World news

Irish girl gets vital surgery in Israel

By Ruth Eglash, December 23, 2009

The prognosis was grim last year for Rachel Casey, an Irish two-year-old with Downs Syndrome who was born with hundreds of holes in her heart. Her local physician had not managed to operate successfully, and her options were running out.

“She had been very sick,” recalled her father, Gerry, 40.

“Her heart was described as being like ‘Swiss Cheese’, and her doctor said that if she was not operated on quickly, the chance to close the holes would pass.”

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Outrage as Pope nudges Pius towards sainthood

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, December 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to move controversial wartime Pope Pius XII closer to sainthood has provoked outrage in the Jewish world.

On Saturday, the pope signed a decree certifying Pius’s religiously defined “heroic virtues”, a move that paved the way for his beatification. Critics have long accused Pius of having turned a blind eye to Jewish suffering in the Shoah and have asked the Vatican to open its WWII archives to clarify the issue.

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Sex tapes rock the Orthodox

By Paul Berger, December 23, 2009

Recordings of sexually explicit conversations, apparently between a strictly Orthodox rabbi and a woman he was helping convert to Judaism, are rocking the entire Orthodox world.

New York Rabbi Leib Tropper resigned earlier this month from the organisation he founded, Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), after posters appeared in Orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem insinuating that he had committed sexual indiscretions.

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Demjanjuk 'not fragile', say experts

By Toby Axelrod, December 23, 2009

The war crimes trial of John Demjanjuk has resumed and is no less bizarre than when it started three weeks ago.

Demjanjuk, 89, is charged with being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews, as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in 1943. Each day he is rolled into the Munich District courtroom in a wheelchair or on a gurney, wrapped in a blanket. But medical expert witnesses have assured the court he is neither frail nor senile, but simply old.

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Jimmy Carter: 'Sorry for stigmatising Israel'

December 23, 2009

Former American President Jimmy Carter has offered an apology for “any words or deeds” of his that have stigmatised Israel.

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Auschwitz thieves show how they stole sign

By Robyn Rosen, December 22, 2009

Three men who have confessed to stealing the Arbeit Macht Frei sign from the entrance gates of Auschwitz have re-enacted the theft for police.

Police found the 16-foot wrought-iron sign cut into three pieces on Sunday evening in northern Poland and arrested five men, aged in their 20s and 30s.

It had been stolen before 5 o’clock on Friday morning and had been unscrewed on one side and then wrenched off.

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Brittany Murphy dies at 32

By Robyn Rosen, December 21, 2009

Brittany Murphy, the 32-year-old halachically Jewish actress and star of Clueless and 8 Mile, has died.

Ms Murphy, whose mother, Sharon, is Ashkenazi-Jewish, was reportedly transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles yesterday morning after collapsing in the shower, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

In May 2007, Ms Murphy married British Jewish screenwriter Simon Monjack in a small Jewish ceremony in Los Angeles.

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Stolen Auschwitz sign found

By Robyn Rosen, December 21, 2009

The “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign which was stolen from the entrance gate of Auschwitz has been found, cut into three pieces.

The 16-foot wrought-iron sign was recovered last night in northern Poland by police who arrested five men, aged in their 20s and 30s.

It had been stolen before 5 o’clock on Friday morning and had been unscrewed on one side and then wrenched off.

Andrzej Rokita, district police chief in the city of Krakow, said: “We can say that none of the five are members of a neo-Nazi group. Their intent was undoubtedly robbery-related.”

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Auschwitz sign stolen

By Jessica Elgot, December 18, 2009

The wrought-iron sign above the entrance to Auschwitz with the infamous slogan ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ has been stolen.

The sign, which is believed to have been stolen before 5 o’clock this morning using a ladder, had been unscrewed on one side and then wrenched off.

The theft is the first major act of vandalism to be committed on the site, which stands as a memorial to the six million Jews and other miniorities murderd by the Nazis.

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Reform is too frum for us, say members

By Sue Fishkoff, December 17, 2009

For the past decade, the American Reform movement has been engaged in a re-evaluation of traditional rituals, from Shabbat to kashrut. There is more Hebrew in the services, more yarmulkes, more interest in using mitzvot to bring holiness to the mundane.

But now, a small group of mainly older Reform Jews is resisting. They say this growing interest in ritual observance is a betrayal of Reform’s original rationalist approach to faith, and is putting the movement on the slippery slope towards Orthodoxy.

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