First Read For May 3
News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For May 3

Anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in U.S.; Trump, Abbas to meet today: Secular student wins Bible Quiz in Israel; Orthodox slate wins election in Argentina’s Jewish community.

The swastika daubed on the Jewish Community Center in northern Virginia, April 11, 2017. (Screenshot from NBC Washington)
The swastika daubed on the Jewish Community Center in northern Virginia, April 11, 2017. (Screenshot from NBC Washington)

ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents have nearly double this year

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States surged during the first three months of this year by 86 percent compared to the first three months of last year, the New York Post reports. The paper’s story on an Anti-Defamation League study states that “there has been a massive increase in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November, and a doubling in the amount of anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism at non-denominational K-12 grade schools.”

“In 2016, there was a 34 percent year-over-year increase in incidents – assaults, vandalism, and harassment — with a total of 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions,” the ADL said in a statement.


Trump, Abbas to meet today

Abbas speaking at the UN: He and Trump seem to be on better footing these days.

President Donald Trump “will play peacemaker at the White House” today, meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as part of an effort to end the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Times of Israel reports. “After hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, the self-styled deal-maker-in-chief will host Abbas for the first time since coming to office.

Abbas makes the trip to Washington “while politically unpopular back home, with polls suggesting most Palestinians want the 82-year-old to resign,” TOI reports.

Secular student wins Israeli Bible Quiz

A 15-year-old student from northern Israel yesterday became the first secular student to win the International Bible Quiz in more than 30 years, according to Israel media. Sagiv Lugasi, a student at the ORT school in Ma’alot-Tarshiha, took first prize in the annual competition in Jerusalem on Tuesday, on Independence Day.

“I prepared for two years. In the past year, for 12 hours a day,” Lugasi said. “I didn’t go to school for two months.”

Naomi Cohen, of the Bnei Akiva school in the northern Isareli town of Meron, took second place in the competition, organized by the Education Ministry, the IDF, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund.

Judge throws out suit against Williamsburg shul

A former congregant of a Williamsburg synagogue who sued the shul over a leadership dispute has lost his case, according to the Daily News. Zvi Geller, 40, had filed a lawsuit against Beth Jacob Ohev Sholom, demanding new board elections.

Leaders of the congregation, who booted Geller, from the synagogue in January, contended that Geller wanted to control the Rodney St. synagogue, the last Orthodox, non-hasidic congregation in the neighborhood, court papers said.

Justice Lawrence Knipel “tossed Geller’s lawsuit,” writing in a one-page decision that he “lacks standing as he was expelled from organization…”


Orthodox party wins vote in Argentine community election

AMIA Jewish Community Center, Buenos Aires. The names on the wall represent the 85 people who perished in a 1994 terrorist attack on this center. Flickr CC/Andy Sternberg

An Orthodox party has won a majority in elections for the leadership of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, representing a power shift in local Jewish politics, JTA reports. The results showed the Religious United Front with 77 percent of the 6,507 votes, marking the first time in the 123-year history of the umbrella organization that a religious party obtained more than 50 percent of the vote.

The Religious United Front disagrees with other leadership slates on core issues such as conversion, interfaith marriage and the types of Jewish education that AMIA must support. Finishing in second with 13 percent of the vote was a coalition representing Avoda and Likud, two Zionist slates. The Conservative movement’s Masorti was third with 9 percent.

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