Week in Review: Abe Foxman to Retire, Natalie Portman in Israel, Valentine’s Day and much more!

By | Feb 13, 2014

Jewish passengers on board a Belgian train were asked to get off at Auschwitz and “take a short shower” after fellow travelers reportedly hijacked the train’s PA system on a January 31 trip between Namur and Brussels. According to reports, one of the perpetrators announced in French: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower.”

Abraham Foxman said Monday he will step down as national director of the Anti-Defamation League in July 2015, bringing to an end to one of the longest, most influential institutional leaderships in American Jewish history. Foxman founded the ADL in 1965 and took over as national director in 1987, overseeing its growth into a major mouthpiece against anti-Jewish discrimination. As the face of the ADL, Foxman, a staunch supporter of Israel, never shied away from controversy, often taking it upon himself to judge what constitutes anti-Semitism.

The Iranian government has donated $400,000 to Tehran’s lone Jewish hospital, the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center. The gift came as a surprise but follows a pattern in recent months by President Hassan Rouhani’s government to reach out the global Jewish community following the Holocaust-denying regime of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani wished Jews a Happy New Year through his official Twitter account last September.

The fate of European artwork stolen by the Nazis is getting the Hollywood treatment in the film Monuments Men, but what of the millions of books that were plundered from the continent’s libraries? The Center for Jewish History in New York has developed an online exhibit to help match book markings with their corresponding libraries, many of which are in Germany.

A group of Jews from the city of Sochi joined Israeli delegates, Russian embassy officials and American visitors to remember the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The history of LGBT Jews in Britain is now on display at an exhibition at the London School of Economics. “Rainbow Jews,” which focuses on Jewish LGBT history from the 1950s to the present, includes displays on gay Holocaust survivors, Orthodox lesbians and aspiring transgender rabbis.

Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman is facing pushback for filming an adaptation of A Tale of Love and Darkness, the acclaimed memoir of Israeli novelist Amos Oz, in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot district. Ultra-Orthodox residents are protesting the decision to film there, writing in a letter to Jerusalem’s deputy mayor that it “is set to take place on several sensitive streets close to synagogues and yeshivas, and… should have been examined first to make sure they don’t offend anybody’s sensitivities.”

Martin Schulz, the visiting president of the European parliament, caused uproar in Israel this week by alleging that Israel was denying Palestinians their fair share of water in the West Bank. “I haven’t checked the data. I’m asking you if this is correct.” Schulz told the Knesset about a claim he heard from a “Palestinian youth” that Israelis receive four times as much water per capita as Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Schulz, saying it represents a broader trend to “tarnish Israel” without checking the facts. 

From the Archives

Yes, Valentine’s Day bears the name of an early Christian saint and yes, it remains up for religious debate whether or not Jews should be allowed to celebrate. But even if you’re waiting for Tu B’Av—the “Jewish Valentine’s Day”—to roll around in August, read up on what Judaism has to say about love from Moment’s Ask the Rabbis panel as well as the story of Jews and everyone’s favorite V-Day treat: chocolate.

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