World briefs: Russia’s Chabad rabbis call to ‘End the suffering’ and more

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Russia’s Chabad rabbis call to ‘End the suffering’
For the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine six months ago, dozens of Chabad rabbis in Russia convened an emergency meeting, ultimately releasing a politically-fraught plea for an end to the bloodshed, JTA reported.

Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar delivers a speech during an emergency gathering of rabbis in Moscow on Sept. 5 (Courtesy of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia via JTA.org)

At a two-day gathering in Moscow that ended on Sept. 6, more than 75 Chabad-affiliated rabbis from across Russia issued a statement that read: “We pray that no more blood be spilled, and call upon people of good conscience everywhere to help aid those in need, including refugees, and end the suffering.”

The statement does not use the words “war” or “invasion,” which can carry legal risk in Russia when applied to the deadly offensive that Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated in February; nor does the statement mention Ukraine explicitly. But it can easily be construed as disapproval of the war at a time when other state-recognized clergy, including in the Russian Orthodox Church, have backed it.

The church’s head, Patriarch Kirill, has justified the invasion of Ukraine on spiritual and ideological grounds.

Goyim Defense League Founder Arrested in Poland Outside Auschwitz
The founder of the American extremist group Goyim Defense League said he was arrested in Poland after demonstrating in front of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination and concentration camp, the Jewish News of California reported.

Jon Minadeo, Jr. posted about his arrest on Gab, the social media platform favored by right-wing extremists barred from other platforms, on Sept. 4. He said he was charged with “(((Hate Speech))) regarding Aushwitz,” using a parenthetical notation adopted by neo-Nazis to identify Jews online and misspelling the name of the infamous Holocaust site.

The Polish penal code includes penalties for anyone who “propagates a fascist or another totalitarian state or calls for hatred against national, ethnic, racial, or religious differences.”

Minadeo posted pictures of himself and fellow Goyim Defense League member Robert Wilson holding posters outside Auschwitz’s notorious front gate. The posters contained lewd and derogatory messages about the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group and frequent Goyim Defense League target.

ADL to review education materials after Fox News calls it ‘far-left’
The Anti-Defamation League says it will “launch a thorough review” of its educational content to address materials “misaligned with” the organization’s values after Fox News published a story accusing the anti-hate group of including “concepts from critical race theory” and “far-left ideas,” JTA reported.

The ADL’s statement, released in response to a Fox News story published on Sept. 7, did not specify which of its freely available education materials were cause for review. But the conservative news network accused the nonpartisan group, which offers anti-bias training to schools, of participating in a broader leftist indoctrination of schoolchildren.

In a statement, an ADL spokesperson said that Fox’s story “raised important issues” and said the group “plans to undertake a comprehensive, in-depth review of all of our education programs.”’

“However, we are not wavering from our long-standing support for marginalized communities,” the spokesperson said.

Biden nominates Jewish lawyer to serve as delegate for UN General Assembly
President Joe Biden nominated Jewish lawyer Andrew Weinstein to be a public delegate of the United States to the upcoming 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly, the White House announced on Sept. 6.

Weinstein has been a managing attorney at the Weinstein Law Firm since 1996 with a focus on civil litigation. He is also the chairman of the Lawyers Council for the Democratic National Committee. During the administration of former President Barack Obama, Weinstein served as a “key liaison to the Jewish community” during the unveiling of the Iran nuclear deal and was appointed by Obama in 2017 to the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the White House said.

U.S. Department of Education to investigate University of Vermont for allegedly allowing antisemitism to flourish on campus
The U.S. Department of Education will investigate whether the University of Vermont allowed hatred against Jewish students to fester on campus, according to a law firm that supported students in filing a civil rights complaint against the school, JTA reported.

The complaint alleges that UVM violated its Jewish students’ civil rights by failing to respond adequately to multiple incidents last year, including individuals throwing rocks at the campus Hillel; exclusion of pro-Israel students from student groups; and social media posts by a teaching assistant about lowering the grades of Zionist students.

The investigation is the latest in a series opened by the education department’s civil rights office into allegations of antisemitism on college campuses.

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

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