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Weekly roundup of world briefs


April 12, 2019

Maxwell House is offering a ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Haggadah

By JTA staff

(JTA)—Real life tradition and television nostalgia collide in a collaboration between the venerable Maxwell House Haggadah and the hit Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

The coffee company is offering a limited edition version of its Haggadah featuring illustrations and other shtick based on the show about an aspiring Jewish comedian and her extended family of Jewish relatives in late 1950s New York.

The “Maisel” Haggadah is a throwback to an earlier edition of the Haggadah that the company has been offering as a holiday giveaway since 1932. Illustrations of Midge Maisel and other characters are scattered throughout the new version, which also has handwritten notations by Rachel Brosnahan’s character as well as faux wine stains.

The limited-run Haggadahs are available to those who order Maxwell House coffee via Amazon.com. Passover begins on the evening of April 19.

“There is an organic link between the Maxwell House and ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ brands and we quickly aligned on the idea of creating Midge’s Haggadah—a combination of the 1958 classic version and Midge’s amazing personality,” Naor Danieli, brand manager for Maxwell House, said in a statement. 

2,600-year-old seal bearing name of First Temple-era official discovered in Jeruslam

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A 2,600-year-old seal bearing the name of an official in the court of a First Temple period king of Judah was discovered in the City of David in Jerusalem.

The seal reads “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.”

It was discovered during an archeological dig inside a large public building that was destroyed in the sixth century BCE—likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards also were discovered in the building, all indications that they had survived an immense fire.

The dig was conducted by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University.

The stamp and its seal impression that were discovered in the dig are each about one centimeter in size.

The name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Bible, in the second book of Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who took part in the religious reform that the king was implementing.

“Since many of the well-known bullae and stamps have not come from organized archaeological excavations but rather from the antiquities market, the discovery of these two artifacts in a clear archaeological context that can be dated is very exciting,” Prof. Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement. 

Visitor to Auschwitz-Birkenau site caught trying to steal piece of iconic rail tracks

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—A visitor to the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp was caught trying to steal a piece of the camp’s iconic rail tracks.

The American visitor, 37, who was apprehended by police in Oswiecim in southern Poland, was charged with attempted theft of an item of cultural importance, the Associated Press reported. The incident was first reported by police and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum officials on Sunday.

The man admitted his guilt and was released until further legal action is taken. He could face up to ten years in prison.

He had attempted to remove a metal piece from the tracks where people were unloaded from train cars at the entrance to the death camp.

Netanyahu to meet Putin in Moscow 5 days before election

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow five days before Israel’s national elections.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced Tuesday that a meeting between the two leaders will take place on Thursday. The announcement comes a day after an announcement that Netanyahu and Putin spoke by phone and discussed “regional issues.”

Netanyahu later told reporters that the talks were about Syria, whose president, Bashar Assad has been backed by Russia in the country’s ongoing civil war. Assad also has allowed Hezbollah and Iran to gain a foothold in Syria, from where it could attack Israel.

The two leaders last met in Moscow in February. They have met 12 times since September 2015, Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu has promoted his diplomatic prowess and personal ties with world leaders during the current election campaign.

Players and coaches from LA youth hockey team suspended for cursing Jews and Hitler salute

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—Three coaches and 15 players from a youth hockey team in Los Angeles have been suspended over a video posted on social media showing a player making a Nazi salute as other players make anti-Semitic remarks.

The Los Angeles Jr. Kings announced the suspensions of coaches and players from the 14U Bantam AAA team on Friday.

The 9-second video was posted March 9 on social media, The Athletic NHL website reported. In the video, players can be heard saying “Are you a Nazi?” “f**k the Jews” and f***ing Jews.”

Steve Yovetich, president of Los Angeles Jr. Kings Hockey, said in a statement: “We are a club that prides itself on being a community; one that fosters values such as friendship, respect and teamwork, and upholds ideals like diversity, equality and tolerance.

It added: “The events on March 9 are regretful to many, especially the players and parents. We will work together to educate and grow, and in this regard lead with action.”

Yovetich said the players will be required to participate in “a mandatory educational program comprised of sensitivity and social media training administered by outside professionals experienced in impactful positive youth education.”

San Diego Jewish Academy breaks world record for sandwich-making

By Marcy Oster

(JTA)—The San Diego Jewish Academy broke a record and did a mitzvah.

The school set a Guinness World Record for the most sandwiches made in under three minutes. The sandwiches went to feed homeless people in its Southern California city.

Students, faculty and parents made 868 sandwiches in those 180 seconds, a giant leap from the previous record of 490 and well above the goal of 600. And these weren’t just two pieces of bread with a slice of cheese slapped inside—the sandwiches also included a slice of tomato and a lettuce leaf.

The results of Monday’s record-breaking attempt by more than 550 sandwich makers must still be certified by Guinness, which could take up to 12 weeks. But the school is still a winner—the food went to residents of a temporary shelter in San Diego and to others living on the street, according to the Alpha Project, a city organization dedicated to helping the homeless.

Representatives from the Alpha Project attended the event and provided education for the participants on the challenges of homelessness in their community.

The sandwich-making project was part of the school’s programming on tikkun olam, or repair of the world.

Bernie Sanders raises $18 million in first quarter for presidential bid

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA)—The popularity of Bernie Sanders appears to be holding up as he makes a second run for the presidency.

The Vermont senator raised $18 million from 525,000 donors in the first 41 days of his campaign, even better than the numbers from his previous bid.

His campaign announced the take on Tuesday. It said 99.5 percent of the donations were $100 or less—Sanders takes pride in running campaigns mostly based on small donors.

The strength of the numbers should put to rest the idea in some quarters about Sanders’ resiliency from his 2016 effort, when he mounted the only serious challenge to Hillary Clinton, who eventually won the Democratic nomination but lost the presidency to Donald Trump.

Sanders had raised $15 million in the first quarter of his 2016 run, when he became first Jewish candidate to win major-party nominating contests.

He is only the third of the 16 or so candidates running for the 2020 Democratic nomination to announce his first-quarter funding numbers.

The others to announce: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., took in $12 million, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, brought in $7 million.

Iran to ‘resist’ US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights

(JNS)— Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on Friday that his country  will “resist” the United States officially recognizing this week Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The Iranian president said U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration this week is “trampling on international regulations about the Golan.”

Rouhani said Iranians “should resist, and that way gain victory” over America and Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stood by Trump’s side at the White House on Monday, called the decision a “historic justice” and a “diplomatic victory.”

“Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense,” he added, referring to the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel’s control of the Golan Heights since then.

Walmart CEO in Israel to meet with Israeli startups

(JNS)—Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is in Israel this week along with a group of senior executives, reported the Israeli financial news site Calcalist, citing several sources familiar with the matter, who said the delegation met with Israeli officials and startups.

The multinational retail chain recently acquired Israeli startup Aspectiva Ltd., a Tel Aviv-based product-review insight firm. In recent months, Walmart announced investments in other Israeli startups.

In October, the retailer said it would invest reportedly $300 million in “interactive multimedia video creation and distribution firm Eko” to create “an original interactive content venture,” reported Calcalist.

That same month, the U.S. company became an investor in Team8 LLC, a think-tank and company creation platform.

Finally, Walmart might invest in the Israeli food-processing company the Strauss Group Ltd., according to the Israeli financial news site and print outlet Globes.

Anti-Semitism Awareness Act reintroduced by Senate reps

(JNS)—Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) reintroduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act this week, which would require the Department of Education to adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating incidents on college campuses and at other educational institutions.

“Anti-Semitism, and harassment on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a religious group, remains a persistent, disturbing problem in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses,” the bill states. “Students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including Jewish, Arab Muslim, and Sikh students, are being threatened, harassed, or intimidated in their schools (including on their campuses) on the basis of their shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics including through harassing conduct that creates a hostile environment so severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit some students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by schools.”

Towards the end of last year, Scott sought to insert the measure as a rider into must-pass spending legislation. A 35-day government shutdown ensued, due to U.S. President Donald Trump not getting $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill passed the Senate in 2016, but the House of Representatives did not take a vote due to time constraints.

“It is crucial to have clear and concise language defining anti-Semitism in the event that violence and hatred occurs. The unfortunate rise in these incidents across the country must be met with swift and unwavering condemnation,” said Scott in a statement. “We must stand together against racism and bigotry by ensuring that justice is served against those who seek to divide us.”

“The rise in incidents of religious discrimination and religiously motivated hate crimes around the world is completely unacceptable,” continued Casey. “We have to not only condemn it, but work to stop it. This legislation is aimed at a particularly troubling manifestation of the growing problem of discrimination against those of Jewish faith or Jewish ancestry.”

Israeli government to fund MDA emergency medical services in Judea, Samaria

(JNS)—Israel’s government has announced that it will release funds allocated for Magen David Adom to provide enhanced emergency medical services in Judea and Samaria.

“Years ago, because of heightened concerns about security and the distances between communities in Yesha, the Israeli government asked MDA to provide enhanced services in Judea and Samaria to allocate resources greater than what would normally be provided for an area with 400,000 Israelis,” explained Ronen Bashari, MDA’s head of operations.

“Despite that we were providing services there each year at a cost to us of 13.6 million shekels [about $3.8 million], our reimbursements from the government have dwindled to 7.5 million shekels [about $2.5 million] a year,” said Bashari.

“Our services there will [now] be fully funded for 2019, easing the financial pressure Magen David Adom has been under while we’ve continued to fully provide EMS services,” he said.

As a stop-gap measure, MDA had proposed reallocating resources in Judea and Samaria to save money, while still providing the same level of service. But the proposal would have put an additional workload on MDA’s volunteer EMTs and called for dispatching more ambulances from their homes to reduce the hours of operation, as well as the costs associated with that, of MDA’s 17 emergency medical stations there.

“We are committed to the health and safety of Israelis in Judea and Samaria,” said Bashari, “just as we are committed to the health of all of Israel’s citizens. So we are delighted with this decision.”

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour makes a big Israel geography mistake

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—CNN’s Christiane Amanpour identified Haifa, a city in northern Israel, as being located in the contested West Bank.

The network’s chief international anchor made the gaffe on Wednesday during her global affairs interview program on CNN while introducing Palestinian human rights lawyer Diana Buttu. Buttu was to respond to an interview with Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, who discussed the Trump administration’s as yet unveiled Middle East peace plan.

“Diana Buttu is a human rights lawyer and she joins me from Haifa, on the West Bank,” Amanpour said.

In a segment of the interview posted on the CNN website, the introduction is left off.

The clip of the introduction was tweeted by Hillel Neuer, executive director of the NGO UN Watch. He said in his tweet that “Haifa is not ‘on the West Bank.’ It’s in Israel. Where Jews & Arabs live together in harmony.”

Haifa, located in northern Israel, is the third largest city in Israel and has a mixed Jewish and Arab population.

Brazil’s president says Nazis were leftists following his visit to Yad Vashem

By Josefin Dolsten

(JTA)—President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil said that Nazism was a leftist movement following his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The far-right leader was asked on Tuesday during his visit to Israel if he agreed with a recent claim by his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, that Nazis were leftists.

“There is no doubt, right?” Bolsonaro replied, according to Reuters. He went on to say that the Nazi party’s offical name, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, contains the word “socialist.”

Yad Vashem’s website follows the wide historical consensus that Nazism was the product of “the growth of radical right-wing groups in Germany.”

Bolsonaro was visiting Israel just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is up for re-election. Prior to the trip, the Brazilian leader walked back his promise to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, saying that his government may instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has appeared eager to embrace the new leader of Latin America’s largest economy, despite criticism by Bolsonaro’s opponents at home that the president is hostile to black, indigenous and LGBTQ people, as well as protections for the environment and human rights.


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