Shorts: World

Protest greets Berlin’s first female rabbi

Berlin’s senior Orthodox rabbi is protesting the installation of the city’s first female rabbi.

In a bitter letter addressed to the head of Berlin’s Jewish community, Yitzchak Ehrenberg railed against the June 3 installation of Gesa Ederberg at the Oranienburgerstrasse Synagogue. Ederberg was ordained by the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

In his May 25 letter to Gideon Joffe, Ehrenberg said he was deeply disturbed that Ederberg had referred to him as a “colleague” at a recent Jewish community event. Ehrenberg, chairman of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany, said he would not have attended had he known Ederberg was there.

Ederberg wrote in an email that Ehrenberg “has all the right in the world to his own views, but he cannot impose them on others.” — jta

Concentration camps may charge visitors

A plan calling for entrance fees to Nazi concentration camps has rankled a major German Jewish organization.

“You do not pay to mourn the dead,” said a spokesman for the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

The fees would supplement funds already provided to the sites from the federal and local German governments.

Operators of the camp museums, including Dachau’s, say they need more funding to properly educate about the Holocaust. The International Dachau Committee’s president, Pieter Dietz de Loos, said that even though his museum north of Munich attracts 800,000 visitors a year, it can only afford to have one full-time educational assistant. “In five years we will be completely broke,” he said. — jta

Brazilian rabbi avoids jail

A Brazilian rabbi charged with shoplifting has worked out an arrangement that avoids jail time.

A lawyer for Rabbi Henry Sobel, who was charged March 24 with shoplifting designer neckties in Miami, reached an agreement with a Florida judge that will allow him to avoid jail and perform 100 hours of community service and seek psychological help for drug dependency, Sobel’s press spokesman said.

Sobel, a Portuguese-born American citizen, returned to Brazil after being released March 24 by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

He then checked into São Paulo’s Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital on March 30, a day after asking to be relieved of his duties as head of the Sao Paulo Israeli Congregation (CIP), the largest synagogue in Latin America. A hospital statement said the rabbi had taken large quantities of insomnia drugs that “cause potential states of mental confusion and amnesia.”

His 100 hours of community service will be spent volunteering at two São Paulo institutions providing food, health and educational assistance to poor children. — jta

France, Spain rap Ahmadinejad

France and Spain came out against the Iranian president’s prediction that Israel’s days are numbered.

“I condemn them most firmly,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday, June 4, in response to a speech over the weekend by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he said there was a “countdown” to the destruction of the “Zionist regime.” Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said he would summon Iran’s ambassador to Madrid “to express to him our absolute, total rejection of those remarks.” — jta