Newsdesk March 3, 2006

Uzbek Death Protested

Jewish officials in the former Soviet Union appealed to Uzbek authorities to investigate the death of the Central Asian country’s Jewish leader. Rabbi Avraham Yagudayev, 33, died Saturday of injuries he received two days earlier in what the authorities have described as a road accident. Yagudayev was found unconscious and severely injured on a road near his synagogue, but local Jewish leaders say that the circumstances of the tragedy remain unknown. Yagudayev was a leader of the Bukharian Jewish community of Uzbekistan and chairman of the synagogue in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. The Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union called on the authorities to determine whether Yagudayev was the victim of an antisemitic attack.

Chabad Man Shot

A 43-year-old Chabad-Lubavitch man, Ephraim Klein, was gunned down early Tuesday while moving his van in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. Police are still investigating the incident, but they said there is no indication that it was a hate crime.

Wiesenthal Criticized

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is being asked by B’nai B’rith International to move its controversial Museum of Tolerance, located in Jerusalem. Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Wiesenthal Center to halt for 30 days construction on its new museum, which is being built on top of what was historically a Muslim cemetery. Prior to the court decision, the Wiesenthal Center was criticized by Muslim groups and Israeli politicians for continuing building on the site even after Muslim graves were uncovered.

B’nai B’rith president Joel Kaplan wrote a letter to the dean of the Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier, asking him to take advantage of the halt in building to find a new site for the museum.

Donors To Press Aipac

Top donors to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee will have an opportunity to quiz its leadership and lawyers about the classified-information case against two former staffers. Several donors have asked Aipac to explain its decision in recent months to limit funding for the defense of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who are facing trial in April for allegedly receiving and distributing classified information about Iran to an Israeli diplomat, a journalist and to fellow Aipac staffers. The defendants rejected Aipac’s most recent offer, saying that it barely covers 2005 expenses and fails to take the cost of the trial into account.

Shul Suspends Rabbi

Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, who was expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America last year after an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, has been suspended by his congregation in Monsey, N.Y.

According to a letter sent to congregants by the leadership of Kehillat New Hempstead, the synagogue’s board of directors spent the past several months attempting to tackle issues that had been plaguing the synagogue since Tendler’s removal from the RCA.

Tendler has denied the sexual harassment allegations repeatedly.

The letter from the synagogue leadership explains that the board initially had requested that Tendler take a leave of absence but he refused, forcing the synagogue to take more dramatic action. “The rabbi has failed to acknowledge or resolve the breadth of these issues,” the letter stated. It added, “The board has voted to suspend the rabbi from his rabbinical duties, compensation and responsibilities.”

In response, Tendler has summoned the synagogue board members and trustees to a rabbinical court conducted by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, a small ultra-Orthodox organization.

Corrie Play Postponed

A play in New York about a pro-Palestinian demonstrator killed by an Israeli bulldozer has been delayed. The play was a hit last year at the London’s Royal Court Theatre.

James Nicola, artistic director of New York Theatre Workshop, said he decided to delay the March 22 opening of “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” because of the local Jewish community’s concerns.

Corrie was accidentally run over and killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer as it tried to uncover arms tunnels in Gaza.

London Mayor Appeals

London’s mayor said he would appeal a suspension he received for comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi. Ken Livingstone appealed the month-long suspension, which had been scheduled to begin Wednesday. It has been postponed pending the appeal.

The Adjudication Panel for England, which hears complaints against local officials, found Livingstone guilty last week. The three-person panel’s ruling comes after Livingstone asked a critical Jewish reporter from the London Evening Standard if he was a “German war criminal.” The mayor also accused the reporter of acting “like a concentration camp guard.” Livingstone has long courted controversy by censuring Israel and befriending an openly anti-Zionist imam.

Forward Skips Conference

Two days before a student-organized Yiddish Studies Conference began at New York University, the Forward Association withdrew its sponsorship of the event, declaring that it would not cross the picket line of the striking graduate assistants’ union.

In an e-mail to Lawrence Schiffman, chairman of the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Forward publisher Samuel Norich wrote: “It is our practice at the Forward Association to honor the legitimate strike actions of union workers, and I will not cross the picket line of the union of graduate assistants, GSOC/UAW Local 2110.” The two-day conference proceeded as scheduled.

Norich said that he had been told about the conference in January. “I should have recalled at that point that there was a strike at NYU,” he said. “I didn’t, and it wasn’t brought to my attention.” A board member of the Forward Association raised the matter February 23. Norich sent his e-mail the next day.

The conference began Sunday, February 26. All graduate students and professors participated in the conference as scheduled. Employees of the Yiddish Forward attended the conference, but not in their capacities as Forward employees.

— FORWARD STAFF, JTA

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Newsdesk March 3, 2006

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