World Briefs: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Obscures Massive Painting of Jesus at Sea and more

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U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Obscures Massive Painting of Jesus at Sea
The painting in a key room in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was as striking as it was massive: Jesus, his arms outstretched, hovered over a lifeboat packed with grateful sailors, lost at sea, according to JTA.

A before and after photo depicts how a painting of Jesus at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., is now obscured by a curtain. (Before: U.S. Coast Guard via JTA. After: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, via JTA.)

Eighteen people, including five Jews, among the school’s thousands of midshipmen, alumni, staffers and faculty decided that they did not want to see such a sectarian symbol in a room that is home to events, classes and ceremonies where attendance is mandatory. Earlier in January, they asked the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to appeal on their behalf to the academy, which reports to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In a Jan. 10 letter, Mikey Weinstein, the foundation’s Jewish founder, said the role that the Elliot M. See room played at the academy made the presence of the massive painting especially inappropriate.

It has served as a classroom, a venue for advisory board meetings, the room where incoming classes have their IDs processed and as a court for disciplinary hearings, among other uses.

Academy superintendent Joanna Nunan replied immediately, saying the size of the painting meant that it was impossible to move, but she had another solution.

“I have asked my staff to purchase a curtain to be placed in front of the painting,” she said. “This will completely block the painting from view, but also allow those who wish to view it the opportunity to do so. Second, I have asked the director of the American Merchant Marine Museum to prepare a plaque that explains the history of the painting, which will be installed near it. Given the size, there is no other location to which it can be moved.”

Michael Twitty’s ‘Koshersoul’ Named Jewish Book of Year
“Koshersoul,” a memoir by chef Michael W. Twitty about his career blending Jewish and African-American culinary histories, was named the Jewish book of 2022 by the Jewish Book Council, reported JTA.

Subtitled “The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew,” Twitty’s book provides “deep dives into theology, identity, and, of course, food — giving readers the impetus to reflect on their heritage and religion in a new way,” the council said in naming “Koshersoul” the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year.

The winners of the 72nd National Jewish Book Awards were announced on Jan. 18 at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.

Apple to Inaugurate New Development Center in Haifa
While U.S. tech giant Intel is canceling the construction of a new development center in Haifa, another American titan, Apple, plans to open a new facility in the same industrial zone, reported JNS.

The Matam East #1 development, which will house Apple’s new center, obtained an occupancy certificate last month, according to Globes.

The structure has 46,000 square meters (495,000 square feet) of space, with 28,000 square meters (300,000 square feet) above ground. It will be occupied within the next few months.

Matam East #2, with 28,500 square meters (54,000 square feet) above ground, will also be handed over to Apple.

Meanwhile, Intel plans to construct a new parking lot for staff instead of its planned development center.

Projections to build a new Intel fab (semiconductor fabrication plant) in Kiryat Gat, in Israel’s south, remain unaltered. That facility is scheduled to open in 2024, wrote Globes.

Australian Politician Under Fire for Wearing Nazi Uniform at 21st Birthday Party
Dominic Perrottet, the premier of the Australian state of New South Wales and a leading member of the country’s center-right Liberal Party, is facing harsh criticism after news surfaced that he wore a Nazi costume during his 21 birthday party, nearly 20 years ago, reported JTA.

Perrottet apologized during a Jan. 19 conference he called outside of the Sydney Jewish Museum, but critics complained that he did not disclose the incident years earlier. He told the Australian Jewish News last week that he was “deeply ashamed” by the incident and claimed that he considered admitting to the act in 2021 while giving the museum $6.25 million of state funds or while working to pass a ban last year on Nazi symbols.

“I knew the hurt the truth of this terrible mistake that I made would bring,” said Perrottet, “particularly to the Jewish community.”

Now age 40, he has claimed that he didn’t know what the uniform was at the time but was educated about it by his parents after returning home from the party. The news has made headlines across Australia and beyond, and reports are swirling that Perrottet’s position could be in peril.

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

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