Tag Archive for Jewish Diaspora

Girls allowed to wear tefillin in Modern Orthodox New York high school


Two teenage female students break ritual barriers by donning tefillin with the support of their rabbi.

By and Anne Cohen


Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) High School, a Modern Orthodox institution in Riverdale, New York, is now allowing girls to wear tefillin.

SAR High School in Riverdale, NY

Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School, Modern Orthodox Yeshiva day school in Riverdale, New York. – Photo:Facebook

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, head of the school, sent out an email explaining that two girls were granted permission to wrap tefillin at the school’s daily all-girls meeting, reports the Boiling Pot, the online student newspaper of Shalhevet High School in LA. Continue Reading »

King Mohamed VI of Morocco asks country’s Jews to pray for rain

Throughout Morocco, prayers are recited at mosques & synagogues to remedy news of impending drought.




Prayers were recited at synagogues and mosques across the country at the request of the king upon learning that Morocco may suffer a drought this year.

King Mohamed VI of Morocco.

King Mohamed VI of Morocco. – Photo: AP

At the request of the king, prayers for rain were held over the weekend at synagogues throughout Morocco.

The prayers were recited on Saturday, one day after Muslims said similar prayers in mosques at the request of King Mohammed VI, the Moroccan daily Le Matin reported. The king made the request upon learning that Morocco may suffer a drought this year. Continue Reading »

Queen Elizabeth honors Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jew with OBE


Rabbi Isaac Schapira is to receive the appointment of Officer of Order of British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, in recognition for strengthening ties between UK & the ultra-Orthodox community

By Ynetnews

A leading member of Israel‘s ultra-Orthodox community is to receive a rare honor from Queen Elizabeth, Buckingham Palace announced this week.

Isaac Schapira (photo credit: courtesy British Embassy)

Rabbi Isaac Schapira – Photo: Ben Kelmer/British Embassy)

Isaac Schapira, son of Rabbi Abraham Yosef Schapira, a leader of Agudath Israel and a former member of the Knesset, will receive the appointment of an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He has been given the award in recognition for strengthening the ties between the UK and the haredi community. Continue Reading »

Portuguese plumbers discover 600 year old mikvahs

This  find, in the basement of a building on Rua do Visconde da Luz, Coimbra, may be considered among the oldest mikvahs ever discovered in Europe.



Plumbers fixing a water leak in central Portugal discovered what appears to be a cluster of 600-year-old Jewish ritual baths.

1of 3 -The mikvahs of Coimbra may be considered among the oldest mikvahs ever discovered in Europe  - Photo sourse:  DR/Publico.pt

1 of 3 -The mikvahs of Coimbra may be considered among the oldest mikvahs ever discovered in Europe – Photo source: DR/Publico.pt

The discovery was made earlier this year in the city of Coimbra as the plumbers were replacing the piping of an old building in what used to be the Jewish part of the Old City, according to a report Thursday by the Publico daily.

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Interfaith cooperation saves Bradford synagogue

Faced with closure a year ago, today Bradford’s synagogue’s future is bright, a model of cross-cultural co-operation after a nearby mosque together with a few local Muslims stepped in.


It was around this time last year that the trustees of Bradford‘s final remaining synagogue faced a tough choice. The roof of the Grade II-listed Moorish building was leaking; there was serious damage to the eastern wall, where the ark held the Torah scrolls; and there was no way the modest subscriptions paid annually by the temple’s 45 members could cover the cost.

Bradford Synagogue

Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques, and Rabi Rudi Leavor inside Bradford Synagogue.

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Jewish cemeteries feeling neglect & disrepair from lack of long-term plans

Lacking funds and having had no long-term plans, many U.S. Jewish cemeteries are in an awful state of neglect.



NEW YORK (JTA) — For years, the historic Jewish cemetery was so overgrown with weeds, plagued by toppled headstones, and littered with fallen branches, beer cans and snack-food wrappers that at least a quarter of its graves were impossible to reach.

A section of New York's Bayside Cemetery in Queens before a UJA-Federation-funded cleanup. (Courtesy of the Community Association for Jewish At-Risk Cemeteries)

A section of New York’s Bayside Cemetery in Queens before a UJA-Federation-funded cleanup. – Photo Courtesy of the Community Association for Jewish At-Risk Cemeteries

Even now, after a $140,000 cleanup and improved maintenance procedures, the 35,000-grave cemetery relies on the generosity of a non-Jewish volunteer to repair its tombstones, fences and mausoleums.

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Ukrainian Jewish leader reports national protests puts Jewish community ‘on high alert’

Oleksandr Feldman, president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee says, ‘To a considerable degree, the Ukrainian Jewish community supports promoting a path toward merger into the EU … but it is important to adopt a neutral & comprehensive position,’ 




Widespread protests in Ukraine have prompted the country’s Jewish communities to up security arrangements, a community leader from Kiev has said.

Students wave Ukrainian and European Union flags

Students wave Ukrainian and European Union flags as they shout slogans during a rally of the opposition in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on December 5, 2013.- Photo: AFP

“Now that streets across Ukraine are full of civilians, the community’s safety is becoming our primary concern,” Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, wrote in statement published Wednesday by the Israeli Ma’ariv daily. Continue Reading »

American Studies leaders back Israeli boycott, ask members to vote

The 20-member national council approved the boycott resolution unanimously, but full body endorsement is still pending.

The boycott will not inhibit collaboration with individual Israeli academics, the statement said.




The American Studies Association leadership on Wednesday endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities, but also sought the approval of the body’s 5,000 members.The decision follows a contentious debate at the group’s annual meeting last month and 10 days of deliberations that were supposed to last a morning. The boycott resolution was approved unanimously by the 20-member national council.
Students at an Israeli university relax on the lawn.

Students at an Israeli university relax on the lawn.

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Fire destroys part of Belarus’ oldest functioning Synagogue

No one injured as fire consumes dining room & part of 2nd floor of Grodno’s 500 yr-old Great Choral Synagogue.




One of Europe’s oldest functioning synagogues sustained heavy damage in a fire that broke out in the city of Grodno in Belarus.

Fire raging at the Great Choral Synagogue in Grodno, Belarus.

Fire raging at the Great Choral Synagogue in Grodno, Belarus – Screenshot from ONT Channel report.

The flames erupted Tuesday night as a result of malfunctioning heating system and consumed the dining room and part of the second floor of Grodno’s Great Choral Synagogue, according to a report Wednesday by the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Continue Reading »

U.K. minister promises to end Shabbat discrimination against Orthodox Jews

Employment minister pledges to introduce new regulations to allow religious Jews who refuse to work on Shabbat eligible for welfare benefits.




Britain’s employment minister said she would introduce new regulations to make Jews who refuse to work on Shabbat eligible for welfare benefits.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in London.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill, North London, U.K., November 2013 – Photo: Tal Cohen

Employment Minister Esther McVey and Jobcentre National Director Neil Couling have told the Jewish employment charity JCom that rules would be “tweaked” to end the practice of denying job seekers’ allowance to observant Jews, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported Friday. Continue Reading »

Video of sucker-punch: New York Jews attacked in violent ‘knockout’ attacks

The latest violent attack on a random Jew came Monday, when a 72 yr-old Russian-speaking woman was punched in her Brooklyn neighborhood.



NEW YORK — Chava, a student at a Chabad seminary, has lived in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn for six years, but it’s only in the past few days that she started carrying pepper spray in her handbag.

Her younger brother gave her the deterrent after news hit of a string of recent attacks against Orthodox Jews, seven of them in Crown Heights.

The assaults, believed to be part of a national wave of so-called “knockout game” attacks in which black teens punch random white strangers for sport, are unnerving Jews in the racially mixed neighborhood still haunted by the days of rioting there in 1991. Continue Reading »

Tug-of-war over American commitment to return Jewish archives to Iraq


Iraqi Jews claim materials were forcibly taken from them & should be returned to owners or descendants….not Iraq.

By Reuters



Jewish books and documents found by U.S. soldiers in the flooded headquarters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and sent to the United States for restoration have touched off a dispute between Baghdad and Iraqi Jews who fled the country.

A Passover Haggadah from Vienna, 1930

A Passover Haggadah from Vienna, 1930 is pictured after treatment in this undated handout photo from the National Archives obtained by Reuters November 26, 2013.- Photo: Reuters

After a $3 million restoration, the collection has been put on display at the Washington-based National Archives. Continue Reading »

Female Jewish Swede Applies for Asylum – in Sweden

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein applies for asylum in her own country in protest of overt, rampant anti-Semitism, laws banning kosher slaughter for eating meat and circumcision for newborn Jewish male infants.

By Tova Dvorin


Swedish Jew and outspoken opponent to anti-Semitic violence Annika Hernroth-Rothstein has filed for asylum in her own country, Elder of Ziyon reports. The move is a public statement of dissent against the Scandinavian country’s anti-Semitic policies, which include a ban on ritual slaughter (shehita) and circumcision (brit milah), two major laws central to Jewish law and life. 

A protest against anti-Semitism in Vienna – Reuters

Hernroth-Rothstein first gained attention after writing a letter to Mosaic magazine documenting her experiences this past spring. Continue Reading »

Ronny Naftaniel, pro-Israel activist honored by Dutch premier

In addition to his work for Israel & against anti-Semitism, Naftaniel also had a key role in restitution talks with the Dutch gov’t for Holocaust-era property.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Ronny Naftaniel, the former leader of Holland’s main pro-Israel lobby, was feted by the Dutch prime minister and hundreds of others.

Ronny Naftaniel (CIDI) pro-Israel blog

Ronny Naftaniel (CIDI) pro-Israel blog

“I grew up observing you,” Premier Mark Rutte told Naftaniel Monday at a speech at Naftaniel’s retirement party at the Hague’s Royal Theater. “Your optimism is unparalleled and as long as you maintain that courage, so shall we.”

Naftaniel led the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, for approximately 40 years.

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Conservative American synagogues wrestle with non-Jewish participation

‘Since a large percentage of our younger families include interfaith marriages, we want to keep our children as loyal & involved Conservative Jews, and we realize that in order to do so, we need to be welcoming to their partners, spouses & families’



NEW YORK (JTA) — To an outsider, the battles might seem to be over trifles — in some cases, just a few feet.

Where may a non-Jewish parent stand in the synagogue during his child’s bar mitzvah? Can a non-Jew open the holy ark? Should non-Jewish synagogue members have voting rights?

A non-Jewish woman is among those at a Torah reading at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington. Many Conservative synagogues are finding new ways for non-Jews to participate in synagogue life. (Adas Israel)

A non-Jewish woman is among those at a Torah reading at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington.

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