Masorti rips bar mitzvah rite for autistic kids held in Orthodox synagogue


A foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel slammed a bar mitzvah ceremony held at an Orthodox synagogue for non-Orthodox children with autism.

Sunday’s ceremony in Rehovot was presided over by an Orthodox rabbi that the nine children and their parents did not know, the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel said in a statement.

Masorti professionals who have worked with the children toward their bar mitzvahs were not informed of the ceremony, the statement said. The Torah is not read during services on Sunday by any branch of Judaism.

“What happened, in essence, is that the children, who had all volunteered to be in our program were taken to an unfamiliar synagogue, propped up and posed for a photo-op instead of given a legitimate and respectful bar mitzvah,” said Rabbi Robert Slosberg, the chairman of the Masorti Foundation.

“We were neither invited nor informed of the ceremony. In a situation where all services for children with disabilities are provided by the municipality, Mayor [Rahamim] Malul coerced these parents and their children into participating in a sham bar mitzvah and spat in the face of Masorti Judaism.”

The bar/bat mitzvah ceremony for children with disabilities has been taking place for 20 years in Rehovot under the auspices of the Masorti movement. The celebration was at first to be moved to the president’s residence in Jerusalem after Malul, the central Israeli city’s mayor, canceled the ceremony in April because it would be held at a Conservative synagogue.

The ceremony at the president’s residence was supposed to be co-officiated by one Conservative rabbi, Mike Goldstein, and one Orthodox rabbi, Benny Lau, according to Conservative officials. But an invitation sent out by the President’s Office listed only an Orthodox rabbi.

“With this group of children from Rehovot, the shameful saga and game has ended,” said Yizhar Hess, CEO of the Masorti movement in Israel. “We were hoping for a better ending, but at least the children and their parents are not left ‘hanging’ in the air. We can’t do anything more for them.”

The Masorti movement said an emergency mission to Israel is being planned that will include high-level government meetings to discuss the marginalization of the movement.

Iranians in Canada caught using fake Israeli passports


Seven Iranians were caught using fake Israeli passports at Vancouver International Airport.

The Iranians, whose identity is unknown, were posing as the Solomons family from the central Israeli city of Rehovot, according to reports. They may have been trying to take advantage of Israelis’ ability to travel to Canada without a visa. Iranians need a visa to enter Canada.

The passports listed the Iranians’ names and ages as Mona, 48; Tomer, 40; Nadine, 15; Narin, 11; Binyamin, 9; Marin, 6; and Nermin, 5. The passports, however, contained several Hebrew errors and mismatched translations, enabling authorities to recognize them as forgeries. The passports were sent to Israel’s  Israeli Population and Immigration Authority.

Several Iranians in recent years have tried to enter various countries with fake Israeli passports.

Palestinians mark Prisoners’ Day with hunger strikes, protests


Thousands of Palestinians marked Prisoners' Day with protests and hunger strikes.

Some 3,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails refused their food on Wednesdays. Nine of the prisoners reportedly announced that they will begin longer-term hunger strikes until Samer Issawi, who has been on a hunger strike for more than eight months, is released.

Issawi is hospitalized at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot in a state of deterioration. He was imprisoned in Israel in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years in jail for terrorist activities.

One of the more than 1,000 prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit swap, Issawi was rearrested more than a year later and shortly after started his hunger strike.

Palestinian protesters demonstrated in front of the Ofer Prison near Ramallah, cutting through the fence around the prison before being dispersed by Israeli soldiers, according to reports.

Prisoners' Day is an annual Palestinian event that honors Palestinians held in Israeli jails. There are up to 4,800 Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons, including more than 150 in administrative detention without charges.

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