Rabbi Files Lawsuit Against D.C. Elections Board


WASHINGTON (JTA) -- An Orthodox rabbi in Washington and two of his congregants have filed a class-action suit against the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics.

The complaint, filed May 27, claims that the board placed an unconstitutional burden on observant Jews by scheduling a special election on the last day of Passover this year.

World ORT Meets in Berlin, Site of its Founding


BERLIN (JTA) - For the first time since World War II, World ORT has gathered its leadership at the site of its former world headquarters in Berlin.

The charitable organization, which focuses on vocational training and rehabilitation, invited 97 people from 23 countries to attend a two-day board of representatives meeting which ended Monday in Berlin, the city from which its students and teachers were deported to Auschwitz some 68 years ago..

1,600 Israelis Visit Joseph’s Tomb, Accompanied by Soldiers


JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Some 1,600 Jewish worshipers escorted by Israeli soldiers visited Joseph's Tomb for late night prayers, but the event was overshadowed by others who refused to leave the West Bank holy site.

The worshippers entered the site in the West Bank city of Nablus early Monday morning in coordination with the army. The visit came five weeks after a Jewish man who entered the tomb without permission was shot dead by a Palestinian policeman.

Cameron Steps Down From JNF in Britain


(JTA) -- A pro-Palestinian group is claiming responsibility for British Prime Minister David Cameron's stepping down as a patron of the Jewish National Fund.

Cameron's name was removed from the JNF's list of honorary patrons in recent days; earlier this month the pro-Palestinian Stop the JNF campaign sent a letter to Cameron calling on him to end his association with the charity.

Don’t ‘Delude’ Palestinians, Peres Tells U.N. Official


JERUSALEM (JTA) -- The United Nations "should not delude" the Palestinians into thinking that a unilateral declaration of a state will lead to its establishment, Israeli President Shimon Peres told a U.N. official.

Israel supports the establishment of an independent state, but one achieved through "direct and discreet" negotiations, Peres told U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Ashe-Rose Migiro Sunday during a meeting in Jerusalem.

Conservative Movement Ordains First Openly Gay Rabbi


 (JTA) – The Conservative movement ordained its first openly gay rabbi during ceremonies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Rachel Isaacs, 28, was ordained at JTS on May 19. She told the Forward that she began her rabbinical training at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, but switched to the Conservative seminary after it began admitting openly gay and lesbian students in 2007.

Senate Confirms Dan Shapiro as U.S. Ambassador to Israel


(JTA) -- The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Daniel Shapiro as America’s next ambassador to Israel.

Shapiro was nominated to the post in March by President Obama. At the time he was serving as senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. He had coordinated Jewish outreach for the Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The president’s nomination of Shapiro was praised by a wide range of Jewish groups.

Senators Introduce Enhanced Iran Sanctions Bill


WASHINGTON (JTA) -- U.S. Senators introduced an enhanced Iran sanctions bill matching one recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The crux of both bills is a ban on business with any entity that does $1 million in a single trade with Iran's energy sector, or $5 million over one year. The current threshold is $20 million in business per year.

Poll: D.C. Trip Sends Netanyahu's Popularity Soaring


JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity has risen dramatically following his Washington trip, according to a poll.

Some 47 percent of Israelis polled believe Netanyahu's trip to the United States was a success and some 10 percent viewed it as a failure, the new Haaretz poll found.

U.S. to Help Israel Buy More Iron Dome Systems


(JTA) -- The United States will help Israel buy four more Iron Dome short-range anti-missile systems, a Pentagon official said.

Lt.-Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee Wednesday that the agency has included in its budget a proposal to pay for four more of the protection systems, which each cost about $50 million.

The system, which has been deployed near Beersheba and Ashkelon, has intercepted rockets fired from Gaza on southern Israeli communities.

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