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April 4, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 4, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 4, 2014 PAGE 13A N.J.'s Christie apologizes to Adelson over 'occupied territories' reference (JTA)--New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson for referring to the "occupied territories" in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition. Christie metwithAdelson, a major GOP donor, privately on Saturday afternoon in Adelson's Las Vegas office in the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, which hosted the RJC meeting, Politico reported, citing an unnamed source. During his speech on Sat- urday, Christie spoke of his family's trip to Israel in 2012. "I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt person- ally how extraordinary that was to understand, the mili- tary risk that Israel faces ev- ery day," he reportedly said. Several news outlets re- ported that the crowd of Jew- ish Republicans at Christie's speech noticeably gasped at Christie's use of the loaded term. Christie was one of several prominent Republicans to address the conference. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush spoke to a private din- ner on March 27 at Adelson's personal aircraft hangar, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both addressed the confer- ence on Saturday, along with Christie. Politico reported that the unnamed source, which it called "familiar with the conversation," said that Christie made clear "that he misspoke when he ref&red to the 'occupied territories.' And he conveyed that he is an unwavering friend and committed supporter of Israel, and was sorry for any confusion that came across as a result of the misstate- ment." The source told Politico that Adelson accepted Chris- tie's explanation. Christie said that during his trip to Israel, everyone he met wanted "America to be their unblinking, unwaver- ing, unquestioning friend. The sense I got from my trip was that many of those folks, not all, but many of them were worried that we were no longer being that," The Star-Ledger newspaper reported. Holocaust survivors in Canada target of scam TORONTO (JTA)--A scam targeting Jewish Holocaust survivors in Canada claims they are entitled to a share of a $75 million pot and asks for a large fee in return. Letters delivered to survi- vors in Alberta and Ontario claim they are entitled to funds from the "Holocaust Claims Processing Office" and request personal bank- ing information. The letters promise the funds will be transferred to a "secure numbered account" and ask for 60 percent of the sum as a fee, the National Post newspaper reported. ~'I have all secret details and necessary contacts for claim of the funds without any hitch," reads the letter signed by a Larry Dubali, identified as a senior part- ner of Tenure Consulting in New York. Reached by the Post last week, Dubali, who seemed to speakwith an African accent, hung up without answer- ing questions. The phone number and address on his letters are associated with complaints about telephone frauds, the Post noted. "It's so clear that this is a scam," said Sara Saber- Freedman, executive vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which has. notified the police, phone company and Internet provider about the scheme. "It's just vile. This is just odious." She also called Dubali and noted he seemed to speak with a West African accent. The Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants organization sent letters to rabbis and community leaders warning about the scam. "This is an obvious at- tempt to defraud members of the Jewish community and should be ignored," the letter said. "It's obscene as far as I'm concerned," said the orga- nization's president, Sidney Zoltak. Houston man indicted for synagogue bomb threats (JTA)--A federal grand jury indicted a Houston man for calling in bomb threats to two city synagogues, a municipal courthouse and a private business. Dante Phearse, 33, was chargedwith two civil rights violations for "threat of force with an explosive device which allegedly ob- structed members of the synagogues from enjoying the free exercise of their religious beliefs," according to a statement from the U.S, Department of Justice issued March 27. According to the indict- ment, Phearse called Con- gregation Beth Israel and Congregation Or Ami and threatened to bomb the synagogue buildings and harm its members, the Department of Justice said. He also called bomb threats to the City of Houston Mu- nicipal Courts building and a private business. Phearse is facing a maxi- "~mum of 20 years in prison for each civil rights violation and a maximum of 10 years in prison for each bomb threat. He has remained in police custody since his arrest. Jewish woman, partner among first same-sex mar- riages in Britain (JTA)--A Jewish woman and her non-Jewish partner were among the first same- sex couples to be married in Britain hours after a law permitting such marriages went into effect. Nicola Pettit, 29, who is Jewish, married Tania Ward, 28, on Saturday morning at Brighton Town Hall, according to the Lon- don Jewish Chronicle. The couple had a religious cer- emony on Saturday evening led by Rabbi Janet Darley of the South London Liberal Synagogue, according to the newspaper. "It was really important for me to have a rabbi and other Jewish elements pres- ent," Pettit told the newspa- per. "It also means a lot for my mum and t~e rest of my family, who all attend the Liberal Jewish Synagogue together." The law went into effect early Saturday morning. Britain's Tate Gallery to return Nazi-looted paint- ing (JTA)--Britain's Tate Gal- lery said it would return a Nazi-looted painting to the heirs of an art collector from Hungary. The gallery announced on March 27 that it would return the 1824 painting "Beaching a Boat, Brighton" by John Constable. The artwork had been loaned to museums in the United States as late as 2006, The New York Times reported. In a report, the British government panel settling claims on alleged Nazi-looted artworks said the painting should be returned to the anonymous heirs of Budapest art collector Baron Ferenc Hatvany. The Spoliation Advisory Panel criticized the museum for not attempting to establish the painting's provenance. The museum said it would recommend to its trustees at its next meeting in May that the painting be returned, according to The New York Times. Hatvany, a Christian con- vert from Judaism, had his art stolen while he was in hiding during World War II. A donor gave the painting to the museum in 1986. U.S. court: Iranian relics cannot be seized as restitu- tion to terror victims (JTA)--Victims of a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem cannot seize Persian antiqui- ties on display in the United States as restitution, a federal judge ruled. In his decision Friday, Judge Robert Gettleman of the U.S. District Court in Chicago said the items could not be seized for the victims' families since it was unclear whether the Iranian govern- ment owned the items on loan to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and that the artifacts at the Oriental Institute were loaned for scholarship, not commercial intentions, ac- cording to The Associated Press. Iran was ordered to pay $412 million in restitution, AP reported. The Iranian- backed and funded Hamas terror organization claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed five and injured 200. Other U.S. museums watched the ruling closely, fearing that a ruling for the victims would endanger mu- seum collections throughout the country. The victims likely will ap- peal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, AP reported. Thousands attend Paris aliyah fair amid spate of anti-Semitic incidents (JTA)--Thousands of French Jews attended an in- formation fair in Paris about moving to Israel. Sunday's fair, organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the World Zionist Organiza- tion, offered information from representatives of many Israeli organizations and institutions, including gov- ernment ministries. The Drancy-based Bu- reau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, a watchdog group known as BNVCA, has recorded a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in France in recent weeks, including a violent attack on a Jewish teacher and a knife attack on a Paris rabbi and his son. Immigration to Israel, or aliyah, from France has risen sharply since the beginning of 2014, with 854 new im- migrants arriving in Janu- ary and February compared to 274 during the previous year, according to the Jewish Agency. Some 3,280 immigrants from France arrived in Israel in 2013, compared to 1,917 in the previous year. Earlier this month, the French Jewish community's watchdog organization, SPCJ, released a report that counted 423 anti-Semitic in- cidents in France in 2013--a 31 percent decrease from the previous year, but still higher by 8 percent than the number of incidents recorded in 2011. Czech justice minister: Nothing much happened during Nazi occupation (JTA)--Czech Justice Min- ister Helena Valkova was under fire for saying noth- ing much happened during the Nazi occupation of her country. Valkova, whose father is an ethnic German and who grew up in a bilingual home, made the statement in an interview that was published on the news website Asked about her views on the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, Valkova, of the center-right ANO 2011 party, said, "The worst. I understand that it was a reaction to what happened before, but in the protectorate not that much happened," she said in refer- ence to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia set up by the Nazi occupation forces following their invasion of Czechoslovakia. Between 1941 and 1945, 46,000 Jews were deported from Prague, mostly to the Theresienstadt concentra- tion camp and from there to Auschwitz. Only 5,000 survived. Valkova claimed the state- ment was taken out of con- text, and that she only meant to compare the relative calm within the protectorate to war-torn Poland and Russia. Miroslava Nemcova, a law- maker for the conservative opposition ODS party, was one of several Czech politi- cians and intellectuals who criticized Valkova for her statement. "Go to the Pinkas Syna- gogue in Prague and read the names of Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War," Nemcova said in parliament on Tuesday, according to the news site ODS deputy chairman Martin Kupka said Valkova's statement "denies or at least overlooks the suffering of thousands of Jews who were transferred from the Czech soil and subsequently murdered, this denies the obliteration of entire Czech villages, this denies the suf- fering ofthousands of brave people who were killed." Limmud FSU, Internation- al Fellowship of Christians and Jews form partnership (JTA)--Limmud FSU and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews will partner to expand Limmud FSU activities. The announcement of the partnership came Saturday night during the Limmud FSU conference in Parsip- pany, N.J. Limmud FSU (for former Soviet Union) helps Russian- speaking Jews engage with the Jewish community. Under the three-year agreement, Limmud FSU will hold eight conferences this year, up from six in 2013. The group also will expand to Australia, the West Coast of the United States and Toronto. The fellowship will fund the new activities. Also under the agreement, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, presi- dent of the fellowship, will join Limmud FSU's as dean and member of the executive committee. Aron Kestecher, Melbourne molestation suspect, dies in apparent suicide SYDNEY, Australia (JTA)-- Aron "Ezzy" Kestecher, a for- mer Chabad-Lubavitch youth leader in Melbourne who was accused of child sex crimes, died in a suspected suicide. Kestecher, 28, was found dead in his apartment on Thursday. He was accused of multiple allegations of child sex abuse against minors and was due in court in June, police confirmed Friday. Rabbi Meir Shlomo Klu- wgant, president of the Rab- binical Council of Victoria, said he visited the family on March 27. "I provided a measure of support and comfort to his family members and his close friends, as well as the first responders to this most tragic of events," he said. "The deceased was a very special young man, but he was also deeply troubled." The Lubavitch websites and both posted death notices expressing their "profound sadness, deep pain and shock." David Werdiger, a grand- son of one of the founders of Chabad in Melbourne, published a post about the "terrible tragedy" on Face- book, taking aim at those he claimed may have encour- aged his death. "Those who helped pub- licize said alleged sins, who facilitated or conducted trial by media, who acted in a heavy-handed way without thinking about the many possible consequences (or who ignored the obvious consequences following their actions) need to consider to what extent their 'actions' contributed to this terrible outcome," he wrote. Four charges of indecent acts by Kestecher against minors were withdrawn in 2012, but additional alleged victims came forward last year with one claim of sexual penetration against a child under 16 and of indecent acts with a child, resulting in the beginning of legal proceedings. Kestecher taught at Yeshi- vah College, which has been at the center of the child sex abuse scandal inside Melbourne's Jewish com- munity. Two of its former employees--David Kramer and David Cyprys--were jailed last year for multiple sex crimes against more than a dozen children. Rabbi: Danish zoo killings show shechitah ban isn't about animal welfare (JTA)--A Danish zoo's slay- ing of healthy animals proves that animal welfare concerns are a false justification for Denmark's recent ban on ritual slaughter, a prominent European rabbi charged. Citing the need to make room for new animals and prevent inbreeding, the Co- penhagen Zoo killed four healthy lions last week and a healthy giraffe last month. The killings, which prompted an international outcry, make it "more appar- ent that this [shechitah ban] is less about animal welfare, and much more about the politics of immigration and integration," Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement on March 27. Denmark's agriculture minister, Dan Jorgensen, issued a new regulation last month making it illegal to slaughter animals without stunning, posing a problem for Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. He said the ban owed to animal welfare con- siderations. Goldschmidt suggested that's false. "Since there is little or no religious slaughter in Denmark today, we can only assume that the ban repre- sents a fig leaf intended to cover the country's woeful record on animal welfare," he said. Last month the Copen- hagen Zoo made headlines around the world when it killed an 18-month-old healthy giraffe and then pub- licly fed his flesh to the lion pack. The affair has refocused attention on the traditional whale hunt performed in Denmark's Faroe Islands, where each year hunters maneuver hundreds of pilot whales to beach themselves, then butcher them in shallow lagoons. "It seems so clear that this is a country with a great deal of work to do in this area" of animalwelfare, Goldschmidt said, "yet all they have suc- ceeded in doing thus far is of- fending faith communities." Ark cover returned to Prague Jewish Museum (JTA)--A 19th century parochet, or ark cover, origi- nally from a Czech synagogue was returned to the Prague Jewish Museum. The piece of cloth was discovered last year in a box of artifacts delivered to So- theby's auction house in New York to be sold, according to the Czech News Agency. It had been missing from the museum for nearly 60 years, along with a number of other pieces. The ritual object is from from Mlada Vozice in south Bohemia, according to the news agency. It will go on display in the museum next month.