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Open Hillel Admits 'Mistake' in Snooping on Eric Fingerhut Conference Call

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 19:21

Relaying information garnered from an off-the-record conference call featuring the director of Hillel International was a “mistake,” the Open Hillel network said.

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Open Hillel: Fingerhut conference call flap a “mistake”

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 17:22

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Relaying information garnered from an off-the-record conference call featuring the director of Hillel International was a “mistake,” the Open Hillel network said.

“Recently, information was shared on an Open Hillel e-mail chain concerning a conference call briefing between Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut and the American Jewish Committee,” Open Hillel said in a statement emailed Wednesday to JTA. “This resulted in the firing of a recent college graduate and Open Hillel member who had worked with the AJC.”

Open Hillel is a network of Jewish student campus groups that reject Hillel International’s precepts banning events with speakers who advocate boycotting Israel and working with groups that are seen as hypercritical of Israel.

The Open Hillel statement noted that the call, for American Jewish Committee and Hillel staff, was not recorded, but that information about the call was shared among some Open Hillel activists.

“We recognize that this decision, made by a handful of people involved with the Open Hillel campaign, was a mistake,” the group said.

A report this week by the Washington D.C.-based Free Beacon news website revealed that AJC fired Danny Blinderman, a staffer in its Boston office, after he offered to share with Open Hillel activists information from an off-the-record conference call with Fingerhut.

“Open Hillel looks forward to re-focusing our energies on what really matters: Jewish students and Jewish campus communities,” the group’s statement said. “Open Hillel is steadfast in our commitment to making Hillel a welcoming space that is open to all Jewish students regardless of their political beliefs.”

Jewish Veterans Oppose Sectarian Prayer in Military

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 17:06

Two Jewish veterans testified in Congress against allowing chaplains to engage in sectarian prayer in nondenominational settings.

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British Lawmaker Ties Synagogue Terror Attack to Temple Mount

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 16:59

A British baroness and former lawmaker is under fire for a Twitter post that tied the terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue to Israel’s policies on the Temple Mount.

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British baroness, former lawmaker under fire for terror tweet

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 16:43

(JTA) — A British baroness and former lawmaker is under fire for a Twitter post that tied the terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue to Israel’s policies on the Temple Mount.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi tweeted Tuesday in the hours after the attack: “Israeli extremists storm Al Aksa & intimidate worshipers, Palestinian extremists storm synagogue & kill 4 worshipers #Tragic #peacenotwar.”

Israeli extremists storm Al Aqsa & intimidate worshippers Palestinian extremists storm synagogue & kill 4 worshippers #Tragic #peacenotwar

— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) November 18, 2014

Warsi, who had served as senior minister of state at Britain’s Foreign Office and minister for faith and communities, resigned from Parliament in August over Britain’s policies on Gaza. Her resignation came during Israel’s 50-day operation in the Gaza Strip.

Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, became a member of the House of Lords in 2007. She was named Conservative Party co-chair by David Cameron after the 2010 general election,

“Both Palestinian & Israeli lives have been lost in recent weeks at the hands of extremists, condemn both #Peace not #Hypocrisy,” she later tweeted, responding to Britain’s Zionist Federation.

Jewish veterans testify against sectarian prayer in military

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 16:31

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Jewish veterans testified in Congress against allowing chaplains to engage in sectarian prayer in nondenominational settings.

Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Association and a former U.S. Air Force judge advocate general, and Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy chaplain, were among five witnesses to appear Tuesday before the subcommittee on military personnel of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

The subcommittee was considering arguments arising out of recent controversies over Christian chaplains who name Jesus in their prayers for groups of troops that include more than one denomination or faith, as well as atheists, among other sectarian practices.

A number of conservative groups, including several represented at the hearing, say military regulations prohibiting such invocations are an infringement on the religious freedoms of the chaplains.

Weinstein and Kahn argued that the religious freedoms of the troops tended by the chaplains must be preeminent. “The challenge is for the chaplain to adjust to the legitimate requirements of the troops, not for the troops to adjust to the denominational practices of the chaplain,” Kahn, who is now active in civil rights advocacy, said in prepared testimony.

Among the groups submitting written testimony were the Anti-Defamation League and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, both also advocating against allowing sectarian prayer in nondenominational settings.

Pope prays for victims of Jerusalem synagogue terror attack

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 16:13

ROME (JTA) – Pope Francis said he prayed for the victims of a terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue and appealed for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“I am following with concern the alarming increase in tension in Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land, with unacceptable episodes of violence that do not spare even the places of worship,” he said at his general audience Wednesday, a day after Palestinian terrorists attacked Jewish worshippers during morning services, killing four rabbis and a police officer.

”I assure a special prayer for all the victims of this dramatic situation and for those who suffer most as a result,” the pope said.

He added: “From the bottom of my heart, I make an appeal to the parties involved to put an end to the spiral of hatred and violence and to make courageous decisions for reconciliation and peace. Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a torment!”

 

Israel Gives Green Light to 78 Settler Homes

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 15:42

Israel on Wednesday approved the construction of 78 new homes in two settlements on West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem, likely to aggravate Palestinian anger at a time when violence has flared, including a deadly attack on a synagogue.

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Slain Druze Police Officer Mourned by Thousands

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:45

Thousands, including busloads of haredi Orthodox Jews, attended the funeral of the Druze police officer killed in the terror attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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Edgy Congregants Return to Jerusalem Synagogue on Day After Terror Attack

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:12

Edgy worshippers return to the Jerusalem synagogue where four rabbis and a policeman were killed in a bloody attack. Will Har Nof’s shul ever be the same?

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Ex-Hasidic Man Sues for $1.25M Over Poor Education

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 06:51

A lapsed haredi Orthodox Jew is suing the Quebec government for $1.25 million for not enforcing provincial education guidelines that he says left him virtually illiterate and unemployable.

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Israel Destroys Home of Car-Ram Terror Suspect

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 06:23

Israel on Wednesday destroyed the home of a Palestinian who last month ran over and killed two people at a Jerusalem tram stop, a day after two militants killed four rabbis and a policeman at a synagogue in the city.

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4 Synagogue Terror Victims Were All Neighbors in Jerusalem's Har Nof

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 04:51

They all lived on the same street. They had all moved there from abroad. They were all rabbis. They all prayed at the same synagogue.

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An Inexcusable Act of Terror in Jerusalem

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 20:12

EDITORIAL: There can be no equivocation in condemning the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. No caveats, no excuses. The brazen slaughter of men at prayer serves no legitimate purpose.

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AJC Fires Boston Staffer for Open Hillel Snooping Offer

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:47

The American Jewish Committee fired a staffer who offered to share with Open Hillel activists an off-the-record recording of a conference call with the director of Hillel.

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Police Officer Who Shot Har Nof Attackers Dies of Wounds, Raising Death Toll to 5

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:39

The number of victims in the terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue rose to five with the death of a police officer.

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AJC fires Boston staffer for Open Hillel breach

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:03

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Jewish Committee fired a staffer who offered to share with Open Hillel activists an off-the-record recording of a conference call with the director of Hillel.

Danny Blinderman, who works in AJC’s Boston office, said in an email exchange with members of Open Hillel that he would join the call led by Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut on “Israel on Campus,” the Free Beacon reported Tuesday, and offered to share “all things of relevance” with an Open Hillel listserv.

Open Hillel is a small network of Jewish student campus groups that reject Hillel International’s precepts banning events with speakers who advocate boycotting Israel and working with groups that are seen as hypercritical of Israel.

Ken Bandler, the AJC spokesman, said in a statement that the organization learned after the fact that the call “was shared with unauthorized outsiders.”

“This constituted a serious breach of trust,” Bandler said. “Accordingly, the individual who shared the information is no longer employed by AJC.”

Terror victims mourned in Jerusalem — and beyond

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 16:40

Hundreds of Israelis mourning at the funeral of three of the victims killed in the synagogue terror attack on the Bnei Torah Kehilat Yaakov synagogue in western Jerusalem, Nov. 18, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — They all lived on the same street. They had all moved there from abroad. They were all rabbis. They all prayed at the same synagogue.

And it was at that Jerusalem synagogue that they were all murdered on Tuesday morning.

Mosheh Twersky, 59; Kalman Levine, 55; Aryeh Kupinsky, 43; and Avraham Goldberg, 68, were killed when two cousins from eastern Jerusalem entered Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov, in the haredi Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, wielding a gun and butcher knives. The attackers, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, injured seven others before they were killed at the scene by Israeli police.

An Israeli Druze police officer — Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druze village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee — died Tuesday night of wounds suffered during the shootout with the assailants.

Twersky, Levine and Kupinsky were Americans. Goldberg was from England. All of the men were laid to rest Tuesday in Jerusalem.

“We are here, standing in front of these three holy men, the best of our community, Torah scholars whose blood flowed like water,” said Rabbi Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, the chief rabbi of Bnei Torah, according to the Times of Israel.

Twersky, the head of the Toras Moshe Yeshiva, was the eldest grandson of the influential American Orthodox scholar Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik. Twersky left behind his wife, five children and 10 grandchildren.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division and a student of Soleveitchik, knew Twersky for most of his life and told JTA “he was in every respect extraordinary,” noting “his kindness, his stunning brilliance.”

“He was a great scholar. You saw his devotion to his students and their love for him,” Genack said. “He was reserved, very insightful. He came from the most exalted rabbinic family and yet he was just so humble.”

Levine, who is survived by his wife, nine children and five grandchildren, grew up in Kansas City, Mo. He was born Cary Levine and attended the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy there. A friend told the Kansas City Star that he was a “gentle soul with a kind heart.” His son eulogized him Tuesday as a diligent scholar.

“My father would study all day long and would return home at night only to learn some more until he would fall asleep in his chair,” the son said, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “Abba, you were in the middle of saying the Shema [prayer] when your soul left your body and the terrorists came and murdered you.”

Kupinsky, who also emigrated from the United States, leaves behind his wife and five children. He lost a daughter, Chaya Chana, who died in her sleep two years ago at 13. According to the Foreign Ministry, he was known to be very generous and was a daily worshipper at the synagogue.

Goldberg, who moved to Israel in 1993, is survived by his wife, six children and grandchildren. His friend from the neighborhood, David Osborne, remembered him as devout and kind.

“He was the most wonderful person you could meet, a pillar of the community,” Osborne told the British Jewish News. “Avraham prayed there most days for the last 10 years or so. He was a devout Jew with no political agenda. All he wanted was to live a peaceful life.”

Following the news of Saif’s death late Tuesday, members of the Druze community praised his work as a first responder. “We are proud of our sons who act fearlessly on the front against terrorist attacks,” a Druze leader, Muefek Tarif, said, according to the NRG news site. “This is a dark day for the Israeli public and the State of Israel, a day when its citizens are murdered for their Jewish beliefs.”

The terrorists in Tuesday’s attack were identified as Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal.

Friends Recall 3 Americans Slain in Jerusalem Synagogue Attack

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 15:07

Family and friends remembered three U.S.-born rabbis slain in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, praising one as the scion of his Boston family’s rabbinical dynasty and another as “one of the kindest souls” in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.

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New York Boosts Synagogue Security After Attack

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 14:04

New York City increased its police presence at synagogues and other locations in the wake of an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead.

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