First Read For Feb. 9
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News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For Feb. 9

Three missiles shot down over Eilat; New Dead Sea Scroll cave found? British synagogue housing Syrian refugees; Patriots owner funds Israel’s first football stadium.

An Iron Dome Missile Defense battery set up near the Southern israeli town of Ashdod fires an intercepting missile on July 16, 2014. JTA
An Iron Dome Missile Defense battery set up near the Southern israeli town of Ashdod fires an intercepting missile on July 16, 2014. JTA

Iron Dome Takes Out Missiles Over Eilat

Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome system yesterday intercepted at least three missiles fired from the Sinai at its southernmost resort town, Eilat, JTA reports. There were no injuries.

ISIS was responsible, according to Israeli media.

Israel and Egypt have beefed up efforts to roust militant Islamist terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and returned to Egypt as part of the 1978 Camp David peace accords.

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Popular L.A. Outreach Rabbi Succumbs

Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz, a major presence in Los Angeles’ Orthodox and wider Jewish community for five decades, died of multiple myeloma on Feb. 8, the Jewish Journal reports. He was 71.

Popularly known as “Schwartzie,” he was a Lubavitch-trained outreach expert whose full beard, colorful T-shirts and effusive personality made him a “highly visible figure” first on the UCLA campus, then at Jewish events throughout the L.A. area.

“Never one to shun unconventional methods,” according to the Jewish Journal, “he wore T-shirts that read, ‘I survived Hebrew school,’ ran prayer services in English, and organized mixers such as the ‘Coming Out Party for Closet Jewry’ and an annual Purim party at the Comedy Store.”

“Humor is the medium that dispels the misconception that Judaism is uptight and serious, retrospective and Holocaust-oriented,” Rabbi Schwartz said, adding that he “could identify nine out of 10 students as Jews just by their looks. The other one was either Armenian or Italian.”

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London Synagogue Housing Syrian Refugees

A London synagogue has decided to convert part of its buildings to housing for families who have resettled in the United Kingdom recently from Syria, according to the BBC in Arabic.

The South London Liberal Synagogue, in a former school in the Streatham section, is planning to convert a custodian’s former empty two-bedroom apartment into living quarters for one several Syrian families being resettled in London’s borough of Lambeth. The synagogue hopes to raise about $65,000 to carry out the renovation.

“This is a very personal issue for a lot of our members,” said Alice Alphandary, the synagogue chairperson. “There is a sense that we as Jews have benefited from sanctuary in the past. For example, my father was a refugee in the 1950s. Now we want to repay that welcome to a new generation.”

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British Jews Rap Gov’t Resettlement Decision

The British government’s decision to back out of its commitment to settle 3,000 Syrian child refugees in the United Kingdom has been condemned as “sickening” by Jewish groups, the Jewish Chronicle reports.

The Jewish leaders “expressed their shock” at a Home Office announcement that only an additional 150 lone child refugees are to be brought to Britain, bringing the total number let in so far to 350, according to the London-based paper,

The government had originally been expected to provide refuge for 3,000 vulnerable Syrian children.

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New Dead Sea Scroll Found?

Israeli archaeologists said yesterday that they have evidence of a 12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave, which once held more hidden artifacts from the Second Temple period.

However, after excavating the ancient hollow, located near the sea’s northwestern shore, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers concluded that the additional scrolls were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The archeologists, including Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the university’s Institute of Archaeology — aided by Dr. Randall Price, and students from Liberty University in Virginia — are the first in over 60 years to have discovered a new scroll cave.

Until recently, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained the coveted scrolls.

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Patriots Owner Funds Israel’s First Football Stadium

Robert Kraft, owner of the Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, has donated $6 million for Israel’s first American football field that will include seating for spectators.

Robert Kraft, who is visiting Israel, called the stadium in Jerusalem’s Cedar Valley “something about spirituality,” Jewish Business News reports. The field, due to open this summer, will be able to host international matches in Israel for the first time next year.

U.S.-style football was brought to Israel three decades ago by American expats who “missed the feeling of getting in formation and throwing a spiral.”

The project will include locker rooms, administrative offices, infrastructure for pedestrians and parking. The sports complex is built in cooperation with the Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Development Company – Moria, Israel’s Sports Betting Authority and with the help of Israel Football Association President Steve Leibowitz.

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