January 22, 2019

News Briefs

John Bolton’s tough pro-Israel rhetoric at the United Nations during Israel’s recent crisis has galvanized Jewish support for the once-embattled nominee — and may have helped secure his nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key Jewish opponent of Bolton a year ago, said he now is undecided, principally because of the Israel issue.

“I’m assessing it,” Schumer said on CNN last weekend. “A lot of Democrats are deciding, weighing the positive of Bolton that he’s been for Israel and negative that he has almost an antagonistic, ‘go at it alone’ attitude to the nations of the world, which we need with us to fight a war on terror.”

Bolton has been steadfast in supporting Israel in its crisis in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

Last year, Democrats had the minimum 41 votes in the Senate to block Bolton. This year, Schumer said on CNN, he doubts his party has the numbers for a similar filibuster.

That could be due partly to enthusiastic Jewish lobbying this time around. The American Jewish Committee reversed its policy of not weighing in on nominations, and sent a letter to all 100 U.S. senators urging them to vote yes.

Similar endorsements have rolled in from the Anti-Defamation League, Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, Zionist Organization of America and Republican Jewish Coalition.

Aryan Leaders Convicted

The two top bosses of the Aryan Brotherhood nationwide prison gang were convicted Friday of murder and racketeering by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana. Barry “The Baron” Mills and Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham were found guilty of ordering dozen of bloody prison attacks, mainly on suspected informers and black inmates, from the their maximum security cellblocks. In the penalty phase of the trial, starting Aug. 15, jurors will decide whether the two men will be executed or spend life in prison.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Mandatory Christian Studies in Ukraine Irk Jewish Leaders

Jewish leaders in Ukraine are criticizing a decision to introduce Christian ethics studies into the nation’s public school curriculum.

Ukraine’s Education and Science Ministry last month made ethics a mandatory subject starting this school year, which begins Sept. 1. The ministry said the move is an attempt to teach middle-school students spiritual and moral values.According to the ministry, students will choose one of three tracks: Christian ethics, philosophical ethics or the foundation of religious ethics. The last means that any major faith may propose a course on its own ethics.

Jewish leaders have yet to propose an alternative for Jewish students — and say it would be better if no religious ethics were taught at public schools.”A chance to decide between the three options is better than just having one option, Christian ethics,” said Josef Zissels, head of the Ukrainian Va’ad, a Jewish umbrella organization.

Australian Police Probe Synagogue Attack

Police in Sydney, Australia, are searching for 10 men who attacked a synagogue in the city’s suburbs. Rabbi Yossi Wernick, 32, who came to Sydney a year ago from New York, was at home with his family when the attack took place. The house, adjacent to the Parramatta synagogue, was also attacked with bricks and lumps of concrete that damaged doors, windows and the rabbi’s car. No one was hurt in the incident, believed to be the work of men of Middle Eastern origin. Wernick told media that it was a “shame to bring the current conflict here.”

Jewish Students Send Petition to Annan

A pro-Israel student petition was delivered to Kofi Annan on Monday. The petition, which garnered more than 43,000 signatures, was organized by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. The document asks the U.N. secretary-general to “join us in clearly and immediately reaffirming the right of Israel to defend its citizens and ensure its security in the face of relentless attacks, killings and kidnappings by Hezbollah.”

Poet, Scholar Fleischer Dies in Jerusalem

Ezra Fleischer, a poet and scholar who shed new light on the history of Jewish prayer, died July 25 in Jerusalem. Fleischer, who taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, showed that modern Jewish prayer developed after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. He helped to study the Cairo Genizah, a medieval set of documents found in the late 1800s. Born in 1928 in what is now Romania, he was imprisoned for his Zionist activities after World War II, where he wrote a poem, “Massa Gog,” that won the Israel Prize in 1959. He immigrated to Israel in 1960.

Former Chief Rabbi of Romania Dies at 95

Alexander Safran, the former chief rabbi of Romania who tried to save Romanian Jews during World War II has died. He was 95. Safran tried to prevent Romania’s pro-Nazi regime from deporting Jews to concentration camps. He was later the chief rabbi of Geneva and a professor of philosophy.

Australian TV Regrets Program

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation apologized for anti-Israel content on a children’s televison show.

In a letter to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the broadcasting company said the “Behind the News” program, which described Hezbollah fighters as “soldiers” and “refugees” whose “land was taken by Israel,” was biased.

Shabbat in Cambodia

Some 25 people attended a rare Shabbat service in Cambodia. The July 28 event was hosted by two Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Motti Seligson and Levi Kotlarsky, who are part of the Chabad Summer Peace Corps.

The corps sends more than 200 young rabbis around the world to make Judaism accessible to Jews in exotic locales.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency