First Read For June 15


London Jewry aids victims of fatal apartment fire

The Jewish community of London reached out to the victims of yesterday’s high-rise apartment fire in London, JTA reports.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis offered prayers on behalf of the people who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower blaze, and the Holland Park Synagogue, located just blocks away from the apartment asked its members to donate items to those affected by the fire.

The Board of Deputies of British Jewry, an umbrella group, said in a tweet that it was exploring the best ways in which it could help the families displaced by the blaze.

Anti-Semitism position may not be filled

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday retreated from his department’s earlier commitment to fill the post of envoy to combat anti-Semitism, saying the effort may be more effective without one.

JTA reports that Tillerson told the foreign operations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, that the value of the special envoy is questionable. “One of the questions I’ve asked is, if we’re really going to affect these areas, these special areas, don’t we have to affect it through the delivery on mission at every level at every country?”

Since Congress established the position with a 2004 law, the role of the envoy has been to train career State Department officers and diplomats in identifying and combating anti-Semitism and to encourage embassies and bureaus to more closely monitor anti-Semitism.

European Jewish community officials have said that having an envoy has delivered a message to their governments that the United States is focused on anti-Semitism.

Israeli novelist wins prestigious literary prize

Iraeli author David Grossman was awarded the prestigious Man Booker International Prize award in London yesterday, the Jerusalem Post reports.Booker and his translator, Jessica Cohen, will receive a £50,000 (about $64,000) prize to split between them.

Grossman won for his recent work “A Horse Walks Into a Bar,” which centers around Dovaleh Greenstein, who wanders into a dive bar one night to perform a stand-up routine, and reveals the traumatic moment in his childhood that changed him forever.

The prestigious Man Booker Award has been presented since the 1960s, and the International Prize since 2005. The International Prize is awarded for an English translation of a book by a living author of any nationality.

Anti-Semitic vandalism at Romanian synagogue

Anti-Semitic messages have been found painted on the wall of a synagogue in Romania.

According to JTA, “Holocaust Never Happened” and “All the Best” with a Star of David were painted in black and red on the outside of the Synagogue of Deportees Memorial Temple in Cluj-Napoca, in the northwestern part of the country.

Though the synagogue is located on a main thoroughfare in the city, no witnesses have come forward with information about the vandalism.

About 400 Jews live in the area.

Wonder Woman is welcome in Jordan’s theaters

Jordan has decided not to ban the film “Wonder Woman” from the country’s movie theaters.

JTA reports that the head of the country’s Communications Commission announced that “The film was allowed to screen in Jordanian cinemas due to a lack of legal precedent to do otherwise, as outlined by Regulation No. 63 of 2004, on the Clearance and Control of Audiovisual Works.”

But at least one movie theater in Amman has apologized for showing the movie and canceled future screenings over the fact that the star, Gal Gadot, is Jewish.

Lebanon earlier banned the film as part of its boycott of all things Israeli. A Tunisian court last week banned the screening of the film while the country’s cultural review commission decides whether or not the movie should be permanently banned.

International pro-Israel campaign is launched

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan has launched an international initiative to unify Israeli advocates around the world.

Under the brand “4IL”, the Ministry launched a new website that includes videos, graphics, articles and other content. At the same time, the Israeli American Council and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya launched the app, which “provides simple but effective online tasks for anyone who wishes to stand up for Israel.”

The 4IL campaign, which was launched in the U.S., Israel and soon in Europe, is aimed at creating “an energized online community to combat the online lies, calls for boycotts and the de-legitimization of the State of Israel.”