Israel to Get Less Money
The United States will propose $3 billion less in supplemental military aid for Israel than the Jewish State had requested. An Israeli official in Washington confirmed that Israel would be offered $1 billion as part of a U.S. war costs bill, but the White House is proposing $9 billion in loan guarantees, $1 billion more than Israel sought.
Israel's ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, told American Jewish leaders that the supplemental aid for Israel has been "sweetened" by agreeing to give the full $1 billion right away.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has said the supplemental package, which could total up to $100 billion, would be introduced in the coming days.
British Soldiers Mute Religion
British Jewish soldiers serving in Iraq are being allowed to erase mention of their religion from their dog tags in an attempt to escape torture if captured. The British Ministry of Defense made the decision to allow the removals following concerns expressed by the British Jewish community about possible torture. There are an estimated 15 Jewish soldiers among the 45,000 British soldiers aiding the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Moynihan Dies at 76
Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), who battled the U.N.'s "Zionism is racism" resolution, died Wednesday at 76. In 1975, when the United Nations denigrated Zionism as racist and called it a "threat to world peace," the then-U.S. envoy delivered an eloquent and emotional defense of Jewish political independence that blasted the U.N. resolution as anti-Semitic. "It had become a crime to be a Jew who wished to return to the Jewish national homeland," Moynihan later wrote. Moynihan led the campaign to repeal the resolution, which was reversed in 1991. He also spearheaded efforts to establish international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Moynihan served in the Senate from 1977 to 1991.
Woman To Head CCAR
The Reform rabbinate will be led by a woman for the first time. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) has nominated as its president Rabbi Janet Marder, 48, currently vice president of the CCAR and senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills.
Marder will begin her two-year tenure March 29 at the CCAR's 2003 convention, after an election that is regarded as a formality.
She will succeed Rabbi Martin Weiner, senior rabbi at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco. The CCAR, which represents 1,800 Reform rabbis in North America, is the largest group of Jewish clergy.
Chabad to Send Pesach Kits to U.S. Troops
Chabad-Lubavitch is sending 1,000 Passover packages to U.S. Jewish troops serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and elsewhere. Rabbi Mendy Katz of the Florida-based Aleph Institute, a subsidiary of Chabad, led a team of rabbis and rabbinical students who assembled the Passover kits at a Rahway, N.J., warehouse this week. The packages contain Haggadahs, matzahs, horseradish, gefilte fish and seder plates, Chabad spokeswoman Renee Glick said.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Community Centers Association, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's New York Metropolitan Region and the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, N.Y., organized a $25,000 effort to send Jewish soldiers kosher-for-Passover foods, the New York Jewish Week reported.
The United Synagogue is also sending solo seder kits for soldiers in the field who cannot join communal celebrations, the paper said. The Jewish Welfare Board's Jewish Chaplains Council estimates there are 1,500 Jewish troops in the Persian Gulf.
'Pianist' Earns Oscar Gold
"The Pianist," a searing film of one Jew's survival in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, scored a major upset when it won three Oscars this week. The film, which is based on a memoir by Wladyslaw Szpilman, garnered Academy Awards for director Roman Polanski, actor Adrien Brody and screenwriter Ronald Harwood.
Their victories illustrated once again the enduring hold of the Holocaust on the imagination and sentiments of the film industry. Polanski, who escaped from the Krakow Ghetto as a 7-year-old boy, was not present at Sunday evening's 75th annual Academy Awards. He is officially a fugitive from the United States for having engaged in unlawful sexual relations with a minor.
Less of a surprise was the Oscar for "Nowhere in Africa" as the winner for best foreign film. "Africa" depicts a Jewish family that resettles in Kenya after being forced to flee Nazi Germany.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.