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Jewish Journal

Community Briefs

by Journal Staff

October 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

ADL Warns Schools Against Missionaries

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is currently warning school districts around the country about a Christian ministry group trying to recruit teens under the guise of an anti-violence campaign. "Rage Against Destruction," a traveling musical program sponsored by Joyce Meyer Ministries, has already made appearances at several schools in New York, Boston and Nashville. Conveying message at school assemblies with a live band, dancers and flashy giveaways, the group said that their goal is to promote anti-violence messages. According ADL, the group's mission also aims to "strengthen and equip youth in their spiritual walk with God and help them reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ."

During the concerts, the group promotes "Firefest," a concert held off-campus toward the end of their city tour. It is there that ministry members speak candidly about accepting Jesus. As "Rage Against Destruction" is set to tour across the country through June of 2003, the ADL has been warning state education departments of the group's intentions. ADL is currently gearing up for the group's Los Angeles tour in early January.

"What ADL is going to do in Los Angeles is send a letter to superintendents of school districts alerting them to the nature of this program and give them information on what's happened in other cities," said Sue Stendel, the ADL's western states counsel. In addition to warning educators, Stendel said ADL hopes to get the group to "take their religious message out of the events and to ensure they're not recruiting or proselytizing to kids when presenting in public schools." -- Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

Ozair Trial To Begin Nov. 5

The trial of Michael Ozair, the charismatic rabbi who was arrested last August and charged with the 1997 sexual molestation of a then-14-year-old girl, will begin Tuesday, Nov. 5. At a Sept 18 hearing, Ozair -- who was released on $95,000 bail from Los Angeles County Jail last month -- has pleaded not guilty to three counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of oral copulation of a person under the age of 16, said an L.A. County District Attorney office spokeswoman.

The trial will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the L.A. County Superior Court near LAX. Ozair, 33, taught briefly at both Shalhevet High School and Sinai Akiba Academy, but was best known through his association with the Happy Minyan at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills. -- Wendy J. Madnick, Contributing Writer

Wiesenthal Wants Netanyahu Event Rescheduled

Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, warning that there is "more open expression of hate against Jews than in the 1930s" around the world today, has asked the head of Concordia University in Montreal to reinvite former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a campus talk.

Netanyahu had been scheduled to speak on Sept. 9, but the event was canceled for security reasons after pro-Palestinian students and sympathizers created havoc by throwing chairs and breaking windows just before his appearance.

Writing that "at the age of almost 94 ... I never thought I would live to see" such a resurgence of anti-Jewish hatred, Wiesenthal asked Rector Frederick Lowy of Concordia to reschedule an appearance by Netanyahu as soon as possible.

"I hope that Concordia University will act soon to correct the damage done, for more than glass was broken the day of that riot. And it will take more than words to repair the damage," wrote Wiesenthal, who stressed that he had no political ties to Netanyahu.

The letter was delivered to Lowy in person by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a meeting at the university on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Cooper told the Montreal media that, "The idea of inviting Mr. Netanyahu back is not to pour oil on the fire. It is to say that this university is committed to freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas. It's about making a statement that the university is not going to be dictated to by blackmail and violence."

A university spokesman said that Lowy has not decided whether to invite Netanyahu back on campus. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

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