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March 27, 2009

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 27, 2009 ) ) p ) t ) # Conservative group hit with more demands NEW YORK (JTA)--A sec- ond group of Conservative Jewish leaders has issued a series of demands of the movement's synagogue as- sociation. About a dozen presidents of Conservative synagogues have hinted they will leave the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism un- less serious changes are made to the organization within 90 days, the Forward reported March 16. Organiz- ers say they eventually hope to garner between 25 and 50 signatures. The news comes less than a week after a similar letter, signed by a group of Conservative clergy and lay leaders organized under the banner of HaYom, demanded a meeting with the United Synagogue president, Ray- mond Goldstein. Goldstein told JTA a meeting was in the works. The synagogue presidents echoed the complaints of the HaYom group, saying the United Synagogue is not sufficiently open and trans- parent. They also requested that United Synagogue pub- lish its recent budgets and the contract of its current executive vice president, hold a series of open discus- sions for congregations and shrink its governing boards. Relative of Israel's first president beaten MOSCOW (JTA)--A Rus- sian woman related to Israel's first president was beaten in her home in an attack with anti-Semitic overtones. Tatyana B0g0tyreva, a distant relative of Chaim Weizmann, was injured when a tenant attacked her overnight on March 11 as she slept in her Moscow apartment. The assailant called her a "kike," a report by said March 17. After drinking vodka, the attacker broke into Bogoty- reva's room and woke her, demanding that she fix the television, the report said. Bogotyreva screamed and a neighbor summoned the police. The officers detained the tenant, but he was released the following day. Police have not decided whether to press charges. Bogotyreva went to the hospital with bruises on her back, legs and shoulders. Bogotyreva said it wasn't the first time her family has suffered for being Jewish. "My family suffered all through the Soviet years because of our relation to Chaim Weizmann," she said, adding that family members were called to the KCB offices and pressed for information, according to Move to protect kosher slaughter earns praise BERLIN (JTA)--The Con- ference of European Rabbis welcomed moves by a Euro- pean Parliament committee to protect the right to kosher slaughter. In a vote March 16, the agricultural committee decided not to require the stunning of an animal before slaughter, said Phil Carmel, a spokesman for the Orthodox rabbinic orga- nization based in Brussels. In addition, the committee rejected the proposal to label all meat not coming from animals stunned be- fore slaughter. The committee's vote will go to the Council of Minis- ters in May for a final vote, Carmel said, along with some 200 other measures related to the humane treat- ment of animals. Canadian university to probe clashes over Mid- east TORONTO (JTA)--One of Canada's largest universi- ties says it will probe recent campus clashes relating to the Middle East. In a move welcomed by Jewish students and com- munal leaders, York Uni- versity announced March 16 that it will form a task force "to review concerns about the student environment" on campus. Jewish students have complained of a toxic atmo- sphere on campus arising from Israel's recent military incursion in the Gaza Strip. Actor, political activist Ron Silver dies JERUSALEM (JTA)--Ron Silver, an award-winning actor and co-founder of an organization calling for a united Jerusalem, has died. Silver, who won a Tony Award for his performance in "Speed-the-Plow," died March 15 in New York City two years after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was 62. In 2000, Silver co-found- ed the One Jerusalem orga- nization, calling for a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in opposition to the Oslo Peace Accords. He was a liberal activ- ist who helped found the Creative Coalition, an arts- oriented political group, in 1989. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he switched his party affiliation from Democrat to independent and became a public sup- porter of President George W. Bush. He was a featured speaker at the 2004 Repub- lican National Convention. He began hosting "The Ron Silver Show," a weekly politics and public affairs radio program, on Sirius Satellite Radio in February 2008. While Silver won the Tony in 1988 for his portrayal of Hollywood producer Charlie Fox in the David Mamet play, he also excelled as a film and television actor. Silver was nominated for an Emmy Award as Bruno Gianelli on "The West Wing" TV series and received acclaim for his portrayal of lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a staunch Israel advocate, in the 1990 film "Reversal of Fortune." Mason calls Obama 'sch- vartze' NEW YORK (JTA)--Co- median Jackie Mason called President Obama a "schvar- tze" during a performance in New York, angering some audience members. The Web site TMZ re- ported March 15 that Mason used the term, which means "black" in Yiddish but is considered derogatory ,by some, during a performance at Feinstein's at Loews Re- gency in New York City on March 12. TMZ quoted one audience member as saying, "He's more offensive to the Jews than Madoff tonight." "I'm an old Jew. I was raised in a Jewish fam- ily where 'schvartze' was used," Mason told TMZ. "It's not a demeaning word and I'm not going to defend myself." The Rev. AI Sharpton reminded TMZ that in 1991, Mason apologized for call- ing then-New York mayoral candidate David Dinkins "a fancy schvartze with a mustache." "At this stage in Jackie's life and career, he should get our prayers more than our responses," Sharpton told TMZ. Study suggests a more liberal European Jewry BERLIN (JTA)--Euro- pean Jewish leaders believe that conversion, inter- marriage and communal membership should be dealt with more liberally, a new study finds. In a survey of 251 Jewish leaders in Europe conducted last fall, 85 percent of respon- dents felt it was "not a good idea to strongly oppose inter- marriage and bar intermar- ried Jews and their spouses from communal member- ship." Most European Jewish communities now allow only those with a Jewish mother or an Orthodox conversion to be counted. The results of the pan- European survey, which was sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's International Centre for Community De- velopment, were released March lfi by the JDC. The Gallup Europe survey in- cluded respondents from 31 countries. In more survey results, fewer than 27 percent of respondents felt that only those who were born to a Jewish mother or who have undergone an Orthodox conversion should be al- lowed to become a member of the community. Even among those describing themselves as Orthodox or Modern Orthodox, 43 percent believed that those who have undergone con- version under rabbinic su- pervision from any denomi- nation should be allowed to join. Similarly, 46 percent of Orthodox respondents agreed that one Jewish par- ent was enough to justify membership in communal organizations. While many younger Jewish leaders expressed pessimism about Jewish life in Europe, the vast majority of all respondents agreed that Europe is a safe place for Jews to live, with only 15 percent of those under 40 and 5 percent of those over 55 disagreeing. Supporting Israel was the third highest priority among respondents, but nearly half said they were sometimes "ashamed" by the actions of the Israeli government. Also, about 75 percent agreed at least somewhat that events in Israel sometimes led to an increase of anti-Semitism in their countries. Respon- dents, however, expressed strong support for Israel overall. Ukraine marks home of rebbe's father KIEV, Ukraine (JTA)--A plaque to mark the home of the last Lubavitcher rebbe's father was dedicated in Dnepropetrovsk. The memorial plaque, in Ukrainian and Hebrew, was affixed March 15 to the wall of the house where Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak Schneerson (1878-1944) lived, in what is now the eastern Ukrainian industrial city of Dnepro- petrovsk. Schneerson was the father of the seventh rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. An exhibit devoted to the life and activities of Levi- Yitzchak Schneerson was dedicated in the hall of the ground floor of the house where the rabbi lived from 1934 to 1939. "For the first time in the history of Dnepropetrovsk, a memorial plaque to a Jewish spiritual leader was affixed and dedicated." said Oleg Rostovtzev, a spokes- man for the Dnepropetro- vsk Jewish community. "This act rights and re- stores the Jewish continuity of generations." Schneerson lived in Niko- layev until 1909, when he was appointed to serve as rabbi of Yekaterinoslav, which is now Dnepropetro- vsk. In 1939 he was arrested by the Communist regime for his stance against the party's efforts to eradicate Jewish learning and prac- tice in the Soviet Union. After more than a year of torture and interrogations in Stalin's notorious pris- ons, he was sentenced to exile to the interior of Rus- sia, where he died in 1944. Schneerson was a distin- guished kabbalist. Most of his writings were burned or confiscated by the So- viet authorities and have yet to be returned to the Chabad movement, which has waged a long battle to retrieve them. Chief rabbi: Russian Jews fear future MOSCOW (JTA)--Rus- sian Jews fear for the future of their community in the wake of the deportation of two rabbis, a Russian chief rabbi said. Rabbi Berel Lazar's com- ments came on the sidelines of a meeting Marach 18 in Tula between Russian Presi- dent Dmitry Medvedev and leaders from Russia's four official religions. "In the face of the nega- tive impact of the financial crisis, which has exacer- bated material problems, some are starting to look for guilty parties among those they don't like. This is called xenophobia, but it leads to extremism and fascism," Lazar said, ac- cording to the Interfax news agency. Medvedev met with reli- gious leaders in a largely symbolic meeting at which he asked for their help in preventing extremism by raising moral youth. The Chabad-led Federa- tion of Jewish Communities has taken steps to push back against the expulsion of its rabbis from the country, putting it in rare conflict with the government. Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein left Russia after a court in Vladivostok rejected his Feb. 25 appeal that he violated terms of his visa by serving as a religious leader. His visa had been is- sued for promoting cultural ties, according to Russia's Interfax agency. Silberstein had been in Russia for 2 1/2 years as a representative of the Federation of Jewish Communities, according to The same Web site said he left for New York following the appeal. On Feb. 11, another fed- eration emissary, Rabbi Zvi Hershcowitz of Stavropol, was expelled over visa Philanthropist William Davidson dies JERUSALEM (JTA)--Bill Davidson, owner of the Detroit Pistons basketball team and a philanthropist, has died. Davidson died March 13 at his home near Detroit. He was 86. Davidson gave more than $200 million to chari- table causes, according to the Detroit Free Times. Among his gifts, David- son and his wife, Karen, gave $75 million in 2007 to construct the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower at Hadassah Hospital-Fin Kerem in Jerusalem. Davidson, who was in- ducted last year into the Basketball Hall of Fame, had owned the National Basketball Association team since 1974, and won three NBA championships. He also owned the Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League team, and the Women's National Bas- ketball Association team the Detroit 8hock until 2008. Britain bans Hezbollah spokesman WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Britain banned entry to a spokesman for Hezbollah. Ibrahim Moussawi had been scheduled to speak later this month on political Islam at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. The Daily Mail's Web site on March 13 reported that Home Secretary Jac- qui Smith concluded that Moussawi's presence in Britain would not be "con- ducive to the public good." Smith had allowed Mous- sawi to enter twice in the past, but the Mail reported that there were political pressures to ban his entry in the wake of a recent simi- lar ban on Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker who has called for banning the Koran. Women's group slams Israeli supermodel NEW YORK (JTA)--An advertisement featuring Israeli superm0del Bar Rafaeli was slammed by a women's Zionist group. The Israeli branch of the Women's International Zi- onist Organization named Rafaeli's spot for Israeli wa- ter company Eden Springs the most sexist of the year, Ha'aretz reported. The group plans to launch a consumer boycott of the companies running the five most sexist ads. Reform movement urges halt to settlement growth WASHINGTON (JTA)-- The Reform movement said the new Israeli government must stop the expansion of settlements. "We hope that the new Israeli government will work with the new U.S. Administration to advance the cause of peace," Rabbi David Saperstein, the direc- tor of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a statement. "Israel must demonstrate its stated commitment to that goal by ending the expansion of settlements in accordance with prior commitments made to the United States government." The call for the halt to settlement growth is a reiteration of a policy the Reform movement has held for a number of years. It most recently reaffirmed that view in 2004. The movement also wel- comed the "determined leadership" of President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and special Middle East envoy George Mitchell "in working toward the resolution of the Arab- Israeli conflict," adding that "the greatest contri- bution the United States can make to help Israel is to help it move beyond the deadly status quo toward the establishment of a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians." The statement also ap- plauded Clinton's call for an end to the continuing rocket fire from Gaza and called on the administra- tion to bring about the re- lease of Israeli solider Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas nearly three years ago. It also backed the $900 million in aid the administration has pledged to help rebuild Gaza, with the condition that none will go to Hamas. to efforts by a group of British academics earlier this decade intended to block Israeli universities and professors from par- ticipating in academic con- ferences and other forums outside of Israel. Kosher concessionaire walks at Camden Yards BALTIMORE (JTA)--A certified kosher concession stand seems unlikely at the Orioles' stadium for the first time since the facility opened in 1993. Kosher Sports Inc., based in New York, confirmed to the Baltimore Jewish Times this week that it will not be returning to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The compa- ny still runs a kosher stand for the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens at the adjacent M&T Bank Ravens Stadium. Jonathan Katz, the founder and owner of Ko- sher Sports, took the Cam- den Yards contract in 2005. "There's a poorly struc- tured deal in terms of finances," said Katz, who operates kosher food con- cessions at numerous other baseball and football sta- diums. Katz told Aramark, con- cessionaire for the Orioles and the Ravens, that the contract had to be restruc- tured, and if that could not happen, Kosher Sports "couldn't operate here."