First Read For May 1
News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For May 1

Israel honors its fallen soldiers; Sebastian Gorka to leave White House; North Korea threatens Israel; Williamsburg shul at odds with ‘hostile’ member. More...

Controversial White House aide on his way out

Sebastian Gorka, the Donald Trump aide accused of ties to a far-right Hungarian nationalist group, will reportedly be leaving the White House for another government position, JTA reports. JTA cites an article in Washington’s website The Hill that Gorka’s new position will be focused on the “war of ideas” against radical Islam.

Gorka currently serves as a deputy assistant to President Trump, advising him on counter-terrorism. JTA cites that the reported move comes amid suspicion that Gorka had not yet received the necessary security clearance to do his job. A recent Forward investigation reported that Gorka, is a member of the Historical Vitézi Rend, a Hungarian far-right group.

Israel holds Yom HaZikaron

The annual two-minute memorial siren sounded at 11 a.m. on Monday, bringing most of Israel to a halt on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), to commemorate the 23,544 members of the country’s security forces and 3,117 terror victims in Israel’s history.

According to the Times of Israel, road closures and increased train traffic surrounded the country’s 52 military cemeteries and hundreds of smaller military sections in civilian cemeteries nationwide to accommodate some 1.5 million Israelis who paid their respects at gravesides.

The day is marked annually with candle-lighting ceremonies, melancholy music on the radio and newspaper features and TV programs about those who died.

North Korea criticizes Israeli’s ‘rash’ statements

North Korea has threatened to punish Israel, and accused Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman of  making “rash and malicious” statements that insulted its leadership, after he criticized the Asian nation and called its leadership “extremist and insane.”

In an official foreign ministry statement, Pyongyang said “Our consistent message is to mercilessly punish those who offend the dignity of our leadership,” according to the Times of Israel. “We warn Israel to think twice about the implications of its defamation campaign against us.”

“We’re just ahead of a new era of accurate missile and unconventional weapons in the hands irrational people.”

The statement further condemned Israel for its nuclear policy, and accused the Jewish state of abusing the rights of Arabs across the Middle East.

Liberman last week said Pyongyang “seems to have crossed the red line with its recent nuclear tests,” adding that its nuclear weapons program posed more of a threat to world order than Iran or any terrorist group. “We’re just ahead of a new era of accurate missile and unconventional weapons in the hands irrational people.”


‘Hostile takeover’ charged at Williamsburg synagogue

The leaders at a Williamsburg Brooklyn synagogue accuse a former congregant of  trying to force his way into a leadership role and accuses him of inappropriate conduct with teenage boys, the Daily News reports. In August, Zvi Geller, 40, sued Beth Jacob Ohev Sholom, calling for new board elections. He also said the board wouldn’t let him build a youth center.

But the synagogue leaders, which members describe as the last Orthodox, non-Hasidic place of worship in the neighborhood, say Geller is attempting a “hostile takeover.” In an affidavit filed last week against Geller’s suit, synagogue president Martin Needelman said Geller opposed the appointment of a new rabbi after its longtime leader retired.

The document also cites an ad in a local Jewish publication that accuses Geller of being a molester. Geller has not been charged with any criminal conduct and vehemently denies the allegations.

South Carolina synagogue vandalized

Police in Charleston Police say a synagogue in the West Ashton neighborhood was vandalized last week, television station WACH reports. According to a police spokesman, officers were called to Synagogue Emanu-El on Windsor Drive to investigate reports of damage.

Police say an employee called them after finding a small hole in a window in the rear of the building; they are increasing patrols in the area as a precaution.


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