World news

David Irving flees Norway

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2009

Convicted Holocaust denier David Irving had to leave Norway after police said they could not guarantee his safety.

Demonstrators from SOS Racism, a French anti-racism group, had attempted to block his entrance to an Oslo television station where he was due to give an interview on Tuesday last week. Irving had to use a back door to enter the building.


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.


Rabbis ordained for first time in 70 years

By Toby Axelrod, Berlin, June 3, 2009

For the first time in seven decades, two Orthodox rabbis were ordained in Germany.

The ceremony, which was broadcast live on television, is seen as further evidence of the return of Jewish life to Germany – and in particular, of Orthodoxy, which has revived at a far slower pace than the other denominations.

The new rabbis, Zsolt Balla, 30, and Avraham Radbill, 25, were both born behind the former "Iron Curtain" and emigrated to Germany as part of the post-unification influx of former Soviet Jews. Both were introduced to Jewish studies through Lauder foundation programs.


Chabad member aboard Air France crash jet

By Leon Symons, June 2, 2009

The missing Air France flight that left Rio de Janeiro but is feared to have crashed en route for Paris had at least one Jewish passenger on board.

An American strictly Orthodox website, VIN News, has carried a report saying that Serge (Shlomo) Anidjar, 40, a resident of Boulogne-Billancourt, in France, was on his way back home after spending three days in Brazil on a business trip.

The report said Mr. Anidjar was an active member of the Chabad Jewish community and has a wife and three children, the oldest of whom is 12, who attend local Jewish schools.


Comic seeks anti-Zionist vote

By Natasha Lehrer, Paris, June 2, 2009

A leading French comedian is running in this weekend's European elections as head of the Anti-Zionist Party.

The party, founded by Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, is campaigning particularly heavily in Parisian suburbs with large Muslim populations. Its official programme calls on the parliament to “Stop Zionist interference in the Nation’s public affairs" and "Free our state, our government, our institutions from the possession and pressure of Zionist organizations.”


Phil Spector gets 19 years for murder

June 1, 2009

The music producer Phil Spector has been jailed for a minimum of 19 years over the murder of the actress Lana Clarkson.

Spector, 69, was given 15 years to life for second-degree murder and an additional four for personal use of a gun in Los Angeles on Friday.

The actress was found dead from a gunshot wound at Spector's mansion in February 2003. He is reportedly now selling his 30-room mansion in Los Angeles to fund an appeal.


How serious is the terror threat to American Jewry?

By Andrew Silow-Carroll, May 28, 2009

After a sabbatical in Jerusalem in the mid ‘90s, we moved for a time to Riverdale, NY, in large part because it reminded us of… Jerusalem. Set on a hill above the rougher-edged Bronx, leafy Riverdale has low-slung apartment buildings and pricey single-family homes and good parks. Most importantly for us, it also has a burgeoning shomer Shabbat community, centered around two big modern Orthodox synagogues — the buttoned-down Riverdale Jewish Centre and the Hebrew Institute, home base for the political firebrand and Orthodox maverick Rabbi Avi Weiss.


Austrians fear rise in hate crimes

By Toby Axelrod, May 27, 2009

A series of antisemitic incidents in Austria has raised worries among political and Jewish leaders on the eve of European Parliament elections.

An attack by right-wing youths on Holocaust survivors in Ebensee; antisemitic statements by pupils visiting Auschwitz; a columnist blaming Jews for the world financial crisis: all suggest that Austria may be fertile ground for hate and conspiracy theories.


Judge bans photos of Ilan Halimi’s torture

By Natasha Lehrer, May 27, 2009

A French judge has ordered a publisher to stop the sale of all copies of a magazine that featured a photograph of Ilan Halimi, the Jewish man who was kidnapped in 2006 by a gang currently standing trial for his murder.

The photo, which appeared on the front cover of the June edition of Choc (“Shock”), shows Halimi bound and gagged and with a pistol held to his head. It was taken during Halimi’s three-week kidnap ordeal and sent to his family in an attempt to extort a €450,000 ransom.


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.