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Swastika found carved in Stamford Hill pavement


LONDON – Police have been alerted after a swastika was found carved into a pavement in Stamford Hill.

Shomrim, the Jewish neighbourhood watch group, contacted police after the Nazi symbol was discovered close to a synagogue. Witnesses have been urged to call the police with information.

Over the past week, a spate of swastikas printed on posters have appeared in a children’s playground in Stamford Hill.

Shomrim said it was “the first co-ordinated and repetitive act of anti-Semitism the area has ever seen”.

Shulem Stern, spokesman for the group, said: “There is a sense of anxiety and fear among parents…Normally it is isolated incidents, but this is no longer isolated. It is really unpleasant.”

It is not known whether the playground swastikas and this latest incident are connected. – Jewish Chronicle, London


MP calls for apology for rejecting Jewish refugees in 1939


OTTAWA – An Alberta opposition MP is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to formally apologise on behalf of the government of Canada for turning away Jewish refugees on board the ocean liner St Louis in 1939.

“This was a blight on Canada… one of the worst incidents in Canadian history,” said Deepak Obhrai, Conservative MP for Calgary Forest Lawn.

The government of Canada has formally apologised for a number of “dark chapters” in Canadian history, including the Chinese head tax, the residential schools scandal, and the treatment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

“We must not forget another terrible incident, in 1939, when Canada refused to accept 907 Jewish refugees on board the German transatlantic liner St Louis, who sought safe haven in Canada.

“As a result, the ship was forced to return to Europe, where 254 of its passengers later died in Nazi concentration camps,” Obhrai said.

“An apology by the government of Canada to the survivors, relatives and the Jewish community would serve as an acknowledgment of Canada’s harsh treatment of these refugees. It would enable us to reflect on, and learn from this past injustice and strengthen our resolve to be an inclusive nation that protects refugees fleeing persecution,” Obhrai added.

Obhrai served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs and for international human rights in Stephen Harper’s government. – Canadian Jewish News


Changes proposed to improve anti-discrimination Act


SYDNEY – A coalition of community leaders is coming together to push for changes to Section 20D of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act.

NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said last year that the Act is “not working” and “must be changed”.

She told the community that she would introduce legislation into Parliament by June this year, but The AJN understands that, unless there is vocal support from the broader NSW community, many parliamentarians will not back the changes.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) has taken on the challenge because, according to its CEO Vic Alhadeff, this is a matter that impacts a vast number of communities in NSW.

“The law as it stands does not work and the time to act is now, before someone is incited to commit a violent act against an ethnic community,” Alhadeff told The AJN.

“We should all be concerned that currently in NSW there are no effective protections to stop the promotion of violence against someone because of their race.”

He added: “We are currently building a coalition comprising a broad range of communities to support the need for real change in the law. While we are concerned about the delay in reforming the law, we are confident that the NSW government will ultimately support this important change.”

The AJN understands that several politicians are concerned with making changes to the Act because it is seen by many as a free speech issue.

  The AJN also understands that if JBOD and other community groups approach Upton as a group, she is likely to back the proposal. – Australian Jewish News


Non-profit raises $260 000 for arts education programmes


LOS ANGELES – Nonprofit arts organisation artworxLA’s 24th annual gala at the Taglyan Cultural Complex honoured Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; Hello Giggles CEO Sophia Rivka Rossi; and architect and artworxLA board member Grant Kirkpatrick.

The gala raised more than $260,000 to support artworxLA programmes, according to the organisation’s website. Attendees included Cynthia Campoy Brophy, founder and executive director of artworxLA.

Founded in 1992, artworxLA serves 650 students annually at 26 alternative high school sites. The organisation, which aims to combat the epidemic of high school dropouts by engaging students with the arts, previously partnered with the Skirball Cultural Centre on the exhibition “Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America”. – Jewish Journal, Los Angeles


Exhibit explores Jewish history on fabric row


PHILADELPHIA – It’s hard to imagine now, but for a significant portion of the last century, the neighbourhoods of Queen Village and Society Hill were home to a thriving Jewish Quarter.

South Fourth Street, in particular, was a hub for Jewish life. In a 1914-15 annual report of a neighbourhood settlement house at Fourth and Bainbridge Streets, Fourth Street is described as “Philadelphia’s closest approach to New York’s Lower East Side, where we have its pushcarts, crowded streets and pavements, the open air display of calico, candy, pickles and fish for sale”. 

Harry Boonin, author of The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia, characterised Fourth Street in similarly vivid terms, as a land of “pickle barrels and union enforcers, dreamers and paupers, curbside bookies and curbside elections, saloons, pool halls and feed stores – and in the middle of all this excitement were the synagogues, dozens of them”.

The garment industry – also known as the rag trade, or the schmatte trade – fed much of this commercial activity. There were dozens of sweatshops, fabric stores and tailors, and the pushcart vendors who couldn’t afford a brick-and-mortar shop sold remnants by the side of the road. 

All of it is known now as Fabric Row, and it’s the focus of an exhibit that opened last week called “Philadelphia’s Fabric Row: The Pushcart Years, 1905-1955” at the Philadelphia History Museum on South Seventh Street. – Jewish Exponent, Philadelphia


New hi-tech weapon in the war on cervical cancer


RAMAT GAN – Biop Medical’s device, due out in 2017, optically scans the cervix for early signs of cancer, analyses the images and indicates where to perform a biopsy.

In the 1940s, George Papanicolaou’s Pap smear was introduced and became the standard cancer screening test for cervical cancer, then the number one killer of women and today the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide.

Incredibly, Pap remains the standard despite severe drawbacks. The smear must be sent to a lab for analysis (which takes several days), has a high rate of inaccurate results, and samples only the outer surface of the cervix although cancer begins in the inner layers.

Furthermore, the Pap test isn’t readily available in third world countries where cervical cancer is still the leading cause of death among women.

The Israeli company Biop Medical is designing and testing a better alternative, namely a state-of-the-art colposcope, the instrument used to check women for gynaecological disease. Colposcopy is usually performed after a positive Pap smear and if it detects suspicious cells the woman must schedule a biopsy.

Biop’s device does everything in one visit. It optically scans the inner layers of the cervix for early signs of cancer, analyses the images instantly and indicates where to perform a biopsy if necessary.

That takes away the anxiety of waiting for results or for a colposcopy and biopsy appointment, during which time cancer could spread. – Israel 21c


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