World news

"Race hate" passenger thrown off jet

By Robyn Rosen, January 7, 2010

A man has been arrested after allegedly becoming aggressive and using antisemitic threats on a Detroit-bound airplane in Miami aiport.

Mansour Mohammad Asad stood up as Northwest Airlines Flight 2485 was about to take off from Miami International Airport on Wednesday evening and said: “I'm a Palestinian and want to kill all the Jews,” according to a report by the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The plane returned to the gate where police officers removed him and used a taser when he became aggressive during a search.


Ancient Polish cemetery slated for destruction ‘saved by government’

By Leon Symons, January 7, 2010

An ancient Jewish cemetery slated for destruction has been saved by the Polish authorities.

The graveyard, in Wolberom, near Krakow, was supposed to have a $1 million school gym built on it. But the project was moved at the end of last year to a different site after skeletons were discovered on the grounds.

Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, praised both the local authorities and the government for the decision.


Fears for Yemenites

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2010

The threat of permanent closure of the American and British embassies in Yemen has heightened fears for the safety of some 200 Yemenite Jews.

The main channel of contact with the community has, in recent years, been the American State Department.

American diplomats have helped Jewish groups transfer aid to the community and keep abreast of its condition. Last year, Moshe Yaish-Nahari was murdered by a former Yemeni Air Force pilot after he refused to convert.

The fear of al Qaida and other Islamic movements has caused many rural Jews to move to the capital, Sana’a.


No trial for DJ’s killer

January 7, 2010

The alleged murderer of French DJ Sebastien Selam, who was killed with a knife and fork in the car park of his apartment building, is not mentally fit to stand trial, a Paris court has ruled.

Twenty-two-year-old Mr Selam was killed in December 2003 by a small-time drug dealer, Adel Amastaibou, who lived in the same building. Mr Amastaibou allegedly slit Mr Selam’s throat with a knife and gouged out his eyes. He is said to have run upstairs to his flat and, according to his mother, cried: “I killed a Jew! Now I will go to heaven!”


Eastern Europe Jews urge antisemitism fight

By Toby Axelrod, January 7, 2010

The World Congress of Russian-speaking Jews urged action to fight Holocaust denial and antisemitism in former Soviet republics in a conference in Berlin last month.

At issue is the alleged glorification of wartime Nazi collaborators, rehabilitated today as nationalist heroes, particularly in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine, charged Boris Shpigel, president of the WCRJ.


Food volunteers deliver Jewish values

By Sue Fishkoff, January 7, 2010

Last year, Karyn Moskowitz of Louisville, Kentucky launched a non-profit company to bring fresh, affordable food to low-income areas.

Every week she drives 100 miles to an Amish produce market to buy organically grown fruit and vegetables. She brings them to a black Baptist Church, where volunteers divide it up into baskets parishioners can buy for $12.

“When we showed up, the people freaked,” Ms Moskowitz said. “They said, ‘Where did you get that food? We can’t buy anything like it here.’”


Gay debate rocks Orthodox university

By Paul Berger, January 7, 2010

A debate at a leading Jewish university about the status of gay people in the Orthodox community has unleashed a fierce backlash.

The panel discussion at New York’s Yeshiva University, titled “Being Gay in the Modern Orthodox World”, attracted about 800 people. Dozens were turned away because the hall was at capacity.


US Holocaust museum shooter dies

By Robyn Rosen, January 7, 2010

The man behind the US Holocaust Museum shooting, which left a guard dead, has died in prison.

James von Brunn shot and killed Stephen Tyrone Johns on June 10 last year during an attempted raid on the museum in Washington.

Von Brunn, 88, died in a prison hospital on Wednesday of natural causes after suffering from chronic heart disease and complications arising from the wounds he incurred in the shooting.

Von Brunn was awaiting trial on possible death penalty charges in the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.


Natalie Portman: "I hate doing Holocaust films"

By Robyn Rosen, January 5, 2010

Natalie Portman has said she tries to “stay away from playing Jews” after her latest role as a Chasidic wife.

The 28-year-old actress told Elle magazine: “I get like 20 Holocaust scripts a month but I hate the genre”.

In her new film New York, I Love You, out later this year, she plays strictly Orthodox diamond buyer, Rifka Malone.

The film has already caused some controversy after Abe Karpen, a Chassidic actor from Brooklyn who was to partner Ms Portman in the film, dropped out of shooting after being pressured by an outraged response from the New York community.


Rabbi’s Skype exorcism

December 30, 2009

A renowned Israeli master of kabbalah, Rabbi Dovid Batzri, has attempted to remove a dybbuk, or disembodied spirit, from a Brazilian man via the internet.

A video posted on Charedi website, shows Rabbi Batzri, surrounded by dozens of supporters, reciting kabbalistic verses and praying for the exorcism of the dybbuk. He connected with the possessed man via Skype.

According to another Charedi site,, the story began when a Brazilian yeshivah student started shouting in shul that he could “smell many sins” and that “the end is very near”.