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Newsdesk July 2, 2004

Survivors’ Funds Released

Before the end of August, $174 million will be released to Holocaust survivors by a German foundation set up to compensate slave laborers from the Holocaust era. A similar amount also will be released to non-Jewish survivors.

The money comes from interest earned on the $5.5 billion original compensation settlement with German government and industry, and was released after years of negotiations with The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The Claims Conference plans to provide a $3,000 supplement to more than 140,000 Jewish slave laborers who already received a one-time payment of $6,000 in 2001. Additional payments will be made to 7,000 victims of Nazi medical experiments.

The current agreement is unrelated to the pending legal suit brought by survivors against the German foundation for $100 million in interest that accrued before the foundation began payments to survivors.

Reverend To Convert Jews

A Washington-area reverend who was born Jewish has announced that he will use a new church to attempt to convert local Jews to Christianity. The Reverend Lon Solomon, pastor of McLean Bible Church in suburban Virginia, told The Washington Post that he intends to launch a new outreach program for Jews in August. The program will consist of church members singing hymns and distributing literature on street corners. Solomon also has given his congregants compact discs detailing his life story, which notes that he was born a Conservative Jew in Virginia and later converted his parents and brother.

Country Club Penalized

A former manager of a Toronto golf club was awarded $370,000 by an Ontario judge as compensation for being fired after he tried to change the club’s no-Jews policy. Michael Geluch, the former general manager of Toronto’s Rosedale Golf Club, was dismissed in 1997. Geluch charged that board members had tried to prevent Toronto Jewish businessman George Cohon from joining the club on the grounds that his admittance would be tantamount to “opening the floodgates to Jewish members.” The 111-year-old club has since admitted Cohon, who is chairman of McDonald’s Canada.

Abrams Defends Pullout

The New York Times reported Monday that President Bush’s top Middle East adviser, Elliot Abrams, met with evangelical Christians to defend America’s support for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. Bush’s evangelical liaison, Timothy Goeglein, arranged meetings in April between Abrams and evangelical leaders who were concerned that the pullout from Gaza conflicted with biblical prophecies related to Israel.

Flights to Turkey Halted

Due to security concerns, Israel’s national airline, El Al, has suspended flights to Turkey. The move came after Turkey ordered a reduction in the amount of Israeli security personnel operating at the Istanbul airport. In response, Israel’s Shin Bet security service instructed that flights be canceled for several days while Israeli and Turkish officials confer in the hopes of resolving the issue. The news comes amid increased tensions between the two countries regarding Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, Turkish criticism off Israel and reports of Israeli support for Iraqi Kurds. Some 300,000 Israelis traveled to Turkey last year.

Putin Honors Rabbi

Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, a state order in a June 25 Kremlin ceremony. According to Putin’s decree, the Order of Friendship was awarded to Lazar “for great achievements in the fields of economic, social, political and cultural development, for accomplishments in improving friendship between nations.” Lazar, who celebrated his 40th anniversary in a high-profile public ceremony in late May, received the state award along with a top Russian Orthodox cleric and one of Russia’s two Muslim chief muftis.

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