The Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes school, which has enrolled 600 students from early childhood to high school, received a fax on Sunday demanding $25,000 in ransom and threatening to detonate explosives already in place at the school if the demand was not met, WSVN News 7 reported late Sunday.
The message warned school officials not to call police, saying if they do so “I’ll know.” The letter also said that the would-be bomber had access to the school’s computers and email addresses, according to The Yeshiva World news website. The letter demanded that the money be sent to a certain address in the United States via Western Union by May 31.
Roads near the school campus were shut down and bomb-sniffing dogs searched the area. No bombs were found.
President Trump effusively praised his son-in-law Jared Kushner for the work he has done in the White House, amid FBI scrutiny of Kushner’s contacts with Russia and rumors of tension in their relationship.
“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” Trump said in a statement to the New York Times on Sunday evening about one of his closest advisors. “I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”
The Trump-Kushner relationship is “showing unmistakable signs of strain,” the Times reported in an article published on its front page Monday.
The relationship had already begun to suffer over Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, which Kushner pushed for, and over Kushner’s desire to see White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer fired, according to the newspaper.
The article noted that Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, is resented by some White House staff, who describe him as “Jared Island,” in reference to the special status.
(JTA) — The contested leader of Lithuania’s Jewish community apologized for the publication of an article on the community’s website accusing her opponents of being Russians claiming to be Jews.
The apology Friday by Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the LZB umbrella group of Lithuanian Jewish organizations, followed the publication Wednesday of an article on the LZB website about an election that day for the board of the Jewish community of Vilnius, the capital — LZB’s largest affiliate. Kukliansky declared the election void after a critic of her administration, Simonas Gurevicius, won the vote in Vilnius.
The LZB website referred to people who voted for Gurevicius as “mainly Russian speakers calling themselves Jews, with only a minority of people with Litvak blood.” The statement said the vote took place while “military exercises are currently underway rehearsing the scenario of Lithuania and Poland under attack” — a clear appeal to Lithuanian nationalism amid fear of Russian expansionism. The statement angered many Russian-speaking Lithuanian Jews. Some of them said it reinforced a recurrent claim popular among anti-Semites who claim Lithuanian Jews are Russian stooges.
Kukliansky on Friday said in a statement: “We apologize for the appearance on the community webpage of a hasty, unedited news item.”
JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel appeared to compare women who wear immodest clothing to animals in a public sermon.
Rabbi Yizhak Yosef also counseled religious soldiers on how to protest required attendance at Israel Defense Forces ceremonies that feature women singers in the Saturday night speech first reported Sunday by the Hebrew-language haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Shabbat.
“If secular people knew how much we respected women, and all that we do to preserve women’s dignity: A woman is not an animal, you have to respect her honor. Dressing modestly is that honor,” Yosef said, according to Kikar Shabbat.
Yosef said that when he attended a state ceremony that included women singers he took off his glasses so as not to see the women and then buried his nose in a small book he carried with him to show to those around him, including the prime minister and the president, that he was not listening.
“That’s what the soldiers should do. If the soldiers are somewhere that they are ordered to hear a woman’s voice — and what kind of strange order is that anyway?” he said “Take off their glasses, put a book in front of their eyes, and show conspicuously that we’re not listening, that our mind is on Torah.”
Religious men are not permitted to hear the singing voice of a woman. It is an issue that has dogged the IDF and its relationship with its religious soldiers, who have been required to attend ceremonies that feature women singers.
(JTA) — The University of Maryland hosted an alternative graduation to accommodate 22 observant Jewish students who could not receive their diplomas at the regular graduation, which took place on the Sabbath.
The full university commencement was held on Sunday, May 21, but 19 of the university’s 34 individual colleges held their ceremonies on Saturday, according to Chabad.org.
The campus’s Hillel and Chabad student centers requested that the administration hold an alternative ceremony on Sunday, to which the university agreed.
On Sunday afternoon in the atrium of the student union building, each student was called up by name and received his or her diploma from William Cohen, the associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies, who represented the university.
“This graduation ceremony is separate from and still a part of the University of Maryland graduation exercises,” Paul Hamburger, a senior partner in the international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP and a member of the Chabad on Campus international advisory board, said during his commencement speech. “It is a testament to how you can find a balance between your Jewish identity and your integration into the world at large.”
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