KINDER GENTLER HAGEE?: Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, has had a rocky past few weeks. First, he landed in the national media spotlight after being accused of being anti-Catholic. Then, last week, the leader of the Union for Reform Judaism urged the Jewish community to steer clear of the philosemitic preacher. Now, some Jewish communal activists say, it appears that Hagee is trying to smooth his rougher edges in an apparent bid to strike a more respectable profile. The New York Jewish Week has the story.
MRS. KAHANE REMEMBERS: The wife of assassinated Jewish extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane speaks with Brooklyn’s Jewish Press about her late husband. The firebrand rabbi’s widow has put together a new book, “Rabbi Meir Kahane: His Life and Thought, Volume One: 1932-1975.”
SCHIZOPHRENIC ON EDUCATION: New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow-Carroll let’s us in on the vigorous debate that took place between his head and his heart when it came time to choose either public schools or Jewish schools for his kids.
AFTER ‘SHOWGIRLS’: Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent chats with “Step It Up & Dance” host Elizabeth Berkley about life after “Showgirls.”
WHO NEEDS RABBIS WHEN…: A headline in Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent: “Study: Consultants May Hold the Key to Future of Synagogues.”
NO TIME FOR GAMES: Among the voices protesting the Olympic torch’s passage through San Francisco were American Jewish World Service prexy Ruth Messinger and novelist Michael Chabon. San Francisco’s J. reports on the convergence of advocates for Darfur and Tibet on the streets of Baghdad by the Bay. Meanwhile, on a coast far far away, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent’s Jonathan Tobin writes that the Games are no fun while people in Darfur, Tibet and China are suffering human rights abuses.
SIZE MATTERS: Columbus singles say its hard to meet a mate given their city’s relatively small Jewish community. “It’s just a numbers issue,” Rabbi Michael Unger tells Columbus’s New Standard. “We don’t have the same numbers as places like Chicago, New York or even Cleveland.”
‘YES’ MAN: Rabbi David Gruber, a self-described “Orthodox rabbi turned secular humanist Jew,” has found a niche performing interfaith weddings. The Texas Jewish Post talks with a rabbi who, as the paper puts it, “will say ‘yes’ when others have said ‘no.’”
THE BRIDGE IS OURS: For many months, pro-Palestinian protestors have commandeered a local highway overpass to display anti-Israel signs to passing motorists. Now, pro-Israel activists are demonstrating that two can play at that game: They showed up at the bridge with their own signs shortly before the pro-Palestinian vigil was set to begin. Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice declares victory in the latest round of the battle for the Mandell Street bridge:
When PAA [Progressive Action Alliance, the group behind the anti-Israel protests] activists began to arrive for their protest, at 4:45 p.m., they appeared dumbfounded and confused. Some simply returned to their vehicles and drove away, while a few others paced back and forth on the bridge, grumbling on cellphones or sat pouting on the adjacent concrete barrier. Though the remaining PAA activists were invited to stage their own protest on the other side of the bridge, or on another bridge nearby — which would have juxtaposed their messages of hate with those of peace and tolerance — they, instead, left.
METHODISTS OVER JEWS?: The Union for Reform Judaism is negotiating to sell a beloved Northern California Jewish camp to a Methodist group for $6 million — even though area Jews had raised $5 million to buy and save the facility. San Francisco’s J. doesn’t seem pleased with the URJ’s single-minded focus on the fiscal bottom line — and notes that along with a camp, the movement will be abandoning a Holocaust memorial on its premises,
SOKATCH TO SAN FRAN, TARSY FACES HISTORY: As head of the Los Angeles-based Progressive Jewish Alliance, Daniel Sokatch quickly built up the newbie activist group into a left-leaning powerhouse. Now, the L.A. Jewish Journal reports, he’s headed up the coast to San Francisco and to a new job as the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation’s numero uno. In other migrating Jewish communal activist news, Boston’s Jewish Advocate reports that former New England Anti-Defamation League director Andrew Tarsy — who famously crossed swords last year with national ADL big kahuna Abe Foxman over the Armenian genocide issue — is taking a job with Facing History and Ourselves, a local nonprofit that promotes tolerance through (what else?) genocide education.
THE VANISHING CANADIAN JEW: The most recent Canadian census shows a steep drop in the number of people identifying themselves as ethnically Jewish, The Canadian Jewish News reports. In five years, the count declined from 348,605 Jews to only 315,120 in 2006. “It’s difficult to interpret. My initial reaction is surprise… It’s very strange, shocking, really,” demographer Charles Shahar tells the paper.
QUMRAN IS A PLACE IN…: The Jewish state’s tourism office recently got slammed in Britain for false advertising over a magazine ad that seemed to imply that the West Bank locale where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered is in Israel. London’s Jewish Chronicle reports on how Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority tried to teach Israel’s Government Tourist Office a geography lesson.
POSH PARTY IN CASTLE: Shimon Peres was a no-show; the host, the Duke of Edinburgh, was absent because of a chest infection; there was kvetching about the high ticket prices; someone apparently neglected to invite the president of the Zionist Federation, and many of British Jewry’s leading lights stayed home. Other than that, things seem to have gone pretty well at the historic — and historically unprecedented — 60th birthday celebration for the State of Israel at Windsor Castle. They even managed to kasher the royal household kitchens. London’s Jewish Chronicle has the story.
SINO-SEPHARDIC SYNAGOGUE SURGE: The Jerusalem-based Shehebar Sephardic Center is opening new synagogues in Beijing and Shanghai, Jewish Times Asia reports. In other Shanghai news, the Chinese government opened Shanghai’s historic Ohel Rachel Synagogue for its first Jewish wedding in 60 years. Jewish Times Asia has the story of the simcha.
A ‘STOUSH’ OVER ISRAEL: Leaders of two leading Australian unions are trading angry words, with one blasting the other for signing onto a newspaper advertisement criticizing Israel. The Australian Jewish News characterizes the exchange as “a stoush,” which, according to Answers.com, is Aussie-speak for “a brawl or fight, a scrap.”
BEWARE FACEBOOK: Australian Jewish groups are being warned by the Community Security Group to not promote their events on Facebook because of security fears, The Australian Jewish News reports. The warning comes on the heels of an incident in which an Australian Jewish woman received a death threat from someone who said he was a member of Hezbollah after she rebuffed his online friend request. Fortunately, the newspaper reports, the individual “was, in fact, a 16-year-old from Lebanon with no real links to the terror group.”
SOLIDARITY UNDER FIRE: A group of travelers from the Canada-Israel Committee came under sniper fire while they were touring near the Gaza-Israel border with Israel’s security minister, Avi Dichter. While none of he Canadians were hurt, Dichter’s bureau chief, Mati Gil, was hit by gunfire and hospitalized in stable condition. The Canadian Jewish News has the story.