August 27, 2009
Cultural Centre Open
RIO DE JANEIRO — A Jewish cultural centre has opened in Brazil. Several governmental officials attended the recent opening of the Midrash Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro’s upscale Leblon neighbourhood. The centre, which boasts a plush facade featuring Hebrew letters, will offer lectures and courses on history, literature, poetry and philosophy.
No Swastika Tattoo
NOVGOROD — A Russian court fined a man for having a swastika tattoo and ordered it removed. According to the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (UCSJ), in ordering the removal, the Novgorod court cited a rarely applied law that prohibits the public display of Nazi symbols. The fine of 1,000 rubles is equal to about $32. The judge justified the decision by pointing out in the verdict that the tattoo is on the defendant’s right hand and therefore is “visible to people around him.”
BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s president attended the annual commemoration of the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires. Postponed by national measures to prevent the spread of swine flu, the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack ever in Argentina was held a month after the actual anniversary date of July 18. Attending for the first time as the Argentine president, Cristina Fernandez participated in a moment of silence during the tribute. Thousands of Argentines gathered at Pasteur Street, in front of the rebuilt AMIA, to call for justice with local politicians.
Israel Critic Dies
WASHINGTON — Robert Novak, the Jewish-born influential conservative columnist who often criticized Israel, has died at age 78. Novak died last week in Washington after a long struggle with brain cancer. Novak ran a running battle with pro-Israel groups, claiming they were unduly influential in Washington and that Israel was principally to blame for the exodus of Palestinian Christians.
Looking Out for a Jewish Hero
NEW YORK — United Jewish Communities/The Jewish Federations of North America has launched the first annual Jewish Community Hero Awards, which celebrate the selflessness and courage of individuals who are bettering their communities through service and outreach.
The initiative will honour one Jewish Community Hero of the Year, who will receive $25,000 to put toward his or her work, and also recognize four additional finalists. About 50 partner organizations are supporting the initiative, in addition to Jewish federations across North America.
Any individual or group can nominate a hero through an open, online submission process. After nominees are screened, their names are posted on the Jewish Community Heroes website http://jewishcommunityheroes.org, where people can vote for their favourite Jewish heroes.
UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America will honour the five nominees who receive the most votes at this fall’s General Assembly in Washington, D.C., which takes place Nov. 8 to 10. A panel of judges will select the Jewish community hero from among the finalists.
Individual who are at least 13 years of age and residents of the United States or Canada are eligible to be nominees, provided their work affects a community in North America. Nominations and voting will be accepted through Oct. 8.