Teen accused in synagogue fire released from jail
The 14-year-old boy accused of starting the fire that destroyed the historic Beth Medresh Hagadol synagogue on the Lower East appeared in Manhattan court on Wednesday but was released and has yet to be charged, the New York Post reports.
David Diaz, wearing a maroon hoodie and khaki pants, appeared in Manhattan Family Court for what was supposed to be his arraignment, and left the building after a brief meeting with the New York City Law Department, which handles juvenile cases. “We are continuing our investigation into this matter,” said a Law Department spokesman. “If we file charges on a future date, a press statement will be issued at that time.”
Cops arrested Diaz at his Lower East Side home, and was later released without bail to his parents. Police Commissioner James O’Neill has said the crime “doesn’t appear to be bias-related.”
Trump signs waiver; U.S. Embassy stays in Tel Aviv
President Trump yesterday signed an order to renew the six-month waiver that allows the U.S. embassy to remain in Tel Aviv rather than moving it to Jerusalem. The previous such waiver, signed by President Obama, expired yesterday, JTA reports.
“No one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House said in a statement. “President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he is “disappointed” that the embassy will not move at this time.
Rabbi of Hamptons synagogue leaves after ten years
Relatives, friends, board members, and congregants of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons “overflowed the center’s sun-filled sanctuary” this week to bid farewell to Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, who is leaving East Hampton after 10 years, the East Hampton Star reports.
The rabbi, who formerly served as spiritual leader in Dallas at one of the largest synagogues in the United States, will return to the Texas city, where he will lecture in the department of Jewish studies at Southern Methodist University.
Anti-Semitic message found in Pittsburgh suburb
An anti-Semitic message has been left in a public area in a suburb of Pittsburgh for the third time in recent months, the Times of Israel reports. “Kill the Jews!” was found spelled out in pine cones with a swastika in Mt. Lebanon, Penn.
The woman who found the threat in a residential neighborhood rearranged the cones to read “Love,” but not before taking a photograph of the hate message and calling police, said Mt. Lebanon Police Lt. Duane Fisher.
In December, swastikas were drawn into a windowsill of a girls’ bathroom at a local middle school, and a racial slur was painted on a tackling dummy on its sports field. Prior to that, a swastika was drawn into the mulch near a local elementary school’s playground; a middle school student admitted to drawing that swastika.
JDC assists victims of Sri Lanka floods
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is responding with emergency aid to recent “catastrophic flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka,” JTA reports. More than 200 people have been confirmed dead and at least 100 missing in the worst storms to hit the island nation since 2003.
JDC, together with its local partner Sarvodaya, a Buddhist-inspired humanitarian organization, deployed its first responder unit to provide food, water, and other emergency aid in Sri Lanka’s five hardest hit districts.
More than 77,000 have been displaced and over 1,500 homes destroyed since rains began swamping the southern and western areas of Sri Lanka nearly a week ago.