May 30, 2002
Chandra Levy Remembered
More than 1,200 mourners attending the memorial service for Chandra Levy on Tuesday were greeted by the strains of Hebrew melodies, played by a quartet from the local symphony. As Chandra Levy's family -- parents Robert and Susan and 21-year-old brother Adam -- entered the hall at Modesto's Centre Plaza, the two men were handed black yarmulkes. Rabbi Paul Gordon told the mourners that when the family's ordeal first begun more than a year ago, he searched through Jewish texts for words to comfort a family whose child is missing. Gordon said he found none, so he wrote his own prayer to the Levys, beginning "In the search for answers, let hope dwell in your midst."
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Writer
Rabbi Diverted Funds
Rabbi Earl Starr, the senior rabbi of
Seattle's largest Jewish congregation who retired last year, reportedly diverted synagogue funds for personal use, Jon Rosen, president of Temple De Hirsch Sinai's board of trustees, told The Seattle Times. Some members of the congregation said they had been told Starr diverted about $100,000, the paper reported. Starr was not available to comment on the charges, according to the report. Starr reached an agreement to pay back the money over several years, Rosen said. In return, no charges will be brought.
Mistrial in Chasidic Student Death
A mistrial was declared in a Pittsburgh case involving a slain Chasidic Jew. A jury said it could not decide whether Steven Tielsch killed Neal Rosenblum, a visiting Canadian rabbinical student, as Rosenblum left a Pittsburgh synagogue in 1986.
The May 23 deadlock was the third mistrial in the case. Several of Tielsch's former cell mates said he had made anti-Semitic comments and bragged that he killed Rosenblum. It is unclear whether the case will be tried again.
Shas may return to coalition
The Prime Minister's Office and representatives of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party agreed Wednesday on the contents of a letter to be sent to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which will lead to the party's return to the coalition, Ha'aretz reported. The letter states that Shas and its ministers will vote in favor of the government's emergency economic plan, although it does reserve the right to oppose the bill during debates in the Knesset plenum and in other discussions. The letter, which was signed by the Shas chairman, MK Eli Yishai, also states that the party will support and carry out all decisions made by the government.
Political sources termed the missive "a letter of submission," and said that by the beginning of next week, Shas would once again be part of the government.
Tenet Bound for Mideast
CIA Director George Tenet is expected in the Middle East this weekend to press for security reforms in the Palestinian Authority. In another development, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, William Burns, was due in Jerusalem on Thursday for talks on civil reform in the Palestinian Authority and for arranging an international peace conference, the daily Ha'aretz reported.
Jewish Extremists Charged
Three Israeli extremists were charged with attempting to carry out a terrorist attack on an Arab girls' school in eastern Jerusalem. Yarden Morag, Shlomi Dvir and Ofer Gamliel, all residents of the settlement of Bat Ayin, are suspected of belonging to a Jewish terrorist cell. A leader of the outlawed Kach movement, Noam Federman, was charged Monday with supplying the cell with explosives. A fifth Israeli is expected to be indicted in coming days.
Europeans for Israel
Several thousand people from across Europe marched in support of Israel. Wednesday's demonstration in Brussels, coordinated by Belgian Friends of Israel, also came in response to growing concerns about a wave of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe. The demonstration was timed to coincide with an E.U. parliamentary session. Marchers waving Israeli flags and those of several European countries called on the European Parliament to stand up against what they see as Europe's one-sided criticism of Israel. They also demanded that European countries take a stronger stance against anti-Semitism, and some called for Israel's inclusion in the European Union. European Jewish leaders and European politicians spoke at the rally.
Coexistence Get Grants
The Abraham Fund awarded $1 million in grants to 62 groups advancing Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel. At a ceremony this week near Tel Aviv, the fund's chairman, New York businessman Alan Slifka, said the fund is "accelerating its advocacy efforts this year to increase Arabic study in the school system, lobby the government to do more and to have an impact on public opinion." Since its founding in 1989, the fund has contributed more than $7 million to over 600 projects.
Bibi for P.M. -- Again
Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that he will run for prime minister in the next elections. Netanyahu, 52, made the statement when asked after a speech in Berlin last week about his political ambitions. Netanyahu could try to unseat Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as leader of the Likud Party, or might head a bloc further to the right.
In his speech, Netanyahu defended the Likud Central Committee's opposition to a future Palestinian state, saying the Palestinians "can have all their rights except the right to destroy Israel."
Briefs by Jewish Telegraphic Agency.