For the first time, Orthodox Jews in Australia’s capital city have a ritual bath. Mikvah Chaya Mushka Canberra opened its doors in Canberra this week for the small Jewish community of about 600 people. There is no Jewish school or kosher butcher, and Orthodox and Progressive Jews share a community center for prayer services, but local Jews believe a mikvah will attract more Jews to the capital.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remains in a coma five years after suffering a massive stroke. There were no official events Tuesday to mark the five-year anniversary of the stroke, which ended Sharon's political career. But he was briefly remembered Monday at a Likud Party briefing and in a column written by former colleague Tzachi Hanegbi in The Jerusalem Post.
Dr. Alan Bennett, a leader in Jewish education and a founder of the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, has died. Bennett died in Cleveland at the Hospice of the Western Reserve on Dec. 21 after a short battle with cancer. He was 83. Bennett came to Cleveland in 1967 to work as education director at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. He served for 15 years, beginning in 1978, as the executive vice president of the Cleveland Bureau of Education and oversaw its transformation into the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. Upon his retirement he was named executive vice president emeritus, and in 1997 the JECC created the Alan D. Bennett Staff Development Award for Israel Study.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev canceled a planned visit to Israel due to a strike by Foreign Ministry employees. The striking workers had threatened to embarrass the Russian leader during his visit, which was scheduled for the middle of January. The workers gave interviews in Israel's Russian-language media, closely monitored by the Russian government, saying that they would not assist in preparations for the visit, Haaretz reported. The visit, scheduled several months ago, was to include a delegation of 500 people, including businesspeople, lawmakers and senior officials, according to Ynet.
The Foreign Ministry workers are protesting low wages.
The personal papers and other materials of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, have been given to the University of Colorado. The material, including audio-visual material, have become part of the Colorado University-Boulder Library Archives, according to the Boulder Jewish News, after being in the care of Naropa University, which was working with the Reb Zalman Legacy Project of the Yesod Foundation to preserve, develop and circulate the rabbi's writings and teachings. The Jewish Renewal movement has infused modern Judaism with mystical teachings and contemplative practices influenced by Hasidism. The movement is run by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in Philadelphia.
The Chief Rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, said he would refuse to respond to a police summons for questioning on suspicion of incitement to racism. Eliyahu reportedly did not present himself to Jerusalem police on Sunday, as ordered, over a letter signed by nearly 50 municipal rabbis calling on the Jewish public not to rent or sell homes to non-Jews, specifically Arabs. The official reason given for not answering the summons was time restrictions, the Jerusalem Post reported. But Eliyahu reportedly said, according to the Jerusalem Post that he “asked whether David Grossman, Yossi Sarid and Shulamit Aloni, who demonstrated against Jewish presence in the Shimon Hatzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood, were also summoned for questioning. Were there summonses for the heads of the Jewish National Fund, whose constitution prohibits selling apartments to non- Jews? If not, double standards are being applied here, and I don’t intend on playing into the hands of a legal system that acts in a non-egalitarian manner.”