World news

Comedian is crucified over Easter TV stunt

By Dan Goldberg, April 14, 2009

An award-wining Australian Jewish comedian is the centre of controversy after being crucified in the Philippines on Good Friday for a new TV show.

John Safran, 36, was one of several people who were nailed to a cross near Manila as part of the ritual symbolising the suffering of Jesus at Easter.

Photographs clearly show the man — who identified himself as John Michaels — to be the TV funnyman who has built his reputation on outlandish stunts and who has been likened to Britain’s Sacha Baron Cohen.

He graduated from Yeshiva College, an Orthodox boys-only school in Melbourne.

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Ahmadinejad to attend ‘Durban II’

April 14, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend the United Nations anti-racism conference in Geneva next week.

The news increased Jewish concerns about the conference, which is a follow up to the 2001 conference held in Durban dominated by heated rows over the Middle East.

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Rabbi is jailed for £5m fraud

By Tom Tugend, April 7, 2009

A Brooklyn rabbi has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to a tax fraud and money laundering scheme.

Rabbi Moshe Zigelman was key to a conspiracy which used five charities of the ultra-Orthodox Spinka group as fronts. Contributors received receipts for large sums which they wrote off on their tax returns. Then they were secretly repaid most of the cash.

In 2006 alone, Zigelman helped solicit more than $8.5 million (£5.3m), of which just $750,000 (£500,000) was kept by charities.

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Nazis fined over accounts

April 7, 2009

Germany’s main neo-Nazi party has been ordered to pay a fine of €2.5 million (£2.3 million) for accounting irregularities.

A lawyer for the National Democratic Party warned that the fine could lead to the collapse of the party.

It was imposed by the national government four months after the former NPD treasurer was jailed for stealing €741,000 (£677,000) from the party.

The NPD is a legal political party represented in two of Germany’s 16 state legislatures. NPD officials praised Iran’s President Ahmadinejad when he argued that Israel should be wiped off the map.

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Matzah sent to Bahrain

By James Martin, April 7, 2009

One of the world’s most isolated Jewish communities will celebrate Pesach thanks to a parcel from Edgware’s Lubavitch emissary.

The parcel contains Pesach supplies for 15 families in Bahrain and was sent by air after special permission was gained from the Bahraini Embassy in London.

Rabbi Leivi Sudack, of the Lubavitch movement, said: “We are helping the community in Bahrain, which is very small and detached from the wider Jewish world, to celebrate Pesach fully.

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Man battles claims body over Berlin flat

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2009

The son of a German-Jewish doctor who lived in the UK is fighting the Claims Conference, the Holocaust restitution agency, over a property he says belongs to his family.

Heinrich Ruhemann, 80, from Darmstadt, Germany, says the apartment block in East Berlin was bought by his father, Ernst, in 1935.

But the German government has refused to recognise his claim and he has been ordered to transfer the building, worth around £900,000, to the conference under restitution laws.

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Gefilte fish flown out to troops

April 6, 2009

Gefilte fish are being shipped to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf to ensure that no American Jewish serviceman is without home comforts for Pesach.

Six hundred Pesach kits have been sent to US military units, including festival essentials such as a box of regular matzah and one of chocolate-coated matzah, a large jar of gefilte fish, macaroons, sweets, a yarmulke, a Haggadah and a booklet explaining the essence and traditions of Passover.

The kits are designed to enable Jewish servicemen to have "a taste of Pesach" when they are unable to attend family or communal services.

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Schindler’s list is ‘found’ in library

By Dan Goldberg, April 6, 2009

Sydney’s Jewish Museum and descendants of survivors saved by Oskar Schindler are angry that a carbon copy of the German industrialist’s famous list was sold to the State Library of New South Wales.

News of the sale emerged only recently — the document had been bought by the library 13 years ago, archived and then forgotten about until it was discovered by a researcher.

The list of more than 800 Jews was given to Australian author Thomas Keneally in 1980 by Leopold Pfefferberg, a Schindler survivor living in Los Angeles.

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Donors aid Madoff-hit Elie Wiesel

By Tom Tugend, April 2, 2009

After Elie Wiesel lost more than $7 million of his personal fortune in the Bernard Madoff scandal, and his foundation took a $15.2 million hit, the Nobel Prize winner has been flooded by money from sympathetic members of the public.

Following publicity for Wiesel’s losses, donations totalling $400,000 have flowed into his Foundation for Humanity. Some of the money was given directly to Wiesel and his wife Marion, but the couple have turned everything over to the foundation.

Marion Wiesel described it as “an amazing outpouring of generosity”.

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US backlash as Churchill play is staged

By Nathan Guttman, April 2, 2009

The US debut of Seven Jewish Children arrived to mild controversy — and two new plays written in response.

Performed at the Washington DC Jewish Community Centre’s Theatre J, Caryl Churchill’s play was accompanied by two short theatrical responses and an open discussion.

A small group of protestors reminded the audience of the stormy reaction to the play when it was first presented — in the aftermath of the Israeli military assault on Gaza earlier this year.

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