None of the 45 people in the kosher Chinese restaurant on Flatbush Avenue had ever been to Zembrov, a town in northeast Poland, and some even had trouble spelling it. But all had relatives who came from there, and they gathered two weeks ago to keep their memories alive.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s future could lie in the hands of a millionaire Long Island rabbi and businessman who is reportedly set to testify as early as this week that he gave bribes to Olmert while Olmert served as Jerusalem’s mayor from 1999 to 2002.
For some Holocaust survivors and their supporters, a Senate subcommittee hearing this week was their last chance to collect on the Nazi-era life insurance policies of their parents.
The survivors asked that Congress adopt legislation that would require insurance companies doing business in the United States to publish the names of all policyholders from the pre-war era. If the companies then refused to settle claims on reasonable terms, survivors and their heirs could sue them during the next 10 years.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire at home this week for allegedly disregarding Palestinian civilians in its zeal to combat terrorists, and from the United Nations, which called upon Israel to remove its security barrier that Arabs call a land grab.
The controversy within Israel arose after the Israeli military launched one of the largest series of air strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Five air strikes were conducted against suspected Palestinian terrorists and a weapons factory in Gaza City.
On the eve of the first World Jewish Congress Assembly in three years, the group’s chief spokesman said he welcomes the prospect of an investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office into its financial dealings but regrets the failure to resolve internally a conflict over past governance.The WJC Assembly will meet in Brussels for three days starting Sunday, with an expected 500 participants representing 88 Jewish communities from around the world.
Both sides in the increasingly nasty World Jewish Congress feud got what they wanted from the organization’s assembly in Brussels this week. The leadership put on a display of solidarity, with the 540 delegates from around the world not only showing their support for Edgar Bronfman and Israel Singer by re-electing them unanimously as president and chairman, respectively, but by fully embracing their version of the internal dispute about alleged financial mismanagement and lack of governance as baseless and harmful.
Even as a worldwide search was launched to locate and pay insurance policies of Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs, a major Israeli group rejected offers by the new rightist Austrian government to resolve its outstanding Holocaust-era claims.
"It is imperative that we not fall into Haider's trap and let him use the back of the Jewish people to gain recognition and legitimacy from the world," Salai Meridor, chairman of The Jewish Agency, told The Jewish Week.
As the Labor Party reaffirmed its intention to stay out of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government, the chairman of the secular Shinui Party spoke of joining: and for the first time softened his demand that government handouts end for fervently Orthodox men who don't work.
"You have to do it gradually," Shinui leader Tommy Lapid told The Jewish Week. "We don't want to cause unnecessary suffering to large families. But people who are able-bodied men should go and work.
Despite his decisive victory Tuesday, Ariel Sharon still finds himself in a vise: caught between his desire not to form a right-wing government that would hamstring his ability to deal with American peace demands and an Israeli public convinced that the time is not ripe to pursue peace.
Couple that with the electorate's crippling blow to the Israeli left and the strong showing of the anti-religious Shinui Party, and this election could pave the way for changes in the country's social fabric.
In a last-ditch effort to block Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from being able to form a new government after the Jan. 28 election, Labor Party leaders pledged this week not to rejoin him in another unity government.