Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, who has been appointed to mediate a survivors' suit against German and Austrian banks, is calling all parties together Jan. 7. But how much clout he will wield is open to question.
Efforts are under way to resolve a 3-year-old stalemate that has kept the Austrian government from paying a $210 million Holocaust-era property claims settlement and to provide the Austrian Jewish community with the money it needs to continue operating.
Israel Singer, president of the Conference on Jewish and Material Claims Against Germany, said he has proposed funding the Jewish community using unallocated money from a $400 million fund created to pay surviving slave laborers. The deadline for filing slave labor claims expires Dec. 31 and about $150 million remains.
It was an opinion from Israel's top judge that American Conservative Jews would have preferred to read in a judicial ruling. But it was enough to put a smile on their faces.
"The lack of civil marriage in Israel is a major violation of human rights," Supreme Court president Aharon Barak told more than 30 members of United Synagogue's Project Reconnect, an organization of former United Synagogue Youth members, during a group visit to Israel last week.
As 13 Iranian Jews suspected of spying for Israel and the United States are set to go on trial April 13, an American Jewish leader has cited some ominous signs coming from Iran.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said lawyers for the accused were barred from entering prison to allow their clients to sign retainer statements even after the investigating judge (who also will serve as the trial judge without a jury) had asked the suspects' families to hire counsel.
After weeks of refusing to negotiate Holocaust claims with an Austrian government that includes the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, a Jewish leader has proposed a solution: negotiate with the Austrian National Fund, a body established by Austria's parliament to pay compensation to as many as 30,000 victims of Nazi persecution.
A request to charge $1,500 for reading the book "Nazi Gold" is contained in a court document from lawyers of Holocaust victims who are seeking $13.5 million in fees from the $1.25 billion Swiss bank settlement, according to the World Jewish Congress.
"Holocaust survivors are being exploited by a feeding frenzy of fee-grabbing lawyers," charged WJC executive director Elan Steinberg.
A free comprehensive guide that describes the dozens of compensation and restitution programs available to Holocaust survivors is being made available by Jewish social service agencies nationwide.
In the New York area, 13 agencies will be distributing the 50-page booklet prepared by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It explains the current and pending restitution and compensation programs, the criteria for eligibility and how to apply.
The pluralism wars that have proved so polarizing in Israel are being played out in another arena locally: a Brooklyn federal courtroom. Attorneys for the state of New York and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are seeking to defend the constitutionality of the state's 117-year-old kosher laws, which are being challenged by a Long Island butcher.
When he first proudly donned a badge as a Suffolk County cop three decades ago, Howard Mandell walked a beat in Huntington, L.I. He made headlines a few years later when he and his partner foiled a bank robbery in Northport, shooting and killing the gunman.
With Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party seen cruising to victory in Tuesday's national election, political pundits speculated on how Sharon was going to form the unity government he prefers with the Labor Party, whose leader has vowed to remain in opposition.