Video Shows Brussels Jewish Museum Shooter

Police seek public’s help identifying suspect who shot and killed four people

People pay their respects in front of a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014, where a deadly shooting took place the day before. (GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

A nationwide manhunt is underway in Belgium to find the shooter who opened fire at the Brussels Jewish Museum this weekend, CNN reports. The suspect shot and killed an Israeli couple visiting Brussels, a French volunteer at the museum, and a Belgian museum employee.

Brussels police released surveillance footage from the attack, which shows the suspect entering the building and opening fire with an AK-47 before quickly leaving, with the hope that the public can help identify the gunman. (more…)

The Netanyahu/Pope Francis Spat Over Jesus That Wasn’t

And why it still matters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis at the Pope's farewell ceremony in Israel (IsraeliPM/Flickr)

Yesterday, the press reported a sparring match between Pope Francis and Benjamin Netanyahu that never really transpired. To judge by media reports, the Israeli Prime Minister had a testy exchange with the Supreme Pontiff over whether or not Jesus spoke Hebrew. Reuters broke the story with the headline “Pope, Netanyahu spar over Jesus’ native language.” Using the language of verbal combat, the piece reported the Israeli leader as saying, “Jesus was here, in this land. He spoke Hebrew.” The Pope was said to have “interjected” with a correction: “Aramaic.” To this, Bibi “shot back” that Jesus “spoke Aramaic, but he knew Hebrew.” The Chicago Tribune soon dubbed the incident a “spat,” and by the time it made its way to The Age in Australia, Netanyahu was said to have “publicly bickered” with the Pope, evincing the “sour undertone” of the Catholic leader’s entire visit to Israel. The Forward tweeted “#Jesusgate spat over Hebrew ends testy #PopeFrancis visit with Benjamin Netanyahu.”

But unfortunately for headline writers hoping to gin up controversy for clicks, there is video of this supposed smackdown, and it shows nothing of the sort. As you can see below, Pope Francis is laughing throughout the entire exchange, which to a normal observer would appear to be an amiable conversation between friends (albeit one mediated by a translator), not a “spat.” As New York Times Middle East reporter Liam Stack tweeted, “not sure this counts as sparring.” (more…)

Four Killed in Brussels Jewish Museum Shooting

An Israeli couple and two members of museum staff killed; suspect at large

Flowers are pictured at a makeshift memorial at the entrance of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 25, 2014, where a deadly shooting took place the day before. (GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

A gunman entered the Brussels Jewish Museum yesterday, killing three people and critically wounding a fourth, who died from his injuries hours later.

The AP reports, “Interior Minister Joelle Milquet told reporters that the shooter apparently parked a car outside before entering the Jewish Museum. She added the gunman ‘apparently fired rather quickly, went outside and left.’ ” Police are currently looking for the suspect.

Two of the victims were Mira and Emmanuel Riva, an Israeli couple visiting Brussels. (more…)

Philip Roth Will Appear on ‘The Colbert Report’

Here’s what we imagine their on-camera conversation might look like

Philip Roth. (Photocollage, Tablet Magazine; Roth: Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Colbert Report logo: Comedy Central)

This week, news came down the pipe that Philip Roth, the esteemed and publicly retiring novelist, will be sitting down in July for an interview with Stephen Colbert, the esteemed and publicly ascendant satirist and talk show host. The following is a reconstruction of how we might expect their conversation to go.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Mr. Roth, thank you for sitting down with me. It’s an honor.

PHILIP ROTH: The honor is all mine, Stephen.

SC: Of course it is, that’s what I meant. It’s an honor for you. Now, I don’t really read a lot of novels, I prefer non-fiction, like Anne Coulter and the Twilight series.

PR: The Twilight series? How very 2010 of you.

SC: Thank you. I’m an old-fashioned guy with old-fashioned values. Which leads directly to my next question, one the world has wanted to know since you first burst on the literary scene however many hundreds of years ago: why liver? (more…)

Anthony Bourdain Honored for Scenes in Gaza

The chef filmed an episode of his popular CNN show Parts Unknown in Israel

Chef Anthony Bourdain during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival on February 22, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)

Anthony Bourdain, the chef and TV personality best known for his CNN show Parts Unknown, has won the “Voices of Courage and Conscience” award from the U.S. Muslim Public Affairs Council, Haaretz reports. The award was for a segment on the Season 2 premiere of the popular travel/food show—which features Bourdain traveling across the world, sampling food, and meeting locals—when Bourdain, who is visiting Israel for the first time, travels to Gaza.

The episode made headlines elsewhere not for the Gaza segment but for Bourdain’s revelation of his own Jewish ancestry. “By the end of this hour,” Bourdain’s voiceover announces at the start of the show, “I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse.” It was the first mention of Bourdain’s Jewish heritage. (more…)

Maidan’s Mother Teresa Talks Ukraine’s Future

Olga Bogomolets pushes for economic growth and a turn toward the E.U.

Olga Bolomolets. (Wikipedia)

Ukrainian presidential candidate Olga Bogomolets is an aristocrat in every sense of that word, which is not an easy task in a post-Soviet society. A dermatologist, she is a sixth-generation M.D. and a professor who teaches at Kiev’s preeminent Bogomolets National Medical University. (The name is not a coincidence: The university was founded by her great grandfather.) She has published a lavishly illustrated two-volume history of her illustrious Russian Dvoryanin and Polish-Lithuanian gentry. Her family crest is emblazoned in gold foil on her business card.

Bogomolets became popularly known as the Mother Teresa of the Maidan for her ministrations to the wounded and the dying after the events of February 18 to 21. She is also, by any standard, a remarkable character. As a young woman she came to national prominence as a bard and singer of Ukrainian folk songs. She has also founded a collection of icons in a castle outside of Kiev.

The heroics of the Maidan failed to produce a viable new class of younger politicians. With the exception of Bogomolets, all major candidates in this Sunday’s presidential elections have either held ministerial positions, the presidency itself, or are holdovers from previous administrations. Bogomolets, on the other hand, is about to form her own political party. (more…)

Arrests Over Anti-Pope Posters in Jerusalem

Tensions high in advance of Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land this weekend

Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 21, 2014. (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Not all Jerusalem residents are excited about Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Israel’s capital. Two residents of the holy city were arrested for posting banners decrying the Pope’s imminent arrival, the Jerusalem Post reports. The posters called on Pope Francis to leave Israel and instructed him to return relics looted by the Romans during the Second Temple period.

When apprehended, the two individuals were found to have more of the posters in their bags. (more…)

Four Rabbis Indicted In Divorce Kidnappings

Charged with conspiracy to kidnap Jewish husbands refusing their wives a get


It’s one of the most morally complex issues to hit the Orthodox Jewish world in recent years. In a story which lies at the very crossroads of Orthodox Jewish law and secular U.S. law, four rabbis and one of their sons were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring to kidnap and force Jewish men to grant their wives religious divorces.

The men—Rabbis Mendel Epstein, 68, Martin Wolmark, 56, Jay Goldstein, aka “Yaakov,” 60, David Epstein, 39, and Binyamin Stimler, 38—hail from Brooklyn, Monsey, N.Y., and Lakewood, N.J. and face up to life in prison for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and 20 years for attempted kidnapping. In addition, as the result of months of investigation, David Epstein, aka “Ari”—Mendel Epstein’s son—has been indicted. Goldstein and Wolmark face three additional counts of kidnapping, and David Epstein faces nine counts of kidnapping, tying this case to other cases from 2009 and 2010. (more…)

Seven Tons of Hummus Recalled in U.S.

After Texas health officials discover possible listeria contamination


Though few dips taste better with challah than hummus, maybe hold off on purchasing the chickpea spread this afternoon. Seven tons of hummus—that’s 14,800 pounds—have been recalled in the United States after it was discovered that the may contain the deadly bacteria listeria monocytogenes, Haaretz reports.

After Texas officials identified the possible contamination earlier this week, food manufacturer Lansal—which sells their products at stores like Trader Joes and Target—announced a voluntary recall of their product. Listeria, spread through the consumption of contaminated food, can cause infection and death among those with compromised immune systems, like children and the elderly. (more…)

For $1,000, A Pro Will Pack Your Kids for Camp

This year’s over-the-top summer camp trend involves professional organizers


Packing for sleepaway camp can be tough. Those eight-week getaways nowadays require all sorts of necessities: clothing, athletic equipment, sheets, towels, bug spray, sunscreen, tevas, optional horseback-riding helmet, etc. Luckily, though, the professionals are here to help. According to the New York Post, parents are hiring professional organizers to pack their kids for camp. With rates of $250 an hour, these sessions can cost parents as much as $1,000.

It sounds absurd, but it’s apparently quite popular. Pros like Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants say they’re getting lots of request for the pint-size packing jobs. (more…)

Memorial Day Isn’t Just a Day Off

A new understanding of the holiday from a military perspective


This week’s Torah portion, Bamidbar, teaches that war and community are inextricably linked. “S’u et rosh kol adat b’nai Yisrael…Take a census of the whole eidah of Israel,” God instructs Moses. It’s a seemingly simple assignment. Find the eidah and count it. The question is: what’s an eidah? The answer is not so simple. In Biblical Hebrew, the word eidah means both “community” (the entire population) and “fighting force” (only the men who were young and fit enough to serve as soldiers). So which did God mean? And why the choice of an ambiguous term? I would argue that the counting of either group was not as important as the connection between the two.

It is instructive to consider this connection as we approach Memorial Day, which isn’t so much a time for care packages or helping service members—important work for the rest of the year, particularly on Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day—as it is a time to honor the dead for their ultimate sacrifice. In the military community, if you’ve lost a friend or loved one, Memorial Day is about grief and pain. In the military community, Memorial Day remarks are spoken and heard in a context of the personal. (more…)

Jewish Woman Granted Divorce From Comatose Husband

Israeli Rabbinical Court issues groundbreaking ruling


A Rabbinical Court in Safed, Israel, has issued a groundbreaking ruling, granting a divorce to a woman whose husband has been in a coma for seven years, Haaretz reports. Jewish law requires that both parties consent to divorce; though a comatose husband is grounds for dissolving a marriage according to Jewish law, in practice, the rabbinic courts tend rule conservatively, rarely granting a wife permission to leave an incapacitated husband. This court, however, invoked a rare legal procedure called a “Gett Zikui”—a divorce of credit—in order to free the woman, who is 34 years old, from her marriage. The court published a lengthy 93-page ruling explaining their decision. (more…)

Israeli Arrested For Instigating Beating of Arabs

Used social media to call for assaults, one of which was caught on camera


Until last week, Chaim Gamliel was just a guy with a mission: keeping Arab men from dating Jewish women. Armed with nothing more than a Facebook page, a few WhatsApp groups, and the pseudonym “Yossi Cohen,” the 24-year-old vigilante would post instructions to his group “Jews Against Assimilation.” With racial purity as his guiding light, Gamliel took it upon himself to have the group’s members report on mixed couples. He would then share the information and encourage others to attack those named.

He was finally taken seriously by a group of three boys, aged 16 and 17, who attacked an Arab clerk in Jerusalem under Gamliel’s instructions, Arutz Sheva reports. The three were caught on camera beating the clerk, and were arrested last week. They have been charged with racial crimes and attacks. (more…)

Sheldon Silver Blaming Stuff on Sheldon E. Silver

N.Y. Assembly Speaker enjoys the perks of having a common Jewish name

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sit in a classroom at P.S.1 on Henry St. on April 3, 2014. (Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images)

In March, the New York Times published an article highlighting New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s involvement in a late 1970s push to keep a 20-acre lot in his Lower East Side district free from the construction of new affordable housing (the vast lot remains vacant to this day, to the consternation of housing advocates). The article reported that the young assemblyman, along with his longtime friend William Rapfogel, the disgraced former CEO of the Metropolitan Council for Jewish Poverty who last month admitted to stealing $7 million from the charity, worked behind the scenes, at times under the auspices of an organization known as the United Jewish Council, to promote certain developers and advocate proposals that were aligned with their goal of maintaining the neighborhood’s Jewish character.

It’s a pretty damning revelation. Silver, however, has an alibi. According to a new Times article, the assemblyman says it wasn’t him doing some of the things they accused him of doing, it was another Sheldon Silver. Sheldon E. Silver, to be exact: a local Brooklyn lawyer who also briefly worked for the United Jewish Council. (more…)

Literary Festival Draws Crowds, Stirs Drama

This week’s International Writers Festival in Jerusalem

Jerusalem's Old City. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

The fourth International Writers Festival opened Sunday night at Mishkenot Shaananim in Jerusalem, playing host to 10 authors from around the globe and dozens of Israeli writers. Held every two years, the festival is almost as well known for its backdrop: jaw-dropping views of the Old City and an atmosphere both ancient and effervescent. But like almost everything else in this city, the festival is not without its complexities.

The festival, which runs through Friday afternoon, has a program packed with readings, film screenings, and sessions where Israeli authors engage in dialogue with their counterparts from abroad. Most of the big names of Hebrew literature are on display, with the “three tenors”—Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman—appearing alongside representatives from the younger generation, including Etgar Keret, Shimon Adaf, and Dorit Rabinyan. (more…)

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