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April 9, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 9, 2004

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PAGE 2 JTA Weekly Summary Following are Jewish Telegraphic Agency's news briefs for Monday, April 5, 2004. Disengagement plan detailed Israel plans to remove all Gaza settlements and four in the West Bank. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon detailed his plan to disengage Israel from the Palestinians for the first time Monday, in a slew of pre-Passover media interviews. "There are still details left to work out, but I believe our intention is to leave all of them," Sharon told Army Radio, referring to Gaza's 21 settlements. He added: "We are talking about four settlements in Samaria," referring to the northern West Bank. Ha'aretz named the four West Bank settlements slated for removal as Kadim, Ganim, Sah-nur and Homesh. Three Palestinians killed in Gaza Israeli forces killed three Palestinian infiltrators in the Gaza Strip. A military source said forces opened fire on three figures spotted crawling toward the highway linking the Netzarim settlement with the Karni crossing into Israel on Sunday night. The road is off-limits to the Palestinians and the three men were presumed to be on a mission to lay an ambush for Israeli convoys Their bodies were recovered by Palestinian medics on Monday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian group. Belarus blasted on anti-Semitism Belarus is not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism, a group that monitors anti-Semitism charged. The Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union cited vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, the open sale of anti- Semitic literature and a new law restricting religious freedom as reasons for the charge. "The Jewish popula- tion is not safe," said the group's Leonid Stonov. "Au- thorities could very easily decrease the level of xenopho- bia and anti-Semitism if only they were willing to do so." Making a killing in candles An Israeli is making a killing by manufacturing memorial candles for assassinated Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Don Avni, a candlemaker from Mitzpe Ramon, said Monday that the Israeli airstrike that killed the terrorist leader last month saved his business. "Thanks to these candles, my factory managed to survive financially. The orders are massive," Avni told the Ma'ariv newspaper, adding that the 3-foot-high candles bearing Yassin's image were selling briskly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "It is absurd that because of Yassin my factory will not close down, but what can you do when the Israeli market is dead?" is mmunity Do You Have Pre-Paid Funeral Arrangements With Another Funeral Home? We Can and Will Accept All Other Pre-Paid Plans r m mm mm mmm m m m mm mm mm m n m mmm mm mm u s ,mm mll m I I'D % Discount on m )services and merchandise1 mI on any new II , Pre-need contracts. , I I 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD James R. Cardinal, Executive Director Michael Meyer, Family Pre-need Counselor Tzvi Halikman, Ritual Director HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 9, 2~ I' By Joe Berkofsky spend money on supplemen- Scientologists to claim audit- tary religious instruction for ing fees as deductions. Sklar NEW YORK (JTA)--Paying their children, amended his 1991 returns, taxes may be one of life's great "If the Sklars win and ev- seeking an additional $315 in certainties--but there's a bit erybody is entitled to a tuition allowances, reasoning that he more wiggle room when it tax deduction, the implica- was similarly entitled to write comes to tax deductions, tionsaresignificantbecauseit offsome of his children's reli- Michael Sklar, a California makesJewisheducationmuch gious education. accountant and Orthodox fa- less costly since you are pay- In 1994 the IRS denied the ther of six, will appear in a ing with before-tax dollars," claim, referring in a letter to a United States tax court in Los says Marc Stern, assistant na- specific"settlement" between Angeles in October as he put- tional executive director and the agency and Scientology sues a long legal struggle to generalcounselof~heAmeri- thatneverhadbeenmadepub- claimthe cost of his children's can Jewish Congress. lic. religious education as a tax The U.S. Supreme Court That motivated Sklar to deduction, planted the seeds of this con- warn the IRS that on his 1994 Sklar notes that the IRS al- flictina 1989case, Hernandez tax return he was seeking lows followers of the Church v.Commissioner.Inthatcase, $13,240 in deductions for his of Scientology to write off the the Church of Scientology children'sreligiouseducation, cost of religious instruction, claimed that fees for its audit'- a move he knew was likely to which many say violates the ing sessions--a kind of spiri- raise red flags. First Amendment establish- tuai training that can cost Sure enough, the IRS au- lent clause banning govern- thousands of dollars--should dited Sklar. He challenged the lent support of a religion, count as tax-deductible chaff- move and wound up in tax "We must force"the IRS"to table contributions, just like court. treat everybody equally,"Sklar gifts to other religious institu- But Sklar, who represented says. "To let the government tions, himself, was rebuffed: The tax do this for one religion is the Ironically, the church said court judge said the religious worst possible scenario imag- its auditing was no different schooling of Sklar's children inable." Whether or not he thantax-deductibleHighHoli- differed from Scientoiogy succeeds, Sklar has raised ira- day seats in synagogues, dedi- training. portant questions about how cated Masses or pews inSklar challenged the deci- tax breaks for religious insti- churches, sion in the 9th U.S. Circuit tutions are applied and But the high court rejected Court of Appeals in 2000. whetherconstitutionallyman- the plea, distinguishing be- This time, the fervently Or- dated church-stateseparation tween fees for tangible ser- thodox group Agudath Israel bars such tax breaks, vices and charitable contribu- of America filed a friend-of- Sklar's crusade has poten- tions, which are made volun- the-court brief on Sklar's be- tially enormous financial ira- tarilyformoreintangiblespiri- half. Washington lawyer Jef- plications for the families of tual benefits such as syna- frey Zuckerman, of the firm 200,000Jewishdayschoolstu- gogue seats or church pews. Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & dents, as well as for non-Jew- In 1993, Congressamended Mosle, agreed to defend Sklar ish parochial and religious the tax code to reflect the Su- free of charge. school students. Altogether, preme Court's so-called quid- Sklarwas seeking to recoup parentsofsuchstudentsspend pro-quo ruling, barring tax $15,000 in deductions for the an estimated $11 billion an- deductions for the auditing 1995 tax year, which repre- nually in tuition, sessions, sented the religious portion of Sklar'sfightalsocoutdhave That same year, however, his children's day-school implications for families that the IRS began allowing classes. The three-judge panel nied Sklar's bid in 2002, bt one judge, Barry Silverma wrote, "Why is Scientolo training different from other religious trainingi Silverman recommended the debate be resolved in cou litigation Yet Silverman also indica that he thought the soluti0~ was to deny such deductio to all religious groups. Now, Stern says, "the tion is: What remedy is appr priate?" Typically, courts tel toward narrow deductions tax battles, he says, and the court this fall could reverse decade's worth of Scientolog deductions. To do the contrary "wo~ open floodgates of amend ~ tax returns," Stern says. Yet Stern suggests the preme Court set a differ precedent in Muller v. Alle ] 1983 Minnesota case that lowed parents of public private school students tod duct purely educational such as tuition, textbooks transportation. , If Congress were to cr genuine deductions availab for all educational expenS whether public or private, it, pretty clear that would be 0 stitutional," Stern says. Nevertheless, AJCongg likely would oppose such measure, believing such deductions amount to "a subsidy o! religious schoolsj he says. We would have, balance both the demand equal treatment of all fai See "Taxes" on page 16! new preslden! By Rachel Pomerance spond to complaints by red~ ing the budget and installi~ NEWYORK (JTA)---The fed- reforms to groom top prOf~ sionals. .~ .tem veteran federation profes- sionaltobecomeitsnewpresi- j,ctu e, several ,~ dent and CEO. Rieger s lengthy experien~ After some six months of the system positions hirnw[ searching, an internal United for the job. ,J JewishCommunitiescommit- "I think continuity at~ tee unanimously recom- point is critically impor~j mended an insider to succeed and Howard has shown a d.~~: Stephen Hoffman: Howard cation to the UJC that I th'~ Rieger, president of the United will help to ensure that kin~ Jewish Federation of Greater continuity,"said the UJC'S~ Pittsburgh. chairman, Richard Wexletl Robert Coldberg, head of Chicago. j the search committee and photocourtesytofUJC "Whatever progress "~ ' been made under chairman of UJC s board, HOWARD RIEGER called JTA last Tuesday with Hoffman, I think Howard the news that the committee must approve the appoint- build on," he said. had decided to offer the job to ment. Wexler added that Rieger, who has said he will Asked if the board would hadbeen"instrumental"ill ts accept it. approve Rieger, Goldberg merger leading to UJC The choice of Rieger, 61, would say only that it %viii get ation and understandsits continues a tradition of pick- a unanimous recommenda- poses. ing federation system heads tion from the search commit- Wexler has said that from communities considered tee. I think that saysa Iot."The the merger s key purpos large cities--ones that con- transition, which will take to boost overseas ailocati tribute the bulk of funds the place at the close of Hoffman's which UJC has yet to do. systemsraisesandwhoselead- three-yeartermthissummer, ujAcc ing to Rieger, ers make key decisions, comes as the four-year-old r Cst" l'se duringthe 'J Rieger, who has headed the UJC, a merger of the Council ath of that merger andre' Pittsburgh federation since of Jewish Federations, United mg to combine cultur 1981, told JTA his interest in Jewish Appeal and United Is- organizations with dive the job was bascd on his desire rael Appeal, still is struggling orientations----overseaS to make the most impact in to define itself, and domestic ones. the remaining years of his ca- Despite the respect corn- The national entity reer. manded by Hoffman, indi- living through a proceSS Theideaof"sprintingtothe vidual federations have corn- every federation has finishing line" was appealing, plained about inadequate ser- lived through and comer[ 11 .d he said. vices and high UJC dues. the other end, he sal . Rieger worked for 11 years UJC's overseas partners, the Rieger said he could in various positions at the Jewish Agency for Israel and ticulatehisvisionuntilhe Cleveland federation before theAmericanJewishJointDis- there, saying he belie,V s, heading to Pittsburgh. He tribution Committee, have firstneedstodeterminei! joins what some jokingly call blamed the system for failing ceptions are balanced the "Cleveland mafia," since to boost funds for overseas experience. But he did both Hoffman and Goldberg needs from individual federa- that UJC needs trerneOa also came from Cleveland. tions. UJC's board of trustees still Hoffman has tried to re- See "UJC" on page