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  • Chanukah ceremonies at Vatican, Arch of Titus are full of symbolism

    ROME, Dec. 24 (JTA) — Chanukah was ushered in in Rome this year with two unprecedented menorah-lighting ceremonies — one at the Vatican and one at the ancient Roman arch that is the symbol of the Jewish Diaspora. After Rome’s Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff chanted the blessings, Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro lit the first…

  • Ancona Jews confront fear their community may disappear

    ANCONA, Italy, Aug. 10 (JTA) — On a recent Saturday morning, the Jews of Ancona celebrated a special event. A Bar Mitzvah. Not the Bar Mitzvah of a 13-year-old boy taking his place within the Jewish community, but the Bar Mitzvah of a man in his mid-20s. “I’m very excited, but I feel great,” said…

  • Jews in Yugoslavia fear new wave of widespread nationalism

    ROME, Aug. 5 (JTA) — Jewish community leaders in Belgrade fear a wave of mounting intolerance fueled by Serbian nationalism and political, social and economic insecurity. “Lately in our society, with increasing frequency and severity, declarations are being made which instigate national, religious and racial hatred and xenophobia,” the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia…

  • AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD Jewish museum main attraction in Austrian town with few Jews

    HOHENEMS, Austria, July 23 (JTA) — “There are a handful of Jews living in Vorarlberg,” said 83-year-old retired businessman Erik Welsch. “But I’m probably the only one who will be buried here — and therefore stay here permanently.” Vorarlberg is the small region at the far western tip of Austria near the Swiss border and…

  • Court gives former Nazi officers reduced sentences for massacre

    ROME, July 22 (JTA) — The light sentences handed down against former Nazi SS Capt. Erich Priebke and former SS Maj. Karl Hass have evoked expressions of concern. Tullia Zevi, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said the reduced sentences the two received Tuesday were a disappointment, but that “an important principle has…

  • Publisher in Italy withdraws book on Jews and the church

    ROME, July 16 (JTA) — An Italian publisher has withdrawn a book about Jews and the Catholic Church in the wake of protests from Italy’s Jewish leadership and others that it smacks of anti-Semitic historical revisionism. Critics said that the book, “Gli Ebrei e la Chiesa,” or “Jews and the Church,” sought to blame the…

  • AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD European Jews battle prediction that `Vanishing Diaspora’ means them

    STRASBOURG, France, July 13 (JTA) — “Vanishing Diaspora”” was the title of a controversial book published last year by Harvard University Press. In it, British Jewish scholar Bernard Wasserstein theorized that on the basis of demographic trends, Jews in Europe “face slow diminution, at worst virtual extinction.”” “Here and there,”” wrote the director of the…

  • Austrians flock to events promoting Jewish culture

    VIENNA, July 9 (JTA) — Violinist Alexei Biz knows what he did not want. “I never wanted to be `the Russian Jewish fiddler,’ the official `fiddler on the roof’ of Vienna,” he said. “I wanted to be cosmopolitan in music, exactly as I am in life.” Biz’s latest high-profile job conflicted with that wish —…

  • BEHIND THE HEADLINES NATO expansion seen as positive move for former Soviet-bloc Jews

    STRASBOURG, France, July 8 (JTA) — Is there a Jewish stake in the expansion of NATO? Jewish leaders from Eastern and Central Europe see the expansion as a way of anchoring their countries within the West, strengthening overall democratic development and providing a more secure base for a viable Jewish future. “With membership in NATO…

  • Former Nazi officer defends role in 1944 Italian massacre

    ROME, June 25 (JTA) — Former SS Capt. Erich Priebke, on trial for the second time for his role in the Nazis’ worst World War II atrocity in Italy, appeared in court this week to read out a lengthy statement in his defense. The 84-year-old Priebke, who participated in the March 1944 massacre of 335…