Oh boy, things just got better for Petter

By Dan Goldberg, May 7, 2009

It took almost two years, cost more than £5000 and involved two donkeys, one sheep, a case of mistaken sexual identity, several DNA tests and the unwavering faith of two ultra-Orthodox Jews in Australia.

On Sunday, more than 1500 mainly Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Melbourne witnessed what is believed to be Australia’s first-ever Pidyon Petter Chamor — the redemption of the first-born male donkey

Berel Goldberger, a Vishnitzer, and Binyomin Friedman, a Belzer, stumbled across the tractate during their daily study session at the Adass Israel Congregation.


Billionaire dies just as scam charge dropped

By Dan Goldberg, April 30, 2009

Richard Pratt, a billionaire Australian industrialist, has died from prostate cancer — the day after a criminal case against him was dropped.

Mr Pratt’s reputation as a businessman and generous philanthropist was tarnished in 2007 when his company was fined a record £17.5 million for collusion in a price-fixing scam with a rival.

Citing Mr Pratt’s terminal illness, prosecutors on Monday dropped a case accusing him of giving false or misleading evidence to the corporate watchdog.


UK Beth Din may hear Australia case via video

By Dan Goldberg, April 29, 2009

A bitter legal battle between a prominent Sydney rabbi and his Orthodox congregation may be resolved by rabbinical judges in Britain.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick won a last-minute injunction from the NSW Supreme Court on the eve of Passover to prevent members of his cash-strapped shul from voting on a motion to make his position redundant.

Justice Richard White ordered Rabbi Gutnick and the board of the Mizrachi shul in Bondi to resolve their dispute “by a Jewish tribunal in accordance with Jewish law”.


Holocaust denier faces jail

By Dan Goldberg, April 20, 2009

Australia’s most notorious Holocaust revisionist faces a possible jail sentence less than six months after he spent 50 days inside Wandsworth Prison.

Dr Fredrick Toben, the director of the Adelaide Institute in South Australia, was found guilty last week of criminal contempt for continuing to publish material denying the Holocaust, doubting the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and vilifying Jews in defiance of a 2002 Federal Court order.


Comedian is crucified over Easter TV stunt

By Dan Goldberg, April 14, 2009

An award-wining Australian Jewish comedian is the centre of controversy after being crucified in the Philippines on Good Friday for a new TV show.

John Safran, 36, was one of several people who were nailed to a cross near Manila as part of the ritual symbolising the suffering of Jesus at Easter.

Photographs clearly show the man — who identified himself as John Michaels — to be the TV funnyman who has built his reputation on outlandish stunts and who has been likened to Britain’s Sacha Baron Cohen.

He graduated from Yeshiva College, an Orthodox boys-only school in Melbourne.


Schindler’s list is ‘found’ in library

By Dan Goldberg, April 6, 2009

Sydney’s Jewish Museum and descendants of survivors saved by Oskar Schindler are angry that a carbon copy of the German industrialist’s famous list was sold to the State Library of New South Wales.

News of the sale emerged only recently — the document had been bought by the library 13 years ago, archived and then forgotten about until it was discovered by a researcher.

The list of more than 800 Jews was given to Australian author Thomas Keneally in 1980 by Leopold Pfefferberg, a Schindler survivor living in Los Angeles.


Jailed judge asks for a masseuse

By Dan Goldberg, April 2, 2009

Disgraced former judge Marcus Einfeld, who began his three-year jail sentence for perjury last week, started life in prison as he means to go on — by requesting a masseuse and a psychologist.

Marcus Einfeld also asked for his cell door to be left open at night because he would be too hot.

The judge was jailed for at least two years last week for lying under oath to avoid paying a £35 speeding fine in 2006.

The New South Wales Corrective Services are unlikely to agree to Einfeld’s demands, but have allowed him a television in his cell.


The lawyer, the lies and the fast ladies

By Keren David and Dan Goldberg, March 26, 2009

He was a highly respected member of the Australian Jewish community, a human rights lawyer honoured as an “Australian National Treasure.”

But when, in 2006, former judge Marcus Einfeld, 69, drove his silver Lexus sedan at 60 kmh through a 50kmh zone, he was on a highway to a prison cell — and by the most bizarre route.

Rather than pay a $AU77 speeding fine — around £37 — Einfeld claimed that he had lent the car to an old friend, an American academic called Teresa Brennan.

But his alibi failed when police discovered that Professor Brennan had been dead for three years.


Australian anger over Iran invite

By Dan Goldberg, March 19, 2009

An invitation to the former president of Iran to speak in Melbourne next week has enraged Jewish community leaders, writes Dan Goldberg.

Mohammed Khatami is due to speak at La Trobe University in Melbourne on March 26.

John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, resigned from the university’s dialogue committee in protest against the invitation and said it was “inconceivable” that the Anglican archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, was meeting Khatawi.


Man fights Nazi crime indictment

March 12, 2009

A man who is alleged to have killed a Jewish teenager during the Second World War is fighting extradition to Hungary in an Australian federal court. Charles Zentai, 87, is accused of torturing and murdering Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944.