Delegation Investigating Embassy Move; Conservative Movement Welcomes Non-Jews; Croatia Studies Nazi Past


Conservative movement: Non-Jews welcome as members

The umbrella body for Conservative synagogues has approved a resolution to allow individual congregations to decide whether to grant membership to non-Jews, JTA reports. The resolution was passed during a Special Meeting of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism General Assembly held over the internet with electronic voting. The measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 94 to 8 with one abstention; 15 members did not vote, according to a statement from the USCJ.

“USCJ supports every affiliated kehillah in developing its own criteria for membership,” the resolution reads, using a Hebrew word for “congregation.”

U.S. delegation investigating embassy move

An official U.S. delegation visited Israel this weekend to study the possibility of relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The delegation was led by Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who chairs the subcommittee for National Security for the US House Oversight Committee.

President Trump had promised to relocate the embassy during his campaign for the White House, but since his January inauguration, “his lukewarm statements about the matter led many to speculate that he would not make good on his pledge,” according to JTA.

Seven-year sentence for attack on French Jew

A teenager who attacked a Jewish teacher in France with a machete was sentenced to seven years in jail by a French juvenile court last week, according to Haaretz. The 17-year-old was convicted at a closed-doors trial for slightly wounding teacher Benjamin Amsellem, who was wearing a kipa while walking to school in January 2016 in Marseille.

Prosecutor Brice Robin said the teenager, who was not identified, had acted in the name of the Islamic State militant group.

Britain to fund security measures for Jewish community

British Home Seccretary Amber Rudd has pledged to continue budgeting $16 million for the security of the Jewish community, noting that Jews remain a target for terrorists, the Jerusalem Post reports. Rudd pointed to attacks against Jews in Paris, Brussels, Toulouse and Copenhagen in recent years, as well as a more recent case of a 16-year-old girl in Denmark who was charged for planning to blow up a Jewish school.

“Daesh [ISIS] literature continues to identify the Jewish community as a ‘desirable and legitimate’ target,” Rudd said, in an address to the Community Security Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting British Jews.

Croatia to study its Nazi past

The Croatian government has appointed a panel to suggest ways to deal with the country’s pro-Nazi, pro-Muslim and then Communist regimes, the Jewish Press reports. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said he would like the commission to recommend how to educate children about human rights violations under totalitarian regimes and “how to approach issues like naming streets and public places after past fascist heroes.”

The idea for the commission followed an incident last November near the site of the World War II Jasenovac concentration camp in central Croatia, where rightwing veterans of Croatia’s secession war of 1991-95 raised a plaque in memory of comrades killed in Croatia’s struggle for independence from Serbian-led Yugoslavia.

The plaque included the salutation “Za Dom Spremni” (Ready for the Homeland), which was used by the Ustaša movement,  the fascist, ultra-nationalist and terrorist organization whose members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma during World War II.

Iranian musician rocks in Tel Aviv

Following a historic performance in Israel, exiled Iranian rock musician Shahin Najafi says he will not allow his Iranian detractors’ death threats to scare him away from collaborating with Israeli artists in the name of peace, according to the Voice of America.

Najafi, 36, sang alongside Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen at a concert in Tel Aviv last week — the first performance by an Iranian artist at an Israeli rock concert. Najafi, born in the northern Iranian province of Gilan, fled Iran in 2004 under threat of imprisonment by Iranian authorities for creating songs deemed offensive to Islam.

Undeterred by Iranian threats, Najafi met with Geffen in Milan late last year and accepted an invitation to perform in Tel Aviv.

At his Tel Aviv concert, Najafi read a message he addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “all politicians,” expressing opposition to “walls” anywhere in the world and urging national leaders to “stop dividing people before it’s too late.”

Showing Jewish pride via a buzz cut

As a response to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, an Israeli-born soccer player with the English Football League is proudly displaying his faith—with a distinct buzz cut.

ABC News reports that Tomer Hemed, who plays for the Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, has posted to his social media accounts a photo of himself showing a Star of David shaved into his hair.

“Always representing #starofdavid #jewish #israel #proudtobejewish #bhafc,” wrote Hemed, 29, who is married to model and former Miss Israel Shunit Faragi.