First Read For March 15


Father who inspired bone marrow search dies

Adam Krief, a Jewish cancer patient from Los Angeles whose search for a bone marrow donor captured the attention of social media and several celebrities, has died at 31, JTA reports. He was diagnosed with primary myelofibrosis, a rare form of blood cancer that is likely fatal if a stem cell transplant match is not found.

To find an HLA, or gene complex match — more difficult to track down than a blood type match — drives were held around the world, including in North America, Israel, France and Mexico. Participants included Mayim Bialik and Kim Kardashian who called for fans on social media to participate in the drive.

A bone-marrow donor was found last December, but Krief suffered complications following a transplant. He was a father of three children.

Israel loses in Baseball Classic

Israel’s Cinderella run at the World Baseball Classic is apparently over.

After winning its first four games, the Israeli team has little chance of advancing to the semi-finals, following a 8-3 loss to Japan in Tokyo today.


Role reversal: Israelis pray for U.S. Jews

At least one Jerusalem synagogue unintentionally offered a commentary on the shifting sands between Israelis and U.S. Jews last Shabbat – the rabbi offered a prayer on behalf of Jews in this country.

Along with a prayer for Israeli soldiers, one is usually recited for the State of Israel – “But now, we are the ones who are secure, and they are the ones facing danger. It is time that we began to pray on their behalf,” the rabbi at Daniel Gordis’ shul declared, the U.S.-born Israeli activist wrote in an essay for Bloomberg news.

“The prayer was concluded in a minute or two, but a sense that something profound had just transpired lingered,” Gordis wrote. In light of the recent series of bomb threats at Jewish institutions and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, attributed by some to the influence of statements by candidate-now-President Trump, “Israelis are looking at the world’s largest Diaspora community not with disdain, but with concern.”

European Court: Employers can bar workers’ religious garb

A European Union court ruled yesterday that companies can prohibit employees from wearing religious clothing and symbols – such as Jewish men’s kipot or Muslim women’s hijabs.  A rabbinical group declared that the decision amounts to saying that “faith communities are no longer welcome,” according to JTA.

“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg court said in a statement.

The ruling came amid a rise in the popularity of anti-Muslim politicians in Europe over the proliferation of jihadist attacks on the continent.

“This decision sends signals to all religious groups in Europe,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said. “With the rise of racially motivated incidents and today’s decision, Europe is sending a clear message; its faith communities are no longer welcome.”


Female tank operators in IDF future

The Israel Defense Forces has launched a pilot program to train women as tank operators, according to the Algemeiner. As part of the army’s effort to increase gender integration in infantry combat units, the four-month long course will include 15 female participants, who will begin the program this summer after completing basic training.

The screening process for suitable candidates among new recruits is already underway, the IDF said. An Armored Corps official said the main physical obstacles the trainees are likely to face are loading shells into a tank’s gun and dealing with a tank’s tracks coming off.

Hitler photo album goes on auction

A photo album of a relaxed Adolf Hitler, found by English photographer Edward Dean and English broadcaster Richard Dimbleby in Hitler’s bunker in Berlin in April 1945, will go up for auction today in Kent, England, according to Deutsche Welle, the German public broadcasting service.

The album will feature photos “that have never seen the light of way,” Deutsche Welle reports. Auctions consultant Tim Harper said the photos show Hitler more “natural, relaxed, a number of them are amusing … They are quite revealing.”

The album also contains photos of Hitler in his motorcade passing crowds of people cheering him, smiling next to a group of children, and alongside top members of the Nazi party including Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler. The photos “had to be taken by someone who had clearance to get close to the Fuehrer and close to that inner circle,” said Harper.

The album is currently owned by an unnamed collector. The album’s sales could bring more than $18,300 (15,000 British pounds), Harper said.

Bulgarian WWII heroes proposed for Nobel Peace Prize

Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni has started a campaign to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church, which protected the country’s Jewish minority during the Holocaust, Israeli media reported.  

Aloni, who heads the Committee for Friendship between the Israeli and Bulgarian Advocates, nominated the church for its “brave acts of heroism”—voting to condemn anti-Semitic laws during World War II and opposing the planned deportation of the country’s 48,000 Jews to Nazi death camps—and noted that “the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war.”