Shorts: U.S.

History book wins top award

new york (jta) | Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, was awarded the top prize in the National Jewish Book Awards. Sarna won for his history of U.S. Jewry, “American Judaism.”

The fiction prize has yet to be announced.

The awards, given by the Jewish Book Council, will be formally presented Dec. 1 in New York City.

Congressman wants AIPAC prober probed

washington (jta) | A congressman wants the Bush administration to probe the man investigating the premier pro-Israel lobby.

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) asked President Bush on Wednesday, Sept. 29, to investigate David Szady.

The FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence, Szady is leading the investigation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and has led government agencies involved in targeting Jewish employees for probes in the past, according to a JTA investigation.

“Given the fact that no information has surfaced to substantiate the highly incriminating accusations against AIPAC, I am perplexed by the manner in which you and your administration have handled this case,” Wexler said in a letter to the president.

“As such, I urge you to take immediate action to ameliorate the unconscionable circumstances surrounding the investigation of AIPAC including — but not limited to — ending egregious press leaks from the administration and providing Congress with further information about this case.”

Wexler said Bush should determine whether Szady has unfairly targeted Jews, and if so, remove him from the case and fire him.

Poll: NYC Russian Jews prefer Bush

new york (jta) | Russian Jews in New York City prefer President Bush over Sen. John Kerry for president, a poll found.

Fifty-four percent of Russian American Jews in the city said they would vote for Bush if the election were held today, according to the survey conducted for the American Jewish Committee. Fourteen percent of these respondents said they would vote for Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, while 25 percent remained undecided.

Details of the survey, to be released this month, was conducted among 789 Russian American Jews in New York City between July 20 and Aug. 25.

Interviews were conducted by the Research Institute for New Americans.

A separate survey released by the American Jewish Committee found that U.S. Jews nationwide prefer Kerry over Bush by nearly 3-1.

Day school case to get day in court

washington (jta) | A U.S. appeals court ruled against a New York day school that wanted to expand its facilities. On Monday, Sept. 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a summary judgment for the Westchester Day School, which claimed the Zoning Board of Appeals in Mamaroneck, N.Y., unlawfully denied its petition to build a new school building and new parking spaces.

The board had cited traffic concerns in making its decision. The court disagreed with the school’s argument that because of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, the board needed a more compelling reason to deny a religious group permission to expand.

The case now goes back to the circuit court, where it will be heard in its entirety.

No trembling before God

new york (jta) | A synagogue in New York City is losing support from its umbrella organization because it invited a gay rabbi to give a sermon during Rosh Hashanah, according to reports.

The Union for Traditional Judaism is pulling its support from the Montauk Minyan, which featured Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg as one of its speakers during the holiday, the New York Jewish Week reported.

A spokesman for the small congregation said Greenberg did not address gay or lesbian issues during his talk. But the union maintained that homosexual behavior is incompatible with Jewish law.

American Jews meet Iraqi leader

new york (jta) | In one of the first meetings of its kind, American Jewish officials met Iraq’s defense minister last week. Malcolm Hoenlein and James Tisch, executive vice chairman and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, respectively, met Hazem Shaalan, marking what appears to be the first meeting between American Jewish officials and Iraqi leaders, Hoenlein said.

The meeting came amid the flurry of diplomatic get-togethers surrounding the opening of the annual U.N. General Assembly.

House panel to hear Lantos bill

washington (jta) | A U.S. House of Representatives’ panel was expected to vote on a bill to enhance federal monitoring of international anti-Semitism.

The House International Relations Committee debated the issue Wednesday, Sept. 29, a spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) said, and the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is expected to pass the panel and be voted on in the House this fall.

The bill would mandate an annual State Department report on anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, and would create a monitoring office within the department.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) who had authored similar legislation, signed on to Lantos’ stronger bill last week, and Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who authored similar legislation that passed the Senate earlier this year, gave vocal support for the stronger provisions as well, Lantos’ spokeswoman said.

The State Department opposes the legislation, arguing it already monitors anti-Semitism in other annual reports.

Holiday stamps to be issued

washington (jta) | Holiday postage stamps celebrating Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa will be issued next month, the U.S. Postal Service announced Monday.

Christmas stamps will include a Madonna and child and a stamp with Christmas ornaments, while the Chanukah stamp will feature a dreidel and the Kwanzaa stamp will feature seven characters in colorful robes.