Shorts: Bay Area

Berkeley activist deported from Israel — again

Kate Raphael Bender was deported from Israel last week, arriving home on Friday, Jan. 21.

Raphael Bender, 45, a longtime Berkeley Jewish activist, was in the West Bank under the auspices of the International Women’s Peace Service. She was arrested Dec. 14 in the West Bank village of Bil’in while filming a confrontation between activists and the Israel Defense Forces over the construction of a new section of the security barrier.

Raphael Bender appeared in court to appeal her deportation order on Sunday, Jan. 16. At the hearing, the judge said that, she was required to leave the country Jan. 2 because her visa had expired

Raphael Bender, whose former name was Katherine Raphael, was deported from Israel at this time last year under similar circumstances. She said that she legally changed her name for personal reasons after she returned to the Bay Area last year. She maintained that despite her name change, Israeli authorities could have easily known she had been deported a year ago before they allowed her into the country.

In past years, Israel has deported a number of foreign activists whom it considers security threats.

Now that she’s home, Raphael Bender plans to edit the video footage she’s taken and travel around with it.

Oakland trees planted for Tu B’Shevat

Some 30 to 40 families gathered together with Oakland Vice Mayor Jane Brunner and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente to plant 33 trees on Sunday, Jan. 23, in the Glenview District to mark Tu B’Shevat.

The trees were planted around Edna Brewer Middle School, on the corner of Excelsior and 13th avenues and were donated by Brunner’s office as part of efforts to plant 1,000 new trees in the streets of Oakland.

David Lenik, a member of Oakland’s Temple Beth Abraham, had come upon the spot on a long walk and thought it could use more trees.

Lenik has been involved in efforts to beautify Oakland for the past several years. When he learned that Brunner’s office was donating trees, he immediately called the school and Brunner. The match was made, and they decided to plant the trees on Tu B’Shevat.

Former East Bay rabbi testifies in court again

Rabbi Arik Ascherman appeared in Jerusalem Magistrate Court earlier this month.

The executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights is the former spiritual leader of Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond. He and two others are on trial for trying to prevent an Arab home from being demolished in Jerusalem for lacking proper building permits.

The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1.