World news

Anne Frank tree lives on

By Jennifer Lipman, August 25, 2010

The chestnut tree which comforted Anne Frank while she was in hiding from the Nazis may survive despite being toppled by a storm.

The teenage diarist could see the tree from her family’s Amsterdam hiding place, and in her two years she spent there before being sent to Bergen-Belsen she wrote of admiring it “nearly every morning”.

Anne wrote: “As long as this exists...I cannot be unhappy."

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Extremists target Lithuanian synagogue

By Jennifer Lipman, August 24, 2010

Lithuanian Jews have expressed their shock after vandals left a pig’s head with a star of David carved on it outside a synagogue in the city of Kaunas.

Community leaders said they believed it was left there by a neo-Nazi organisation.

The head, discovered on Shabbat, was left under a black Hasidic hat with peyot (sidelocks) attached to it. Police said they have launched a formal investigation but do not yet have any suspects.

The synagogue, which dates back to the 1870s, is still in use although Kaunas’s Jewish population has fallen to less than 500 people.

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Justin Long's not very kosher film

By Jennifer Lipman, August 24, 2010

Actor Justin Long has revealed the kosher conundrum at the centre of his new film Going the Distance.

Scenes from the comedy film, which also stars Drew Barrymore, were shot at the home of an Orthodox Jewish couple from Queens in New York.

But the script called for Mr Long’s character to eat a hamburger at their dining room table.

“The prop guy was making the burgers on the grill that they owned. They found out about it and got very upset because it was not kosher food.”

However he said the studio replaced the grill and utensils after the shoot.

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Anne Frank tree collapses

By Jennifer Lipman, August 23, 2010

The chestnut tree that Anne Frank wrote about in her diary has fallen over in a storm.

The 150-year-old tree, which had already been damaged by fungus and moth infestation, snapped about one metre above its roots and crashed across surrounding gardens.

The tree, which has inspired replicas around the world, was rooted just beside the Amsterdam attic in which the Frank family hid from the Nazis for more than two years.

The teenage diarist, who died in 1945 after contracting typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, wrote that she admired it nearly every morning.

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Opposing 9/11 mosque 'like antisemitism'

By Jennifer Lipman, August 23, 2010

The wife of the imam behind the plan to build a mosque and Islamic centre in Manhattan, just by the site of the 9/11 attack, has likened opposition to the proposal to prejudice against Jews.

Daisy Khan said she was “deeply concerned” about the negative reaction to the project, known as the Cordoba Initiative.

Mrs Khan, whose husband Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the moderate Muslim in charge of the plan, said: "This is like a metastasised antisemitism. That's what we feel right now.

"It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia - it's hate of Muslims.”

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Australia elects Jewish politicians

By Jennifer Lipman, August 23, 2010

As Australia faces its first hung parliament since the 1940s, three Jewish politicians are celebrating their election to the country’s federal parliament.

Michael Danby and Mark Dreyfus are among those who have won seats for the Labor incumbents, while Joshua Frydenberg was elected for the Liberal opposition.

Mr Frydenberg, a former banker who attended Jewish schools and studied at Oxford University, won the safe seat of Kooyong in Melbourne.

Kooyong has never been held by a Jewish politician before, while there has not been a Liberal Jewish politician in nearly two decades.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal's hysterical new film

By Jennifer Lipman, August 20, 2010

Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is to star in a film about the invention of the vibrator.

In the upcoming film Hysteria, the Jewish actress will play the daughter of a doctor whose specialty is curing women of hysteria – in an unorthodox fashion.

The script is based on a true story, and follows a love affair between her character and one of her father’s assistants.

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Menorahs in the mist: Uganda's lost Jews

By Simon Rocker, August 19, 2010

When Ros Eisen planned a trip to see the rare mountain gorillas of Uganda, little did she know that it would turn into a one-woman aid mission to one of the world's most remote Jewish communities.

The Jews of Putti village set up on their own a few years ago because the Abayudaya community of eastern Uganda was not Orthodox enough.

Ms Eisen, a retired businesswoman from Belsize Park, north-west London, wanted to spend a few extra days in Uganda at the end of her safari. "I starting fiddling on Google and found the Putti Jews - I knew absolutely nothing about them," she said.

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Australian candidates battle for Jewish vote

By Dan Goldberg, August 19, 2010

A London-born, Oxford-educated Catholic who once trained to be a priest, or a Welsh-born, unmarried woman who is a self-confessed atheist?

That's the choice facing Australians - among them 110,000 Jews - this weekend in a federal election that polls predict will be a photo finish.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose bloodless coup toppled Labor leader Kevin Rudd two months ago, is pitted against Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party leader once nicknamed the "mad monk" after a slew of brutish remarks.

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FBI arrest Orthodox 'fraudster'

By Paul Berger, August 19, 2010

An American property developer who allegedly defrauded British Jews out of millions of pounds has been arrested by the FBI.

Eliyahu Weinstein, 35, lost a civil case earlier this month against London property tycoon Berish Berger, who had been swindled out of £23 million.

At least two members of Stamford Hill's Jewish community continue to pursue multi-million pound lawsuits against Weinstein in the US, following property deals that went sour.

Last week, FBI agents arrested Weinstein, who lives in the Orthodox enclave of Lakewood, New Jersey.

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