New York

How Mainstream Are American Muslims?

Assistant Managing Editor
A comprehensive survey of U.S. Muslims released last week, apparently the first of its kind, offered a mostly mainstream picture of a community that has fallen under a microscope since 9/11.

Arabic Public School Sparks Debate

Assistant Managing Editor
The announcement of a planned public school in Brooklyn focusing on Arab culture has taken the city’s education department into uncharted waters, fielding concerns over fundamentalism and the propriety of singling out cultures. Local Jewish groups either favor the creation of the Khalil Gibran International Academy — to open next year for 81 sixth to 12th grade students of all ethnic backgrounds — or have taken no position against it, even as some commentators sound alarms.

Hands-Off Approach

Assistant Managing Editor
With the blessing of rabbinic authorities, the Orthodox Union’s youth group has launched a Web site promoting abstinence and warning of the impact of premarital sex on the body, mind and spirit. While declaring that they are “deeply disturbed” by teens “increasingly engaged in sexual experimentation,” officials of the National Council of Synagogue Youth insisted there was no particular catalyst within the organization’s membership.

Above And Beyond

Assistant Managing Editor
The first time Jacob Dechter received his medals of honor for service during World War II, there wasn’t much fanfare. They came in the mail, he said, with nice letters, but there was no ceremony. The second time, last month, drew more attention as two employees of an Arizona electronics firm — surrounded by news cameras — returned them following a delivery mishap. In between lies a tale of an ex-Marine who got the wrong package, a hero who voluntarily risked his life on behalf of his adopted country, and the genealogist who brought them together.

Home Found For Louise Wise Records

Staff Writer

Nearly 10 months after ceasing its operations, an adoption agency with Jewish communal origins has reached an agreement with a similar organization to house and manage documents from some 80 years of services.

The decision between the defunct Louise Wise Services and Spence-Chapin means that thousands of people whose lives were affected by adoptions will continue to have limited access to birth records and other material that might aid them with reunion efforts or health crises.

Religious Right Attacks Spitzer

Assistant Managing Editor
A powerful Christian right group says it pressured Gov. Eliot Spitzer into proclaiming a day of prayer and reflection in the state on Monday — just four days before the event. According to the Web site of Focus on the Family, which has a National Day of Prayer Task Force, Spitzer’s office did not initially return phone calls from the organization regarding the proclamation.

Paterson Seen As Favorable To Tuition Break

Assistant Managing Editor
If Gov. David Paterson gets past the continuing controversies over his private life, he may emerge as a formidable advocate for private-school families. Paterson “is a friend to efforts to secure help for tuition-paying families,” says Michael Tobman of Teach NYS, the group lobbying for a tax break for private school parents. “As Senate minority leader he supported the 2006 education tax credit campaign.”

New Fire Safety Effort After Tragedy

Staff Writer
The New York Fire Department was stepping up safety education efforts in Orthodox areas this week after a fire in Williamsburg on the second day of Passover left three chasidic boys dead. “We passed out over 5,000 fliers [before the holiday] to explain hazards and precautions that should be taken, and we’ll be back out there again and do it this week,” said the FDNY’s chief of operations, Salvatore Cassano. “The holiday isn’t over yet.”

Arab Bank Facing U.S. Penalties

Staff Writer
The Jordan-based Arab Bank, which shut down its New York branch earlier this year amid allegations of terrorist ties, is facing some $40 million in fines from the U.S. government as evidence emerges that it helped Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and other groups, according to media reports. The fine would be levied as penalties for failing to disclose transactions with groups the government considers supportive of terrorism, The Wall Street Journal reported, noting that the transactions largely took place before the groups were so designated.

Bloomberg Bucking Independence Line

Staff Writer
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking to distance himself from the state’s fastest growing political party following the latest controversy surrounding one of its leaders, Lenora Fulani, The Jewish Week has learned. Sources close to Bloomberg’s campaign say he is “actively negotiating” with members of the troubled Liberal Party in an effort to revitalize it in time for November’s election, which would provide the Republican mayor a much-needed second ballot line in an overwhelmingly Democratic town.
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