Your First Read For Sep 18


Flooded-out Houston shul to meet in mega-church

Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston, whose sanctuary was flooded during hurricane Harvey last month, will hold High Holy Days services this year in the Lakewood Church, the one-time basketball arena headed by TV preacher Joel Osteen.

Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice reports that the ecumenical gesture was arranged by Denis Braham, the synagogue’s senior advisory board member, who has a close relationship with the Osteen family.
“The Lakewood leadership consists of outstanding people who want to help the community,” said Braham. “I reached out to them and they didn’t hesitate. They told me, ‘Let’s have a meeting and make this work.’”.

Beth Yeshurun will not require tickets for attendance. Lakewood will be providing security.


King of Bahrain denounces boycott of Israel

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has denounced the Arab boycott of Israel and said his subjects are free to visit the Jewish state, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The head of the Persian Gulf country, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, made the statements to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, at a multi-denominational event at the center to sign and support a declaration denouncing religious hatred and violence.

Cooper and his partner at the Wiesenthal Center, Marvin Hier, visited Manama, Bahrain’s capital, by invitation, early this year to discuss the ruler’s plan to establish a Museum of Religious Tolerance in the capital.

St. Louis synagogue opens doors to protestors, anti-Semitic Twitter storm ensues

When recent protests over the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man turned violent in St. Louis, the city’s Central Reform Synagogue opened its doors for demonstrators fleeing police tear gas and rubber bullets, the Jerusalem Post reports.

In response, opponents of the demonstrators began calling on police to breach the sanctuary and began tweeting the hashtag #GasTheSynagogue accompanied by anti-Semitic and racist comments.
“Because of the leadership in our country, there has been unleashed this kind of permission to have that kind of disgusting behavior,” Rabbi Susan Talve said in response. “We can’t let hate stop us from living our lives. We are gonna do our due diligence, we are going to use every avenue that we have to root out that kind of hate and try to be safe and be strong.”

Boston University honors Elie Wiesel’s memory

Boston University yesterday paid tribute to the late Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who taught for several years at the school.

The New York Daily News reports that the campus event included panel discussions on Mr. Wiesel’s writings and humanitarian work, along with guest speeches and tributes. Among participants were Elisha Wiesel, the writer’s son, and Cornell William Brooks, a former president of the NAACP who studied with Mr. Wiesel at Boston University.

A Jewish cop’s undercover crime-fighting adventure

A New York Daily News story is telling the exploits of a Jewish-born NYPD detective who posed as an Italian mobster, moving between two factions of the Bonanno and Luchese crime families. The officer, whose name was not given for security reasons, took on the persona of Vincent Spinelli, a dangerous truck hijacker and gun-runner with a warehouse full of swag who spent 11 years chasing terrorists, and, later, Afghani drug lords as a consultant with U.S. Special Forces.

“I’ve had an interesting life,” he said. “I had opportunities that a lot of people don’t have. Now, I live to play golf.”

To play the role, the Jewish kid from Flushing had to learn the lingo and customs of the mob, and that started with regular visits to the A. Reali Gourmet Deli on Utopia Parkway in Auburndale, Queens.

Israeli Army declares war on smoking

The Israeli Army is stamping down on smoking and will stop selling cigarettes at 56 open bases across the country beginning on November 1, the Jerusalem Post reports. “The risk of smoking in the IDF is high,” said Brig.-Gen. Meirav Kirshner, head of the army’s Manpower Directorate, who explained that over 2.5 million cigarettes and other tobacco products are sold each year in Shekem stores on IDF bases.

While cafeterias, lecture halls, offices and other enclosed public areas are all designated as mandatory smoke-free areas, and soldiers caught smoking in them face disciplinary action, new guidelines will see more stringent disciplinary actions against those who are caught breaking the new guidelines.

Pioneer Israeli aviator dies at 94

Mitchell Flint, an American aviator who helped form the Israeli Air Force in 1948 and served in Israel’s first fighter squadron has died at 94, according to the Times of Israel.

In the summer of 1948, Mr. Flint, with a record as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot during World War II, graduated as an industrial engineer from the Berkeley campus of the University of California.“I’m Jewish, Israel desperately needed trained fighter pilots, so I thought I could perhaps do something to sustain the state,” he said in a 2012 interview.

He became one of the founding members of “Machal,” a group of non-Israelis who fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, among the original members of the Israeli Air Force’s first fighter squadron.