World shorts

Moscow to get first ‘Mitzvah Mobile’

Moscow will soon be receiving its first Chabad “Mitzvah Mobile.”

The large recreational vehicles — mobile Jewish educational and outreach centers for areas not serviced by Chabad Houses — are visible in cities all around the world, but this will be the first one in the Russian capital. The first such vehicle took to the road in New York in 1974, as a way to reach secular Jews and introduce them to Lubavitcher-style Chassidism. Chabad hopes to have the vehice on the road by the High Holidays to distribute Shabbat candles, teach small sections of the Torah and get Jewish men to don tefillin. — jta

Czech denounce anti-Semitic chants

Czech Jewish leaders sent a letter of complaint to the country’s leading soccer team concerning anti-Semitic chants during games. AC Sparta fans chanted the German word for Jew, Jude, during an Aug. 15 match in Prague between Sparta and the British team Arsenal.

This is a chant frequently aimed at Sparta’s Czech rival, Slavia. The letter to AC Sparta’s chairman Daniel Kretinsky states, “The use of the German word ‘Jude’ for Jew dispels any doubts about the fact that the word was used as an insult, in the same way as it was used during the mass persecution of Jews during World War II.”

AC Sparta spokesman Jakub Otava said the chants would be investigated and that the team’s management cooperates closely with the police on such matters. “The club’s position on the problem has been absolutely clear for a long time. We do not want racists and anti-Semites at stadiums,” he said. — jta

Gestapo papers arrive at museums

The keepers of a Nazi archive have delivered copies of Gestapo papers and concentration camp records to museums in Washington and Jerusalem, providing Holocaust survivors a paper trail of their own persecution.

Six computer hard drives bearing electronic images of 20 million pages arrived Monday, Aug. 20 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and to the Yad Vashem Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem.

The hard drives contain the first tranche of digital copies from one of the world’s largest Nazi archives, with the final documents scheduled to be copied and delivered by early 2009. Unlocking the archive required 11 countries to amend their international treaty. France, Italy and Greece have yet to complete the process. The others on the commission are the United States, Israel, Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Luxembourg and Germany.

The Tracing Service was created from the papers gathered by the Allies after the war and stored in a disused SS barracks in Bad Arolsen. The Red Cross took over responsibility in 1955. Its task was to find missing people, reunite families or discover how victims died. Later it was used to support restitution claims. — ap

Yeshiva student attacked in Australia

A yeshiva student was the victim of an apparent anti-Semitic attack in Australia.

Alon Tam, 17, was walking home from a kosher restaurant in a Melbourne suburb heavily populated by Jews on Aug. 18 when two men armed with baseball bats confronted him. Tam said the men yelled, “Jew, you deserve to die,” as they beat him.

The incident began at Glicks, a popular bagel bar, about 45 minutes before Tam was attacked, according to Ephraim Manshari, 17, a Yeshivah College student who was working at the restaurant. Manshari said the attackers threw a chair through the window and punched a customer, and later returned with baseball bats and attacked Tam as he was heading home. Last year, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry logged more than 440 anti-Semitic incidents in Australia. — jta

Prosecutors target Siberian hate group

Prosecutors in Novosibirsk, Russia are investigating a local nationalist group for a possible violation of the country’s hate crime laws.

The new investigation was described in detail in an Aug. 16 dispatch in “Kommersant.”

The investigation centers around a brochure published by a group calling itself the “Siberian Brotherhood,” and whether it violates Russia’s harsh but rarely enforced anti-hate speech laws.

Under the chapter heading “Zionism Will Not Pass,” the brochure calls for “changes in the constitutional structure by force.”

Under the Russian Constitution, crimes committed on the basis of ethnicity or aimed at inciting ethnic hatred are subject to more stringent penalties than other violent crimes.

Prosecutors have not named anyone yet in charging documents and the number of members in the organization is not known. — jta

London judge won’t be going to Australia

The former chief judge of the London Beth Din will not travel to Australia to arbitrate in a bitter dispute between Adelaide’s only Orthodox synagogue and its former rabbi.

Adelaide Hebrew Congregation and Rabbi Yossi Engel rejected Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu’s demands for two first-class airfares plus a week in a top hotel, estimated to cost at least $20,000.

Instead, the London judge will receive both parties’ cases in writing and then decide whether or not to rule on the imbroglio, which has virtually paralyzed the embattled community of fewer than 1,000 Jews.

The case centers on whether the synagogue’s board was entitled to sack Engel, a Brooklyn-born Lubavitcher who had been its spiritual leader for eight years. — jta