Shorts: World

Millions raised for tsunami relief

bangkok (jta) | The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee announced that it has raised more than $12 million for tsunami relief. That amount includes money collected from individual donors and federations.

More than $800,000 already has been designated for immediate relief efforts; most of the money will be given to longer-term projects. The JDC says it will work with Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Israeli nonprofits on cooperative projects in the regions affected by the Dec. 26 undersea earthquake and resulting seismic sea waves.

Hate crimes not a crime in Slovakia?

berlin (jta) | Slovakia’s Jewish community is protesting a government plan to decriminalize Holocaust denial.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia has filed a formal protest with the government against a Justice Ministry plan on the issue.

As in many European countries, publicly denying the existence of the Holocaust is a criminal act in Slovakia. However, in a general overhaul of the penal code, the Justice Ministry will submit a bill to the Parliament in February that would eliminate any sanction for promoting the view that Jews were not systematically targeted for elimination under Hitler.

Justice Ministry spokesman Richard Fides has told the Slovak press that the current ban interferes with freedom of speech. But Central Association of Jewish Community head Frantisek Alexander disagreed. “If you start letting people promote the idea of Holocaust denial in a country where most people don’t even know what the Holocaust is, you are asking for trouble. Holocaust denial is infectious,” he said.

Budapest gets new synagogue

budapest (jta) | One of Israel’s chief rabbis inaugurated a new synagogue in Budapest. The synagogue inaugurated Jan. 20 by Yona Metzger is the first to be built in Budapest after the war. The new synagogue was opened for the Status Quo Ante movement, analogous to the Conservative movement in the United States.

While in Budapest, Metzger pressed Hungary’s president and prime minister to return to the Jewish community a building from the 19th century that served as a Status Quo synagogue.