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Hotel Polin, Poland’s first kosher hotel, has opened in Krakow nearly 75 years after Nazis deported the city’s Jews. The 38-room establishment was opened by descendants of Holocaust survivors who noticed the growing tourism between Israel and Poland.  The hotel has an in-house synagogue, kosher kitchen, and a Shabbos elevator.  There are also plans to construct a ritual bath. A non-Jewish local businessman invested $560,000 in building the hotel.


A 42-year-old woman broke a national record by giving birth to a boy, her twentieth child, at Hadassah Hospital. The woman, who is also a grandmother, lives in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem. This was her nineteenth birth; one of her previous pregnancies resulted in twins. The woman’s midwife reported that the new mom was calm and relaxed during labor. “She was very excited about every birth, every child, even the nineteenth and the twentieth,” she said. Thanks to her large family, the new mother has plenty of help at home. The hospital said the birth went smoothly with no complications.


Sarah Idan, 2017’s Miss Universe Iraq, was forced to escape the country because she posed with Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel. A picture of the two beauty contestants embracing at a pre-pageant photo shoot was posted on social media, arousing the anger of Iraqis who demanded that she remove the image. Sarah ultimately fled with her family after multiple death threats were issued.  Idan explained to CNN that the motive behind the posting was to spread a message of camaraderie. The photo caption read: “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.”   


In response to President Trump’s historic move of declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, President Jimmy Morales said that Guatemala would be the first country (after the U.S.) to move their embassy to Jerusalem. Guatemala and Israel have always maintained strong ties, especially in security matters and arms trade. Other countries are now also beginning to contemplate moving their embassies to Jerusalem.  In a statement, Netanyahu praised Morales’s decision and said that he was waiting for them in Jerusalem.


Vandals ransacked and destroyed the Hadash Synagogue located in the Iranian city of Shiraz.   The criminals vandalized two Torah scrolls, tore and placed siddurim in the bathroom, shattered glass windows, and blew up lamps. Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said they are “deeply concerned by the reports of the vandalism of the Hadash Synagogue…We call upon the authorities in Shiraz and the central government in Tehran to take all necessary steps to protect the community and bring the perpetrators to swift justice.” Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which forced many Jews to escape the country, Iran was home to a vibrant Jewish community. Today, there are about 8,500 Jews living in Iran, mostly in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz.


Apparently, France thinks that Jews need special monitoring. They set up a secret department within their tax authority to investigate attempted tax evasions committed by Jews.  It is reported that the department is looking to hire more Hebrew-speaking agents, in addition to the 20 already employed, in their efforts to find French tax evaders who are using Israel as a tax shelter.  When investigators discover unreported Israeli properties purchased by French Jews, the person is summoned in for questioning. The French tax authority has also been questioning Jewish-French citizens who plan on making aliyah, wanting to know specific details of undeclared money or assets that they may have stashed away in Israel before the start of their immigration process. French authorities deny the report published by The Globe. It is estimated that by 2026, 100,000 French Jews will relocate to Israel.

United States

Target is recalling the popular card game Cards Against Humanity after receiving many complaints on social media about anti-Semitic comments in their Jewish-themed version of the game called “Chosen People Pack.” The game, which asks players to compete for the funniest or most inappropriate fill-in-the-blank questions, has cards which ask players to answer the question: “Can’t you see, the Jews are behind everything; the banks, the media,  and even _____!” Another card reads: “Torturing Jews until they say they aren’t Jews anymore.” The game was created by high school friends Eli Halpern, David Pinsof, Eliot Weinstein, Daniel Dranove, Ben Hantoot, Max Temin, and Josh Dillon. The cards are still being sold on the game marker’s website.  


Together with the U.S., Israel is looking to withdraw from UNESCO due to alleged anti-Israel bias.  The U.S. says it will end its membership by Dec 31, 2018. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called UNESCO “a theatre of the absurd.” Israel has been a member since 1949 but has had a long and rocky relationship with the organization. UNESCO has been accused of being overly critical of Israel’s politics, occupation of East Jerusalem, and declaration of Hebron as an endangered world heritage site. Israel disapproved UNESCO’s decision to extend membership to Palestinian back in 2011. This past summer, Netanyahu cut their funding by 1 million dollars.  UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said she deeply regretted Israel’s decision to withdraw, saying, “Israel has a rightful place inside the United Nations agency that is dedicated to education, culture, and science.” UNESCO is best known for its work to preserve heritage, including maintaining a list of world heritage sites, and programs to promote education in developing countries. Israel has nine sites on UNESCO’s world heritage list, including the White City of Tel Aviv, the Incense Route along desert cities in the Negev, and the sites of human evolution at Mount Carmel.

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