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3 Charged With Plotting Temple Mount Attack

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 13:25

Three Palestinian men were indicted for planning to attack activist Yehuda Glick and right-wing lawmaker Moshe Feiglin during a visit to the Temple Mount.

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Australia Capital Gets First Rabbi

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 11:17

The Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth officiated at the inauguration of the first rabbi officially appointed to lead the Jewish community in Australia’s capital.

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Netanyahu to submit bill to invest in Arab Druze, Circassian communities

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 06:13

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will submit a plan to the Knesset for significant investments in the Arab Druze and Muslim Circassian communities.

The plan will include funds for education, infrastructure, and employment “in order to reduce the existing disparities,” Netanyahu announced Saturday night on his Facebook page, an on Sunday in an official announcement from his office

Netanyahu met last week with leaders of the Druze community, where he told them about plans to submit the bill.

During the meeting, Netanyahu also told the leaders that the nationality, or Israel as a Jewish nation-state, bill set to be voted on next week would not harm their status and would even entrench their equality in Israeli society.

About 130,000 Druze live in northern Israel. There are about 4,000 Israeli Circassians living in two villages in northern Israel.  The Circassians in Israel are Sunni Muslims who were expelled in the late 1800s by the Russians from the Caucasus Mountains.

Teaneck Synagogue Taking Steps To Rein in Rabbi Pruzanksy

Fri, 11/28/2014 - 12:49

The board of directors of Rabbi Pruzansky’s Teaneck synagogue is taking steps to oversee the cleric’s controversial blog posts, which will be submitted to editors prior to publication.

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Teaneck shul taking steps to rein in Rabbi Pruzanksy

Fri, 11/28/2014 - 12:40

NEW YORK (JTA) – The board of directors of Rabbi Steven Pruzansky’s Teaneck synagogue is taking steps to oversee the rabbi’s controversial blog and tighten shul security.

In a letter sent to congregants on Friday, the board of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun said Pruzansky had agreed to submit his writings to editors prior to publication and that the process would be reviewed periodically by the synagogue board.

The shul also said security patrols by Teaneck police have increased in recent days to ensure the safety of the synagogue, its members, and Pruzansky and his family.

The letter was sparked by a Nov. 21 blog post titled “Dealing with Savages” in which Pruzansky called Arabs in the Land of Israel “the enemy,” advocated their emigration or deportation, and suggested that the mosque atop the Temple Mount be moved to Saudi Arabia. JTA first reported the post on Sunday, shortly after the rabbi deleted it due to “unspecified threats,” he said.

“The Executive Board met with the Rabbi earlier this week and has been in communication virtually non-stop since last week. We fully appreciate the gravity of the situation for our Shul and the extended community,” the board said in its letter.

“As the Board of Directors has said in the past, the public writings of Rabbi Pruzansky are his personal thoughts, views and opinions and not those of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, its Executive Board, Board of Directors or members,” the board said in its letter to members. “Bnai Yeshurun is in no way affiliated with the Rabbi’s blog postings and has never had editorial control over them whatsoever.”

The new editorial oversight arrangement for Pruzansky comes in response to the harsh spotlight his recent posts have cast on his 800-member Orthodox shul, Teaneck’s largest.

In his own letter to congregants, Pruzansky expressed regret for writing “in a manner that many deemed harsh” following last week’s deadly terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue that left five dead, including four Jewish worshippers.

“I probably have suffered sporadically over the years from lack of a resource that all other writers have — a good editor,” Pruzansky wrote. “As such, I have agreed (upon recommendation of the shul leadership) to form a panel of people that I trust that will review my writings — not to censor the ideas, but to make certain, when necessary, that they are conveyed in slightly-less colorful ways.”

Pruzansky’s Nov. 21 post was hardly his first foray into controversy. Over the years, he has used his blog and his sermons to castigate those he deems harmful to the Jewish people — not just Arabs, but Israeli leaders, too. In 1995, weeks before the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, Pruzansky called Rabin a Judenrat — the term used to describe the Jewish councils that did the Nazis’ bidding during the Holocaust.

Earlier this month, Pruzanksy got into a public spat with the New York Jewish Week in which he seemingly compared the newspaper to the Nazi publication Der Sturmer.

Pruzansky’s Nov. 21 blog post focused on why and how Israel should deal more harshly with the Arab population living under its control.

“There is a war for the land of Israel that is being waged, and the Arabs who dwell in the land of Israel are the enemy in that war and must be vanquished,” Pruzansky wrote. “Israel has to act, especially as the violence has spiraled out of control … At a certain point, the unrestrained behavior of unruly animals becomes the fault of the zookeeper, not the animals.”

The post prompted a rare statement from the Orthodox Union repudiating rhetoric that resorts to “wholesale demonization, advocates for the collective punishment of Israeli Arabs, or calls for the destruction or dismantling of Muslim holy places.”

Conservative Rabbinic Students Barred From Knesset Prayers

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 21:02

American rabbinical students from the Conservative movement studying in Israel were prevented from holding afternoon prayers in the Knesset synagogue.

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Rabbinical students prevented from holding egalitarian minyan in Knesset synagogue

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 10:59

JERUSALEM (JTA) — American rabbinical students from the Conservative movement studying in Israel were prevented from holding afternoon prayers in the Knesset synagogue.

The students, who on Tuesday wished to hold an egalitarian service in the Knesset synagogue, were told that the synagogue is to be used exclusively for Orthodox prayer services, the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel said in a Facebook post.

The students were hosted at the Knesset by Masorti’s Jewish Pluralism Watch, joining journalists, scholars and Knesset members for a discussion of personal status issues such as the right to non-Orthodox, egalitarian weddings, divorce, conversion and burial rights, and how the absence of religious pluralism in Israel directly undermines the country’s democracy and security.

The students were offered an alternative venue at the Knesset for their services, Haaretz reported.  Haaretz reported that it was Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein who told the group egalitarian prayer is not allowed in the Knesset synagogue.

Also participating in the program were rabbinical students from the Abraham Geiger College run by the Reform movement in Berlin, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, and Hebrew College, a pluralistic training center for Jewish educators in Boston.

“A lot of the students were very upset and shocked,” said Rabbi Joel Levy, director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, who submitted the request on behalf of the students, told Haaretz. “You’d think that the Knesset would be a place of ingathering of the Jewish people, but actually we learned that it has boundaries that don’t include liberal Jews. Paradoxically, this decision served as an appropriate end to our conversation about religion and state in Israel.”


Orthodox Leaders Condemn Rabbi Steven Pruzansky for 'Demonization' of Arabs

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 11:14

A growing chorus of Orthodox leaders are speaking out against the anti-Arab rhetoric of a prominent New Jersey rabbi, Steven Pruzansky of Teaneck.

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Police chief: Keep right-wing lawmakers off Temple Mount

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 06:29

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Right-wing lawmakers who want to change the status quo on the Temple Mount should not be allowed to visit the site, the Israel Police commissioner said.

Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino on Tuesday called Israel Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s decision to allow lawmaker Moshe Feiglin and other lawmakers to visit the Temple Mount earlier this month a “mistake,” calling Feiglin “a symbol of changing the status quo.”

Danino spoke Tuesday at the Sderot Conference for Society at Sapir College.

“We want quiet and we want to restore security. We’re always saying, ‘Let’s do everything we can to keep the situation from deteriorating.’ We keep coming back to the Temple Mount. This place is holy to many religions, and we are supposed to maintain the status quo in order to maintain quiet there,” Danino told the conference.

“We say leave the Temple Mount alone,” Danino said to the right-wing lawmakers.

In a response posted on his Facebook page, Feiglin said: “Danino failed to protect Jerusalem and to safeguard the personal security of the city’s residents, and now he is trying to find a scapegoat, and excuses for his failure.”

The post continued: “I have been going to pray at the Temple Mount, legally, every month for the past 15 years. This is the legal, national, religious and moral duty of every Jew. I suggest that Danino concentrate on ensuring the safety of Jerusalem residents and Israeli citizens, and spend less time taking part in panels and conferences and trying to evade responsibility.

Danino said that police are working extra-long shifts and have cancelled vacations in order to avoid the escalation of violence in Jerusalem.

Israel's Lone Soldier Center Severs Ties With Rabbi George Finkelstein

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 05:00

The Lone Soldier Center, which helps young people serving in the IDF, has ended its relationship with George Finkelstein, the rabbi accused of inappropriate contact with Y.U. students.

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Israeli man, 22, attacked in Berlin

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 14:25

(JTA) — An Israeli man visiting Berlin suffered a black eye and fractured fingers in a street attack.

The Israeli, 22, said he was beaten and kicked Sunday evening after leaving synagogue by four men who spoke German with an Arabic accent, according to reports.

“I have no doubt they attacked me because I looked Jewish or Israeli to them,” the victim told Ynet.

He was not wearing anything that identified him as Jewish or Israeli, and the attackers did not rob him, according to reports. The attackers fled when passers-by intervened.

The Israeli received ambulatory treatment in the hospital. He will return to Israel for more medical treatments for his injuries, according to Ynet.

German police said they would investigate the incident and determine if there were nationalistic motives behind the attack.

The victim told Ynet he was in Berlin because he was thinking of moving there to escape the economic situation in Israel. The attack would not deter him, he said.

Orthodox N.J. Embraces Rabbi Pruzansky — Extreme Anti-Arab Views and All

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 13:10

Why do so many of New Jersey’s Orthodox Jews accept Rabbi Pruzansky’s calls for Israel to collectively punish Arab Israeli and Palestinian ‘savages’?

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Yehuda Glick Leaves Hospital Nearly a Month After Failed Assassination Attempt

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 13:16

Yehuda Glick, the Temple Mount activist shot in a failed assassination attempt, left the hospital nearly a month after the attack.

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Temple Mount activist leaves hospital nearly month after shooting

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:24

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Yehuda Glick, the Temple Mount activist shot in a failed assassination attempt, left the hospital nearly a month after the attack.

At a news conference Monday at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Glick thanked those who helped to save his life and recited the blessing thanking God as “He who brings back life to the deceased.”

Glick, 49, said that his attacker told him before he pulled the trigger on Oct. 29 outside a Jerusalem conference center that he was doing it because Glick is “an enemy of Al-Aksa,” the Temple Mount mosque.

“Anybody who shoots and kills someone in the name of his religion is the first person disgracing his religion,” Glick said. “Those who are giving respect to Islam are those Muslim doctors and nurses who work at this hospital, helping people after they have signed the Hippocratic Oath. These are the people who are bringing respect to God and their religion, not those who murder in the name of religion.”

Glick was shot at close range in the chest and abdomen by an assailant who fled on a motorcycle. The alleged assailant, a member of Islamic Jihad who worked in the conference center’s kitchen, was killed hours later in a shootout outside his eastern Jerusalem home.

Immediately before he was shot, Glick had spoken at the center on the Jewish right to pray on the Temple Mount.


Canadian-Israeli Victim of Jerusalem Terror Attack Still in a Coma

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:02

A Canadian-Israeli citizen remains in a coma nearly a week after the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers.

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New Jersey Rabbi Steven Pruzansky Spews 'Savage' Hate in Blog Post

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 06:32

The rabbi of a major modern Orthodox synagogue in New Jersey has written a blog post that calls for Israel to collectively punish Arab Israelis and Palestinians until they realize “they have no future in the land of Israel.”

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Ashkelon Mayor Decides Against Ban On Arab Workers

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 19:16

Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimon has walked back his decision to lay off city Arab workers in the aftermath of the deadly synagogue attack in Jerusalem.

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From the Archive: Synagogues under fire

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 10:38

Israeli police and rescue at the scene of a Jerusalem synagogue where four people were killed in a terrorist attack, Nov. 18, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jews around the world mourned Tuesday after two Palestinians entered Jerusalem’s Kehillat Yakov synagogue during morning prayer services and went on a killing rampage that left five dead and several more wounded.

Sadly, it wasn’t the first time a synagogue was attacked by Palestinians or their sympathizers.

On Aug. 29, 1981, two Palestinian terrorists wearing yarmulkes and posing as Jews attempted to enter a bar mitzvah service at a Vienna synagogue. When an Austrian police officer asked them for identity papers, the two launched a machine gun and grenade attack that killed two and wounded over 15.

Interestingly, the attack was the first time that some Palestinian West Bank leaders felt moved to condemn a Palestinian terror attack, with Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij calling it “an act of brutality which distorted the image of the Palestinian people.”

Just more than a year later, five Palestinian gunmen walked up to the Great Synagogue of Rome’s back entrance at the conclusion of Sabbath services and threw at least three hand grenades at the crowd before spraying the worshipers with submachine gun fire, killing a 2-year old and wounding 37 others.

And on Sept. 6, 1986 two terrorists posing as cameramen made their way into Turkey’s Neve Shalom synagogue. Once inside they barred the heavy gates, opened fire on the congregants with machine guns and hurled grenades. In all, 22 of the approximately 30 worshipers were killed. JTA reported at the time that it was the bloodiest synagogue massacre since the Nazi-era.

Though its name is Hebrew for “oasis of peace,” Neve Shalom suffered two other terror attacks. In 1992, a grenade attack slightly injured a bystander but failed to damage the synagogue or any of its worshipers. Then in November 2003, a car bomb exploded nearby, damaging the synagogue enough that it had to close for almost a year.

Months later, community leaders told JTA they were finding it “very difficult — if not impossible — to return to life as it was before.”

“We are in an ongoing trauma situation,” says Lina Filiba, the Turkish Jewish community’s executive vice president. “The whole community right now is a construction pit — it’s a continuation of the crisis that started Nov. 15.”

“The change of lifestyle, the security consciousness, the restriction on the use of facilities is something that people are still getting used to.”

While synagogue services have been targeted far more frequently in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than have Muslim worship services, it is worth noting that one of the deadliest attacks on a house of worship happened inside a mosque. In 1994, a machine gun-armed Jewish physician — Baruch Goldstein — walked into the mosque inside Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, killing 29 worshipers and wounding another 150.

N.J. rabbi: Arabs in Israel ‘must be vanquished’

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 09:25

The rabbi of a major modern Orthodox synagogue in New Jersey has written a blog post that calls for Israel to collectively punish Arab Israelis and Palestinians until they realize “they have no future in the land of Israel.”

In the post, written Friday and titled “Dealing with Savages,” Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck offers suggestions that range from destroying whole Palestinian towns to uprooting the Dome of the Rock.

“There is a war for the land of Israel that is being waged, and the Arabs who dwell in the land of Israel are the enemy in that war and must be vanquished,” Pruzansky writes.

The post has since been deleted, but it’s cached here.

Pruzansky refers to “the Arab-Muslim animals that span the globe chopping, hacking and merrily decapitating,” and then writes, “At a certain point, the unrestrained behavior of unruly animals becomes the fault of the zookeeper, not the animals.”

So what should Israel do? According to Pruzansky, essentially end civil and human rights for many Arab Israelis and Palestinians. Beyond killing all terrorists and demolishing their extended families’ homes, Pruzansky says Israel should destroy entire Arab villages if more than one terrorist comes from them. All the residents of those villages, he writes, should be expelled.

He also writes that rioters and stone-throwers should be shot with live ammunition, and that reporters should be barred from these scenes and have their cameras confiscated.

Pruzansky says Arabs should be barred from the Temple Mount for at least six months, and muses that “perhaps the day will come in the near future when the mosque and the dome can be uplifted intact and reset in Saudi Arabia, Syria or wherever it is wanted.”

Pruzansky writes that Palestinians and Arab Israelis as a whole are Israel’s enemy — “and that enemy rides our buses, shops in our malls, drives on our roads and lives just two miles from us.” (“Us” apparently doesn’t include Pruzansky himself, who leads a congregation 5,000 miles from Jerusalem.)

This isn’t the first time Pruzansky has made the news for his views. Earlier this month, he compared The New York Jewish Week to Der Sturmer, a Nazi newspaper. Pruzansky’s congregation, Bnai Yeshurun, has about 800 member families, according to its website, and has been led by Pruzansky for more than 20 years.

Near the end of his post, Pruzansky wonders why Israelis haven’t come to the same conclusions he has. It’s an “enduring enigma,” he says.

Israelis across the political spectrum support safeguarding the state’s democratic character. Most have consistently backed a Palestinian state. But it bears noting that almost all of those who oppose Palestinian statehood still don’t speak anything close to Pruzansky’s language.

A telling example: Naftali Bennett, who leads the furthest-right party in Knesset and strongly opposes a Palestinian state, came out quickly and vehemently last week against an Israeli city’s ban on Arab construction workers. “99.9 percent” are nonviolent, he said, and Israel should not discriminate based on race or religion.

As Chabad Gathers, South Dakota Is Only State Missing

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 16:42

Some 4,200 Chabad rabbis from more than 80 countries are gathering this weekend in New York for the annual conference of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.

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