Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA
Whooping cough warning issued in Brooklyn’s Orthodox communities
NEW YORK (JTA)—The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has issued a warning about an increase in cases of pertussis, or the “whooping cough,” in the Orthodox communities of Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn.
The city’s department of health issued a statement on Friday, May 22 about 21 confirmed cases of pertussis – 18 children and three adults – in those communities between October 2014 and April 2015. Of the 10 afflicted children who were under 10 months old, none had parents who received the recommended “Tdap” vaccine during pregnancy to help prevent the whooping cough.
“None of the mothers of the infants with pertussis had documentation of having received the recommended tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination during their most recent pregnancy,” the release stated.
The CDC reported a total of 870 cases of whooping cough in New York and 28,660 nationwide in 2014.
New York City last saw an uptick in whooping cough cases in 2011.
Israeli embassy slams ‘outrageous’ Dutch textbook
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA)—Israel’s embassy in Holland condemned the appearance of anti-Israel statements in a textbook on history for high school students.
The embassy’s statement on Tuesday about the book “Geschiedeniswerkplaats,” or “History Workplace,” by the Noordhoff Uitgevers followed complaints by members of the country’s Jewish community.
About the establishment of the State of Israel, the book states that David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, declared statehood after “Jewish militias carried out murders in Arab villages, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled and settled in refugee camp across the border.”
The book fails to mention Arab atrocities against pre-state Israel’s Jewish population or the invasion of several Arab armies into Israeli territory after its declaration of independence with the stated intention of destroying it.
“We are acting on the subject in several areas,” the embassy said. “We are looking into the outrageous statements to identify any factual inaccuracies and the possibility of incitement.”
“History Workplace” is on the Dutch education ministry’s list of textbooks for some of the country’s high schools, namely the ones offering the preparatory middle-level vocational education track.
The book also states that former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin is now known as a peacemaker, “which is noteworthy considering that much of his life he was known as a terrorist and extremist.”
The book also shows a picture of a Palestinian boy hurling a stone at an Israeli tank. “Small opposition against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 2000,” the caption reads.
“Nine days after this picture was taken, this 13-year-old was shot dead while participating in a similar action.”
Neither Noordhoff Uitgevers nor the Dutch education ministry were immediately available to comment on the book.
Poland’s ombudsman calls to make kosher slaughter illegal for export
WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Poland’s ombudsman has reiterated her request to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal to make kosher slaughter legal only for local consumption.
Irena Lipowicz filed her request last year with the tribunal, asking it to make kosher slaughter legal only for the use of the Jewish community in Poland.
“The ban on exports of meat from ritual slaughter will not be burdensome for us,” Leslaw Piszewski, chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, told JTA on Tuesday. Only it may be difficult to accept for the meat producers. We are in solidarity with exporters of meat from ritual slaughter for a simple reason—in the case of an export ban they will suffer heavy losses.”
Ritual slaughter without stunning was banned in Poland starting Jan. 1, 2013, after the country’s constitutional court scrapped a government regulation that exempted Jews and Muslims from a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter. Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechita, as well as Muslim ritual slaughter, requires that animals be conscious before their necks are cut.
In December, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and legalized kosher slaughter for both the local Jewish community and also for export. In July 2013, a draft bill aimed at legalizing ritual slaughter failed to pass in the parliament.
The Constitutional Tribunal did not give a date for a hearing on Lipowicz’ request.
Judge orders opening of 1950 testimony that implicated Ethel Rosenberg
(JTA)—A federal judge has ordered the opening of grand jury testimony in the 1950 case of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein of New York last week ordered the unsealing of the testimony of Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, who implicated his sister as a spy.
Greenglass recanted his testimony seven years after he gave it, saying that he gave false testimony after prosecutors threatened him by saying they would go after his wife, who may have assisted Julius Rosenberg.
The judge said the testimony now could be unsealed because Greenglass died last year at the age of 92, though he fought to the end of his life to keep it permanently sealed, according to the Associated Press.
“The requested records are critical pieces of an important moment in our nation’s history,” Hellerstein wrote May 19. “The time for the public to guess what they contain should end.”
The Rosenbergs, who were Jewish, were convicted of espionage for passing atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets, and were executed in 1953. Declassified Soviet cables show that Julius Rosenberg worked for Moscow, but that his wife’s involvement was never proven, the judge confirmed.
The government could appeal the ruling, however.
Bernie Sanders to make 2016 presidential bid official
(JTA)— Jewish senator Bernie Sanders is set to announce officially his presidential campaign.
Sanders, 73, who was born in Brooklyn to Polish immigrant parents, will officially launch his 2016 campaign at an event starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Burlington, Vermont. The self-described democratic socialist is an Independent but will run for president as a Democrat.
Sanders, who was the mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989, is currently the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and previously was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
He will be a long shot to capture the party’s nomination, as Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and U.S. senator, still leads the other potential Democratic candidates by over 50 percentage points.
Inquest: British student did not commit suicide at ‘03 right-wing confab in Germany
(JTA)—A British Jewish student who died in Germany 12 years ago after attending the conference of a far-right group did not commit suicide, a British coroner ruled.
A three-day inquest into the 2003 death of Jeremiah Duggan, 22, ended on Friday. Britain’s High Court in 2010 ordered the investigation to look at possible foul play in the death of the Sorbonne student.
Duggan died after attending an anti-war meeting of the LaRouche Schiller Institute in Wiesbaden. Duggan reportedly was terrorized by followers of the rightist institute after he objected to statements blaming the Iraq war on Jews and identified himself as Jewish. He was also accused of being a spy to harm the organization.
Duggan fled into busy traffic and reportedly was hit several times by oncoming vehicles.
German police called the death “a suicide by means of a traffic accident.”
The coroner, Andrew Walker, found that though Duggan died of fatal injuries received in a car collision, he also suffered a “number of unexplained injuries” suggesting there might have been an “altercation at some stage before his death,” the BBC reported.
“The fact that he attended a conference run by this far-right wing organization... together with Mr. Duggan expressing that he was a Jew, British and questioning the material put before him, may have had a bearing on Mr. Duggan’s death in the sense that it may have put him at risk from members of the organization and caused him to become distressed and seek to leave,” Walker said, according to The Guardian.
The coroner rejected a theory that Duggan’s death was a “set-up” and that his actual death was not caused by the collision of two cars.
But he asserted that the death was not a suicide.
Following Friday’s verdict, Duggan’s family called on German authorities to open a new investigation, including examining the role played by the LaRouche organization, and to overturn the 12-year-old suicide ruling.
Interfaith service held at pork-desecrated Holocaust memorial
(JTA)—An interfaith service was held at a cemetery in the Boston area after a Holocaust memorial was desecrated with pieces of raw pork.
Hundreds attended the service held on Friday at the Pride of Lynn Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts, located about 12 miles from Boston, the Boston Globe reported.
Earlier in the week, five chunks of raw pork were found on the stone base of the monument, which was dedicated in 1948 in memory of those killed in the Holocaust.
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by Lynn police, according to the Globe.
“We stand united against all forms of evil,” said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore, who organized the ceremony, billed as a reconsecrating of the memorial.
“We gather here, Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths.”
Both rabbis and Christian clergy offered prayers at the ceremony, where six candles were lit to represent the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.
To get out of jail, Florida woman signs consent for son’s circumcision
(JTA)—A Florida woman arrested for fleeing with her 4-year-old son to keep him from being circumcised signed a consent form for the procedure in order to get out of prison.
Heather Hironimus, 31, was released from a Florida jail on Saturday morning. She signed the papers after first refusing during a hearing on Friday. She spent nine nights in jail.
Hironimus, of Boynton Beach was arrested on May 14 after going into hiding in a Broward County domestic violence shelter with her son Chase three months earlier rather than give her consent and turn the boy over for the surgery. An arrest warrant for Hironimus was issued in March after Hironimus failed to show up to hand the boy over to his father as required in the couple’s custody-sharing agreement.
Hironimus and the boy’s father, Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton, had agreed to the circumcision three years ago as part of their separation deal. Hironimus backed out of the surgery and Nebus took her to court. In May, an appeals court in Florida upheld lower court rulings in favor of Nebus and the circumcision. The parents, neither of whom is Jewish, were never married.
Hironimus could still be criminally charged with interference with child custody.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen on Friday gave Nebus temporary sole authority for Chase’s medical decisions and allowed him to travel out of state for the circumcision, which had not yet been scheduled, according to the Associated Press.
Activists, including Hironimus’ mother, said they would reach out to doctors throughout the country to prevent the procedure from taking place, the AP reported.
Nebus has called circumcision “just the normal thing to do.”
Northern Portugese city opens first museum on region’s Jews
(JTA)—The Jewish community of Porto opened a museum in the northern Portuguese city on the one-year anniversary of the murder of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
In the opening of the Jewish Museum of Porto on May 24, the community welcomed the public to a three-room display that attempts to tell the story of 900 years of Jewish presence in the region, Michael Rothwell, the community’s spokesperson, told JTA Tuesday. The museum was inaugurated last month but had remained closed to the public.
Among the items on display at the museum, which is housed on the first floor of the Kadoorie Synagogue, is a replica of an inscription on the foundation stone of a synagogue that opened in 1380 in Porto and a list of 842 people tortured by the Portuguese Inquisition, the systematic persecution of Jews led by the churches and royal houses of Portugal and Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The list, compiled recently after the opening of the national archives, is being displayed at a museum for the first time, Rothwell said. However, according to persistent rumors, the list was once etched on one of the walls of a local synagogue, though no one knows whether this is true and if so where the list can be found today.
One of the museum’s three rooms is made to resemble a Sephardic yeshiva, or religious seminary.
The museum is an expansion of the synagogue’s pre-existing display on the history of the modern Jewish community of Porto, Rothwell said, “but we sought to extend it into a museum that tells the whole story.”
The community used research performed ahead of the publication last year of two books on Porto’s Jewish history.
Among the subjects on display is the story of Artur Barros Basto, an army captain who in the beginning of the previous century started an outreach program for the descendants of conversos, or Jews who had been converted under duress. Basto paid for his actions with his career and his reputation.
Visits to the museum need to be coordinated in advance and cost approximately $6 per person, Rothwell said. Visitors will also receive a tour of the synagogue housing the museum.
Polish Jews ready for dialogue with newly elected president, leaders say
WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Leaders of Poland’s Jewish community said Polish Jews are ready to cooperate with the country’s new president.
Andrzej Duda won Sunday’s presidential elections in Poland. Duda, whose father-in-law Julian Kornhauser is a well-known Polish-Jewish poet, garnered 51 percent of the vote, according to official results certified on Sunday night. His opponent, former president
Bronislaw Komorowski, received 48 percent of the vote.
Duda, a conservative politician, criticized the Komorowski’s apologies in recent years for the massacre that Polish farmers perpetrated against their Jewish neighbors in Jedwabne. The 1941 Jedwabne pogrom, in which dozens of Jews were burned alive by villagers who trapped them inside a barn, was exposed in the early 2000s by the historian Jan Gross.
Duda said of Jedwabne during the presidential debate that: “The nation of victims was also the nation of perpetrators.” According to Duda, the whole Polish nation cannot be blamed for war crimes, as Komorowski’s apologies seem to indicate.
Duda called Komorowski’s apologies an “attempt to destroy Poland’s good name.”
Polish Newsweek during the presidential campaign reported that Duda’s Jewish father- in-law wrote a poem damning the Kielce pogrom in 1946, in which 42 Jews were killed. Pawel Spiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute, accused the magazine’s editor in chief of anti-Semitism.
Duda is a member of the conservative right-wing Law and Justice Party. On Monday he announced that he will resign from membership in the party in order to serve as an independent president.
Duda had clinched 34.8 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election earlier this month, beating Komorowski by 1 percent
“I hope that the new president will go the way of one of his predecessors, Lech Kaczynski, with whom I had a chance to cooperate on many occasions and whom I considered a friend of Polish Jews,” Piotr Kadlcik, Jewish activist and board member of the Warsaw Jewish Community, told JTA.
Leslaw Piszewski, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, called for dialogue.
“I hope that after taking the presidential office, there will be time for reflection and thoughtful dialogue with the Jewish community, which is an integral part of the Polish state,” Piszewski said. “The issues important to us, such as a common historical memory, restitution, and the protection of monuments of Jewish culture, will be perceived, discussed and supported by the president, as should be done in any democratic state.”
Israir plane impounded in Lisbon over alleged debt
(JTA)—Aviation authorities at Lisbon’s airport impounded one of Israir’s six airplanes over a debt allegedly owed by the Israeli company to a Portuguese one.
Israir’s Airbus A320 was confiscated at Lisbon Portela Airport on Monday morning, according to the Portuguese news website presstur.com, which first reported the story on the plane’s confiscation at the request of the Portuguese airline euroAtlantic.
The plane was supposed to take off that day with a group of tourists who traveled with Israir to Portugal last week, the report said.
EuroAtlantic’s president, Tomaz Metello, told the Lusa news agency that Israir has a debt of several million euros dating back to seven years ago and that Portugal’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of euroAtlantic’s lawsuit against Israir in December. The motion to have the plane impounded followed Israir’s failure to pay the debt, he added.
But Uri Sirkis, Israir’s CEO, told Ynet his firm has appealed the verdict and that the legal procedure was still ongoing.
“We were very surprised by euroAtlantic’s decision to make such a violent and extreme move,” he said in an interview with the Ynet Hebrew news website. “In the aviation industry, the passenger comes first and euroAtlantic’s decision to cross that line is unfortunate.”
Israir provided food and accommodation to the dozens of passengers stranded in Lisbon. Meanwhile, the airline had to cancel one of its domestic flights in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Eilat, because of the temporary loss of one of its airplanes.
Anne Meara, wife of Jerry Stiller and mother of Ben, dies
(JTA)—Anne Meara, the wife and comedy partner of Jerry Stiller and the mother of actor and director Ben Stiller, has died.
Meara died Saturday in Manhattan at the age of 85.
Meara and Stiller were married for 61 years. Born and raised as Roman Catholic, Meara converted to Judaism in 1962, according to the New York Times.
The couple’s relationship was the basis for their best-known comedy routine about Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle, a short Jewish man and a tall Catholic woman who had nothing in common but loved each other deeply. The couple appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 36 times.
In addition to her longtime comedy pairing with Jerry Stiller, Meara maintained her career as an actress, receiving an Obie Award, Golden Globe, four Emmy Award nominations and a Tony Award nomination.
She appeared on several television series, including “Rhoda,” “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “Sex and the City” and “Oz.” She also appeared on the soap opera “All My Children.”
She had a memorable role as teacher Mrs. Sherwood in the 1980 movie “Fame,” and also shared the screen with her son Ben in “The Night at the Museum.”
“Anne’s memory lives on in the hearts of daughter Amy, son Ben, her grandchildren, her extended family and friends, and the millions she entertained as an actress, writer and comedienne,” a statement from the family said.
Holocaust drama ‘Son of Saul’ named runner up at Cannes
(JTA)—The Holocaust drama “Son of Saul” received the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film, which centers on the Jewish prisoners who were forced to help the Nazis run the concentration camps, took the second-place Grand Prix award behind French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan,” a drama about a group of Sri Lankan refugees in Paris. The awards were presented on Sunday.
Sony Pictures Classics purchased the U.S. distribution rights for “Son of Saul” during the festival. No official release date has been announced.
It is the first film for Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes, who said in accepting the prize: “This continent is still haunted by this subject.”
Other films of Jewish interest at Cannes included Natalie Portman’s adaptation of Israeli novelist Amos Oz’s memoir “A Tale of Love and Darkness;” Woody Allen’s latest production, “Irrational Man,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone; “Amy,” the documentary about the late Jewish singer Amy Winehouse, which has impressed critics but angered her family; and the Israeli entry “Afterthought.”
Jewish filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen served as presidents of the festival’s prize jury.