Lawrence Kaplan felt he had to be here. The Judaic studies professor traveled from Montreal to the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan on Sunday because he was feeling religiously isolated. He wanted to show support for a fledgling enterprise: a two-day conference on Modern Orthodoxy designed to show that the embattled liberal wing of Orthodox tradition is not an anachronism in an increasingly fundamentalist world.
"I didn't want it to be a failure," Kaplan confided.
He was not disappointed.
At least 17 German banks and industrial firms have agreed to contribute to a fund from which payments will be made to an estimated 100,000 Jews who served as slave laborers during the Holocaust, the German government announced this week. Needy survivors may also be entitled to payments from the fund.
The government hopes the fund will begin making payments to survivors by Sept. 1, the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland and the start of World War II, according to Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.
A dispute between City Hall and Albany over funding for New York's Holocaust museum has placed the institution in an uncomfortable political spotlight, making some Jewish leaders uneasy.
"People are embarrassed by the bickering between the mayor and governor over the museum," said one official of a major communal organization, who requested anonymity to avoid friction with either official. "As much as they admire and respect this institution, they are uncomfortable that government dollars are required for its expansion."
The sign on Yulia Bereslavskiy’s door is also a symbol. It’s simple, computer-generated, and states: “Please knock.” To which Yulia has added by hand, “Leonid no enter!”
Yulia, 10, is a fifth-grade student at Public School 200 in Bensonhurst. Her brother Leonid, 6, is in the first grade.
A city report is charging that a Houston-based international conglomerate has been quietly taking over local, family-owned Jewish funeral homes and inflating prices.
The result is that a Jewish funeral in Manhattan at a funeral home run by Service Corporation International costs 50 percent more than at an independent firm, according to the report issued this week by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Those involved in the business of getting New York's Jews to their final resting place have long been aware of problems in smoothly accomplishing their goal. This week, after several years of negotiations, the Jewish Community Relations Council is poised to sign an agreement with a group of New York City-area Jewish cemetery officials that would help alleviate some of these problems.
"I think this is a terrific agreement for everybody. It's good for the cemeteries, the community and the public at large," said Gerald Hass, president of the Jewish Cemetery Association.