World news

Demjanjuk trial: camp testimony

By Toby Axelrod in Berlin, January 21, 2010

The war crimes trial of John Demjanjuk continued this week with testimony from Thomas Blatt, one of the few survivors the Sobibor death camp.

But while Mr Blatt’s testimony was powerful in depicting the everyday terror for prisoners in Sobibor, it is doubtful that he brought the case closer to resolution, since Mr Blatt, 82, has always stressed he does not recall seeing Demjanjuk at the camp.

The Ukrainian-born defendant, 89, is charged as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews at Sobibor in 1943.

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Historic shul visit by Pope

By Ruth Ellen Gruber in Rome, January 21, 2010

During his much-anticipated visit to Rome’s main synagogue on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI and Italian Jewish leaders reaffirmed a commitment to dialogue and co-operation.

But echoes of strained relations remained as the German-born pontiff and the president of Rome’s Jewish community sparred over the wartime role of Pope Pius XII.

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Orthodox marriages are 'happier', US survey shows

By Paul Berger, January 21, 2010

Orthodox marriages are happier than the average American marriage, according to a new survey.

The Aleinu Marriage Satisfaction Survey, conducted by the Orthodox Union, found that 72 per cent of Orthodox Jewish men and 74 per cent of Orthodox Jewish women rated their marriage as excellent or very good.

A 2008 General Social Survey found that only 63 per cent of American men and 60 per cent of women are very happy with their marriage.

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Arab MK to visit Auschwitz

By Ben Lynfield, January 21, 2010

Israeli Arab legislator Mohammed Barakeh is under fire from Arab and Jewish hardliners for deciding to visit Auschwitz as part of a Knesset delegation on International Holocaust Remembrance Day next Wednesday.

But Mr Barakeh, from the hard-left Arab-Jewish Hadash party, is undeterred. “Nothing is going to change my decision.”

Mr Barakeh’s step has been called “courageous” by Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, who invited him.

The move could deal a blow to rampant Holocaust denial in the Arab world.

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IDF 'angel' donates own blood to save baby

January 21, 2010

The baby brought to the IDF field hospital was in desperate condition. With an extended abdomen, severe anemia and sepsis, he needed O negative blood at once.

IDF paramedic Maayan Lunz didn’t waste a moment. Within minutes, she was donating her own.

This was just one of many extraordinary scenes in the IDF camp set up in the aftermath of last week’s devastating Haitian earthquake. The Israeli field hospital was the first able to offer surgery and complicated medical care in the ruined city of Port-au-Prince.

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Israel's role in the Haiti earthquake crisis

January 21, 2010

Dr Shir Dar stood, like a proud father, outside one of the tents making up the Israeli field hospital in Port-au- Prince.

While his fellow surgeons were busy with orthopedic procedures and amputations, he got the happier task of delivering the first baby born in the Israeli medical compound.

“He’s a lovely healthy baby,” Dr Dar said, as members of the medical team all came to take a look.

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Chief Rabbi's prayer for Haiti victims

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2010

The Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has issued a special prayer for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, a disaster which is thought to have killed more than 200,000 people.

He has distributed the prayer to all synagogues to be said this Shabbat and has urged the Jewish community to become involved in fundraising for the stricken country.

The Chief Rabbi said he was “deeply distressed at the tragic loss of life and damage suffered by the people of Haiti.”

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Love Story author Erich Segal dies

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2010

The American author Erich Segal, who wrote the bestselling novel Love Story, has died aged 72.

He died after a heart attack at home on Sunday, and was buried at Golders Green's Hoop Lane cemetery today.

The son of a rabbi, Mr Segal obtained a doctorate at Harvard. He later became professor of Greek and Latin literature at Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University. At the time of his death, he was a professor at Wolfson College, Oxford University.

In 1967 he wrote the screenplay for The Beatles' 1968 film Yellow Submarine.

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Jewish man missing in Haiti earthquake

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2010

A Jewish Canadian is missing in Haiti after the earthquake, Israeli rescue teams have reported.

The family of Alexander Shmuel Bitton say that he had just arrived at the Montana Hotel in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, when the earthquake struck.

Mr Bitton’s colleague, known only as Martin, said he saw Mr Bitton at the hotel reception desk and arranged to meet him by the poolside bar.

When the earthquake struck, Martin was waiting for Mr Bitton by the pool. He has not been seen since.

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Award for Chief Rabbi's book

By Jessica Elgot, January 18, 2010

The Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has won a National Jewish Book Award for his new book Covenant and Conversation - Genesis.

The Chief Rabbi won the American award in the ‘Religion’ category for his work which is the first volume in a series of five.

The book is on Torah, and is based originally on his weekly online commentaries.

Extracts from the book were featured in the JC, and can be found here.

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