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Newsdesk March 18, 2005

Gay Parade Slammed

Evangelical Christians in America and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel are uniting to block an international gay pride parade in Jerusalem this summer.

The anti-gay coalition, which includes Israeli lawmakers, aims to collect 1 million signatures opposing the World Pride Parade in Jerusalem. The parade is part of a 10-day global interfaith gay conference scheduled to begin August 18.

Leo Giovinetti, a pastor from San Diego who is leading the Christian opposition, charged InterPride, the parade organizers, with deliberately trying to offend the religious sensibilities of hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Christians who oppose homosexuality.

He noted that the 2000 conference, which featured dozens of academic seminars and cultural events, was held in Rome in the shadow of the Vatican.

“Millions of people around the world pray for the peace of Jerusalem and are heartbroken by misguided attempts to divide, inflame and sow disunity,” Giovinetti said in a statement.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, co-chair of the conference, told The Forward on Wednesday that Jerusalem was chosen because it is the center of the religious traditions of conference participants.

“We want to demonstrate Jerusalem as a city of tolerance,” said Kleinbaum, spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the largest gay congregation in the world. “It’s outrageous for anyone to say that this group of gays and lesbians shouldn’t meet there.”

Noting the Bush administration’s efforts to outlaw gay marriage, Kleinbaum said she believes there is “an internationally spreading movement of fundamentalist right-wing religions insisting their perspective is the only right way.”

Previous gay pride parades in Jerusalem went off with relatively little protest. Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox mayor, Uri Lupolianski, opposes the parade but said he cannot legally stop it from taking place.

The conference is being co-sponsored by Yale University and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

U.S. To Settle Shoah Case

The American government agreed to pay $25.5 million to Hungarian Holocaust survivors whose property was looted by the American military.

The settlement was reached March 10, and includes $25 million to cover basic humanitarian services for the survivors, as well as $500,000 for creation of an archive of the Hungarian Jewish community and the Gold Train. None of the plaintiffs will receive individual restitution money. The settlement requires approval by a Florida federal judge, and objections still might be heard.

Joshua Venture Folds

After five years of helping to launch some of the country’s most innovative and successful programs aimed at young Jewish adults, the Joshua Venture organization is closing its doors at the end of this month.

In a February 18 memo e-mailed to many connected with the group, Joshua Venture executives wrote that although the project has “achieved real impact and the need for the program still exists… the current incarnation is not sustainable despite efforts by the board, founding funders and other funding partners to move it forward. Therefore the board has decided to close down operations.”

The program was launched five years ago as a national initiative based in San Francisco. It was ambitious and had prestigious backers, and aided a total of 14 new ventures designed to engage Jews between the ages of 21 and 35.

New York fellowship recipients included Heeb magazine, in the first funding cycle.

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