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Newsdesk May 7, 2004

Change Set on Chaplains

The Jewish Welfare Board is set to lose its monopoly on authorizing Jewish military chaplains, according to a news report in the New Jersey Jewish Standard.

According to the report, the military plans to open up the process to other non-profit organizations. Critics claim that the JWB has failed to meet the needs of Jewish soldiers by authorizing too few chaplains.

The JWB has feuded with the Aleph Institute, a Lubavitch group that provides services to prison inmates as well as soldiers.

Schools Protest Ford

Nine American universities are objecting to new Ford Foundation rules designed to prevent grants from being used to assist terrorist groups. Following a JTA investigation last fall of the foundation’s funding of radical anti-Israel groups, the foundation passed a new provision pledging to withdraw funding if any of a university’s expenditures promoted “violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state.” The Rockefeller Foundation, another charitable fund, imposed similar restrictions.

In recent days, however, provosts at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago challenged the new provisions, saying they could limit academic freedom, the Wall Street Journal reported. Both foundations defended the new requirements and said they expect to resolve their differences with the universities, the paper reported.

Saudi Apology Sought

Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, is demanding that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince retract his claim that “Zionists” are responsible for terrorism in the kingdom. Speaking May 1 about recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Abdullah reportedly said: “It became clear for us and I say it, not 100% but 95%, that Zionists’ hands are behind what is going now.”

Lowey is sending a letter to President Bush asking that he express dismay at Abdullah’s remarks and ask Abdullah to blame the terrorism on Al Qaeda, which is believed to be behind the attacks.

Saudi defense officials, meanwhile, have pointed the finger at Islamic fundamentalists, not Israel.

Activist Tapped for Pulpit

The Stephen Wise Free Synagogue will be getting an infusion of Zionist blood in a few months when Rabbi Ammi Hirsch, the executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, takes over the congregation’s storied pulpit. The synagogue was established in 1907 by its namesake, one of the most prominent individuals in the movement’s history.

Hirsch’s predecessor at ARZA, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, is now the head the Union for Reform Judaism, and Hirsch sees his move as further bolstering the prominence of the organization and Zionism generally within the movement.

Hirsh’s new synagogue had been established by Wise after he rejected an offer from Temple Emanu-El to be their rabbi on the condition that his sermons be pre-screened. It is a legacy of intellectual freedom that Hirsch says he is eager to be a part of.

Yoffie praised Hirsh, “describing him as “a very strong speaker, one of the best speakers in our movement.”

Reform Backs Wage Hike

The Reform movement is backing a new bill that would increase the minimum wage in the United States. The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism has thrown its support behind the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2004, which would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7 an hour over the next two years.

Hoax Alleged in L.A.

Prosecutors accused a faculty member at a Los Angeles-area college of a hate-crime hoax.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office recently charged Kerri Dunn, 39, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College, with filing a false police report. She may also face federal charges of making false statements to the FBI.

Dunn reported in early March that while she was speaking at a campus forum on racial intolerance, her car was vandalized and spray-painted with racist and antisemitic graffiti. A week later, college police announced that two eyewitnesses said Dunn had vandalized her own car. Dunn has declined comment, but her lawyer issued a news release stating that his client maintains her innocence.

Attackers Target Rabbis

Rabbi James Mallul of the Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Creteil, south of Paris, was hit in the face and stomach by two men while walking to

services May 1. Mallul was walking in the evening with his son, the Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism said.

Meanwhile, a London rabbi’s car was destroyed by arson. The attack, which took place earlier this week in Stamford Hill, a north London area with a large Orthodox community, is being treated by police as racially motivated. The attack comes after recent figures showing an increase in antisemitic incidents in the United Kingdom.


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