Israeli Americans in Boston suburb air anti-Semitism concerns at meeting with mayor


Amid a spike in anti-Semitic activity across New England, Jewish and Israeli residents met with the mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, to express their concern about incidents in the Boston suburb’s school system.

More than 150 people attended the standing-room-only community forum with Mayor Setti Warren on Tuesday evening.

The meeting followed the revelation in late February of several acts of anti-Semitic vandalism at a middle school that had gone unreported. Those reports jarred the city, as did stories about Catholic high school students who chanted anti-Semitic slogans during a game against Newton North High School.

Since the start of 2016, there have been 56 anti-Semitic incidents in various states in New England, according to the New England Anti-Defamation League. In all of last year, there were 61.

“The scourge of anti-Semitism is one of the most important issues facing the city,” Warren said in his opening remarks at the public forum.

The forum was hosted by the Israel American Council at its regional office in Newton, home to a large Jewish population. Some 30,000 Israeli Americans reportedly live in the Boston area. The event was cosponsored with the New England ADL, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.

Warren, who has traveled to Israel three times in the past four years — including on a trade mission with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — noted the strong economic ties between the city and Israel and said he wants to strengthen them. Newton is becoming a magnet for Israeli-founded companies. Some 200 companies brought in $9.3 billion to the state’s economy, according to a report issued last week.

“One concern is the BDS movement,” Warren said, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli. “It’s working at cross purposes to establishing partnerships with the Israeli business community.”

Warren also responded positively to a suggestion by Robert Trestan, ADL’s New England regional director, for Newton to partner with a sister city in Israel.

The high turnout for the forum was a sign of community concern, said Ilan Segev, co-chair of the Boston Israel American Council. In addition to the Israeli and Israeli-American attendees, many in the audience were Jews from Newton, heavily Jewish Brookline and other nearby towns. Segev urged those in attendance not to be silent.

The overwhelming number of questions from the audience concerned what several people referred to as an anti-Israel bias in the schools’ curricula. Many called on the mayor to make the curricula transparent by having them posted online.

“I’m less worried about swastikas. What scares me is what goes on in broad daylight and what happens in the schoolroom,” said Charles Jacobs, head of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a group that monitors extremism among American Muslim leaders.

Jacobs, who has campaigned for years against city school textbooks that he sees as pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic, confronted Warren at an April 7 public forum in the city.

At Tuesday’s less contentious meeting, Jacobs and several current and former parents from the schools said anti-Israel activity is the new anti-Semitism.

Among other city responses to the incidents, Warren said he has initiated discussions to reintroduce curriculum from Facing History and Ourselves, a Boston-based international educational organization that focuses on the Holocaust and genocide. Warren urged people to bring specific examples of problematic curricula directly to his attention.

The Israeli-American community has a heightened awareness of anti-Semitism, according to Naama Ore, the Israel American Council’s regional director, whose children attend the public schools in Brookline.

“As leaders in the community and as an organization, we have to take action and come together like we did tonight,” she told JTA.

Arthur Obermayer, US philanthropist who preserved German-Jewish history, dies at 84


Arthur Obermayer, a Boston-based Jewish philanthropist who honored Germans for preserving local Jewish history, has died.

Obermayer died Sunday in Dedham, Massachusetts, at 84. The cause of death was cancer, the family confirmed.

A longtime activist in political and Jewish genealogical causes, Obermayer was a co-founder of Meretz USA (now Partners for Progressive Israel) and a leader in the Germany section of the JewishGen research platform. Professionally, he was an entrepreneur in the fields of chemistry and biotechnology.

In 2000, he co-founded the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards, now co-sponsored with JewishGen and the New York-based Leo Baeck Institute. The award recognizes non-Jewish Germans who have often struggled against bureaucratic or societal impediments in order to document their town’s Jewish past.

This year’s honorees included Peter Franz, a Protestant pastor who faced aggressive resistance from local neo-Nazis, who in 2010 left two pig heads outside a remembrance site he created in Apolda, in the former East Germany.

Franz and six others will be honored at the Berlin parliament on Jan. 25, ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Members of the Obermayer family will be present.

Especially important to Obermayer, according to a spokesman for his foundation, was that his honorees reach out to Jews anywhere in the world with roots in their towns. The majority of nominators — from the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Australia and elsewhere — had lost family in the Holocaust and never thought they would have a connection with Germany again.

At the 2004 award ceremony in Berlin, Obermayer explained what had moved him to create the prize.

“These people are doing this with a great deal of dedication, and not for an honorarium,” he said. “They do their work because they feel they ought to, because they want to.”

In 2007, Obermayer received Germany’s highest honor, the Cross of the Order of Merit, for creating his award.

A Philadelphia native, Obermayer had roots in Creglingen, a small town in southern Germany. He developed contacts with local historians, ultimately co-founding a museum of Jewish history there.

He and his wife of 52 years, Judith, were involved in numerous political, scientific, Jewish and entrepreneurial causes. In June, they were inducted into the White House’s Small Business Innovation Research Hall of Fame.

In addition to his wife, Obermayer is survived by three children and five grandchildren.

American yeshiva student killed in West Bank identified as Mass. 18-year-old


The American yeshiva student killed in a West Bank shooting was identified as Ezra Schwartz of Sharon, Mass.

Schwartz, 18, was one of three people killed Thursday near the settlement of Alon Shvut. He reportedly was studying for a year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh.

He was a recent graduate of the Maimonides School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and had been a counselor at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish summer camp in Northwood, New Hampshire.

At least one attacker, reported to be a Palestinian, shot into a minivan full of people as well as another car near a traffic junction, then rammed his car into several other cars and bystanders, according to reports. One shooter reportedly exited his car and was shot and injured by security forces.

Schwartz, the second of five children, is the child of Ari and Ruth Schwartz.

“He’s always a fun person to hang out with, very charismatic,” Geoffrey Cahr, a friend who knew Schwartz from camp, told JTA.
“He was a great listener and super down-to-earth.”

One of Schwartz’s favorite pastimes was skiing, according to a family friend from Sharon.

Several friends of Schwartz who also were spending their post-high school gap year in Israel decided to fly back from Tel Aviv to Boston for the funeral. Students at Maimonides were informed of Schwartz’s killing at a school assembly on Thursday.

When the Hasidim come to Norman Rockwell country


The lazy days of August have a special flavor in the rolling hills of the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts.

The flowers are blooming in dazzling colors, the corn at roadside farm stands is delectably sweet, the lakes are refreshingly cool, and the area’s picturesque New England villages are chock-full of families wandering between antique shops, bookstores and ice cream parlors.

It’s real Norman Rockwell country.

But in recent years, the tide of summertime visitors has brought with it a new constituency not much seen before in these storied hills: haredi Orthodox Jews.

For the most part, the haredim seem to be heading to one place: Jiminy Peak, a ski resort along the Massachusetts-New York border. Like many such mountains, during the summer season it transforms into an adventure park replete with alpine slides, high-ropes courses, zip lines, mountain biking and scenic chairlift rides. But Jiminy Peak is unique in that it also features a kosher cafeteria for about three weeks in August, courtesy of Chabad of the Berkshires, along with regular prayer services and even separate swimming hours for men and women.

“This is really a service for the Jewish community, not necessarily a profit thing,” said Rabbi Levi Volovik of Chabad of the Berkshires, which is located about 20 minutes away in Pittsfield. “Jews started coming to Jiminy Peak and using our services, and our shul. As they started growing, Jiminy Peak requested our help to coordinate.”

This is the third consecutive summer that Chabad has operated the kosher cafeteria, which sells pizza, falafel, fries and ice cream (it’s cholov yisroel, a more stringent form of kosher dairy). A corner of the cafeteria is set aside as a makeshift synagogue and study hall, and there are Talmud classes in the evenings. Many of the Orthodox visitors stay at the all-suite Jiminy Peak Country Inn at the mountain’s base lodge, where every unit has a kitchenette.

“It’s nice and scenic and the kids are happy,” Chaya Klein of Lakewood, New Jersey, said during a recent visit with her husband and five children. “It’s very peaceful here.”

It’s not clear how Jiminy Peak became a stop on the haredi vacation circuit. Orthodox Jews long have summered in the Catskills. The Berkshires, an area steeped in WASPy culture, became popular among more liberal Jews several decades ago.

Whatever the reason, word about Jiminy Peak clearly has spread in the strictly Orthodox community.

“It definitely provides a lot of business for us,” said Katie Fogel, director of marketing for Jiminy Peak. “We don’t necessarily market to that segment. We started working with Chabad of the Berkshires because we noticed an increase in visits among that population and decided that we would partner with them to make it the best experience we could.”

On a recent August afternoon, young and old Jews and non-Jews alike waited in line for the mountain coaster. When boarding, the Orthodox men tucked their yarmulkes into their pockets to keep them from flying off during their high-speed descent down the track.

A Jiminy Peak staffer at the disembarkation point, a girl in her teens who was instructed by an administrator not to provide her name, told JTA that mountain staffers hadn’t been given any cultural sensitivity training.

“We don’t know anything about them,” she said of the haredi Jews. “I wish I did.”

At the chairlift, which whisks passengers to the top of Jiminy’s alpine slide, a teenage girl wearing a bright-orange staff T-shirt and khaki shorts hoisted a young boy with peyos sidecurls onto a chair. As they ascended, the boy’s father’s ritual fringes flapped in the air.

Families congregated around the bungee trampoline watching their little ones bounce up and down. Nearby, little children in big black velvet yarmulkes and matching outfits stared wide-eyed at screaming teens aboard the giant swing.

Most of the excitement seemed to be up on the high-ropes courses at the adventure park, which combine rope bridges, zip lines, cargo nets and other challenges up in the trees. About 20 feet in the air, a young girl in a long skirt and black stockings wearing a safety harness ventured out onto one of the airborne obstacles as her father waited behind her on a small wooden platform attached to a tree trunk. Her mother watched warily from below, rocking an infant on her hip and holding a stroller with her free hand. Behind her, dozens of young children romped around the playground, jabbering excitedly in Yiddish.

Menachem Tzvi Eisenberg, 18, came back to Jiminy Peak this summer after a visit last year with his grandparents. He said the adventure park is his favorite feature.

“The rope course made me feel very accomplished because I was scared,” said Eisenberg, a Lakewood native. “It’s very high up, and the ropes were shaky. It helped me overcome my fears. It showed me I could do this.”

When it rained on the second day of his visit, Eisenberg and his family tried two nearby bowling alleys and the Crane Museum of Papermaking, but they were all closed.

“What we planned Hashem didn’t want,” he said with a shrug.

Most of the Orthodox visitors on a recent August afternoon appeared to be from the Orthodox strongholds of Lakewood and Monsey, New York, but Orthodox groups and camps also organize bus excursions to the mountain. Many visitors come for just a night or two, loading their minivans with kosher food and sundries they can eat without having to kosherize the kitchens in their hotel. Their visits are practically all midweek; the mountain’s rides violate Sabbath-day restrictions.

Orthodox Jews are hardly the only visitors to Jiminy Peak in summer, but the hills are alive with the sound of Yiddish especially during the peak Orthodox vacation season, after the three-week mourning period of Tisha b’Av, which this year fell on July 26. The kosher food operation at the mountain run by Chabad is open this summer until Aug. 26, and the rides at Jiminy will stay open until late October.

Then, in November, the mountain reopens for skiing.

Boston Marathon bomber files motion seeking new trial


Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has been sentenced to death, filed a motion in federal court on Monday seeking a new trial, according to court records. 

The preliminary motion for a new trial cited a lack of evidence in his trial this spring, according to documents filed in federal court in Massachusetts.

Tsarnaev was convicted in April of killing three people and injuring 264 in the bombing near the finish line of the world-renowned Boston Marathon in 2013, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later.

The same jury voted for execution by injection in May.

At his formal sentencing on June 24, the 21-year-old ethnic Chechen apologized and admitted he and his now-dead older brother carried out the attack.

Attorneys for the convicted bomber described the motion as a “placeholder” and said they would spell out reasons for seeking a new trial in additional filings by Aug. 17.

Legal maneuvering over Tsarnaev's fate could play out for years. Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the United States for federal crimes since 1998 have been executed.

Three people died in the bombing: Martin Richard, 8, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 26, and restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29.

Three days later, Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, shot dead Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunfight with police that ended when Dzhokhar ran him over with a car.

At trial, prosecutors described the brothers as adherents of al Qaeda's militant Islamist ideology who wanted to “punish America” with the attack on the marathon.

Tsarnaev's attorneys admitted their client had played a role in the attack but tried to portray him as the junior partner in a scheme hatched and driven by his older brother, who was killed in a shootout with police a few days after the bombing.

Man in Boston terrorism probe faces charges, report alleges beheading plan


A Massachusetts man detained under a terrorism probe faces charges in federal court on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said, as local media reported the man and an associate who police shot dead on Tuesday had planned to try to behead a police officer.

Police arrested the man, named as David Wright by a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, in Everett, outside Boston. He is due to face charges at 3:30 p.m., officials said.

Officers working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force earlier shot and killed Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, who had been under 24-hour surveillance, after police say he confronted them with a knife.

The pair had planned to try to behead a police officer on Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported, citing a law enforcement official briefed on the case. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

Police have offered little detail on why Rahim was being watched or what charges Wright would face.

Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterterrorism division, discussed the investigation at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday but offered few details.

“There's not a lot I can say on the intelligence side,” Steinbach said. “We know ISIL has put out a message to attack the West, specifically law enforcement, military,” referring to Islamic State militants.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, local FBI officials and prosecutors met on Wednesday with leaders of the Roslindale neighborhood where the shooting occurred to show them video of the incident.

“The individual was not shot in the back and the information that was reported by others that this was the case is inaccurate,” said Darnell Williams, chief executive of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, after the meeting. “We are going to have to wait until after the investigation is completed until there is a determination whether it was a justifiable shooting.”

Rahim had been under 24-hour surveillance by Tuesday, when new information learned by police led them to attempt to question him, Evans said.

“We never anticipated what his reaction would be,” Evans told reporters.

The video, which Evans said showed the officers backing up before opening fire, was not released publicly.

The apparently foiled attack came six months after two New York City police officers were shot dead in their patrol car in an attack intended as retribution for police killings of unarmed black men.

Warren, in rare Israel foray, defends Iron Dome funding


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) vigorously defended her vote for increased funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-interception system.

“America has a very special relationship with Israel,” Warren, a leader among liberal Democrats touted as a possible presidential contender, said last week at a Cape Cod town hall meeting when challenged about her vote.

“Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law,” she said. “And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren has accrued popular support on the democratic left for her backing for sweeping banking reforms and strengthening the social safety net.

She has not focused since her 2012 election on foreign policy issues, and her robust defense of Israel marked one of her first forays into the issue.

A man at the Aug. 20 meeting had challenged Warren on the vote, likening the funding for the defensive system to the controversy in Ferguson, Mo., over the police shooting of an unarmed black youth, according to a report in the Cape Cod Times.

Congress overwhelmingly voted to approve the $225 million in supplemental funding for the program during the recent Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

When another person at the meeting noted the high civilian death toll among Palestinians, who suffered more than 2,000 deaths in the conflict, Warren said Israel did not seek to kill civilians, as opposed to the Hamas rulers of Gaza.

“When Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said.

She also said that Israel’s relatively low death toll — 71 at war’s end this week — was a result in part of the efficacy of Iron Dome.

Both critics and defenders of Israel appeared to be present at the meeting, according to the newspaper report, with applause for both views.

Steve Grossman, ex-AIPAC chair, running for Mass. governor


Former AIPAC chairman Steve Grossman, now the treasurer in Massachusetts, said he will run for governor in the state.

On Wednesday, Grossman told a local television station that he plans to announce his candidacy for the November 2014 election at the state’s Democratic Party convention on Saturday. Gov. Deval Patrick is not seeking re-election.

Grossman, a 67-year-old businessman, is a longtime influential Jewish community leader and Democratic activist. He served as chairman of the American Israel Political Action Committee from 1992 to 1997. He has headed the national and state Democratic parties.

The former campaign chair for Boston’s Jewish federation is a philanthropist who has served on the boards of many Jewish institutions.

“Being governor of the Commonwealth is about leadership, and providing leadership that leaves no one behind,” Grossman said.

Grossman, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial primary, is among a growing list of Democratic contenders for the post, including Donald Berwick, former chief of Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, and Daniel Wolf, a businessman and state senator.

No Republican candidates have announced their intentions to run, though many speculate the list may include Scott Brown, a former U.S. senator.

Body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber buried


The body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried and is no longer in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, where it had been held at a funeral home, the Worcester Police Department said on Thursday.

The police did not disclose where the body had been moved.

“A courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance to properly bury the deceased,” said Worcester Police Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst.

The 26-year-old ethnic Chechen died in an April 19 gun battle with police, four days after he and his younger brother Dzhokhar are suspected of having set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264.

The question of where to bury the elder Tsarnaev had proven to be a thorny one, with city officials in Boston and in neighboring Cambridge, where he lived, refusing to accept the body for burial.

His widow, Katherine Russell, had asked that Tsarnaev's body be released to his family. An uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Maryland, said on Sunday he had wanted his nephew to be buried in Massachusetts.

Russell's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tsarni could not be reached.

A crowd had picketed outside the Worcester Graham Putnam & Mahoney funeral home where the body had been held since it was claimed from the medical examiner last week.

Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, who faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted on charges related to the April 15 bombings, is being held at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He was moved there on April 26 after nearly a week in a Boston hospital where he received treatment for wounds sustained in the gun battle that left his brother dead.

Tamerlan died of gunshot wounds as well as blunt trauma to the head and torso, which resulted from both an exchange of fire with police in Watertown, outside Boston, as well as injuries that resulted when his brother drove over him as he fled.

Separately on Thursday, the family of the youngest victim to die in the attack – 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was standing by the finish line when the bombs went off – said that their 7-year-old daughter Jane was showing improvement, with surgeons at Boston Children's Hospital closing the wound left when the blast tore off her left leg below the knee.

“By closing the wound, the incredible medical team at Boston Children's Hospital laid the groundwork for Jane to take an important step forward on the long and difficult road ahead of her,” the family said in a statement. “We take today's development as positive news.”

Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, editing by G Crosse

Boston bombing suspect’s family struggles to find burial site


The body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev remained in limbo on Monday as his family searched for a cemetery that would accept him.

Several Massachusetts cemeteries have refused to bury Tsarnaev and protesters have staked out the Worcester funeral home holding the body. Despite a plea from the funeral home director, Governor Deval Patrick said on Monday he would not get involved.

Tsarnaev, 26, died in a gun battle with police on April 19, four days after bombs he is believed to have set with his younger brother killed three people and injured another 264 near the finish line of the world-famous marathon.

Relatives have said they want him buried nearby. Under Islamic law, the body cannot be cremated, a procedure used for criminals including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

“The whole situation is unprecedented,” said David Walkinshaw, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association. The state of Massachusetts does not own its own cemeteries, he said, and the federal government has only cemeteries for war veterans.

“The challenge here is that there's no way to demand a cemetery allow for a burial to take place,” Walkinshaw said.

Some Massachusetts residents want the body sent back to Tsarnaev's native Russia. William Breault of Worcester told reporters on Monday he had set up a bank account to raise funds to ship the remains.

“I not only don't want to see him buried in Worcester, Massachusetts. … I don't think he should be buried in the state,” Breault told CNN on Monday.

Gabriel Gomez, a Massachusetts Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, suggested disposing of Tsarnaev's body in the ocean as was done after U.S forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

“Bureaucrats worried about where to bury Boston Marathon terrorist #1. To me, it's simple: he should be buried at sea with Bin Laden,” he wrote on his official Twitter account.

Tsarnaev's body was taken to Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester last week after spending more than a week at a medical examiner's office in Boston. Several cemeteries including the Gardens at Gethsemane in West Roxbury have said they would not accept Tsarnaev's body for burial.

Graham Putnam funeral home owner Peter Stefan, chairman of a board that oversees funeral services and embalming in Massachusetts, said he has an obligation to accept the remains.

Stefan has said he would seek help from state officials if he could not find a resting place soon.

Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said on Sunday that his nephew should be buried in Massachusetts, his home. Tsarnaev's parents, ethnic Chechens who returned to southern Russia several years ago, have suggested in various interviews and reports that their son should be buried in Cambridge, or returned to Russia.

The Massachusetts governor declined to get involved Monday.

“This is a family issue, with due respect to all of you, and the family needs to make some decisions. I understand they have some options. They need to exercise one soon,” Patrick told reporters on Monday.

But Cambridge officials urged the Tsarnaevs to look elsewhere.

“The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the City of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests and widespread media presence at such an interment,” said Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy in a statement Sunday.

“The families of loved ones interred in the Cambridge Cemetery also deserve to have their deceased family members rest in peace.”

Families of deceased criminals are usually left alone to bury their dead but the marathon bombing was in a different category, said James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminology professor.

“More typically in mass murder cases, people look and say 'it's pathology,'” he said. “Here, they look at it and say 'it's politics.'”

Reporting By Ross Kerber; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Doina Chiacu

Three men charged with undermining Boston bombing probe


U.S. authorities on Wednesday charged three men with interfering with the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, saying they hid fireworks and a backpack belonging to one of the suspected bombers as a manhunt was under way.

The three, two students from Kazakhstan and a U.S. citizen, were described as friends of surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. They were not charged with direct involvement in the April 15 marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured 264.

But three days after the blasts, the trio moved swiftly to cover up for their friend when the FBI made public pictures of the suspected bombers, made a public plea for help locating them and conducted a day-long manhunt that left much of Boston on lockdown, according to court papers.

Authorities charged the two Kazakhs, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19, with conspiring to obstruct justice by disposing of a backpack containing fireworks they found in Tsarnaev's dorm room. The third man, Robel Phillipos, also 19, was charged with making false statements to investigators.

Tsarnaev, who attended the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, is being held at a prison hospital where he is recovering from wounds sustained in a gun battle with police. His older brother, Tamerlan, died in the gunfight.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In their initial appearances at Boston federal court on Wednesday, Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos were put in the custody of U.S. Marshals after prosecutor Stephanie Siegmann argued that all three presented a “serious risk of flight.”

None of the suspects addressed the court, other than to respond to the judge's questions. U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler reprimanded Phillipos for not seeming to pay attention to the proceedings.

“I suggest you pay attention to me rather than looking down,” Bowler said.

Kadyrbayev's lawyer, Robert Stahl, said before the hearing that his client was “not a target” of the bombing investigation, but declined to comment on any other specifics. He said his client had “cooperated fully” with investigators and “wants to go home to Kazakhstan.”

Phillipos' attorney, DeRege Demissie, declined to discuss the case in detail after the hearing.

A month prior to the bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov over a meal that he knew how make a bomb, Tazhayakov told the FBI, according to court papers.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov had entered the United States on student visas and lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, according to court papers. Phillipos is a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

COVER-UP ALLEGATION

On April 18, three days after the Marathon bombings, authorities released pictures of two men they identified as the suspects in the attack. Investigators at the time said they did not know the suspects' names and called on the public for help in identifying them.

Dzhokhar's three classmates quickly figured out their friend was one of the suspects, according to court papers. After seeing Tsarnaev's photo in TV news reports, Kadyrbayev texted him to say that he resembled the suspect, according to the complaint.

Tsarnaev's response included the phrase “lol” and “you better not text me,” as well as “come to my room and take whatever you want,” according to the court papers.

The three went to his dorm room that night and found a roommate who said that Dzhokhar had left.

The trio spent some time watching movies and then discovered an emptied-out fireworks tube, according to court papers. That discovery scared Tazhayakov, who then began to believe that Tsarnaev was involved in the bombing, according to court papers.

They decided to remove the backpack, fireworks and a laptop to help their friend “avoid trouble,” according to court papers.

Tazhayakov is currently enrolled at UMass Dartmouth but has been suspended, the university said on Wednesday. Kadyrbayev and Phillipos are not currently enrolled in the school.

After waking up the next morning to learn that police were hunting for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and that his brother, Tamerlan, was dead, Kadyrbayev decided to throw away the backpack with the fireworks tubes inside, according to court papers. He put the backpack and fireworks in a dumpster near his apartment.

A New Hampshire fireworks store last month confirmed that the elder bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, bought two large boxes of fireworks in February.

Investigators recovered the backpack on April 26 in a New Bedford landfill. In addition to the fireworks, it included a homework assignment sheet from a class that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was enrolled in.

In his first three interviews with police, Phillipos denied having gone to Tsarnaev's room on April 18, but in a fourth interrogation, on April 26, he confessed to the visit, the court documents said.

The parents of the Tsarnaev brothers have said in interviews in the North Caucasus region of Russia that they do not believe their sons were responsible for placing the bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body has still not been claimed, a spokesman for the state's chief medical examiner said. His widow, Katherine Russell, on Tuesday said she wanted the medical examiner to release her husband's body to his family.

Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Aaron Pressman in Boston and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool and Jim Loney

Obama: ‘The entire country is behind the people of Boston’


President Barack Obama called Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Friday to offer ongoing federal help in the Boston bombing investigation, and to express condolences for a police officer killed in the search for suspects.

“The President said that the entire country is behind the people of Boston as well as Massachusetts, and that the full force of the federal government will continue to be made available until those responsible are brought to justice,” a White House official said.

Obama stayed out of the public eye on Friday after traveling to Boston on Thursday to speak at a service for the victims of Monday's bombing.

Top White House officials continue to watch the situation and brief Obama, the White House said.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Eric Walsh

John Kerry says he hopes to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks


Senator John Kerry, nominated to be the next U.S. secretary of state, said on Thursday he hopes for a revival of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The comment by the Massachusetts Democratic senator, whose Senate confirmation is regarded as a virtual certainty, suggests the United States could consider a new peace initiative despite the failure of President Barack Obama's first-term efforts.

U.S.-brokered peace talks broke down in 2010 amid mutual acrimony. Since then Israel has accelerated construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem – land the Palestinians want for a future state – and the Palestinians have taken steps to gain greater recognition at the United Nations and its agencies.

“My hope is … my prayer is that perhaps this can be a moment where we can renew some kind of effort to get the parties into a discussion to have a different track than we have been on over the last couple of years,” Kerry said at his confirmation hearing, noting it was unclear what government would emerge from Israel's Tuesday election.

Israelis worried about housing, prices and taxes reshaped the Israeli parliament in the election, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to woo the centrist Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party as his main coalition partner.

Final results were due on Thursday but they are not expected to differ significantly from published projections showing that Netanyahu's alliance of his Likud party and ultra-nationalists secured 31 seats out of the 120-seat assembly.

In a surprise showing, Yesh Atid came in as runner-up with 19 projected seats in a parliament likely to include about a dozen parties in all.

Netanyahu's weaker-than-expected results might limit his room for maneuvering against Iran and put his hard-line stance toward Palestinian statehood under renewed pressure.

Kerry repeated the long-standing U.S. opposition to unilateral actions by either the Israelis or the Palestinians, warning the latter against any effort to take Israel before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Palestinians declared Wednesday they will have no choice but to complain about Israel to the ICC if it proceeds with plans to build housing on land they want for a future state.

“They are getting close to a line that would be very damaging if there were any effort to take Israel for instance, or any other country, to the ICC,” Kerry said. “That's the kind of unilateral action that we would feel very, very strongly against and see it as extremely counterproductive.”

The Palestinians became eligible to join the ICC after the U.N. General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians' status at the world body in November from “observer entity” to “non-member state,” a move that was widely seen as a de facto recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

After the Nov. 29 vote, Israel announced it would build 3,000 more settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are areas the Palestinians want for a future state, along with Gaza.

The ICC prosecutes charges of genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations. The Palestinians must first apply to join the court and once a member they could refer Israel for investigation.

Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Bill Trott

Worcester, Mass., synagogue, day school building seized by IRS


A building housing a synagogue and Jewish day school in Worcester, a city in central Massachusetts, has been seized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Yeshiva Achei Tmimim synagogue and Yeshiva Academy day school in Worcester were seized for “nonpayment of internal revenue taxes,” the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. The yeshiva owes $435,235.31 in federal taxes, dating back to 2004, most in payroll taxes, according to the newspaper, citing the IRS and the Worcester County Registry of Deeds. A public auction has been scheduled for Jan. 4, with sealed bidding starting at $472,000.

The school and synagogue are continuing to operate as normal, according to the newspaper.

They have other creditors besides the IRS, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, including water and sewer charges, and a mortgage, among others.

Last year, a bank foreclosed on a yeshiva dormitory that was purchased by synagogue member Steve Gaval for $61,000, the report said. He and his wife are renovating the property as a private residence. Michelle Gaval told the newspaper, “We wanted someone in the community to keep it, rather than let someone else take it. We just felt like someone Jewish should own it.”

Hospitals battled to protect patients as Sandy raged


At one New York hospital where backup generators failed, staff carried premature babies down more than a dozen flights of stairs in one of the more dramatic moments for healthcare workers during powerful storm Sandy.

Record flooding and power outages across the northeastern United States made for a long night caring for the most critically ill, as several hundred patients were evacuated in New York City, day-time hospital staff slept overnight on vacant beds and less urgent procedures were postponed.

From Maryland to Massachusetts, hospitals large and small had prepared for the worst as the storm approached, stocking up on supplies and ensuring backup power generators were ready. At least 30 people were reported killed by the storm, and millions left without power.

In its aftermath on Tuesday, many hospitals were still limiting care to the neediest patients, canceling chemotherapy sessions and elective surgeries and anticipating a new influx to emergency rooms as travel conditions improved.

New York University's Langone Medical Center near the city's East River was one of the hardest hit as eight feet of water flooded its basement. It evacuated all 215 patients, including critically ill infants, when its backup generator failed.

“It is a very long operation because they have to hand move every patient. There are no elevators and some of the patients are on the 15th floor,” said hospital spokeswoman Lorinda Klein. “All the patients have been safely transported … the nurses had battery-operated machinery for patients that needed that level of care.”

Nearby Bellevue Hospital also grappled with a power outage and visitors on Tuesday were turned away at the door as many hallways remained dark, though a receptionist assured them that patients “are okay and have lights.”

The Manhattan Veteran Affairs Hospital and the New York Downtown Hospital, both in low-lying areas of lower Manhattan, evacuated patients before the storm hit. Other city hospitals picked up the slack, including Beth Israel Medical Center, where one student nurse said nurses had stayed put at the hospital since Sunday, with some working multiple shifts.

Dr. Adam Levine, an attending physician at Rhode Island Hospital's emergency room, began to see patients injured in the storm overnight.

“I treated a man who was driving and had to stop very suddenly when a branch crashed into his front windshield,” he said. While many people tried to wait out the night with whatever ailed them, some took the risk to drive to the hospital. “We admitted one woman who relies on home health care attendants and when they could not come to her she had to come to the hospital and be admitted because there was no one to care for her,” he said.

PLUGGING UP WINDOWS

In tiny Crisfield, Maryland, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, McCready Memorial Hospital claims to be the smallest hospital in the state of Maryland with only half a dozen beds.

Situated at sea level on a tiny peninsula, the hospital faced a 6-foot storm surge and wind-driven rain that brought water into the building as power from the electrical main flickered off and on.

“We're at sea level, so it doesn't take much to get right up close. We're up high enough so water didn't enter the building through any doors. But it did enter through some windows,” said Shane Kelley, who handles community outreach for McCready.

Kelley said staff plugged the leaking windows with towels and used large commercial vacuums to clear water before closing off rooms. While no new patients showed up for emergency care during the storm, McCready had 11 emergency room visitors before noon on Tuesday, mainly elderly people who waited out the storm before seeking care for hypothermia and respiratory problems.

“We remained open throughout the storm. We did have to go onto our generator several times throughout the storm. We did lose power. At this point, we're all here as a team and able to accept any patient who needs our help,” said Kelley.

St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, closed its chemotherapy infusion center and other outpatient areas and between 60 and 80 of the hospital's 2,700 staff slept in the empty hospital beds.

Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital, both members of the Western Connecticut Health Network, canceled outpatient services and elective services.

The 85-bed New Milford hospital lost power and fell back on a generator. The 371-bed Danbury hospital weathered the storm using a cogeneration plant, which spokeswoman Andrea Rynn said provides steam power when it needs to come off the local utility grid.

Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, David Morgan, Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Toni Clarke; Writing by Debra Sherman; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Claudia Parsons

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Florida Jews


In 1992, Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts mounted a strong campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The pundits considered him a brainy guy who was willing to take on the sacred cows of Social Security and Medicare. Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, by contrast, seemed like a flawed candidate. Tsongas stung Clinton by calling him “pander bear.”

Tsongas won the New Hampshire primary. With the wind at his back, he headed south to Florida. And there, like an alligator in the Everglades, waited Bill Clinton.

Clinton took Tsongas to the woodshed, running a devastating television campaign that highlighted the threat Tsongas’ plans posed to the entitlement programs so revered by Florida’s Democratic Party electorate. Florida was Tsongas’ Waterloo. His campaign never recovered.

I was reminded of that 20-year-old electoral watershed when I heard that Mitt Romney had selected Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his vice presidential candidate.

Romney has been working hard to break the Democratic hold on Jewish voters. As Dan Schnur pointed out recently (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 12), since Obama already has a lock on New York and California, the Jewish vote really matters strategically in only three battleground states for the presidential race: Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada. Florida is the most important, and it has held some opportunities for Romney.

Florida’s Jews, concentrated in three southern counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade, represent 3.3 percent of the state’s population, but their turnout share is as high as 4 percent of the statewide vote.

Jewish voters in Florida, especially those who are elderly, preferred Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2008, although they voted in a strong majority for Obama in the general election. Generally, Obama has done better with younger than older voters, and this is true among Jews as well. And the Florida Jewish electorate is comparatively elderly.

Florida had 613,235 Jews in 2010 according to a North American Jewish Data Bank report by Ira Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky. Florida held the top six places in the country in proportion of the Jewish population older than 65 years of age, led by South Palm Beach at 62 percent and West Palm Beach at 57 percent. By contrast, the elderly Jewish population of Los Angeles is only 21 percent.

Israel is the one issue that gives Republicans a chance with Jewish voters, and Romney’s recent trip to Israel enabled him to run commercials in Florida that noted that Obama has not yet visited the Jewish State. There is also discontent about political conflicts between Obama and the Israeli political leadership. Republicans have been gaining with older white voters, even as they struggle with young and minority voters.

But expecting older Jewish voters to go to the next step of voting for a Republican is not a given. Romney still has had to convince those who might be skeptical of Obama that he is a safe choice, and that he won’t be a tool of the most conservative wing of the Republican Party. And here is the problem. What Romney needed to do in his selection of vice president to unite his party is exactly the opposite of what he needed to do to make inroads among Jews.

Had he made a safer choice, Rob Portman of Ohio, for example, he might have been able to reassure some Jewish voters that his ticket would be a safe harbor for their discontent with the incumbent president. For these voters, boring would be good, especially if boring meant no change to Medicare and Social Security. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida has 3,390,801 Medicare recipients, 18 percent of the state’s population. According to the AARP, one in five Florida residents received Social Security benefits in 2006. Strikingly, for three out of 10 Floridians older than 65, Social Security provided their sole source of income.

Ryan’s plans for a full or partial privatization of Medicare and Social Security will be anathema to older voters. These ideas are so unpopular — and to many people so unfathomable —  that the Democrats have had to struggle to convince voters that anybody would actually propose it. Now Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate clearly aligns him with Ryan’s plans.

If the debate turns to Medicare and Social Security, the debate over Americans’ relationship with Israel may become less compelling. And certainly older voters in general will be paying very close attention to what happens with entitlement programs.

Although there is no guarantee that the famously undisciplined Democrats, prone to scattershot campaigning on numerous fronts, will press the advantage, but if they do, the Romney-Ryan ticket could mean that their prospects could be very bright, not just in the presidential campaign but in congressional elections nationwide as well. Romney’s selection of Ryan likely will have the unintended consequence for the Republicans of shifting the debate from focusing on insufficient jobs for Americans of working age to the otherwise dormant questions of health and income security for the high participation, retired senior citizen voters.

It is hard to imagine more difficult terrain for the Republicans in an election year that for them began with so much promise.


Raphael J. Sonenshein is executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

Massachusetts pension board completes Iran divestment


The Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management board announced that it divested all holdings in companies tied to Iran’s energy industry.

The divestment, announced Tuesday in a news release, fulfilled a state law encouraging PRIM to pressure Iran to cease its nuclear weapons program in the Persian Gulf.

“I’m pleased to report that the Iran divestiture was completed on time and in compliance with the law,” said PRIM Executive Director Michael Trotsky.

“Our prompt response to the call to divest sends a clear signal that the actions of Iran will not be tolerated on the international stage or in the boardroom,” said Steven Grossman, Massachusetts state treasurer, and chair of the PRIM board. “Targeted sanctions on Iran offer the best prospect for deterring the Iranian aggression that threatens the security of the United States and its allies, including Israel.”

The divestment became official on Dec. 30, 2011. In the aftermath of the divestment, some companies severed their own ties with Iran and were subsequently dropped from PRIM’s restricted list.

“This is proof positive that sanctions work,” said Grossman. “Major corporations changed their behavior in response to the prohibitions, resulting in increased economic pressure on Iran.”

A number of other pension funds are reportedly severing ties with Iran, but Massachusetts was the first state to fully divest.

Veteran congressman Barney Frank won’t run in 2012


Longtime U.S. Rep. Barney Frank will not run again for his Massachusetts seat in 2012.

The veteran Democratic Jewish lawmaker’s office confirmed to JTA that Frank would make the announcement Monday in his congressional district, in the Town Hall in Newton, Mass., at 1 p.m.

Frank, 71, reportedly is unhappy with how his district has been reshaped because of the most recent census.

He has served since 1980, and was a leader in the House of Representatives on financial issues. Frank also was the first congressman to come out as gay.

In recent years, Frank has taken the lead in advocating for clemency for Jonathan Pollard, jailed for life since 1985 for spying for Israel.

Mass. to change ‘12 primary away from Rosh Hashanah


Massachusetts’ secretary of state said he would change the date of the 2012 state primary to avoid a conflict with Rosh Hashanah.

The primary is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

Secretary of State William Galvin said Wednesday that the primary could be changed to a Wednesday or Thursday instead of the traditional Tuesday, the State House News Service reported.

The announcement came as state Sen. Barry Finegold criticized the current date as “problematic.”

“There are people who literally won’t travel to the polls on that day for religious reasons, and we don’t want to deprive anyone of the ability to vote,” he said.

Finegold called for the primary to be held a week earlier, on Sept. 11.

Second female “rabba” to be ordained


A second woman will be ordained under the title rabba.

The Academy of Jewish Religion in Riverdale is set to ordain Kaya Stern-Kaufman, 47, of Great Barrington, Mass., at a ceremony on May 12, the New York Jewish Week reported Wednesday.

Her ordination comes a year after Rabbi Avi Weiss, who heads the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a modern Orthodox synagogue in the Bronx, conferred the title rabba on Sara Hurwitz, who serves the congregation, causing controversy throughout the Orthodox world.

A month after ordaining Hurwitz, Weiss said that he would no longer ordain women with the title rabba. Weiss is not affiliated with the Academy of Jewish Religion.

Stern-Kaufman, who previously worked as a clinical social worker and as a Feng Shui consultant in architecture, and as a part-time Jewish educator, is following seven generations of Orthodox rabbis in her family, the Jewish Week reports. 

The Academy of the Hebrew Language in Israel officially entered the word “rabba” into the Hebrew language last year, according to the newspaper.

Some of the previous year’s female graduates had asked to graduate with the title rabba, but “we needed time to study it and consider the ramifications,” Ora Horn Prouser, executive vice president and dean of the academy, told the Jewish Week.

Stern-Kaufman is one of seven females to be graduating from the academy this year, and the only one who will be receiving the title rabba.

The academy was founded in 1956 as a pluralistic rabbinical school. Graduating rabbinical and cantorial students receive a Masters degree from Gratz College, a general college of Jewish studies, in Philadelphia.

Gov. Deval Patrick to lead Mass. trade tour of Israel


Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will lead a state trade delegation to Israel.

Patrick, a Democrat, will tour Britain and Israel from March 7 to 17, his office said Tuesday, according to the Boston Globe.

Patrick’s statement noted that nearly 100 companies with Israeli founders or Israeli-licensed technologies employed 6,000 people and generated $2.4 billion in income in his state in 2009.

Robert Kraft, who owns the New England Patriots franchise in the National Football League, will be among the state business leaders accompanying the governor.

Reform launches special-needs summer programs


The Union for Reform Judaism has launched two new summer programs for children with special needs.

Camp Chazak in Massachusetts, opening this summer, is for middle-school children with communication and social delays. It has recreational and therapeutic programming.

Like the Reform movement’s existing programs for autistic teens—the Mitzvah Corps program at Camp Kutz in Warwick, N.Y., and the Camp Nefesh program at Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, Calif.—the new camp aims to provide a Jewish experience to youngsters often left out of mainstream opportunities.

The second new program, Israel in a Special Way, is a travel program to Israel for older teenagers with learning disabilities and emotional/social difficulties. It is the first Reform program in Israel for those with special needs.

More information on the programs is available at www.urjcamps.org/programs/specialneeds.

Vocal Musicians Make a Joyful Noise


Human voices converge on the same note, echoing a haunting harmony — arousing complicated emotions.

This has been the buzz surrounding an award-winning Jewish a cappella group, Shir Appeal, a group of college students from Massachusetts, who will bring their hypnotizing harmonies to Orange County’s Temple Bat Yahm (TBY) for Shabbat evening service, Jan. 16. The group was named after Tufts University’s mascot — Jumbo the Elephant. The Hebrew phrase shir hapeal means "song of the elephant."

A cappella, Italian for "in the style of the chapel," is a term used to describe a type of music composed of entirely human voices.

A student-run organization, Shir Appeal receives no funding from their student government, and sustains their costs with CD sales, which feature Jewish folk songs, Israeli pop songs and liturgical music.

This year marks the group’s return to TBY in Newport Beach, also home of operatic cantor Jonathan Grant. The 15 members of Shir Appeal have been invited to stay with TBY congregants and will sit in a place of honor among the temple’s choir.

"Where ever there’s a sizable Jewish population [at a college], you’re bound to find an a cappella group," said Rebecca Bromberg of Shir Bruin, UCLA’s Jewish a cappella ensemble, who also co-founded a Jewish a cappella group in 1997 at Emory University in Atlanta.

Bromberg cites Columbia University’s Pizmon, which formed in 1987, as popularizing American Jewish a cappella on college campuses. As secular a cappella gathered steam in the 1990s, marked by the formation of major a cappella societies, Jewish a cappella also became more popular, especially among youth on college campuses. Techiya of MIT formed in 1994; Shir Appeal in 1995; Shircago, of the University of Chicago, in 1996; as well as a slew of others on university campuses whose participation waxed and waned over the decade — including Harvard, Brandeis and Boston and New York universities.

During the spring of this year, the University of Chicago hosted "Striking a Chord," the first-ever, all-Jewish Midwest a cappella festival, attracting groups from around the Midwest.

The San Francisco-based Contemporary A Cappella Society, a loose association of amateur, semi-pro and professional a cappella artists, recognizes groups that have produced a commercially available body of work with a Contemporary A Capella Recording Awards (CARA). Like the mainstream recording industry’s Grammy Awards, a CARA is given to artists in many categories. Groups with limited distribution also qualify for recognition, said Jessika Diamond, former vice president of the Contemporary A Cappella Society, however, they are less likely to have the resources to create a recording with high production values.

"This year is the first time in the history of the CARA competition that any religious group did as well as Shir Appeal," Diamond said.

Shir Appeal took home the award for "best collegiate song" and runner-up for "best collegiate album."

This year, approximately 60 volunteer a cappella aficionados judged the CARAs. Among them was the society’s representative, Greg Bowne, of Massachusetts.

"[Shir Appeal] used their voices in such a great way that really conveyed power and emotion in the song," Bowne said.

After the competition was over, Bowne said he kept listening to their recording, impressed with the group’s strong sound.

Two of the group’s songs were also featured on the "Best of College A Cappella" CD, a production of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), which Diamond directed from 1999 to 2003. The ICCA attracts a cappella groups worldwide and encourages them to submit recordings of their best songs for a competition. Out of thousands of submissions, 18 songs are selected for a compilation CD, "The Best of College A Cappella," released every year. Shir Appeal won coveted spots on the 2000 and 2003 collections.

Before their Newport Beach appearance, Shir Appeal performs in Los Angeles with Shir Bruin, the Scattertones and another UCLA-affiliated a cappella group on Jan. 11.

Cantor Grant said he expects the group to sing a 17th-century selection by Solomone Rossi, called "Eftach Nai S’Fatai" (God Please Open My Lips), and a unique arrangements of "Shalom Aleichem" and "Shalom Rav."

"I also look forward to the Israeli popular selections they will sing at our Shabbat dinner program," he said.

For information about the Jan. 16 appearance at Temple Bat Yahm, call (949) 644-1999.