

“This will not cause the cutting off of Judea and Samaria,” Sharon said, playing down U.S. contentions that the Greater Jerusalem plan would effectively split the West Bank, where Palestinians are demanding a state. “Solutions can be found,” he said.

Abbas Praises Pullout

Mahmoud Abbas praised Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in a conversation with Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Israel Army Radio quoted the Palestinian Authority president as telling Katsav on Tuesday that the withdrawal increased chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Katsav reportedly asked Abbas to carry out Palestinian obligations under the “road map” peace plan to crack down on terrorist groups.

Abdullah Backs ‘Right of Return’

King Abdullah said Jordan would not resettle any Palestinian refugees in its territory. Addressing Parliament in Amman last week, Abdullah said that Jordan would insist that Palestinian refugees go to lands under Israeli control.

“It is the right of the Palestinians to return to their homeland and create an independent state on Palestinian land and nowhere else,” he said.

Jordan was created from land included in Britain’s original Palestine Mandate, and its population is mostly Palestinian.

Plea Reinstated in JDL Case

A U.S. judge reinstated a plea deal in the case of a Jewish radical accused of bomb plots against Muslim targets. Monday’s decision means prosecutors cannot pursue additional charges against Earl Krugel, a member of the Jewish Defense League arrested in 2001 in California for plotting to bomb a mosque and the offices of a Lebanese-American congressman. Krugel’s accomplice, Irv Rubin, died in jail in 2002.

Innovative Rabbi Succumbs to Cancer

Rabbi Joshua Simon, who tried to revitalize a synagogue near Broadway in New York City, died last week at age 44 from brain cancer. A former magazine editor and rock musician, Simon took the pulpit in 2002 at the Actors Temple, a synagogue where stars had once worshipped, which was struggling with a dwindling congregation in recent years. Simon led services with an electric guitar and increased the synagogue’s membership. But the congregation continued to struggle, and Simon left in June, his wife told The New York Times. He also completed a CD of liturgical music before he died.

Holocaust Claims Hit $16 million

The commission for Holocaust insurance claims announced it would be distributing $16 million to Holocaust victims and their heirs. The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) said Friday it was offering $5.5 million for life insurance policies held with companies that have been liquidated since World War II, and $10.5 million for claims containing anecdotal information about policies.

“While no amount of compensation in any form can make up for what Holocaust victims suffered, these payments are an important step in addressing one particular aspect of the many wrongs of that time,” said ICHEIC’s chairman, Lawrence Eagleburger.

Israeli Poet Kills Self

Dalia Ravikovitch, an Israeli writer and a former recipient of the Israel Prize, committing suicide Sunday. She was 69.

“Dalia Ravikovitch is one of the main pillars of Hebrew poetry,” wrote the committee that decided to award her the Israel Prize in 1999, according to Ha’aretz. “Her poems are a personal testament of solitude, forbidden love and a desperate struggle for existence, while at the same time expressing universal truths and the experiences of many.”

Ravikovitch reportedly suffered from clinical depression and had attempted suicide in the past. She was buried Monday.

Sushi Bill Hits Raw Nerve

A Jewish couple eating in New Jersey received a restaurant bill with the words “Jew couple” written on it. The couple was dining last Friday at an eatery on the New Jersey shore when their bill for sushi came, with “Jew couple” in the part of the bill where a table number or description of customers normally would be, the New York Post reported. Elliot Stein said that when he complained to the restaurant manager, he was told there was nothing derogatory about the term. The restaurant’s general manager told the Post that the words reflected “poor judgment” on the part of a worker who is no longer employed by the restaurant.

Swimming Pork Is Kosher

A kosher fish that ancient Jewish sages said tastes like pork has arrived in Israel. The shabut, which is mentioned in the Talmud as having a pig-like taste, was shipped from Iran in formaldehyde by Israeli academics with the help of an Iranian liaison, the Jerusalem Post reported. The medieval commentator Rashi noted that the shabut’s brain tastes like pig and that the fish could serve as a potential alternative for kosher keepers who want to taste the “other white meat.” The shabut, whose scientific nomenclature is Barbus grybus, also inhabits rivers in Iraq and Syria. Some Israeli fish farmers are considering breeding the fish.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.