World news

First black woman rabbi ordained in US

By Miriam Shaviv, May 21, 2009

Alysa Stanton is used to heads turning when she enters a synagogue; African-American Jews are still a relatively rare sight in mainstream American congregations. But next month she will be even more visible, because she will be sitting in the rabbi’s chair.

Stanton is about to be ordained by the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, making her the first ever female African-American rabbi. Soon after, she will join a small Reform congregation in North Carolina as its spiritual leader.

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Netanyahu meets Obama: Israelis do not want rift

By Shmuel Rosner, May 21, 2009

Ariel Sharon learned two important lessons between his failed tenure as defence minister in the early ‘80s, and his much more successful term as prime minister, starting in 2000. First, maintain eye contact with Israel’s centre, and make sure that even the liberal left doesn’t really hate you. Second, make sure to work closely with the US government. These two cannot guarantee personal success, but they are key to having relative political calm.

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Netanyahu meets Obama: Smiles, but tension ahead

By David Landau, May 21, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu flew home from Washington with a significant and unpredicted achievement: President Obama, with the Israeli leader by his side in the White House, set a deadline for his new policy of dialogue with Iran. By the end of the year, the President said, “we should have a fairly good sense as to whether they are moving in the right direction”.

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Eurovision fiddler: is he really one of us?

By Keren David, May 21, 2009

He’s the Norwegian fiddler with the distinctive eyebrows who ended his country’s lamentable record at the Eurovision Song Contest when he won by scoring more points than any country before.

But is Alexander Rybak Jewish? Rumours are flying around cyberspace, but few seem to know the truth.

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Facebook bans some Holocaust-denial groups, but not all

By Dan Goldberg, May 14, 2009

Facebook, the social networking website, has removed two online groups promoting Holocaust denial.

The development on Monday came despite spokesman Barry Schnitt suggesting last week that the website would only ban users viewing such groups in countries where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence, such as Israel and Germany.

Members of the two banned groups — titled “The Holocaust is a Holohoax” and “Based on Facts… There Was No Holocaust” — were using Facebook as “a forum to promote hate”, Schnitt said.

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Australians boycott Margolyes

By Dan Goldberg, May 14, 2009

Jewish actress Miriam Margolyes is facing the wrath of the Australian community after it was announced she would participate in a reading of Seven Jewish Children, a play that has been branded antisemitic.

Their anger became apparent when JewishCare, Melbourne Jewry’s largest elderly-care facility, declined an offer by Ms Margolyes to entertain its residents last Tuesday.

She claims that she was told by the home that her appearance could offend some of its residents, who are Holocaust survivors.

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Bibi makes his US debut

By Nathan Guttman, May 14, 2009

President Barack Obama will hold his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week as part of a round of discussions with Middle East leaders which is expected to lead to a new American policy on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Differences between Jerusalem and Washington have recently emerged both on the future of the peace process and on the Iranian nuclear threat.

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Demjanjuk to be tried in Germany

By Toby Axelrod, May 14, 2009

One of the last major Nazi war crimes trials is within sight, with the arrival of accused war criminal Ivan Demjanjuk in Germany on Tuesday.

Demjanjuk, 89, is accused of having been a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland from March to September 1943, and of having been involved in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews.

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Demjanjuk: 29,000 murder charges

By Jenni Frazer, May 12, 2009

Accompanied by American federal agents, overseeing his deportation from the United States, 89-year-old John Demjanjuk arrived in Munich today to face 29,000 counts of murder as a guard in the Sobibor death camp during the Second World War.

Demjanjuk, a retired car worker, had repeatedly tried to block his deportation from Cleveland, Ohio, but just four days after the US Supreme Court refused to consider his latest request, he was in a wheelchair, being loaded onto the German-bound jet.

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Australian Bishop bans Jewish jokes

By Dan Goldberg, May 7, 2009

Heard the one about the Catholic bishop who wanted to ban Jewish jokes?

The Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, has written to almost 150 priests saying Catholics should be sensitive towards Jews.

“While I know most of you would not tolerate the improper nature and offence caused by Jewish jokes, I sadly note that this has happened in our church in the past. I know you will agree with me that this is unacceptable.

“Since the terrible crimes committed against the Jewish people in the 20th century, Catholics must continue to search their hearts,” he added.

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