Sofia, Bulgaria — The Jewish women who formed a mutual aid group here three years ago to give self-esteem and a little income to its elderly members during a time of near poverty called their organization Bendichos Manos, Ladino for “blessed hands.”
Zafira Levi’s probably are the most blessed of all.
As the trial of the 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel appeared to be winding down this week with another two defendants confessing, supporters of the 13 openly disagreed on whether this is the most propitious time to hold public events in their behalf.
State insurance commissioners and Jewish groups are expressing concern about the high rate of rejected Holocaust-era claims submitted to European insurers who had promised to pay claims with relaxed standards of proof. To date, 75 percent of all claims have been denied.
“I am deeply disturbed by what’s going on,” said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.
As three more of the 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel pleaded guilty Monday — bringing to six the number who have confessed to date — Jewish leaders and human rights groups were discounting the confessions.
“It’s ludicrous to say that they are part of an espionage spy ring,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The televised “confession” by an Iranian Jew to spying for Israel was predictable, Jewish leaders maintain, but they heatedly denied Iranian claims that Hamid “Danny” Tefileen had made similar statements Monday during a four-hour trial in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts were under way to punish Iran by denying it more than $200 million in loans from the World Bank.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria — Albert Alkalai put on his raincoat, the one with the small yellow Jewish star on the lapel, left his family’s house and walked to work a quarter-mile away in the central square at 8 a.m. on March 10, 1943.
The morning was sunny. “A little bit chilly, as in March,” Alkalai remembers.