Close calls are becoming a staple of solidarity missions to the south of Israel (witness Mayor Michael Bloomberg ducking into a bomb shelter on a recent trip to Sderot just before a Hamas-launched rocket hit nearby).
But a delegation of Jewish federation leaders visiting the south this week got a more complete, and poignant, taste of what life is like for Israelis living in the shadow of the Gaza border.
The United Nations’ fourth annual International Day of Commemoration will take place as planned Jan. 27, but Jewish Holocaust survivors plan to protest when the president of the General Assembly addresses the group.
“We continue to hope that he will find a way out of coming,” said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors.
To provide for the increased needs of Holocaust survivors, the Claims Conference has increased by 16 percent its annual allocation to 34 New York agencies that serve about 20,000 survivors.
“In these times of severe crisis for Jewish philanthropy, the increase in Claims Conference funds for social services is even more essential to the wellbeing of elderly Nazi victims,” according to Julius Berman, the conference chairman.
They came this time in twos and threes, with spouses, children and grandchildren, with small groups of friends — all in the hope of sending a message that American Jews stand with Israel in its battle with Hamas, the faction of Islamic militants that rules Gaza.
Despite Israel’s claims that the war against Hamas has damaged it militarily, Hamas continued firing rockets into Israel Wednesday from the Gaza Strip and rejected a proposed permanent cease-fire even as Israel considered expanding its ground assault.
“We are not looking for a cease-fire, but a cease of terror,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday. “No nation has ever had such a confrontation.”
Richard Weisberg, a professor of constitutional law at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law, will be named Jan. 22 to the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration of the French Republic, during ceremonies at the French Embassy in Washington. The author of the book, “The Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France,” Weisberg will be cited in part for helping Jews recover about $50 million in deposits that were looted from French banks during the Vichy regime.
Q: What did your book deal with?
As American Jewish leaders and politicians flew to Israel to bring back eyewitness accounts of the war with Hamas, Jewish groups here arranged for Israeli leaders to brief their members by phone and fundraising efforts were launched to help Israelis under attack.
On Tuesday afternoon, several thousand people turned out on little notice for a pro-Israel rally held across from the Israeli Consulate, sponsored by AMCHA (Coalition for Jewish Concerns), Fuel For Truth, the National Council of Young Israel and about 20 other organizations.
For the first time, UJA-Federation of New York will provide scholarship money to Jewish day school students.
The $1 million in scholarships, to be awarded next year based on need, will be granted through the 280 yeshivas and Jewish day schools in the city, Long Island and Westchester. The minimum scholarship would be $5,000; the maximum is to be determined based on the number of eligible applications received.
Just days after Bernard Madoff’s arrest, senior lay and professional leaders of Hadassah huddled here to determine the extent of their loss and to figure out how they ever invested with him in the first place.
The amount lost was staggering — $90 million. There was no way to sugar coat it. The group had already delayed release of the figure by a couple of days.
A big concern was how Hadassah’s 300,000 members would react. Most of them are senior citizens who, it was believed, would be less than sympathetic to the way their money was handled.
He was all of Joseph’s brothers rolled into one.
He, of course, is Bernie Madoff. And his alleged betrayal of his financial brothers, so to speak, seems biblical in proportion — perhaps $50 billion, much of it from Madoff’s friends, people he had recruited from the country clubs of Palm Beach, Fla., and Long Island and the pews of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, among other places.