Paris synagogue goers mildly poisoned by irritant smeared on lock


Fourteen people were mildly poisoned by a toxic substance that was applied to the keypad of an electronic lock of a synagogue south of Paris.

Members of the Jewish community of Bonneuil-sur-Marne on Monday called rescue services to report a sudden strong burning sensation in their eyes and itchy rashes on their skin, Le Parisien reported.

Some 25 firemen rushed to the synagogue, which is under police and military protection whenever it is open. They treated congregants who were poisoned and traced its source to the lock. Described as a non-lethal irritant, the substance found on the pad was sent for analysis at a police forensic lab.

The substance was applied to the pad when the synagogue was closed and the military personnel guarding it were not present, according to the daily. Two of the victims filed a police complaint against unidentified individuals believed to have been responsible. Police believe the substance was deliberately placed there to cause harm.

Separately, on Dec. 7, a passenger on a train from Paris to the southeastern suburb of Melun threatened and insulted a group of French Jews.

The man, who said he was a former soldier, said loudly: “If only I had a grenade here, how do you call it, a fragmentation grenade, I would blow up this wagon with the f***ing Jewish bastards.”

He proceeded for several minutes to harass the group of eight Jews, who were wearing yarmulkes, according to a report Tuesday by the news website JSSnews. It also said he identified himself to passengers as an Algerian. In the video, the man is seen turning to a female passenger, asking her: “What’s the matter, ma’am, do you find this shocking? I don’t. Not when they’re massacring Palestinian babies.”

Addressing the woman, he said: “Call whoever you want, call your mother, call the army.”

Turning to the Jewish passengers, he yelled: “Bunch of bastards, we’ll get you and we’ll screw you.”

Old assumptions questioned in Arafat’s mysterious death


President Yasser Arafat's spartan bedroom remains largely as he left it in 2004, when he flew off to France for treatment for a mystery illness only to return home two weeks later in a coffin.

More like a prison cell than the living quarters of an Arab leader, a single bed lies along one wall, a small fridge still contains some of his long-expired medicines and his old, khaki uniform, dotted with bright badges, hangs in a narrow wardrobe.

Giving an outsider a rare glimpse into a long-shuttered world, the door to the adjacent room is thrown open, revealing the wooden casket that brought his corpse back to Ramallah.

Arafat's body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, was buried nine years ago, but conspiracy theories he was poisoned were never laid to rest, with accusations flying on all sides.

Should evidence emerge that Israel killed the Palestinian leader, a legacy of rancor could wreck the chances of peace for years to come. Proof that someone from Arafat's own inner circle did it could sweep away a generation of politicians who still hold sway in the West Bank.

Like many Palestinians, Imad Abu Zaki, one of Arafat's closest bodyguards, has no doubt who did it. Neither, he says, did his boss, whom he calls reverentially the Rais (president).

“I remember one day the Rais said: 'They have got me'. He was talking about the Israelis,” Abu Zaki said, recalling an enfeebled Arafat sitting on his sick bed and putting his hand to his chest.

Most Palestinians have long assumed that Israel murdered their national hero, anxious to be rid of a man they blamed for the collapse of peace talks in 2000 and a subsequent uprising that saw waves of suicide bombers wreak havoc in Israeli cities.

Revelations this month by a Swiss forensic lab that Arafat's bones contained unnaturally high amounts of rare, radioactive polonium, only fuelled their conviction.

But not everyone is pointing the finger in the same direction. Some people, like Arafat's widow Suha, have suggested her husband was killed by an insider.

“I'm sure it's someone in his close circle,” Suha said, calling Arafat's death a “political assassination”.

A series of interviews with Palestinian and Israel officials, who were all caught up in the events of 2004, shed more detailed light on an era of violence, intrigue and animosity that pitted Palestinians against Israelis, and against one another.

SHARON THREAT

Before his death, Arafat was confined by the Israeli military to his bomb-damaged, rubble-strewn headquarters in Ramallah for 41 months. Largely shunned by the outside world, he was still an icon of national resistance to his people, who referred to him affectionately by his nom de guerre, Abu Ammar.

The then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hinted darkly to Ma'ariv newspaper in September 2004 that he wanted to be rid of Arafat, noting that Israel had killed two leaders of the Islamist group Hamas earlier that same year.

“On the matter of Arafat we'll operate in the same way, when we find the convenient and suitable time,” said Sharon, who has lain in a deep coma since suffering a stroke in 2006.

Barely a month after Sharon's comment, Arafat, already fragile with notably trembling lips, fell seriously ill.

Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja, the then Palestinian agriculture minister, recalls dining with Arafat on October 14 in his airless makeshift home, cement-filled oil drums standing at the windows to limit blast damage in the event of an Israeli attack.

“There was nothing wrong with Abu Ammar (Arafat) when I saw him then. He looked in good health,” Abu Al-Naja said, talking about it for the first time to the foreign media.

“There was a bowl of soup in front of him. He took a sip in a spoon and he looked different. He put both hands to his mouth and he vomited. He never got better after that.”

Some officials recall the illness starting on October 12. Others say the decline started at the beginning of the month.

Initially, his aides said he was suffering flu. Teams of doctors came first from Egypt, then from Tunisia to check him. Eventually he was rushed to Paris on October 29, but he died on November 11. No autopsy was carried out and French doctors said they did could not determine the cause of death.

Two weeks later, the Palestinians opened an investigation that got nowhere. The case resurfaced last year when the Al Jazeera news channel obtained some of Arafat's hospital clothes and got them analyzed in Switzerland.

The Lausanne University Hospital's Institute of Radiation Physics found unusually high levels of polonium-210 and French magistrates opened a murder investigation.

Arafat's body was exhumed last year and samples were given to Swiss, French and Russian experts. Once more, the Swiss say they detected a high level of polonium. The Russian findings were less conclusive and the French have not yet reported back.

“I was always sure that Arafat was assassinated. I said it from the beginning. But we needed the proof. This Swiss report has finally given us the proof,” said Ahmed Qurie, the Palestinian prime minister at the time of Arafat's death.

“Nobody believes that anyone other than Israel did it.”

The Israelis adamantly reject this view.

THE ENEMY WITHIN

Israel orchestrated some 150 targeted killings between September 2000 and October 2004, according to Israeli human rights group B'tselem. The state freely admitted to many of the operations, but it denies any involvement in Arafat's death.

“For Sharon, Arafat was the symbol of evil,” said Giora Eiland, the Israeli leader's national security adviser from 2004-2006, who was at the heart of decision-making.

“There were some discussions about the possibility of removing Arafat or expelling him, but it was just hypothetical ideas. Arafat … was the absolute leader of the Palestinians, so we could not think to do to him what we did to the leaders of Hamas and other factions.”

Avi Dichter, the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency in 2004, said the Palestinians needed to look inwards. “Let them investigate and find out,” he told Israel Radio.

Fahmi Shabaneh, a member of the original Palestinian investigation team, believes Dichter is right.

On October 12, 2004, at the time that Arafat fell ill, his powerful cousin Moussa Arafat survived an assassination attempt in his Gaza Strip fiefdom. “Israel is innocent of this act,” Moussa said the next day, blaming rival forces for the failed car bombing of his convoy.

A year later he wasn't so lucky. He was dragged from his house in Gaza by gunmen and shot dead in the street. Despite living next to Palestinian security headquarters, no one came to his help and the murderers were never caught.

“Moussa's killing was tied to the killing of Abu Ammar (Arafat) and those who are suspected of the killing of Moussa are the same who are suspected of killing Abu Ammar,” said Shabaneh.

He said he came to this conclusion after the work he carried out in the first, official investigation into Arafat's death that lasted barely five months and led to no charges.

“Abu Ammar came from a small family and Moussa was his strongest relative … His killing was like a Mafia hit. They did it to prevent him seeking revenge,” he said this month from his small office in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Shabaneh sees himself as a whistleblower, saying he was chased from the adjacent West Bank in 2010 after giving Israeli television a sex tape that compromised a senior official close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas's Palestinian Authority moved the shamed official into a new job and accused Shabaneh of being a traitor.

INNER TURMOIL

Before Arafat fell ill, there was growing internal dissent within the ranks of his Palestinian Authority (PA).

In July 2004, a former minister and fierce Arafat critic, Nabil Amr, was shot and wounded in Ramallah, enraging his clan, which denounced the PA for failing to find the attackers. The same month there were riots in Gaza after Arafat appointed his cousin Moussa to be police chief.

PA rival Mohammed Dahlan was accused of fomenting the trouble, leading to accusations that he was working with Israel to replace Arafat. He has denied this. He left the Palestinian Territories after falling out with Abbas in 2010 and lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Qurie, Palestinian prime minister at the time of Arafat's death, is adamant that Palestinians were not responsible. “Lots of Palestinians used to criticize Arafat, but this is not proof that there was a Palestinian plot to kill him. Everyone looked up to him as a father,” he said.

Certainly, if Arafat was killed – and the Swiss lab report says the amount of polonium found only “moderately supported” the contention he was poisoned – then the rare substance would have had to come from a country with a nuclear industry.

By the same token, because he was surrounded almost exclusively by Palestinians, a local hand would probably have had to deliver the tiny, fatal dose.

Bodyguard Abu Zaki was at Arafat's side from 1988 until his death in France and is the only person who still has an office off the cramped corridor that contained Arafat's hectic court. Speaking out for the first time since the polonium accusations surfaced, he said his team did what they could to protect him.

“The problem is he was popular. He met hundreds of people every day,” he said, suggesting the truth may never emerge.

Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Janet McBride

Evidence supports Arafat poisoning theory, wider probe needed


The remains of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat showed test results consistent with polonium poisoning and should lead to a judicial investigation even if they were not absolute proof that he died that way, Swiss experts said on Thursday.

The two forensic experts were part of an international team that opened Arafat's grave in the West Bank city of Ramallah last November and took samples from his body to see if there was evidence he was poisoned with the radioactive element. Their report was released on Wednesday.

“Our observations are coherent with a hypothesis of poisoning, in any case more consistent than with the opposite hypothesis (of no poisoning),” Patrice Mangin, director of Lausanne University Hospital's center of legal medicine, told a news conference.

Doubts remained, although they had exhausted all forensic investigations into existing specimens, he said. Biological samples taken from Arafat's body at the time of his death in a hospital in France in November 2004 have been destroyed.

“The doubt is enough to induce more investigation, but at a judicial level, to open an inquiry to look at other kinds of evidence, not measurements, but contacts between Palestinians and other people,” Mangin told Reuters in an interview.

“From my point of view, the evidence is more in the country where President Arafat was living,” he added.

Francois Bochud, director of the university's Institute of Radiation Physics, said the evidence was not conclusive.

“Can we say with certitude that polonium was the cause of death of President Arafat? Unfortunately for those of you who want a clearly-defined answer, the answer is no. That is to say, our study did not permit us to demonstrate categorically the hypothesis of poisoning by polonium.”

Bochud told Reuters: “We cannot tell how much polonium actually was ingested, only that our observations are compatible with the poisoning hypothesis.”

Arafat died in a French hospital in Nov 2004, four weeks after falling ill after a meal with vomiting and stomach pains.

The official cause of death was a massive stroke but French doctors said at the time they were unable to determine the origin of his illness. No autopsy was carried out.

His widow Suha initiated Swiss testing on his personal effects in 2012 to probe whether he had been poisoned and the results lead to analyses on samples taken from his corpse, including bones, hair and his shroud.

GATES OF HELL

The technical report of 108 pages was handed over on Tuesday at a secret meeting in a Geneva hotel to representatives of Suha and the Palestinian Authority, who commissioned the report and split the costs equally.

It opened “the gates of hell”, one insider told Reuters.

The report was posted in full on the website of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera's television news channel. http://link.reuters.com/zuk54v

There are few known cases of polonium poisoning, the most famous recent example being that of defecting Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who drank a poisoned cup of tea in a London hotel in 2006. From his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder.

Bochud said a few micrograms of polonium would be enough to kill somebody.

“For example, it could be put in a drink, or food would be a possibility, 5 micrograms is almost nothing at all,” he said.

“What we know about the timelag between ingestion of radioactive poisoning and death is that usually it lasts around one month. This is commonly observed in radiation poisoning and this is actually also the case that we observed with Mr. Arafat,” Bochud said.

Arafat's widow Suha told Reuters in Paris on Wednesday: “We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination.”

“It is scientifically proved that he didn't die a natural death and we have scientific proof that this man was killed.”

She told Reuters the polonium must have been administered by someone “in his close circle” because experts had told her the poison would have been put in his coffee, tea or water.

She did not accuse any country or person, and acknowledged that the historic leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization had many enemies, although she noted that Israel had branded him an obstacle to peace. Israel denied any involvement in his death.

Arafat signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords with Israel and led a subsequent uprising after the failure of talks in 2000 on a comprehensive agreement.

No autopsy was carried out on Arafat, whose official cause of death was a stroke. The Swiss report said that blood, urine, faecal and cerebrospinal samples taken during his hospitalization in France were “subsequently destroyed”.

“Certainly if we had access to biological samples taken from Mr. Arafat in Paris (at the time of his death), if they had been preserved, we might have been more categorical,” Bochud said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Ralph Boulton

Russian official rules out Arafat polonium poisoning


The head of a Russian forensics agency said on Tuesday that samples from the body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had revealed no traces of radioactive polonium, a Russian news agency reported.

However, the government scientific body later denied that it had made any official statement about the research, saying only that it had handed its results to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

If confirmed, the findings would deal a blow to Palestinian suspicions that Arafat was assassinated by Israel – a theory fuelled by a Swiss lab report last year which found unusual amounts of the deadly isotope polonium on his clothes.

A Palestinian medical team took samples from Arafat's corpse in the West Bank last year and gave them to Swiss, French and Russian forensic teams in an attempt to determine whether he was murdered with the hard-to-trace radioactive poison.

“He could not have been poisoned with polonium. The research conducted by Russian experts found no traces of this substance,” the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Vladimir Uiba, who heads the Federal Medico-Biological Agency (FMBA), as saying.

Uiba said experts from the FMBA had conducted a detailed study of Arafat's remains.

The agency later sought to distance itself from the comments. “The FMBA of Russia has made no official statement about the results of research on the remains of Yasser Arafat,” the FMBA's press service said.

It added that it had completed its tests and given the results to the authorities.

The Russian Foreign Ministry declined immediate comment, but state-run news agency RIA cited a source in the ministry as saying it was up to the Palestinian authorities to release any information about the tests.

Arafat died aged 75 of an unexplained ailment he developed while confined to his Ramallah headquarters by Israeli tanks at the height of an armed Palestinian uprising in 2004.

Palestinians saw the veteran guerrilla as a hero of their national cause. Israel regarded him as a terrorist, though it denied responsibility for his death.

A negative result from the samples may not totally preclude a poisoning, as experts warned last year that his partial exhumation might have occurred too late to detect polonium.

The Lausanne-based hospital which first found the isotope on Arafat's clothing said that eight years would be the limit to detecting it on his remains and questioned whether such a late examination would provide conclusive results.

A spokesman for the hospital said at the time of the exhumation that findings might be reached by early this year.

No explanation has been given for the lengthy delay in presenting the results.

Reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Writing by Noah Browning in Ramallah; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Robin Pomeroy

Venezuela to probe Chavez cancer ‘poisoning’ accusation


Venezuela will set up a formal inquiry into suspicions that the late President Hugo Chavez's cancer was the result of poisoning by his enemies abroad, the government said.

The accusation has been derided by critics of the government, who view it as a typical Chavez-style conspiracy theory intended to feed fears of “imperialist” threats to Venezuela's socialist system and distract people from daily problems.

Still, acting President Nicolas Maduro vowed to push through a serious investigation into the claim, which was first raised by Chavez himself after he was diagnosed with the disease in 2011.

“We will seek the truth,” Maduro told regional TV network Telesur late on Monday. “We have the intuition that our commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way.”

Foreign scientists will be invited to join a government commission to probe the accusation, the OPEC nation's acting leader said.

Maduro, 50, is Chavez's handpicked successor and is running as the government's candidate in a snap presidential election on April 14 that was triggered by his boss's death last week.

He is trying to keep voters' attention firmly focused on Chavez to benefit from the outpouring of grief among his millions of supporters. The opposition is centering its campaign on portraying Maduro, a former bus driver, as an incompetent who, they say, is morbidly exploiting Chavez's demise.

'HIS FAITHFUL SON'

“They're attacking him saying he isn't Chavez. Of course Nicolas isn't Chavez. But he is his faithful, responsible, revolutionary son,” senior Socialist Party and campaign official Jorge Rodriguez told reporters.

“All these insults and vilification are going to be turned into votes for us on April 14.”

Running for the opposition's Democratic Unity coalition is a business-friendly state governor, Henrique Capriles, 40, who lost to Chavez in a presidential vote last year.

Tuesday was the last day of official mourning for Chavez, although ceremonies appear set to continue. His embalmed body was to be taken in procession to a military museum on Friday.

Millions have filed past Chavez's coffin to pay homage to a man who was adored by many of the poor for his humble roots and welfare policies, but was also hated by many people for his authoritarian style and bullying of opponents.

Though Maduro has spoken about combating crime and extending development programs in the slums, he has mostly used his frequent appearances on state TV to talk about Chavez.

The 58-year-old president was diagnosed with cancer in his pelvic region in June 2011 and underwent four surgeries before dying of what sources said was metastasis in the lungs.

Maduro said it was too early to specifically point a finger over Chavez's cancer, but noted that the United States had laboratories with experience in producing diseases.

“He had a cancer that broke all norms,” Maduro told Telesur. “Everything seems to indicate that they affected his health using the most advanced techniques … He had that intuition from the beginning.”

Maduro has compared his suspicions over Chavez's death with allegations that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004 from poisoning by Israeli agents.

The case echoes Chavez's long campaign to convince the world that his idol and Venezuela's independence hero Simon Bolivar died of poisoning by his enemies in Colombia in 1830.

Venezuela's National Assembly was expected to begin debating a proposal by pro-government legislators and Chavez supporters to call a referendum – which could also be held on April 14 – on whether he should be buried at the pantheon in Caracas, a mausoleum built for Bolivar's remains.

OPPOSITION'S UPHILL FIGHT

Though keeping a low profile out of respect for Chavez's supporters, opponents are furious at what they see as the use of his death by government officials to bolster their chances of staying in power.

Launching his candidacy on Monday, Maduro's speech began with a recording of Chavez singing the national anthem. Hearing his booming voice again, many supporters wept.

As well as the wave of sympathy over Chavez, the opposition faces a well-financed state apparatus, institutions packed with government supporters, and problems within its own rank-and-file, still demoralized over October's presidential election defeat and a mauling at gubernatorial polls in December.

Capriles, an energetic lawyer and career politician, has tried to kick-start his campaign with accusations that Maduro and other senior officials lied about the details of Chavez's illness, hiding the gravity of his condition from Venezuelans.

That has brought him a torrent of abuse in return, with the words “Nazi” and “fascist” being used by senior government officials – despite Capriles' Jewish roots.

An opposition official, Henri Falcon, told a news conference Capriles had not registered his candidacy in person on Monday because his team had received “very serious information that an ambush was being prepared for him.”

At stake in the election is not only the future of Chavez's leftist “revolution,” but the continuation of Venezuelan oil subsidies and other aid crucial to the economies of left-wing allies around Latin America, from Cuba to Bolivia.

Venezuela boasts the world's largest oil reserves.

Polls from before Chavez's death gave Maduro a lead over Capriles of more than 10 percentage points.

Though there are hopes for a post-Chavez rapprochement between Venezuela and the United States, a diplomatic spat worsened on Monday when Washington expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation.

Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga.; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Christopher Wilson

Russia tells Syria Chemical Arms Threat Unacceptable


Russia has told the Syrian government clearly that it is unacceptable to threaten to use chemical weapons, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday in its strongest condemnation of a recent warning by a Syrian official.

In a meeting with Syria’s ambassador to Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov “laid out in an extremely clear form Russia’s position on the inadmissibility of any threats of the use of chemical weapons”, he ministry said.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi acknowledged on Monday that country had chemical weapons, saying it would not use them to crush rebels but could use them against forces from outside Syria.

Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

New tests find Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned


Traces of the poisonous element polonium have been found in the belongings of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a Swiss institute said on Wednesday, and a television report said his widow had demanded his body be exhumed for further tests.

Arafat died at a hospital in France in 2004, after a sudden illness which baffled doctors. Many Palestinians have long suspected he was poisoned.

Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, told Reuters on Tuesday it had found “surprisingly” high levels of polonium-210 in Arafat’s belongings.

But he stressed that clinical symptoms described in Arafat’s medical reports were not consistent with polonium-210 and that conclusions could not be drawn as to whether the Palestinian leader was poisoned or not.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite channel said the institute had tested Arafat’s personal effects, given them by his widow.

Its documentary said they showed that his clothes, toothbrush and kaffiyeh headscarf contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element.

“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” Francois Bochud, director of the institute, said in the documentary.

Bochud said the only way to confirm the findings would be to exhume Arafat’s body to test it for polonium-210.

“But we have to do it quite fast because polonium is decaying, so if we wait too long, for sure, any possible proof will disappear,” he told Al Jazeera.

Polonium was found to have caused the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, and he was assumed to have been deliberately poisoned.

Arafat’s widow Suha said she would ask for Arafat’s body – buried in the West Bank town of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian self-rule authority – to be exhumed.

Speaking at the end of the documentary, aired on Al Jazeera’s English and Arabic channels, she said: “We have to go further and exhume Yasser Arafat’s body to reveal the truth to all the Muslim and Arab world.”

Arafat led the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s fight against Israel from the 1960s but signed a peace agreement with the Jewish state in 1993 establishing Palestinian self-rule areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

His mysterious death came four years into a Palestinian uprising, after years of talks with Israel failed to lead to a Palestinian state. French doctors who treated Arafat in his final days could not establish the cause of death.

French officials refused to give details of his condition, citing privacy laws, fueling a host of rumors and theories over the nature of his illness.

Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Hammond; editing by Andrew Roche

Chaya’s Dance


Six years ago, Carol Solomon attended Yom Kippur services in Copenhagen. Flipping through the back of the English language prayerbook, she came upon a poem, translated from Hebrew, called “The Letter of the Ninety-Three Maidens.” Based on an actual letter that was found after the Holocaust, it tells of young girls at a Jewish school in Cracow who took poison rather than allow themselves to be defiled by Nazi soldiers. Historians question the letter’s authenticity. But for Solomon, “something about this story just captured my heart.”

Which is why Solomon, an L.A.-based choreographer, was inspired to create “Chaya’s Letter,” a full-length dance work that will have its world premiere in Sinai Temple’s Barad Hall on Sept. 4, 1999, just before Rosh Hashanah. But a 15-minute excerpt can be seen by the public on Friday evening, April 16, as part of a Yom Ha Shoah service at the Wadsworth Theatre in Westwood, under the auspices of Temple Shalom for the Arts.

“Chaya’s Letter” features six young female dancers, who in rehearsal displayed their passion for Solomon’s intense, grueling choreography. The haunting score was composed by Chris Ridenhour, husband of one of the dancers, for piano and string quartet. Solomon, who has never before based a dance on Jewish themes, has been encouraged by the support (both financial and moral) she has received from the Jewish community. Michael Berenbaum, president of the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation, endorsed her work as “powerful, indeed at moments awesome,” and calls it a fitting memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

For more information about “Chaya’s Letter,” call the Carol Solomon Dance Co. at (323) 957-9614.


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