Shorts: U.S.

Bush appoints Jew for Jesus

washington (jta) President Bush promoted an evangelizer of Jews to a presidential commission.

Bush appointed the Rev. Lon Solomon this week to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Solomon has said his primary reason for founding the huge McClean Bible Church this year is to convert Washington-area Jews.

He also is chairman of the board of the executive committee of Jews for Jesus. Solomon, who was born Jewish and converted as an adult, has pledged to establish a center for disabled children.

Jewish Democrats slam Presbyterians

new york (jta) Three Democratic Jewish congressmen want the U.S. Presbyterian Church to denounce church leaders who met with Hezbollah.

A video of the meeting shows church elder Ronald Stone praising the terrorist group’s social work in Lebanon and saying that “relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders.”

The church outraged U.S. Jews this summer when its General Assembly voted to divest from companies that do business with Israel and to back missionary work to Jews.

“The disgraceful conduct of these individuals reflects very poorly on the church as an institution,” Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter Monday, Oct. 25.

Reform to synagogues: Turn away cash

washington (jta) The Reform movement urged its U.S. congregations not to take federal funds to secure synagogues.

The U.S. government set aside $25 million earlier this month to assist “high-risk” nonprofits with their security needs.

In a letter last week to congregations, the Reform movement said accepting such money would open the movement up to charges of hypocrisy for battling for church-state separation on the one hand and accepting federal money with the other. “This is a critical moment for the survival of religious freedom and church-state separation in America,” the letter from the Union for Reform Judaism and Reform’s Religious Action Center said.

Some Reform congregations have already accepted the funds.

Report: Hate crimes flat

new york (jta) There were approximately the same number of hate crimes in the United States in 2003 as 2002, according to FBI statistics.

Of the 7,489 hate crimes noted in an FBI report released Monday, Oct. 25, 1,300 were religion-based crimes, more than 69 percent of them directed against Jews or Jewish institutions.

After the release of the report, the Anti-Defamation League called for expanded federal hate crimes legislation.

Israeli aide cleared of charges

trenton, n.j. (ap) A federal investigation has uncovered no evidence that a former aide to New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey tried to extort millions of dollars from him by threatening a sexual harassment suit, according to the aide’s lawyer.

Paul Batista, Golan Cipel’s attorney, said federal officials told him that Cipel, who is Israeli, and another lawyer for his client acted properly during settlement talks in the weeks before Aug. 12, when McGreevey announced that he is gay, had engaged in an extramarital affair with another man and would resign Nov. 15.

Georgia hate crimes law struck down

new york (jta) Georgia’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s hate crimes law Monday, Oct. 25, saying the measure is too broad.

The 7-0 ruling came in the case of a white man and woman convicted of beating two black men in Atlanta. It was the first application of the 2000 law, which calls for up to five extra years in prison for crimes in which the victim is chosen because of bias or prejudice.

Anchoring Jewish history

anchorage (jta) Alaska might soon have a Jewish museum.

A fund-raiser was held Saturday, Oct. 23, for a future Alaskan Jewish Community Center and Historical Museum, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Lubavitch Jewish Center of Alaska is behind the project, which would highlight the contributions of Jews to the state.

Faiths press for Sudan involvement

new york (jta) A representative of Jewish groups joined a meeting on Sudan with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Hannah Rosenthal, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, joined leaders of other faith groups at the Wednesday, Oct. 27, meeting to urge greater international leadership to stop what many are calling a genocide in the African nation.

Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and Sara Bloomfield, the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, also participated in the meeting.