Shorts: U.S.

Groups oppose prison program

des moines (jta) | Jewish groups filed a brief against government funding for an Iowa prison inmate rehabilitation program.

The American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League filed the amicus brief with the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging the Iowa Department of Corrections’ Innerchange program.

The state-funded program endorses evangelical Christianity, proselytizes inmates and discriminates against those who do not accept the belief system, the brief says. A lower court confirmed this, ruling that the program was unconstitutional and “so infused with religion that it is impossible to separate its sectarian from nonsectarian functioning.”

Michael Richards a Jew?

los angeles (jta) | Michael Richards was not born Jewish but “adheres” to Jewish philosophy, according to his publicist.

Richards’ racist remarks at a Los Angeles comedy club last week created a maelstrom as well as a media frenzy.

Amid all the hoopla, bloggers and others labeled the former “Seinfeld” star Jewish but others reported he was not.

Howard Rubenstein, who was hired as Richards’ publicist, said that Richards has not formally converted to Judaism but that some of his mentors were Jewish and he “adheres to Jewish philosophy.”

He said he could not give more details.

Activist rabbi joins imams’ pray-in

washington (jta) | A rabbi joined a Washington pray-in to protest alleged anti-Muslim discrimination.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, head of Philadelphia’s Shalom Center, joined the protest Monday, Nov. 27 near the US Airways terminal at Reagan National Airport.

Waskow, imams and ministers were protesting an incident last week in which six Muslim clerics were banned from a US Airways flight because they made another passenger nervous by praying in the waiting area.

Key Rice aide resigns

washington (jta) | A top aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said overall progress in the Middle East hinges on Israeli-Palestinian peace, has resigned.

Philip Zelikow made headlines two months ago when he told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that in order to get Arab states to cooperate with the United States on Iraq, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a “sine qua non.”