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First Read For May 5
News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are talking about today.

First Read For May 5

Arson on Brooklyn Jewish school bus; Palestinian official defends payments to terrorists; Small Jewish community is safe in Indonesia; Ex-homeless woman helps today’s homeless in Israel.

Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, attends a UN conference on the Israeli and Palestinian peace process on June 29, 2016 at the United Nations offices in Geneva. Getty Images
Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, attends a UN conference on the Israeli and Palestinian peace process on June 29, 2016 at the United Nations offices in Geneva. Getty Images

Arson on Jewish school bus in Williamsburg

New York police are hunting for a man who set fire to a stack of religious books aboard a Jewish school bus in the Chasidic Williamsburg neighborhood this week, the Daily News reports. The arsonist entered the vehicle by breaking the emergency exit of the bus parked at the corner of Bedford and Division avenues, according to the paper.
The arson is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

End payments to terrorists’ families? ‘Insane,’ says PA official

A senior Palestinian Authority official has rejected the “insane” U.S. demand that it end its policy of providing social welfare payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists jailed for carrying out attacks against Israelis, according to the Times of Israel. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath on yesterday told Israel Radio that the Trump administration’s demand was intentionally designed to sink any potential for renewed US-led Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“It’s absurd to request that we stop paying the families of prisoners,” he said. “That would be like asking Israel to stop paying its soldiers.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the salaries paid to imprisoned terrorists by the PA constitute a major obstacle to peace.

World basketball body lifts ban on yarmulkes, hijabs

(JTA) — Basketball’s international governing body will allow players to wear yarmulkes, hijabs and other religious headgear beginning October 1.

The new rule, announced in a statement by the International Basketball Association, or FIBA, on May 4, will have the largest impact on women from majority Muslim countries who sought to wear the hijab in international competition.

Qatar’s women’s team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea after being denied permission to wear the hijab on court, Reuters noted.

“The new rule comes as a result of the fact that traditional dress codes in some countries, which called for the head and/or entire body being covered, were incompatible with FIBA’s previous headgear rule,” according to the statement.

The decision overturns a 20-year ban on religious head coverings that was originally imposed for what the Swiss-based FIBA called safety reasons.

Small Jewish community persists in Indonesia

In a remote corner of the Indonesian archipelago, a modest synagogue serves a tiny Jewish community that has found acceptance despite rising intolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, London’s Daily Mail reports. The red-roofed building on Sulawesi island is the only synagogue in the nation of 255 million people.
There, unlike in other parts of the country, the Jewish community feels safe to practice their faith openly. “We can wear the kipa in the mall or anywhere we want, it’s not a problem,” Yobby Hattie Ensel, a Jewish leader from the nearby city of Manado said.
There are around 200 “practicing” Jews in the country, believed to be the descendants of traders from Europe and Iraq who came to Asia to trade, according to the paper. The Jewish population in Indonesia is believed to have peaked at around 3,000 in the years before World War II.

Once homeless, she now helps other homeless people

Mariuma Ben Yosef, a Tel Aviv resident who ran away from home at 14 and became homeless on the streets of Boston. She eventually moved back to Israel, attended school and served in the IDF. Now she reaches out to other homeless people in Israel.
Her organization, the Shanti House, has helped more than 46,000 young people, CNN reports. “I couldn’t say no to the ones that didn’t have anywhere to go after dinner,” she said. “So, I opened my home for (them).”

Named for the Sanskrit word for peace and tranquility, the group provides temporary housing and long-term support for homeless and at-risk youth ages 14 to 21.  “My goal is that every child that comes through this door will feel at home … where they can finally let out a sigh of relief, feel secure, and most importantly, be happy,” Ben Yosef said. Go to CNN to watch a video of Ben Yosef tell her story.

Mariuma Ben Yosef. Screenshot/CNN


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