Newsdesk June 18, 2004

Rabbi Settles Case

The senior rabbi of the Temple of Aaron in St. Paul, Minn., settled a lawsuit alleging that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman he was counseling. However, he has retracted his decision to resign from the Conservative synagogue.

“Right now he’s reweighing his options, but is frankly overwhelmed by favorable responses from congregants,” said the rabbi’s attorney, Robert Weinstine, who is also a member of the synagogue. Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg reportedly announced his intentions to resign last week, immediately after reaching the settlement. Synagogue officials did not return a request for comment.

Ginsburg has admitted to engaging in what he claims was a wholly consensual relationship with Linda Cohen, though his attorney insists that the relationship did not occur during counseling. Married at the time, Ginsburg has since divorced his first wife; he remarried in January.

In January, Cohen filed a lawsuit against the rabbi, charging him with sexual exploitation, emotional distress and sexual battery. She claimed that Ginsburg knew she was emotionally vulnerable since she had revealed to him during counseling that she was recently divorced and had been emotionally and sexually abused in the past.

Because of confidentiality agreements, neither party would discuss details of the settlement.

‘Lubavitcher’ Ends Bee

Perhaps if he had known a little more Jewish history an eighth grader from Iowa would have fared better on his assigned word at the National Spelling Bee: “Lubavitcher.”

Jonathan Hahn, 14, made it to the seventh round in the contest last week before tripping up on the “t” in Lubavitcher, a member of a chasidic sect founded in the late 18th century. “I never studied Yiddish,” Hahn told the Des Moines Register.

According to the contest’s Web site, in prior rounds Hahn correctly spelled “gnomic,” “rapacious,” “nugacious,” “synecdochism” and “almagest.”

JDL Member Faces Trial

A Jewish Defense League extremist will stand trial for an alleged bomb plot because of his breach of plea agreement terms, a U.S. judge ruled Monday.

Earl Krugel, whose trial is set to begin in November, is accused of plotting to bomb a Los Angles-area mosque and the office of California Congressman Darrell Issa, who is of Lebanese descent. In the 2003 plea bargain, Krugel, 61, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the rights of mosque worshippers and one count of carrying an explosive device. Krugel still can be held to the plea bargain along with additional charges, and could serve more than 40 years in prison.

Kugel’s co-defendant in the case, former JDL leader Irv Rubin, committed suicide in jail. The two were arrested in 2001.

Syria to Drop ‘Three No’s’

Syria reportedly plans to abandon its anti-Israel policy known as the “three no’s,” and would be willing to recognize the Jewish state if it relinquishes land captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Until now, Syria has clung to the “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel” resolutions reached by Arab heads of state following the Six-Day War. The Persian Gulf newspaper Al-Watan on Tuesday cited sources in Syria’s ruling Ba’ath Party saying that Damascus was drawing up a new policy whereby it could recognize a Jewish state.

Aliya Plan Irks French

French Jewish officials criticized a Jewish Agency for Israel plan to convince thousands of French Jews to make aliya. The plan aims to bring approximately 30,000 Jews to Israel and will send representatives into French Jewish communities, Israel daily Ma’ariv reported. It follows a Jewish survey that found some 6% of French Jews are considering immigrating to Israel in the wake of increased antisemitism in France.

Haim Musicant, executive director of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jews, was upset that local Jewish leaders had not been consulted regarding the new plan. “They are leading people to believe there’s a catastrophic situation, which is not the case,” he said. “It’s not normal that Israel decides for us without consulting us.”

Pork Ban Lifted

Three Israeli cities were ordered to lift bans on pork sales by the High Court of Justice on Monday. The court suspended current restrictions in Tiberias, Carmiel and Beit Shemesh, and said that local governments should enact sale codes in compliance with new guidelines, including one that takes into consideration whether neighborhoods are secular enough that only a negligible proportion of residents would be sensitive to such sales.

The struggle over the sale of pork has been an incendiary legal issue in Israel, especially in the aforementioned three cities, which often see friction between the Orthodox and immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

In reaction to the ruling, the ultra-Orthodox Shas chairman Eli Yishai submitted a bill in the Knesset that would prohibit the sale of any pig products nationwide. “The High Court has driven a big nail into the coffin of the country’s Jewish character,” Yishai told Israel Radio.

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Newsdesk June 18, 2004

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