New York

On the fifth floor is our Sefer Torah, and a goat

By Paul Berger, November 26, 2010

The fifth floor of a yeshivah in Queens is about the last place you would expect to find a typical Samarkand courtyard with Persian rugs, clay urns and a goat staring out from behind a chicken wire fence.

"When I look at it, I am surprised myself how one man did it," says Aron Aronov, the 72-year-old founder and curator of the Bukharian Jewish
Museum.

Mr Aronov's collection, which includes handwritten prayerbooks, a 400-year-old Sefer Torah, and hundreds of colourful shawls and robes, spills out over three rooms and a hallway.

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In heart of Brooklyn, a slice of living history

By Paul Berger, November 26, 2010

On a recent sunlit morning in Brooklyn, Leonard Petlakh drove me on a tour of the synagogues that pepper the heavily Russian-speaking neighbourhoods of south Brooklyn.

"Another congregation, happily dying," Mr Petlakh said, pulling up outside the Conservative Congregation Beth Shalom, where he was married 11 years ago.

"If you go down any street around here most of the homes are Russian," he continued. "But the synagogue's boards aren't interested in outreach to Russians."

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Murdered Mumbai rabbi's father sues Pakistan intelligence agency

By Jennifer Lipman, November 24, 2010

The father of the Chabad rabbi who was murdered by terrorists in Mumbai two years ago is taking legal action against the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI.

Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in a Brooklyn federal court.

The rabbi, whose son and pregnant daughter-in-law were killed during the two-day siege at the Indian Jewish centre in November 2008, is also suing the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-E-Taiba.

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Mike Tyson in talks to open kosher restaurant

By Jennifer Lipman, November 22, 2010

Boxer Mike Tyson could be moving into the kosher food market.

The heavyweight champion is in discussion with Jewish businessman Moshe Malamud about launching a high-end kosher restaurant chain.

According to the New York Post the plan was discussed over a meal at Solo, a kosher grill in Manhattan.

A spokesman for the restaurant said: "They discussed the concept as well as the name, but nothing was finalised.”

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Fraudster Bernard Madoff's diamonds, rolex auctioned

By Jennifer Lipman, November 15, 2010

The worldly possessions of disgraced fraudster Bernard Madoff have been auctioned in New York for hundreds of thousand of pounds.

One bidder paid £342,000 for the engagement ring Madoff bought for his wife Ruth, while another buyer bought his vintage Rolex for £42,000.

More than 400 items were up for auction, including his monogrammed boxer shorts, slippers and socks, as well as Ruth Madoff’s diamond earrings and a broken leather foot stall which went for £2,000.

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Employees charged over £25 million Holocaust aid fraud

By Jennifer Lipman, November 10, 2010

Seventeen people have been charged with stealing more than £25 million from a Hardship Fund for Holocaust survivors in need.

Preet Bharara, the US Attorney overseeing the case, said there was evidence of a "culture of fraud" among some employees of the Conference on the Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

It was revealed that six staff members helped the fraudsters raid the non-profit aid fund by approving false applications for help and convincing residents, including Russian Jewish immigrants to New York, to apply even though they were unqualified for aid.

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On this day: Mordecai Kaplan dies

By Jennifer Lipman, November 8, 2010

Born in Lithuania in 1881, Mordecai Kaplan's family moved to the United States when he was eight. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and later Columbia University, and was ordained as a rabbi at the age of 21. In 1908 he married Lena Rubin.

But his experience as a rabbi in New York, at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, was not a positive one, and in 1909 he almost left the role to work in insurance. He did not leave, but he did remain disillusioned with the Jewish practice around him.

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On this day: Rabbi Meir Kahane is killed

By Jennifer Lipman, November 5, 2010

To his followers, he remains a hero, to many; he was a right-wing fanatic with dangerous, even racist views.

Born Martin David Kahane in New York City in 1932, as a teenager he was involved in the right-wing youth movement Betar. He entered rabbinical college and in 1968 set up the Jewish Defence League in Brooklyn.

The organisation was a response to street violence against Jews, and had as its symbol a clenched fist with the words “never again.”

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On this day: the Statue of Liberty is dedicated

By Jennifer Lipman, October 28, 2010

Inscribed on what is perhaps America’s most famous landmark and certainly one of its most treasured, is this: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me!”

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Fiddler on the Roof writer dies

By Jennifer Lipman, October 27, 2010

The writer behind the stage and screen versions of the musical Fiddler on the Roof has died at the age of 98.

Playwright Joseph Stein, who won a prestigious Tony award in 1965 for the Broadway hit, had been suffering from prostate cancer. He died in New York.

Born to Polish immigrants to New York, he worked with Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, and wrote for both radio and television.

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