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(JTA) Criminal goes to ‘federal Jewish heaven’ Michael Cohen, a former attorney and fixer for United States President Donald Trump, is reported to have started his three-year term on Monday at a prison known as “federal Jewish heaven”.
by JTA | May 09, 2019

Cohen will serve his time at FCI Otisville, a medium-security prison about 70 miles (112km) northwest of New York City, with a reputation as the lockup of choice for Jewish criminals.

The prison serves kosher foods such as matzah-ball soup, gefilte fish and rugelach, in part because of its “proximity to New York’s sizable Jewish population”. Also, Otisville holds Shabbat dinners and Passover seders, according to Larry Levine, who served an 11-year sentence in 10 prisons before setting up the Wall Street Prison Consultants group.

Cohen was convicted of, among other things, carrying out the president’s hush-money payments to two women who say they had affairs with him, violating campaign finance laws in the process.

Other Jewish inmates who have passed through the facility include businessmen Sholam Weiss and Kenneth Ira Starr. Bernie Madoff’s lawyer asked that the Ponzi schemer be sent there in 2009, but instead Madoff was funnelled to a prison in North Carolina.

Rivlin visits victims of Gaza rockets

Here’s an exchange between Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the son of an Arab-Israeli man who was killed over the weekend by a Hamas bomb.

“You don’t know what it means to me that you came here,” the son of Ziad Alhamada reportedly told Rivlin when the president visited his home.

“Why wouldn’t I come?” Rivlin replied. “Aren’t you an Israeli citizen?”

Alhamada, 49, was among four Israelis killed over the weekend when Hamas launched nearly 700 rockets at Israel, injuring many others. He died when a rocket hit the factory where he worked in Ashkelon.

Rivlin also visited the families of the others killed: Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, a 21-year-old American Israeli; Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four who was hit with shrapnel to his chest and stomach in the yard of his Ashkelon home; and 67-year-old Moshe Feder, who was hit by a missile while driving.

As of Monday, 25 Palestinians were reported dead by the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry.

US Jews critical of Trump

American Jews are much more likely than their Christian counterparts to criticise President Donald Trump’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a new survey conducted in April.

In a survey published on Monday, the Pew Research Center found that 42% of American Jews said that Trump was favouring the Israelis too much, while a similar share, 47%, said he was striking the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians. Six percent found that Trump favoured the Palestinians too much.

Among Christians, 59% said the president was striking the right balance between the two sides, and 26% said he favoured the Israelis too much. The level of support for Trump’s policies on Israel rose significantly in the evangelical community: 72% agreed with the balance Trump is striking.

“Partisanship also may be a factor when it comes to the views of religiously unaffiliated Americans who, like Jews, largely lean Democratic,” Pew explained. According to a Gallup poll released earlier this year, about half of American Jews identified as Democrats.

Jewish man attacked in Brooklyn

A Jewish man was attacked in an apparently anti-Semitic incident in New York over the weekend.

The attack comes days after the New York Police Department reported that more than half of all hate crimes reported in 2018 and so far in 2019 were anti-Jewish.

In the weekend incident, according to the New York Post, the unnamed victim, who was visibly Jewish, was punched in the back of the head while walking in the heavily Hasidic Williamsburg section. The attacker was reported to have called the man a “f***ing Jew”.

Three precincts with large Hasidic populations, all in Brooklyn and including Williamsburg, reported the most anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2018.

Chabad calls for moment of silence

In the wake of a deadly attack on a Chabad synagogue in California, the movement will press for a mandatory moment of silence in American schools, a measure it claims will reduce violence.

The Washington-based American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) on Sunday said chapters in all 50 states would advocate for a moment of silence, a measure first proposed by the movement’s late leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

A number of Chabad rabbis have spoken about what they say is the proven effect of a moment of silence in reducing violence, citing government statistics correlating a drop in violence in areas where schools observe the practice.

The renewed effort comes in the wake of an attack last month in Poway, California, a town north of San Diego, when a 19-year-old white supremacist allegedly opened fire, killing one worshipper, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and wounding three, including the rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein.

Islamic centre supports Jewish neighbours

About 50 people from the Islamic Center of Naperville, Illinois, gathered in front of a local synagogue to show support a week after the shooting attack on a synagogue in Poway, California.

The members of the Muslim community stood in solidarity outside of the Congregation Beth Shalom Synagogue on Friday night.

“Hate has no home”, “Spread love not hate”, and “We are one Naperville” read some of the signs carried by Islamic Center members, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“We want to respond to evil with good,” said Atif Fakhruddin of the Islamic Center. “This is our gesture of compassion and love to our Jewish neighbours after what happened in California.”

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