First Read For March 24
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First Read For March 24

Saban honored with Hollywood star; Senate approves David Friedman as ambassador to Israel; Tunisia blocks smuggling of Torah scroll; Old Jewish cemetery discovered in Rome.

Producer and Power Rangers creator Haim Saban poses with the cast from the Power Rangers movie at his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star ceremony on March 22, 2017 in Hollywood, California, where he received the 2,605th Star in the category of Television. Getty Images
Producer and Power Rangers creator Haim Saban poses with the cast from the Power Rangers movie at his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star ceremony on March 22, 2017 in Hollywood, California, where he received the 2,605th Star in the category of Television. Getty Images

One-time error led to JCC bomb-threat suspect’s arrest

Michael Kaydar has been identified as the main suspect in a string of bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the U.S. and other countries. The Israeli-American teenager (some reports put him at 18-years-old, others at 19-years-old) appears to have made “a key slip-up” that led police to track him down after months of evasion. Israeli police described the suspect, a resident of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, as a hacker but said his motives were still unclear. 

The suspect used several sophisticated technologies, including Google Voice and spoofing technology, to mask his identity when making the threats and remained untraceable for some time, but eventually grew careless and failed to route his internet connection through a proxy, making it possible for police to trace his messages back to Israel, according to The Daily Beast.

Police banned publication of the suspect’s name, but said he would remain in custody until at least March 30. During the arrest raid, they said he tried to grab an officer’s gun but was stopped by another officer.

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. JTA

Senate approves David Friedman as ambassador to Israel

The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed David Friedman, a confidante of President Donald Trump who outraged some Jewish groups with his criticism of liberal Jews, as ambassador to Israel, JTA reports.

Friedman, a longtime Trump lawyer and strong supporter of Israel’s settlement movement, had derided liberal Jews in newspaper columns and personal conversations over the years. A range of liberal Jewish groups, including J Street and the Reform movement, had opposed Friedman’s nomination, and J Street led a lobbying charge against him.

David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel, concludes testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Feb. 16, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Hollywood star for Israeli movie mogul

Haim Saban, the Israeli-American creator and producer of the “Power Rangers” television/film/toy franchise, was honored this week with the 2,605th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Jerusalem Post reports. 

Saban, a native of Egypt, immigrated to Israel at 12. After living for several years in France, where he established a record company, he moved to Los Angeles, starting a chain of recording studios that grew into Saban Entertainment, an international television, production, distribution and merchandising company.

Producer and Power Rangers creator Haim Saban touches his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star at a ceremony on March 22, 2017 in Hollywood, California, where he received the 2,605th Star in the category of Television.Getty Images

Tunisia blocks smuggling of old Torah scroll

Tunisian authorities announced that they have prevented a 15th-century Torah scroll from being smuggled out of the country, according to the ynetnews.com website. Tunisian authorities said a group of suspects were arrested following a tip that the Torah scroll was being transferred to a European country as part of an antiquities smuggling operation.

Tunisian National Guard spokesman Khalifa al-Shibani said “unidentified foreign elements” attempted to buy the rare sefer Torah, which he described as “a unique historical item for the world.”

Israel, Lebanon at odds over oil and gas exploration

Israel has asked the United States and United Nations to intercede in a disagreement with Lebanon over oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean, Israel’s Globes business news service reports. Both countries claim a 308-square-miles area, and Lebanon believes that its economic waters contain 850 million barrels of oil and no less than 95 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, similar to Israel’s potential, including the fields that have already been discovered.

First Israeli Rhodes Scholars named

For the first time in the Rhodes Trust’s 113- year history, two Israeli academics have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, the Jerusalem Post reports. The scholars – Nadav Lidor, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stanford University, and Maayan Roichman from Tel Aviv University – will begin their graduate studies at Oxford University in October 2017.

The Rhodes Trust, the preeminent international scholarship program established at Oxford University in 1903, selects creative young leaders with a commitment to serving others.

Old Jewish cemetery discovered in Rome

Italian archaeologists have discovered part of the so-called Campus Iudeorum, the long-lost cemetery used by Rome’s medieval Jewish community, according to JTA. The discovery of 38 graves, with skeletal remains intact, was announced at a news conference this week at The National Roman Museum.

The site, with graves dating from the 14th century to the early 17th century, was uncovered during excavations carried out during the restructuring of the Palazzo Leonori as the new headquarters of an insurance company.

Located in Rome’s Trastevere district, the site of the cemetery was already known through maps and archival sources but had disappeared physically centuries ago. It was taken over by the papal rulers at the end of the 16th century and finally razed in the mid-17th century when new city walls were built.

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