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Newsdesk October 10, 2003

Twin Vandalism Incidents in Brooklyn

At least 35 tires were slashed in a Jewish section of the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn over Yom Kippur, and a Jewish neighborhood patrol says a cup of urine was thrown into a synagogue while people were praying.

Meanwhile, in Sheepshead Bay, another predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, six houses were found spray painted with swastikas on Tuesday.

The twin vandalism incidents are being treated by police as possible bias crimes but do not appear to be related.

Coordinators of Shmira, a Crown Heights neighborhood patrol, said that more than 70 cars had been vandalized and that a black teenager was detained by police after throwing a cup of urine into a small congregation on Albany and Lefferts Avenues. Twelve years ago the predominantly black and Jewish neighborhood was rattled by anti-Jewish riots.

Patriot Act Slammed in Chicago

Chicago’s city council last week approved a resolution criticizing the USA Patriot Act, adopting language that was based on a resolution adopted earlier by a local Jewish group.

Chicago’s city council adopted the measure October 1 by a vote of 37 to 7, becoming the largest city to adopt a resolution criticizing the Patriot Act. The resolution’s passage was the culmination of a campaign by the Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights, an alliance of civil rights and liberal and left-wing groups. The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a local activist group, played a leading role in the effort, coalition members said.

Critics say that the Patriot Act, a federal anti-terrorism measure passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, has eroded civil liberties. More than 175 communities and three state legislatures — those of Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont — have adopted similar resolutions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Brazilian Mogul: I’m Jewish

A Brazilian media mogul came out of the closet about his Jewish background. Silvio Santos, a pseudonym for Senior Abravanel, discussed Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur for some 10 minutes during a live weekend broadcast of one of several programs he presents on his SBT channel. “Since I am a Jew, I’ll start to fast tomorrow until Monday. It’s a full fast, no water or food,” he said. Abravanel also explained Jewish views on sin and tzedakah. Abravanel is married to an Evangelical Christian, and his daughters are active in their mother’s church.

Russian Jew Awarded Nobel

A Russian Jewish scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. Vitaly Ginzburg was honored “for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids,” the Nobel Prize committee said. He shares the 2003 prize with another Russian scientist, Alexei Abrikosov, now working in the United States, and with British-born American researcher Anthony Leggett. Ginzburg, 87, who is affiliated with the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, has been a member of the board of the Russian Jewish Congress since the umbrella organization was founded in 1996.

Century-old Shul Burns in Zimbabwe

The 104-year-old synagogue in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, was razed by fire two days before Yom Kippur, but leaders within the African Jewish community say they do not suspect foul play in the burning of the wood synagogue.

Police believe young people loitering in an alleyway behind the building may have started a fire, perhaps to keep warm, which then spread to the synagogue.

Yom Kippur services are being moved to another communal facility, the Sinai Hall. Because of high inflation in Zimbabwe, the synagogue was not insured.

U.S. Student Found Dead in Israel

The body of a missing American yeshiva student was discovered in northern Israel.

Police said Eliezer Zusia Klockhoft, 19, who disappeared two months ago while hiking around the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Mount Meron, apparently suffered a fatal fall in a nearby forest. His body, which was found on October 2, is to be returned to the United States following an autopsy, reports said.

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