Your First Read For Oct 4


Don’t ditch Iran nuclear deal, Mattis urges

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday that United States should consider staying in the Iran nuclear deal, reports. Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it would be unwise to step away from the accord unless it is proven that Tehran was not abiding by the agreement or that it was not in the U.S. national interest to do so.

 His view was far more positive than that of President Trump, who has called the deal agreed between Iran and six world powers in 2015 an “embarrassment.” Trump is weighing whether the pact serves US security interests as he faces an Oct. 15 deadline for certifying that Iran is complying.

The White House had no immediate comment on Mattis’ remarks.

Schumer: Don’t send Jewish artifacts back to Iraq

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has urged the State Department not to send back to Iraq a trove of artifacts that belonged to its now-exiled Jewish community, JTA reports.

“These items belong to the people who were forced to leave them behind when the Iraqi government chose to exile them from their homes,” he said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Since the exile of Jews from Iraq virtually no Jewish life remains in the country – this treasured collection belongs to the Jewish community and should be made available to them.”

Last month, the State Department told JTA that the archive will be returned to Iraq in September 2018, according to an agreement reached with the Iraqi government.

Discovered in the flooded basement of the Iraqi secret service headquarters by U.S. troops in 2003, the items include religious materials, books, personal documents and photographs.

Rabbi Riskin to retire from his educational network

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has announced that will step down next year from running the network of liberal Orthodox schools and seminaries he founded, according to the Times of Israel. He will retire as chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone, and Rabbi Kenneth Brander, an administrator at Yeshiva University, will become president and rosh yeshiva.

Rabbi Riskin serves as chief rabbi of Efrat, and will continue in that role. Rabbi Riskin has an ongoing column on The Jewish Week, read it here. 

Israeli army takes step to attract haredi soldiers

The Israeli Army has established a new body in Manpower Directorate to centralize efforts for increasing the numbers of haredi men in service, the Jerusalem Post reports. The new directorate will be headed by Brig.-Gen. Adi Shani, and will be headed by a colonel with three majors, including a military rabbi, and another 10 officers.

There are approximately 6,200 haredi men currently serving in the IDF, including 390 officers and non-commissioned officers.

New York school reaches out to Houston synagogue

In the weeks since hurricane Harvey struck Houston, the United Orthodox Synagogue has received flood relief from a wide range of Christians, Israelis and Rice University football players – and last weekend Riverdale Yeshivat Maharat, the country’s only Orthodox rabbinical school for women.

The Houston Chronicle reports that five faculty, students and board members assisted members of the Houston Jewish community in rebuilding their homes. Some filled in for Jewish studies teachers at the Beren Academy day school so regular teachers could take time off to deal with their own recovery needs.

“We thought that it would be nice to put a lot of what the women are learning into action,” said Daniela Bellows Schreiber, a board member of the school. “We thought it would be a perfect blend of what they do every day – learning about helping people.”

Shoah commemoration goal exceeds goal – 11 million stamps

A 9-year-old school project to commemorate Holocaust victims has surpassed its goal of collecting 11 million stamps, representing the lives of 6 million Jews and 5 million other people who died at the hands of the Nazis.

A community volunteer for the Holocaust Stamp Project at the Foxborough Regional Charter School near Boston last week delivered some 7,000 canceled stamps to the K-12 charter school, bringing the total of stamps collected to 11,011,979.

Teacher Charlotte Sheer began the project as a way to “make tangible the incomprehensible magnitude of the genocide,” reports said.

Netanyahu pledges support for expanded Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday pledged his support for the Greater Jerusalem bill, which is tantamount to a de-facto annexation of 19 settlements, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Likud Knesset member Yisrael Katz is expected to bring the bill to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the upcoming Knesset session. Netanyahu spoke about the law during a visit to Ma’aleh Adumim in which he met with the city’s mayor and business leaders.