Religion & Beliefs

Jewish News Roundup: Urban Outfitters Hearts Hamas and More

Urban Outfitters is in trouble with Jews again, this time for selling a t-shirt with a Palestinian boy on it holding an AK-47 over the word ‘victimized.’ The shirt also has a Palestinian flag on it, a map of the … Read More

By / May 23, 2008
  • Urban Outfitters is in trouble with Jews again, this time for selling a t-shirt with a Palestinian boy on it holding an AK-47 over the word ‘victimized.’ The shirt also has a Palestinian flag on it, a map of the territories, and a dove. Designed by the Fresh Jive label and selling on the website for $25, the shirt was taken down quickly, and Stacey Strober, Urban Outfitter's Store Operations Manager, has said that it wasn’t intended to provoke controversy or intentionally offend.
  • A new British census has found that the UK’s Jewish population is growing for the first time in ages. The UK is home to the world’s fifth largest Jewish population, but since 1950 the numbers have been shrinking fairly quickly. Since 2005, though, the numbers spiked, likely due to the big families in the growing ultra-Orthodox community.
  • Also in the UK a boycott of Israeli universities and academics is gaining momentum, as University and College Union, with over 120,000 members voted to “consider the moral and political implications of education links with Israeli institutions” because of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. Jewish institutions are in an uproar over the boycott (again), but the language of the motion is careful to state that criticism of Israel and Israeli policy are “not, as such, anti-Semitic.” Oh, well, in that case…
  • In the central Israeli town of Or Yehuda Christian missionaries distributed hundreds of copies of the New Testament, which were promptly collected by local yeshiva students, and set fire in a lot close to the synagogue. It’s not clear if many students were present at the book burning—reports in Maariv said they were, and Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon said they weren’t—but the community is having to do some back peddling now so as not to look like they think book burning is a good solution to religious disputes.
  • In Germany, a Muslim man was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for stabbing an Orthodox rabbi in the stomach. The Muslim man, Sajed Aziz, had claimed self- defense, and said that the rabbi, Zalman Gurevitch, had grabbed him by the collar. Aziz then took out a 3 inch long knife used it on Gurevitch’s abdomen, and called the rabbi a “Jewish pig.” A German judge found that Aziz could not be guilty of manslaughter, because it’s not clear he intended to kill Gurevitch, but a conviction of serious bodily injury is enough to keep him locked up for a while.
  • An Australian politician is in hot water after referring to her colleague as a “greedy fucking Jew” in emails that recently became public.
  • Tensions are high in Crown Heights again as conflicts between the black and Jewish communities flare up. NYPD is making its presence more obvious in the area after a Jewish teenager was mugged and beaten up by a group of black teens, and black children threw rocks in the windows of a school bus carrying Hasidic toddlers. Meanwhile, a Jewish man is wanted for questions in regards to the assault of a black man who is the son of a police officer.
  • In Nizhny Novgorod, Russia several teenagers were caught on tape desecrating a Jewish grave and a Holocaust monument, but have yet to be apprehended.
  • A Jewish family has built a mosque for a small village in Cambodia. Alan Lightman, author of the best-selling novel Einstein’s Dreams, his wife Jean Greenblatt Lightman and their daughter Elyse have started a charity called the Harpswell Foundation to help children and young women in developing countries. The money from the mosque, though, came out of Lightman’s own pocket after the men of the town, Tramoung Chrum, requested it. The villagers follow Imam-San, a small Islamic sect that incorporates Buddhism, Hinduism and animism.
  • In Bahrain, a Jewish woman has been named as the Ambassador to US. Bahrain and the US are close allies, but Bahrain, an Arab country, doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel. The woman, Houda Nonoo, is the head of Bahrain Human Rights watch, and is one of only about 50 Jews in all of Bahrain.
  • The hoopoe has been chosen as Israel’s national bird after an election process that lasted for more than six months. The hoopoe is mentioned in the Torah and the Talmud, and is traditionally associated with King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Other national bird hopefuls were the night owl, red falcon, spur-winged plover, griffon vulture, finch, kingfisher, warbler, and the honey-sucker. (To see them all, check out Jewcy's gallery of contenders.)
  • AgriProcessors is looking for a new CEO after being busted for hiring illegal immigrants, mistreating workers, sexual harassment, withholding overtime pay, and a slew of other bad deeds. The current CEO is Sholom Rubashkin, son of founder Aaron Rubashkin. Aaron announced last week that he was starting the search, “The company has begun the search for a new permanent chief executive officer. We have engaged a team of industry experts to help us identify and secure a new leader who can help us meet the needs of Agriprocessors today and in the future.” Meanwhile, former workers from the AgriProcessors plant speak out.
  • Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt is throwing his clout behind an effort to get a publicly funded Hebrew-language charter school in New York. Steinhardt’s foundation intends to submit an application to the New York City Department of Education and the New York State Board of Regents to get the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School off the ground. A similar venture succeeded in Florida, where the Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter School opened in August.