World news

Three Bnei Akiva teens beaten in Paris attack

By Shirli Sitbon, September 12, 2008

Paris police launched an investigation after three Jewish teenagers were attacked as they returned home from Sabbath services at a synagogue.

However, despite complaints by the community, investigators have not yet ruled that the incident was motivated by antisemitism.


Gallup to poll Jewish leaders in Europe

September 12, 2008

A major survey of Europe's Jewish leaders was launched this week.

It will ask hundreds of rabbis, charities and community representatives in 32 countries for their views on topics such as Israel, intermarriage and security.

The findings, which will be used to help shape community policy, are expected to be released by the end of the year.

The 30-minute questionnaire can be completed online or in paper format and has been commissioned by the International Centre for Community Development, part of the American Jewish Joint Distribution committee.


Sex-change professor goes back to university

By Charlotte Fisher, September 12, 2008

When literature professor Joy Ladin returned to New York's Yeshiva University at the start of term last week, her pink lipstick and black skirt, stunned colleagues.

For just two years ago Joy, 47, was a man known as Jay.

And the transformation has shocked many because the academic, poet and author has remained a member of the faculty at the Orthodox campus.

Although Prof Ladin and YU refuse to comment publicly, many were outraged at the thought of a transgender teaching in a Jewish institution.


Holland ordains its first homegrown liberal rabbis

By Toby Axelrod, September 4, 2008

Holland has five new homegrown rabbis, thanks to a new liberal rabbinical institute.

The new rabbis received their ordination in the 1775 Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in the Hague last week from Rabbi David Lilienthal of the Robert A Levisson Institute, founded in 2004.

All five - Tamarah Benima, Marianne van Praag, Albert Ringer, Navah-Tehila Shmuelit-Livingstone and Kineret Sittig - live in Holland and took part in the five-year, part-time programme while continuing their other careers, which include journalism, computer science and law-firm assistant.


Debate rages over Palin’s Israel credentials

By Nathan Guttman, September 4, 2008

John McCain's controversial choice for vice president, Sarah Palin, made her first steps toward strengthening ties with the American Jewish community amid criticism from Democrats and praise from Republicans.

Ms Palin, the 44-year-old governor of Alaska, took time the day before formally receiving the Party's nomination to meet with leaders of the pro-Israel lobby and thus highlight her credentials with the Jewish community.


No soft soap as Arab TV drama tackles big issues

By Ben Lynfield, September 4, 2008

"The BASTARDS. They become so slow during rush hour," the Palestinian stuck at a checkpoint tells his colleague."I'm gonna show them," he says, stepping out of the car. "They think we're animals, we're sheep."

"Get back in the car," a soldier's voice resounds through a megaphone.

"Majed, get in and close the door," his colleague pleads.

The scene is fictional, although the tension is realistic. This is the new Palestinian soap opera, Matabb, a view of West Bank life running during Ramadan.


Republicans hope to make history with Jewish voters

By Nathan Guttman, September 3, 2008

Hoping to make history with Jewish voters, Republicans used their political convention to make the case to the community for supporting John McCain come the November elections.

The Republican Jewish Coalition organised a variety of events focused at getting Jewish supporters and donors in touch with senior Republican officials and broadening the party's outreach to the Jewish community.


Joseph Biden proves a hit as vice-presidential nominee

August 28, 2008

The choice of Senator Joseph Biden as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate has been received favourably by the American Jewish community, although political differences were nonetheless apparent.

While mainstream Jewish and pro-Israeli groups praised Mr Biden as a friend of Israel and the community, Jewish Republicans took issue with his stands on Iran, arguing that he did not support tough measures against the regime in Tehran.


Obama reaches out to faith groups

By Nathan Guttman, August 28, 2008

Attempting to make inroads to the Jewish community and Christian evangelicals, the Democrats launched a drive to highlight the role of faith and religion during its convention.

The conference, in Denver, formed a first-ever "faith caucus" and featured discussions on the role of religion in politics which included Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders.

From left: Barack Obama; his wife, Michelle; Jill Biden; and Joseph Biden


Artwork returned 70 years on

August 28, 2008

Almost 70 years after it was sold under Nazi duress, a painting has been returned to the heirs of the original Jewish owner at the request of the current possessor.

The pencil drawing, known as Tiroler Bäuerin, by Adolf von Menzel, a nineteenth-century German artist known for his drawing and paintings, was owned before the Second World War by Alfred Sommerguth, a wealthy Jewish businessman.