Your First Read For Oct 18


‘Miracles’ found at Jewish camp damaged by forest fire …

Administrators of a Jewish summer camp who toured the site that was destroyed by a wildfire in Northern California said yesterday that they found “miracles” amid the devastation, JTA reports. Although most of Camp Newman’s buildings were lost in the North Bay Area wildfires, camp officials said an entrance gate, prayer books and prayer shawls survived the flames, along with an iconic wooden Star of David that overlooks the Union for Reform Judaism camp from a rocky perch.

Executive Director Ruben Arquilevich said he saw that the giant gate to the camp, inscribed with the words “May you be blessed as you go on your way,” was still intact, and a pair of Torah arks created by former camp artist-in-residence Helen Burke had survived.

… kosher winery reopens in Napa Valley

Hagafen Cellars, the only kosher winery in the Napa Valley and Sonoma, has partially reopened despite sustaining heavy damage in the wildfires racing through the area, according to the Times of Israel. “We’re waiting now for our first tourist,” owner and winemaker Ernie Weir said.

Several buildings and virtually all of the winery’s agricultural equipment were destroyed in the fire. And while one of the winery’s 12 acres of vineyards was burned, the grapes already had been harvested. The inventory remained intact as well.

Three-year prison term for Queens rabbi

A rabbi from Far Rockaway, Queens, who admitted to stealing $5 million from special needs students, has been sentenced to up to three years in prison, the New York Post reports. Rabbi Samuel Hiller — the former head of one of the city’s largest providers of resources for pre-school children with disabilities — received the sentence from Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas.

The rabbi, 59, who had served as assistant director of Island Child Development Center, pleaded guilty in April to charges of first-degree grand larceny, admitting that he had siphoned city and state funds.

Anti-Balfour posters banned in London subway system

The London subway system (“The Tube”) has banned a Palestinian poster campaign that marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Balfour Deceleration in which the British government declared its support for establishing a Jewish state, the Times of Israel reports. Transport for London said the banners, to be displayed at main underground stations and on buses,  did not meet guidelines that ban “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity.”

The poster campaign, titled “Make It Right,” was organized by the Palestinian Authority representative to the UK.