The country’s first Jewish mayor, Moses Elisaf, was elected to be mayor of Ioannina, a city in northwestern Greece. Elisaf, who ran as an independent, won by a close vote, garnering 50.33 percent of the vote compared to his opponent’s 49.67 percent. Ioannina has a total population of nearly 57,000.Elisaf, who is a professor at the University of Ioannina, Medical School also was the head of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. The Jews in Ioannina are of the Romaniote tradition, an ethnic Jewish community native to the Eastern Mediterranean. The Romaniote-Jewish community of Greece is the oldest in Europe. At the beginning of World War II, the community in Ioannina numbered about 2,000 members, but very few survived the Holocaust. Today, Greece is home to about 5,000 Jews. Some 90 percent of the Jews of Greece were killed during the Holocaust.
Istanbul’s new airport, which is set to be the largest in the world, will also contain two Jewish prayer rooms. The rooms will be located in the regular and business class lounges, and there are plans to open one in the general hall as well. Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Chabad emissary and Ashkenazi rabbi of Turkey, supplied siddurim to the small synagoues in both Ashkenazi and Sephardi nusachs. “The airline provides between 600 to 5000 kosher meals every day,” claims Chitrik who says that Turkish Airlines has more flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul than from Istanbul to London.” The initiative was undertaken by Turkish Airlines since Istanbul’s old airport Ataturk had no Jewish prayer room or synagogue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a monument dedicated to Jewish heroes of resistance in Nazi concentration camps and ghettos during World War II at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow together with several senior Russian Jewish figures. The monument, an abstract composition of black and white marble which depicts hands pulling open a door’s shutters, also contains five glass flask with candles and an interactive screen with a map and information on the uprisings in concentration camps and ghettoes. Businessman Viktor Vekselberg, who chairs the museum’s board of trustees said the monument’s opening held personal significance for him since 16 members of his family were among the estimated 10,000 Jews held in the ghetto of Drohobych, where he was born 12 years after the end of the war. The hisotircal monument cost over 18 million rubles ($276,000) to build.
JNF Fund USA is inviting the public, in a campaghn project called Be Inscribed, to have a hand in completing the writing of a Torah scroll being written on Masada, the same place where 2,000 years ago the last free Jews of the Second Commonwealth held out against the Roman legions crushing a rebellion. Individuals can sponsor a word, sentence or even a portion of the scroll which contains 304,805 letters written painstakingly with quill on calfskin or parchment by a scriber who sits ontop of cliff fortress in a syngaoe that was rebuilt on the premesis in 2004. In 2008 an air-conditioned room was created in the shul so that a scribe can work ther comfortably while visitors the opportunity to watch him at work behind a glass wall.
“We’re building a safe and vibrant land of Israel by scribing Torah scrolls on top of Masada that once symbolized our destruction but now symbolizes our life,” explained Ron Werner, Jewish National Fund-USA’s national assistant secretary and president of the board of directors. Torah is the soul of the Jewish people and our moral compass,” he said. “By connecting people to Torah, we elevate the whole equation and will build better bonds between Jewry and Israel.” Jewish National Fund-USA will donate completed Torah scrolls to communities in the Negev and the Galilee.
Williams College in Boston is under federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Education over accusations that their College Council refused to recognize a pro-Israel student group, thereby violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, an anti-discrimination la which prohibits “discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.” David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University, had filed the complaint alleging that after Williams administration voted to recognize the Williams Initiative for Israel, (WIFI), the College Council voted to deny WIFI’s recognition as an official student organization during a non- disclosed meeting According to The Williams Record, WIFI was the first applicant in more than a decade to be rejected despite meeting all requirements. The decision sparked a wave of outrage among Jewish groups and even the Williams administration, which cited the minutes as evidence that council members voted down WIFI because it supports Israel’s existence.