July 26, 2007
Briefs: Scholars call for American Shoah heroes honors, civil marriage coming to Israel
Scholars: U.S. Activists During Shoah Warrant Recognition
More than 100 scholars and Jewish leaders are calling on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to acknowledge the work of U.S. activists in its permanent exhibition. A petition delivered to the museum's chairman, Fred Zeidman, urges greater recognition of the Bergson Group, a collection of American activists whose rallies and newspaper advertisements calling attention to the plight of European Jews earned them the scorn of Jewish leaders at the time. The petition notes that the Bergson Group is mentioned on the museum's Web site, but calls for its inclusion in museum's permanent exhibition.
"Doing so is important for the sake of historical accuracy," the petition reads. "It is also important because the Bergson Group's work demonstrates the possibility of ordinary citizens taking action, through the democratic process, to bring about humanitarian action by the government."
The petition was organized by the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
New Funds From Claims Conference
The Claims Conference, over the next three years, will allocate an extra $67 million on programs benefiting Nazi victims.
The new funds will add to the $300 million the Claims Conference already planned to spend on such programs from funds acquired in the sale of unclaimed Holocaust-era Jewish property in the former East Germany.
In a statement, the Claims Conference said the new money is meant to make up for the decline in funding for social welfare programs as a result of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims ending its allocations.
Israel Edges Toward Civil Weddings
A bill approved by Israel's Chief Rabbinate would allow civil weddings for non-Jews. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced new legislation this week that would recognize civil weddings performed in Israel for couples in which neither bride nor groom is Jewish under Orthodox law.
The bill, which is expected to win Knesset ratification, could address the needs of some 300,000 Israelis -- most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union -- who are barred from marrying in the Jewish state because they are considered non-Jews by the rabbinate. It would not, however, be applicable for unions between a Jew and a non-Jew.
Friedmann voiced hope that civil weddings eventually will become an option for mainstream Israelis who do not want to go the Orthodox route, currently the only legally recognized one.
"I hope that with time it will be possible to persuade the political bodies that broadening this is warranted, and that it will be broadened," he told Israel Radio on last week.
Briefs Courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency