When Charles and Andrea Bronfman formed their sizeable philanthropic foundation 15 years ago, there were some who feared it would destroy the Jewish Agency for Israel by working outside the Jewish federation network.
Spaghetti sauce simmers in a pot as hot as this August afternoon, the aroma wafting through the three-stories of a dull-red row house in Brooklyn: Rabbi David Rosenn memorizes it all. The new organization he founded, Avodah, was in its inaugural day, Aug. 23, 1998, and as with all birthing, the ordinary was infused with the sanctity of dreams.
Declaring a Monsey landlord's apparent neglect of a complex he owns a disgrace to the community, an Orthodox Rockland County legislator is taking steps to mend fences with local Hispanics. County officials have slapped the Hyenga Lake Development, a Clarkstown bungalow colony populated mostly by Central American immigrants, with more than 70 violations of health, fire and safety codes. The complex is reportedly owned by Rabbi Mendel Wagschal, a member of the Satmar chasidic community in Monsey.
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."