News

Czech Cemetery Crisis Intensifies

03/17/2000
Staff Writer
Prague, Czech Republic — Pavel Dostal could hardly contain his anger. The nattily attired Czech minister of culture sat in his conference room, arms folded and jaw tight, as he explained how he felt betrayed by the Jewish community he was trying to help. Dostal, bearing a resemblance to Kurt Vonnegut and dressed in gray bow tie, matching silk shirt and jacket, spoke with reserved bitterness last week while relating through a translator how he had become the victim of a worldwide misinformation campaign by the haredi and Orthodox Jewish communities.

Will Pope Apologize For The Holocaust?

03/10/2000
Staff Writer
All eyes now turn to Jerusalem. Not satisfied with Pope John Paul II’s general apology to the world on Sunday, some Jewish leaders are hoping the pontiff will come through with an unprecedented and specific declaration about Christian responsibility for the Holocaust and 2,000 years of anti-Semitic acts when he visits the Yad Vashem memorial next Thursday. He will meet with survivors from the Polish town of Wadowice, where the Pope was born 79 years ago.

Millennium Mea Culpas

03/10/2000
Staff Writer
On the eve of Pope John Paul II’s historic trip to Israel, scheduled for March 20-26, the Vatican is offering the world several apologies for sins committed by Christians over the past 2,000 years, including its treatment of Jews. The “apologies” stem from a campaign by John Paul for a collective examination of conscience as the Church begins its third millennium. The Pope has made repentance and reconciliation a theme of this Holy Year observance.

Prague Softens Old Slur

03/10/2000
Staff Writer
Prague, Czech Republic — Under gray, rainy skies, dozens of curious onlookers huddled together Wednesday to watch the unveiling of a new addition to the gleaming centuries-old crucifixion statue overlooking the historic Charles Bridge — the first in more than 300 years. And some hope it could signal improved relations between the city’s Christians and its small, struggling Jewish community.

Polish Restitution Plan Slammed

01/14/2000
Staff Writer
U.S. officials are condemning as “discriminatory” a draft bill by Poland’s parliament that would block Holocaust survivors from reclaiming billions of dollars in private property confiscated by the Nazis and Communists 50 years ago. The proposed legislation by Poland’s Sejm, or lower house of parliament, would restrict property claims to Polish citizens who have lived in the country for the last five years — effectively barring claims from Jewish and non-Jewish Polish survivors, or their heirs, now living in America or elsewhere.

New Twists In ‘Crazy’ Custody Case

12/31/1999
Staff Writer
In a bitter custody case that has sparked international Jewish concern, an Italian appeals court last week threw out a lower-court decision that granted custody of two Jewish children to their non-observant Israeli-born father, and not their Orthodox mother. The reversal brought a sigh of relief from American Orthodox Jewish leaders who charged that the lower court in Genoa discriminated against Orthodox Judaism, likening it to a dangerous cult.

Groups Lay Groundwork For Polish Plan

09/24/1999
Staff Writer
A local Polish Jewish organization and an international Jewish group will share jurisdiction over the control of perhaps billions of dollars of Jewish communal properties being returned by the Polish government, according to a tentative deal reached between the two parties. The proposed agreement over some 6,000 properties seized by the Nazis and communists comes after three years of acrimonious negotiations between the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the Union of Polish Jewish Congregations.

Vatican Raps Anti-Pius Book

09/17/1999
Staff Writer
Jews and Catholics are at odds over a new book charging Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII with being pro-Hitler and an anti-Semite. Vatican supporters are slamming as “scurrilous” the forthcoming book, “Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII,” by British author John Cornwell, whose evidence reportedly includes “secret” documents from the Vatican archives. Cornwell claims Pius XII, Pope from 1939 to 1958, was a visceral anti-Semite who condoned Hitler’s policy towards the Jews and did nothing to stop the Holocaust.

Polish Restitution Plan Condemned

09/10/1999
Staff Writer
Taking another step in a lengthy process, the Polish cabinet last weekend approved a draft bill outlining the conditions for restitution for those whose private property was seized by the Nazis and communists. The bill must be sent to parliament, where debate is expected to be fierce.

A Jewish Tree Grows In Poland?

09/10/1999
Staff Writer
Warsaw, Poland — Konstanty Gebert likes to compare this city’s fledgling Jewish community to a sapling cut from a tree, replanted, and now forging its own identity. What this journalist and Jewish community leader doesn’t like are Jewish critics who state that Poland’s struggling Jewish community is irrelevant or dead. Like the famous Mark Twain quip, Gebert insists that such reports are highly exaggerated.
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