Shorts: U.S.

House members press Swiss on Iran deal

A bipartisan slate of 27 congressional representatives urged Switzerland to cancel a natural gas deal with Iran.

EGL, an energy trader, has signed a $42 billion deal with the state-owned National Iranian Gas Export Company.

The congressional letter, initiated last week by Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), says energy deals with Iran undercut U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran’s energy sector aimed at pressing Iran to give up its suspected nuclear weapons program. — jta

Conservatives adopt living-wage ruling

The Conservative movement adopted a religious ruling requiring Jews to try to hire unionized workers and pay a living wage.

The ruling, or teshuvah, was adopted June 2 by the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.

“Jewish employers should strive to pay workers a living wage,” says the teshuvah, which offers four methods of calculating such a wage. Employers also should “strive to hire unionized workers when possible.”

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, who authored the teshuvah, first submitted a draft to the committee in 2003. At a meeting in September 2006, the paper garnered only three votes in favor and 10 abstentions. Six votes of the 25-member committee are required for adoption.

Jacobs, the rabbi in residence at Jewish Funds for Justice, said the measure was adopted with 13 votes in favor, two against and two abstentions. She said the recent raid on the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, and subsequent allegations that the plant had mistreated its largely immigrant work force, had weighed on the committee’s decision. — jta

Conservatives offer grants for new minyans

The Conservative movement is offering seed money for new young adult minyans.

The project will give grants of up to $2,500 to Jews in their 20s and early 30s who agree to create minyans in partnership with a Conservative congregation. If no suitable synagogue exists, they must be willing to work with a United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism regional office, says Elizabeth Pressman, chairwoman of the committee that came up with the project.

The call for proposals went online last week at The application deadline is Aug. 1. — jta

Olmert wants Bush to act on Iran

President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed Iran and Middle East peace issues at the White House on June 4, a day after Olmert spoke at the AIPAC policy conference.

The Bush-Olmert meeting did not end before j.’s press deadline.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about Iran,” Bush said as he greeted Olmert in the White House Oval Office. “It’s very important for the world to take the Iranian threat seriously.”

Also on the agenda were Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and renewed Israel-Syria negotiations. The latter has aroused skepticism at the White House, which describes Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“I’m looking forward to your wisdom of how you see the Syrian issue,” Bush said to Olmert.

Citing sources close to Olmert, Yediot Achronot reported on its front page June 4 that the prime minister would tell Bush that “time is running out” on diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program and thus the United States should prepare to attack Iran. — jta