Ex-Israeli chief rabbi gets 4 1/2 years in prison for fraud

Rabbi Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel from 2003 to 2013, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. (Itzik Edri)
Rabbi Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel from 2003 to 2013, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. (Itzik Edri)

Rabbi Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel from 2003 to 2013, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. (Itzik Edri)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A judge in Jerusalem rejected a plea deal between prosecutors and Rabbi Yona Metzger and sentenced the former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel to 4 1/2 years in jail on fraud and other charges.

The sentence imposed by the Jerusalem District Court judge was more than the 3 1/2 years under the plea bargain signed in January but less than the maximum seven years. [Read more…]


Polish official charged for allowing former Jewish school building to be demolished

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – A Polish conservator is facing a prison term for allowing the demolition of a former Jewish school building in central Poland.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Konin this week charged the conservator, identified as Janusz T. in Polish news reports, for abuse of power by a public official. Janusz headed up a delegation from a Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments. [Read more…]


Report: Attackers saw off Jewish man’s finger, beat his brother near Paris

(JTA) – Two Jewish brothers said they were abducted briefly and beaten by several men in suburban Paris in an incident that ended with one brother having his finger sawed off by an assailant.

The brothers were hospitalized in what was described as a state of shock following the incident Tuesday night in Bondy. A case report published Thursday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, based on a police complaint by the alleged victims did not specify their medical condition. [Read more…]


Reform movement, ADL slam Trump rollback of protections for transgender students

(JTA) – The Reform movement, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other Jewish groups denounced the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to rescind regulations allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Trump on Wednesday rejected the Obama administration’s order that public schools allow transgender students to choose which bathrooms to use.

Leaders of the movement’s congregational arm, the Union for Reform Judaism, along with its rabbinical group, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and policy arm, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, joined in a statement Thursday against the action.

“Far from protecting girls and women from men in women’s bathrooms, decisions such as this imperil transgender youth,” the statement reads. “Transgender men and boys may appear threatening and come under attack if forced to use women’s restrooms. Transgender women and girls risk becoming victims of violence if forced to use men’s restrooms.

“The administration has overturned a rule that was sound public policy and endeavored to uphold ‘pikuach nefesh,’ saving life, the very highest of religious injunctions.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the ADL, called the decision “cruel, tinged with prejudice and unnecessary” in a Thursday statement.

“This action sends a deeply disturbing message that the federal government is abdicating its responsibility for a student’s health and well-being and deferring to states and local school districts in establishing educational policy. It also suggests the administration will not support or defend LGBT-inclusive policies,” Greenblatt said.

The National Council of Jewish Women noted that Trump made the decision just weeks after the White House said the president was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”

In a statement Thursday, CEO Nancy Kaufrman wrote that her group was “disgusted by this betrayal, which puts transgender students at risk for bullying, harassment, and violence.”

The social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action also denounced the decision, calling it an “assault on freedom and human dignity.”

“Jewish and American values demand that we defend and support the marginalized and oppressed and that we treat everyone equally,” CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement. “By withdrawing these protections for transgender youth, the Trump administration is turning its back on these fundamental principles.”

Trump’s order will not have an immediate effect because a federal judge in August blocked Obama’s order, which said transgender students’ rights were protected under nondiscrimination laws. Individual schools can allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.


Yiddish-Cuban opera to premiere in Havana

New York-based klezmer musician Frank London has been honoured by Hungary. (Alan Roche)

Frank London composed the music to “Hatuey: Memory of Fire,” a Yiddish-Cuban opera that will premiere in Havana on March 3. (Alan Roche)

(JTA) – A new opera based on an 86-year-old Yiddish poem about a Taino indigenous chief who resisted the Spanish invaders will have its premiere in Havana next month.

“Hatuey: Memory of Fire” will open in the Cuban capital on March 3, The New York Times reported. [Read more…]