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The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has announced the discovery of a trove of over 170,000 pages of lost Jewish materials from the Lithuanian city of Vilna thought to have been destroyed during the Holocaust. The new Vilna Discovery includes unique documents of literary manuscripts in Yiddish and Hebrew from some of the most famous Yiddish writers. The collection also contains numerous religious and communal paperwork. Included in the collection are letters from Sholem Aleichem, postcards written by Marc Chagall, and record books from synagogues and Jewish schools, as well as mystical writings. The materials were first hidden from the Nazis by the YIVO Paper Brigade during WWII and subsequently preserved for decades by Antanas Ulpis, a Lithuanian citizen. Ulpis risked his life by saving the documents from the pulping mills and then by storing them in secret in the basement of St. George Church, where he worked as a librarian. Ten of the documents from the discovery will be on display at YIVO through January 2018.


Albert Einstein is famous for his theory of relativity, but apparently, he also has some theories on achieving happiness.  A handwritten note by Albert Einstein was sold last month to an anonymous European at a Jerusalem auction for a record $1.56 million, according to reports by auctioneers Agence France-Presse. The note, which was on stationery from the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, had the following life lesson inscribed on it in German: “A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”  It seems the famous physicist gave the written advice to a Tokyo courier in lieu of a tip.  Hebrew University will be the beneficiary of the note. In the same auction, another note saying, “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” was bought for $250,000, while two other letters written by Einstein fetched a combined $43,200.


Yigal Amir, 47, who assassinated Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin on November 4,  1995, is seeking a retrial claiming that the bullets he fired, intending to kill Rabin, were not the ones that ultimately lead to the leader’s mortal wound and death.  A legal defense team is currently being assembled to submit the retrial request. Amir assassinated Rabin at the end of a pro-peace rally in Tel Aviv. Both the Israeli court and the subsequent Shamgar Commission established to investigate the chain of events leading up to the assassination rejected previous conspiracy claims and concluded that Amir was indeed guilty of the murder. He was sentenced to life in prison where he remains in solitary confinement.

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 There is a new kids’ book on the market, and it has many Jewish families fuming. Titled P is for Palestine and written by Pace history professor Golbarg Bashi, the book is purportedly full of anti-Semitic propaganda disguised as an innocent children’s alphabet book is purportedly full of anti-Semitic propaganda disguised as an innocent children’s alphabet book.  The book highlights aspects of Arabic culture and Palestinian life but makes no mention of Israel. For example, on the page designated for the letter I, Bashi writes, “I is for Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!” It shows a child on her father’s back standing before barbed wire and flashing peace signs. Bashi, a former Rutgers Iranian-studies instructor, claims she came up with the idea after she couldn’t find any books on Palestine for children.


Four people from Gendarmerie, a southwestern Muğla province of Turkey were caught attempting to sell a 700-year-old Torah believed to be worth TL 7.5 million ($1.93 million). The suspects were apprehended in the Seydikemer district when they tried to sell the holy book to secret agents.  One of the men was arrested, while three others were released on bail. The Torah, written on gazelle leather and adorned with gold motifs, was handed to a local museum for further examination.


The Rwandan government will get $5,000 from Israel for every African asylum seeker it agrees to take in.  The Population and Immigration Authority is expected to launch an expulsion operation to rid the country of African refugees who have entered the country illegally through the Egyptian border.  They will be receiving notices demanding that they leave the country or face incarceration for an unlimited amount of time since they are not genuine refugees. Women, children, human trafficking victims and those seeking political asylum will not be included in this summons.


Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously to reactivate a dormant law that criminalizes public display of the Israeli flag. This move was an attempt to stop the Kurds, who reside in a semi-autonomous region in Iraq, from waving Israeli flags during sports and political rallies. The Kurds and Israel have had a good relationship since Israel supported their uprisings against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Hamid al-Khudary, a lawmaker from a large Shiite bloc in Iraq’s parliament, said he introduced a motion in the legislature because “raising the Zionist entity flag is a dangerous phenomenon.”  The only time displaying the Israeli flag is allowed in the country is on Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), on the last Friday of Ramadan, when Iraqis show support for the Palestinian cause by stomping on and burning the flag.  Iraq’s cabinet has yet to decide the criminal penalty for failing to comply with this law.


A four-year investigation conducted by the Amsterdam-based NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies found that the Dutch Red Cross acted incompetently in failing to treat and protect Jews during World War II. Chairwoman of Dutch Red Cross Inge Brakman issued an apology stating, “The war years are undoubtedly a black stain on the pages of our 150-year history.” The investigation also concluded that the Red Cross had mounted considerable efforts to help some prisoners, though not the Jewish ones. Of about 140,000 Jews known to have lived in the country at the start of World War II, approximately 30,000 survived. A total of 107,000 were interned in Camp Westerbork, in the northeast of the country, before being transported to Nazi concentration camps in other countries.


Jewish groups are dismayed that a German court ruled in favor of Kuwaiti Airways in their refusal to service Nathan Gelbart, an  Israeli citizen who was flying from Frankfurt to Bangkok.  The ruling stated that this was a Kuwaiti legal issue and that the German courts cannot force Kuwaiti businesses to interact with Jews, something the Middle Eastern country deems illegal as they do not recognize the state of Israel. Gelbart’s lawyer, who says his client is planning to appeal the verdict, called the ruling “shameful for democracy and for Germany in general.” The Central Council of Jews in Germany said, “It is unacceptable that a foreign company operating on the basis of deeply anti-Semitic national laws should be allowed to do business in Germany.”


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