Rabbi Balkany Sentenced To Four Years


A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Rabbi Milton Balkany to four years in jail for trying to extort $4 million for his school, Bais Yaakov of Borough Park, from billionaire Steven Cohen's SAC Capital, using supposedly damaging information he obtained from an inmate at a federal prison where he served as a spiritual adviser.

Philanthropist Yitzchak Shavit, 67


Yitzchak Shavit, a philanthropist who served as a leader in the Jewish Federation movement and the Jewish Agency, died Feb. 20 in his New York home. He was 67.

A Center for Resource Development named for Mr. Shavit was dedicated Sunday at the Jerusalem headquarters of the Jewish Agency.

“Yitzchak was truly unique in his warmth, his irrepressible energy and dedication to the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” Kathy Manning, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

New Zealand Earthquake Destroys Chabad House


(JTA) — An Israeli backpacker is believed to be among the 65 people killed in Tuesday's quake in New Zealand, and the destruction in Christchurch on the country's South Island included the city's Chabad House.

The Israeli, who was not immediately named by Israeli officials, was in a car with three other Israelis when a building collapsed on them during the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that ripped through the city around lunchtime, according to Rabbi Shmuel Friedman, a Chabad rabbi in Christchurch.

Orthodox Rabbis Call Israeli Policy ‘Unjust’


Israel’s Interior Ministry, under Shas party leadership, may have exceeded the limits of tolerance, even among Orthodox rabbis, in its latest move that would in effect prohibit Orthodox converts from making aliyah.

Charges Filed Against 'Irvine 11'


(JTA) — Criminal charges were filed against 11 members of a Muslim student organization who disrupted a speech at the University of California, Irvine, by Israel's U.S. ambassador. During the Feb. 8, 2010 speech by Michael Oren, the 11 defendants stood one by one and shouted at the ambassador, calling him a “mass murderer” and a “war criminal” to protest Israeli actions in Gaza. Oren walked off the stage twice.

Gas Pipeline Explosion Terror Related, Probe Finds


(JTA) — An explosion in an Egyptian natural gas line in the Sinai Peninsula, which cut off supplies to Israel, was the result of terrorism, according to an Egyptian investigation.

Egyptian Judge Abdel Nasser el-Tayeb, the chief investigator of the Feb. 5 explosion, said Monday that four masked gunmen set off explosives in the gas terminal by remote control after restraining the guards, according to testimony by the guards, The Associated Press reported.

Court Settles Dispute Over ORT Name


An appeals court in Israel has ruled that both World ORT and ORT Israel may use their proper names, overruling a district court that in 2007 had ordered World ORT to use a different name to avoid confusion.

UJA-Fed. Hopeful After Disappointing Super Sunday


Preliminary numbers released from the UJA-Federation of New York’s annual “Super Sunday” telephone fundraising campaign indicate lower returns than the past three years – but they’re not done counting yet.

“We’re still continuing to process gifts,” said Mark Medin, senior vice president for financial resources development, who indicated that the current number stands around $700,000. The toll for 2010 was close to $1 million and 2009 saw $831,997 raised.

Arsonists Strike Tunisian Synagogue


(JTA) — The Torah scrolls at a Tunisian synagogue were burned in a fire reportedly set by arsonists.

The synagogue in the southern Gabes region was set ablaze Monday night. Jewish community leader Perez Trabelsi told the French news agency AFP about the scrolls and criticized police for not stopping the attack.

"I condemn this action and I believe those who did it want to create divisions between Jews and Muslims in Tunisia who have lived for decades in peace," Trabelsi told Reuters.

Birthright Rejects J Street Partnership


(JTA) — Birthright Israel has rejected a proposed partnership trip with J Street, saying it no longer works with organizations with Israel-related political leanings.

J Street had begun promoting the trip last week being organized by its campus arm, J Street U, in cooperation with Israel Experience, one of several tour providers used by Birthright. But Birthright said it nixed the idea for a J Street trip focusing on progressivism and social action when it was first presented months ago.

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