World news

'Lost Catholic Jews' of Poland come home

By Nathan Jeffay, September 16, 2010

In an unusual kind of pre-High Holy Days study seminar, 22 young Polish Catholics spent three weeks in Israel learning about their Jewish roots.

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Australia coalition is 'bad for Israel'

By Dan Goldberg, September 16, 2010

The inclusion of the Green Party in the new Australian coalition may compromise the government's support for Israel, supporters of the Jewish state fear.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard formed a minority government last week after neither her Labour Party nor the opposition Liberal Party managed the requisite 76 seats in the August 21 election.

Ms Gillard, generally regarded as a strong supporter of Israel, won the support of independent lawmakers and the Greens to help her squeak into power.

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US support for Israel 'still strong'

By Paul Berger, September 16, 2010

A few months ago, the American Jewish community was thrown into a period of prolonged navel-gazing by journalist Peter Beinart.

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Mr Beinart claimed that right-wing American Jews had hijacked Zionism. He said their hawkish, Israel-can-do-no-wrong attitude was distancing liberal Jews, particularly the young, from Israel.

Now, Brandeis University has issued a rebuttal. Titled, Still Connected: American Jewish Attitudes about Israel, the Brandeis report takes direct aim at Mr Beinart's thesis.

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Nachman's followers find utopia - in Ukraine

By Pini Dunner, September 16, 2010

This month sees the 200th anniversary of his death, but Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav's popularity continues to grow.

Over the past 20 years in particular, this growth has been exponential. Reviled in his lifetime, even by his own family - one contemporary Chasidic leader is said to have guaranteed paradise for any antagonist of Rabbi Nachman - his teachings and message are embraced across the spectrum of Jewish life, and he is revered by Jews of every level of observance.

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Antisemitic attack on Moldovan synagogue

By Jennifer Lipman, September 15, 2010

Moldova’s Great Synagogue has been vandalised with Nazi graffiti.

Members of the Kishinev Jewish community arrived at the building to find that swastikas and other antisemitic abuse had been sprayed around the entrance.

The synagogue is the largest in Moldova. The former Soviet Union country is home to an estimated 23,000 Jews.

The Moldovan chief rabbi said antisemitism was not common in the area,

Rabbi Zalman Abelsky said: "Since I began working in this state 20 years ago, I have never encountered such crass behavior.”

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Mel Gibson Jewish rant officer in court

By Jennifer Lipman, September 13, 2010

The Jewish police officer who was at the receiving end of Mel Gibson’s antisemitic slurs has sued his department for harassment.

After the Hollywood star was arrested for drunk driving in 2006 Mr Gibson reportedly said: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world".

Deputy James Mee, who made the arrest, has claimed that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department asked him to remove the comments from the arrest report because of friendship between the actor and Sheriff Lee Baca.

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George Soros' £65m gift to human rights charity

By Leon Symons, September 8, 2010

Billionaire financier George Soros is giving £65 million to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based organisation dedicated to investigating human rights abuses.

HRW has criticised both Israel and Hamas in its reports in the past. At the beginning of this year, its programmes director Ian Levine met Jewish communal leaders in London in an effort to convince them that the organisation was not biased against Israel.

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Synagogue saved in New Zealand quake

September 7, 2010

The small Jewish community in Christchurch, New Zealand, is reeling from a massive earthquake last Shabbat.

The tremor did not affect the city's only shul but may have devastated Chabad house, in the worst-affected area. Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, director of Chabad NZ, has not been able to get close to the Chabad house because authorities have sealed the area, fearing after-shocks.

Rabbi Goldstein, whose dining room roof was blown off, went to the city's only shul, Canterbury Hebrew Congregation, just hours after the tremor.

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Orthodox Jews spotlight sex abuse

By Paul Berger, September 7, 2010

Two of America's leading Orthodox organisations will co-sponsor an event to highlight child sexual abuse in the US Jewish community.

National Jewish Child Abuse Prevention Week, which launches in Chicago on October 17, is backed by the highly influential Orthodox Union and by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the world's largest Orthodox rabbinical group.

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Holocaust teacher banned for 'Nazi obsession'

By Ian Sparks, September 7, 2010

A Jewish history teacher has been suspended for "brainwashing" her pupils with too much information about the Holocaust.

Catherine Pederzoli, 58, was investigated by education ministry chiefs in France after accusations that she was obsessed with the Nazi gas chambers.

A report by the ministry has now accused her of lacking "distance, neutrality and secularism" in teaching about World War Two.

It also said she spent too much time organising trips for her teenage students to visit the death camps in Poland and the Czech Republic.

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