Cuomo Orders Probe Into Rochester Cemetery Vandalism


Campaign launches for transgender Jews

In the wake of the Trump administration’s rescinding bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools, Keshet, a prominent Jewish LGBT advocacy organization, has launched an educational campaign on behalf of transgender Jews.

“Kavod Achshav [Dignity Now] – For the Sake of Dignity: A Campaign for Trans Youth” will distribute lesson plans and materials for parents and educators, as well as personal essays, reports.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo orders probe into vandalized Jewish cemetery in Rochester, NY

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a police investigation into the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Rochester, JTA reports. Five headstones were found toppled Thursday morning at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery, also known as the Stone Road Cemetery, in Rochester, the third such incident in the United States in less than two weeks.

“Given the wave of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and disturbing vandalism at Jewish cemeteries nationwide, I am directing the State Police to immediately launch a full investigation into this matter,” Cuomo said Thursday in a statement. “New York has zero tolerance for bias or discrimination of any kind, and we will always stand united in the face of anti-Semitism and divisiveness.”

This comes at a time when anti-Semitic incidents are up 94 percent in New York City over this time last year, but this incident has not been labelled a hate crime as of yet.

Joint U.S.-Israeli cannabis manufacturing

An Israeli firm and a partner in New Mexico have launched the first-ever pharmaceutical cannabis production lab in the United States.

The Lod-based Panaxia Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and Ultra Health, from Albuquerque, have opened a facility in Bernalillo, New Mexico, which will manufacture smokeless, accurately dosed cannabis medication in a variety of delivery methods.

Panaxia is providing the smokeless proprietary cannabinoid dosage and treatment protocols, which are not readily available in the U.S., in order to produce a number of medications to treat different illnesses, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The products can be used to help ease symptoms from conditions that require ongoing dosing, such as PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, neuropathy, epilepsy, anorexia and HIV/AIDS.

German party criticizes ‘one-sided concentration’ on Nazi era

A small political party in Germany, calling for “a balanced view of history,” is urging the country to downplay Germans’ emphasis on crimes committed against the Jewish people during World War II.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Alternative for Germany, known as the AfD, which began in opposition to the euro and moved on to fighting Germany’s refugee influx, now is increasingly emphasizing “a broader, substantially more provocative goal: changing how Germans see their past.”

The party, in a debate over a draft budget for the state of Baden-Württemberg, criticized $69,000 that was alotted this year for educational trips to “memorials of National Socialist injustice,” and submitted a motion to strike the reference to the Nazi Party and instead use the money for visits to “significant German historic sites.”

“AfD politicians say an unhealthy obsession with the Nazi crimes of World War II skews Germans’ understanding of their country’s history, leaves no place for national pride and interferes with government policy,” the Journal reports.

The AfD is polling at about 11 percent of public with national elections a half-year away.

1,800-year-old stone column discovered in northern Israel

Archaeologists have discovered and restored a stone column with Hebrew inscriptions from an 1,800-year-old synagogue in the town of Peki’in, in the western Galilee region. 

The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the column was found as part of the Authority’s work on the ancient synagogue in Peki’in. “The stone was found upside down in the building’s courtyard, and upon discovery of the inscriptions, archeologists from the IAA arrived at the site to examine the special find,” the IAA said in a statement. “A preliminary analysis of the engravings suggests that these are dedicatory inscriptions honoring donors to the synagogue.”

Charedi candidate’s hands-off behavior criticized

A charedi Jew who is a candidate in the mayoral election in Manchester, England, has drawn criticism from an opponent because he refuses to shake hands with women.

The London Jewish Chronicle reports that Shneur Odze, a member of the Ukip party, was criticized by Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy for his adherence to the Jewish law that discourages men and women who are not related from touching each other.

Brophy said Odze’s practice disqualifies him from running for office.

Pope Francis receives illustrated Torah

An artistic version of the Torah was presented to the Pope at a special ceremony in the Vatican last week, the London Jewish Chronicle reports.

Pope Francis received the first copy of “The Torah Project,” featuring 27 lithographs of the work of Jewish-Cuban artist Baruj Salinas, from a small group of Jewish and Christian children.

Pope Francis described the book as “the fruit of a ‘covenant’ between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort,” according to the Chronicle.