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  • Milan counter-demonstrators protest ultra-rightwing rally

    ROME (JTA) – Hundreds of people took part in a counter-demonstration in central Milan to protest an ultra-right-wing rally held in another downtown location. The two demonstrations Saturday took place about two miles apart, and no incidents were reported. Local media said the counter-demonstrators greatly outnumbered those at the far-right rally organized by the Forza Nuova movement….

  • Pope Francis and Abbas in Vatican meeting call for direct Israel-Palestinian talks

    ROME (JTA) – Pope Francis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting at the Vatican called for renewed direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas warned against moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a move that President-elect Donald Trump has said he intends to make without offering a specific timetable. “If…

  • Jews in Milan object to planned rally by far-right movement

    ROME (JTA) – Italian Jewish leaders warned against a neo-fascist rally planned for Saturday in Milan. In a joint statement, the president of the umbrella Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni, and the leaders of the Milan Jewish community called the planned rally by the far-right Forza Nuova movement “a dangerous initiative, promoted…

  • Palermo, Sicily, to get first synagogue in 500 years

    (JTA) – The Roman Catholic Church in Palermo is ceding to Jewish ownership the use of part of a church and monastery complex built atop the ruins of a medieval synagogue. The move is being viewed as a gesture of reconciliation more than 500 years after the expulsion of Jews from Sicily. The church will…

  • Italian Jews, IsraAID bring help to homeless earthquake victims in central Italy

    (JTA) – Italian Jews joined the IsraAID nonprofit organization in bringing help to people in central Italy who remain homeless after earthquakes last summer and fall. A delegation from the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI, and IsraAID visited the earthquake zone in recent days and delivered thermal blankets, jackets, shoes, portable heaters and…

  • Southern California Chabad center vandalized on first day of Hanukkah

    SANTA MONICA, Calif. (JTA) – A Chabad center in the Southern California city of Santa Monica was vandalized on the first day of Hanukkah. Feces and rice were smeared on the window of the Living Torah Center on Wilshire Boulevard either late Saturday night or early Sunday, according to media reports. Rabbi Boruch Rabinowitz discovered the defacement when…

  • That time John Glenn wrote me a letter in 1961

    The early astronauts were real heroes to us earthbound, space-struck kids, and to this particular stargazing dreamer, John Glenn was the most heroic of them all. He may not have been Jewish, but he was definitely a mensch. When I was in elementary school in suburban Philadelphia, I had a vivid, almost cinematic dream about…

  • One Ruth Gruber says goodbye to another

    (JTA) – When you share a name with someone you respect and admire, you always try to live up to the connection, because sometimes outsiders aren’t aware of the difference. That’s how it was for decades with me and Ruth Gruber, the noted photojournalist, reporter and author who died last week at age 105 after…

  • Arab religious leaders visit Rome synagogue

    ROME (JTA) – An interfaith delegation from Bahrain and other Arab countries met with Italian Jewish leaders at Rome’s main synagogue. Rome’s Jewish community president, Ruth Dureghello, called Friday’s encounter historic. “You will always find our doors open to fight together for a world that is more free, to reinforce the challenge of dialogue,” she said. Led…

  • Ex-Italian soccer player suspended from TV job repudiates anti-Semitism, racism

    ROME (JTA) — A former Italian soccer player who was suspended as a TV commentator after displaying on air a pro-fascist tattoo says he repudiates “anti-Semitic, racist, discriminatory, and violent” views. Paolo Di Canio made his statement in a letter to Noemi Di Segni, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI,…