First Read For April 24
News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For April 24

Rabbi pleads guilty to embezzlement; Israel marks Yom HaShoah; AJC criticizes Pope’s ‘concentration camp’ remarks; Israel may not extradite bomb-threat suspect.

The American-Israeli teenager arrested on suspicion of making over 100 bomb threats to American JCCs leaving court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, March 23, 2017. Getty Images
The American-Israeli teenager arrested on suspicion of making over 100 bomb threats to American JCCs leaving court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, March 23, 2017. Getty Images

Israel unlikely to extradite teen accused in JCC threats

Israel’s Justice Ministry has reportedly denied a U.S. Justice Department request to extradite the Israeli-American teen charged with making threats against Jewish community centers throughout the United States, JTA reports. The State Attorney’s Office in Israel told its American counterpart that although the 18-year-old computer hacker is suspected of committing crimes in ten countries, he will be tried in Israel.

The teen from Ashkelon was arrested in Israel last month for making over 100 threats against Jewish sites in the U.S.


Queens rabbi pleads guilty of embezzlement

A Queens rabbi has pleaded guilty to embezzling $5 million from his taxpayer-funded Queens preschool, money intended for young Orthodox Jewish special-needs students, the New York Post reports. Rabbi Samuel Hiller, former assistant director of Island Child Development Center in Far Rockaway, is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison after his guilty plea to first-degree grand larceny, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Under the terms of his plea, Hiller, 59, will forfeit $1 million in seized assets and must pay $1 million more by the time he is sentenced June 15. Hiller used the embezzled funds—stolen between 2005 and 2012—to prop up several for-profit summer camps he ran. He also used $30,000 to revamp the plumbing in his Elvira Avenue home in Far Rockaway, prosecutors said.


Israel marks Yom HaShoah

Israelis paused for two minutes Monday morning in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in Europe during the Holocaust. According to the Times of Israel, a nationwide siren sounding was followed by ceremonies at schools and other locations,

The central commemoration took place at Yad Vashem, where dignitaries laid memorial wreaths next to a monument commemorating the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust.”


Worldwide anti-Semitic incidents decreased in 2016

The number of international anti-Semitic incidents worldwide decreased by 12 percent in 2016, despite a spike in cases in the United States and United Kingdom, Tel Aviv University researchers reported on the eve of Yom HaShoah.

According to JTA, the study conducted by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry indicated that the number of violent assaults against Jews declined last year to 361, from 410 in 2015.

In France, authorities recorded a 58 percent drop last year in anti-Semitic incidents in a report that identified only far-right perpetrators and questioned the existence of a new anti-Semitism by Muslims over Israel’s actions. The report attributed the decrease to the deployment of troops around Jewish institutions


AJC criticizes Pope’s statement on concentration camps

The American Jewish Committee has criticized Pope Francis for his statements comparing migrant and refugee holding centers to concentration camps, the Jerusalem Post reports. The Pope made the remarks while visiting migrants at a basilica in Rome, recounting a past visit to Lesbos, where he met a Muslim refugee who fled his home country when terrorists killed his Christian wife for refusing to throw her crucifix to the ground.

Pope Francis waving from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Dec. 25, 2015. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

“I don’t know if he managed to leave that concentration camp, because refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration (type) because of the great number of people left there inside them,” the pope said.

David Harris, the Committee’s CEO, said, “The conditions in which migrants are currently living in some European countries may well be difficult, and deserve still greater international attention, but concentration camps they certainly are not. The Nazis and their allies erected and used concentration camps for slave labor and the extermination of millions of people during World War II. There is no comparison to the magnitude of that tragedy.”


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