New York

Hebrew school opens - but it is not Jewish

By Paul Berger, August 20, 2009

After a bumpy start and a last-minute scramble to find a home, New York’s first state-funded primary school to specialise in the teaching of Hebrew will open its doors on Monday.

The Hebrew Language Academy is open to Jews and non-Jews alike. Because it is publicly funded and America has a strict separation between church and state, the school had to be vetted by New York State’s board of education to ensure there would be no religious instruction.

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NY crash pilot was Jewish businessman

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2009

The pilot killed in this weekend's New York plane and helicopter collision was a wealthy Jewish philanthropist who used the plane in which he died in to transport sick people to hospital for charity.

Steven Altman, 60, a property tycoon from Ambler, near Philadelphia, was flying the plane in clear weather, with his brother Daniel and his 15-year-old nephew Douglas when he hit a helicopter and crashed into the Hudson River, Manhattan.

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Is London to blame for New York measles?

By Jeremy Gillick, July 16, 2009

The New York Department of Health suspects that an outbreak of measles in the Chasidic community may have originated in London.

Twelve cases have been confirmed over the past two months, the majority of them in Williamsburg, home to around 70,000 Satmar Chasidim, and two in Borough Park, a Bobover enclave.

“We have not identified any source yet,” said Dr Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner for immunisation at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “but in the past we have had measles imported from the UK and other European countries.

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A woman rabbi (by any other name)

By Hilary Krieger, New York, June 3, 2009

Sara Hurwitz considers herself a rabbi.

She recently completed the same tests Orthodox men take to be ordained. Last month she underwent a conferral ceremony at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, one of the largest Orthodox synagogues insuburban New York, where she has been acting as Torah scholar, and adjudicating Jewish law, for several years.

But there is one problem: she wasn’t given the title rabbi. Instead, she is known as Maharat — a neologism which stands for Madrichah Hilchatit, Ruchanit v’Toranit, or Leader in Jewish Law, Spiritual Matters, and Torah.

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Charedim battle sex-abuse bill

By Nathan Guttman, May 27, 2009

Attempts to bring justice to victims of sexual abuse are opening old wounds in New York’s strictly Orthodox community and its leadership, which is largely viewed as trying to block these attempts.

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Shul ‘terror plot gang’ in court

May 21, 2009

Four suspected terrorists have been arrested by police who claim they caught them planting bombs near two Synagogues in the Bronx area of New York.

State prosecutors say James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, planned to detonate a car filled with plastic explosives outside the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Centre.

In April the group are said to have agreed on the synagogue they intended to attack and conducted surveillance.

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Russian leadership plan

April 22, 2009

A $2.7 initiative to promote leadership among Russian-speaking Jews living in the US has been announced in New York.

The money will go to training lay leadership in the community and supporting professional development.

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Rabbi is jailed for £5m fraud

By Tom Tugend, April 7, 2009

A Brooklyn rabbi has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to a tax fraud and money laundering scheme.

Rabbi Moshe Zigelman was key to a conspiracy which used five charities of the ultra-Orthodox Spinka group as fronts. Contributors received receipts for large sums which they wrote off on their tax returns. Then they were secretly repaid most of the cash.

In 2006 alone, Zigelman helped solicit more than $8.5 million (£5.3m), of which just $750,000 (£500,000) was kept by charities.

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London and New York: a tale of two marches

By Simon Rocker, June 6, 2008

As organisers of a pro-Israel street rally finalised plans for their event later this month, a similar march in New York last weekend set them an impressive target to beat — with a claimed 100,000 participants.

Even allowing for the difference in Jewish populations (London: estimated 250,000; New York: just under one million), New York City’s Salute to Israel Parade last Sunday dwarfs London’s ambitions.

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