Shorts: U.S.

Swastikas of resentment?

new york (jta) | A New York City woman admitted she went on a swastika-painting spree because she was angry at her ex-husband.

Olga Abramovich, 49, a Russian Orthodox Christian, told police this week she painted the swastikas in Brooklyn and Queens because her ex-husband, Lev Abramovich, 50, married a 35-year-old Jewish woman.

The suspect has “had a few episodes,” a neighbor told the New York Post. “About a year ago, she threw all her stuff out the window — not just clothes, but glasses, food, dishes.”

Torah scrolls go to Brighton Beach

new york (jta) | A ceremony in Brooklyn on Sunday, Oct. 24, will honor the arrival of two Torah scrolls that were in hiding for part of the Soviet era.

One of the scrolls donated to a Chabad congregation in Brighton Beach, a heavily Russian neighborhood, was smuggled out of Latvia to Russia during World War II, and then taken out once a week for use on Shabbat.

The other scroll reportedly also has had a dangerous history.

Harlem jobs program going to Israel

new york (jta) | A jobs program from Harlem is coming to Israel.

The STRIVE program and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee are collaborating to help Israel’s unemployed.

The program, expected to begin operating in Israel next year, offers a simulated work program to help unemployed workers enter the job force.

Bush signs security aid

washington (jta) | President Bush signed a law giving $25 million to protect Jewish sites and other nonprofit institutions.

On Monday, Oct. 17, Bush signed the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which earmarks money for high-risk nonprofit institutions to be doled out by the Department of Homeland Security.

Jewish organizations, including the United Jewish Communities and Orthodox Union, had pushed for the aid, to allow for Jewish community sites and synagogues to secure their premises from terrorist attacks.

Some Jewish groups opposed the bill, arguing that providing federal funds to houses of worship would smash the barrier between church and state.

Terror language leads to grant rejection

washington (jta) | A civil liberties group said it would not take money from two major U.S. foundations because it considers the requisite anti-terrorist language in their grant agreements an attack on free speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it rejected money from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations because the anti-terror provisions could impede work done by the ACLU and other organizations. “Just because we weren’t going to be intimidated or our speech wasn’t going to be chilled doesn’t mean we can overlook the potentially negative impact the language will have on other entities,” said Nadine Strossen, ACLU’s president.

The foundations rules were put into place after a JTA investigative series last fall found that the Ford Foundation had funded virulently anti-Israel groups with links to terrorist organizations.

Pennsylvania synagogue defaced

washington (jta) | A synagogue in Pennsylvania was defaced with a swastika and other white supremacist-related graffiti.

Police are investigating the incident, which took place at Temple Anshe Hesed in Erie, Pa., over the weekend.

Poll: Americans say U.S. favors Israel

washington (jta) | Most Americans believe the United States historically has taken Israel’s side over the Palestinians, a poll said.

A recent CNN-Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans agreeing that the United States generally has taken Israel’s side, CNN reported Tuesday, Oct. 19, and 30 percent believe it has taken neither side.

Only two percent said the United States has taken the Palestinians’ side, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Calif. congressman shuns Presbyterians

washington (jta) | A Jewish congressman rejected an offer to discuss the Presbyterian General Assembly’s decision to divest from Israel.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) led 15 congressmen last month in condemning the Presbyterian G.A.’s decision.

In a reply, the church stood firm in its July decision to divest from companies trading with Israel, but offered to discuss the issue. “It has been very disappointing to us that the U.S. Congress has not proven to be an ally or a balanced arbiter in the negotiations for peace in the region,” the letter to Berman said.

Berman said he would continue to pursue dialogue with Presbyterian ministers and lay leaders, but said the letter from the church’s Washington office turned him off. “Disinvestment is what you do with an apartheid regime in South Africa or a brutal, repressive regime in Burma,” he said. “I don’t know how one talks with people who think Israel is in that category.”