U.S. Report

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Biblical and talmudic texts on capital punishment are being used to try to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that execution by the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment.

A brief, believed to be the first that exclusively cites Jewish law, was submitted last month on behalf of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs and the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. It supports the argument of an inmate on Florida's death row.

'Schindler's List' heads list of top films of '90s

NEW YORK (JTA) — A group of film critics has voted "Schindler's List" the top film of the 1990s.

Director Steven Spielberg's 1993 film about businessman Oskar Schindler's efforts to save Jews during World War II was followed on the Broadcast Film Critics Association's top 10 list by Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" at No. 2.

Major donor to UJA investigated by FBI

NEW YORK (JTA) — A major donor to UJA-Federation of New York has been the target of an FBI probe for possible ties to the Russian mafia.

According to the Associated Press, Semyon Kislin has been investigated but not charged by the FBI for money laundering and mob ties. The probe was reported late last month by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit group in Washington.

The news report says Kislin, who has denied any wrongdoing, has contributed to the political campaigns of President Clinton, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R.-N.Y.) and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

U.S. publishes report on WWII-era assets

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Congressional Research Service has published a report on Holocaust-era assets.

The report, which contains information relating to Swiss bank accounts and other assets from the Holocaust era, is available at www.house.gov/international_relations

The report was written at the request of Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Birthright Israel trip produces engagement

NEW YORK (JTA) A program that is providing first-time trips for young Jewish adults to Israel has produced an engagement.

Jason Trager proposed to Stacy Gastwirth by the shores of the Dead Sea on New Year's Eve while they were on a weeklong Hillel Israel 2000 tour, underwritten by Birthright Israel.

"I never expected to have the opportunity to share such a special moment in such a special place," Trager said.