Newsdesk October 7, 2005

Navy Chapel Criticized

Conservative Catholic activist William Donohue is accusing the Anti-Defamation League and other church-state separation advocacy groups of hypocrisy for not opposing the construction of a large, federally funded synagogue at Maryland’s U.S. Naval Academy.

The Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel was inaugurated earlier this month at the Annapolis Naval Academy. It was built at a cost of $8 million, most of which came from private contributions. About $1.8 million of the funds came from the federal government, according to official Navy data.

Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said: “Now a U.S. military building on the grounds of the Naval Academy can display a huge Star of David on its exterior without a peep from any of the church-and-state watchdog groups. In other words, prayer rugs can be purchased with federal funds to accommodate suspected Muslim terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, and Jewish chapels can be built with federal monies, but Christian kids can’t sing ‘Silent Night’ in the classroom.”

The ADL declined to comment on Donohue’s charges.

Textbook Nixed Over Bias

In a surprise move, an advisory body to California’s board of education rejected a sixth-grade history program that Hindu and Jewish groups blasted as biased, erroneous and culturally derogatory. During a two-day hearing last week before the state’s curriculum development and supplemental materials commission, Jewish critics lambasted the Oxford University Press textbook and related materials for subjecting early Jewish history to a more rigid standard of proof than that for Christian or Muslim history; for including stories that have traditionally fomented antisemitism; and for misstating key concepts of Judaism, presenting it as a religion of reward and punishment rather than one of social justice and morality.

Following the public criticism, 14 commissioners voted last Friday against adopting the Oxford materials; one commissioner abstained. The commissioners’ rejection came as a surprise, because a special review committee had recommended its adoption to the commission.

After the hearing, Oxford University Press representatives said they had “misunderstood” the public comment procedure. They also said that they are eager to work with Jewish and Hindu groups to make needed changes before November, when they plan to resubmit their program to the California State Board.

Woman Leads Sydney Shul

The oldest synagogue in Sydney, Australia, appointed a woman as president for the first time in its 128-year history. Rosalind Fischl was elected unopposed, receiving a standing ovation and sustained applause following the announcement of her election to the post at the Great Synagogue. Fischl will not address the congregation during services and will not be involved in issues of Jewish law. The Great Synagogue is considered to be a strongly Orthodox congregation. Founded in 1878, it boasts a progressive policy in advancing the role of women within its community.

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Newsdesk October 7, 2005

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