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Entries in Jewish (10)

Thursday
Sep132012

Obama Calls for Reconciliation in Rosh Hashanah Message

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In his annual message marking the Jewish New Year, President Obama calls for reconciliation at a time when “public discourse can too often seem harsh” and “society too often focuses on what divides us instead of what unites us.”

“This is a joyful time for millions of people around the world. But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also opportunities for reflection. They represent a chance to take stock of our lives and look forward to the coming year with clear eyes and renewed purpose,” Obama says in a video message in advance of the beginning of Rosh Hashanah Sunday night.

“In that spirit, the Jewish Tradition teaches us that one of the most important duties we have during this period is the act of reconciliation. We’re called to seek each other out and make amends for those moments when we may not have lived up to our values as well as we should,” he says. “I hope that Americans of all faiths can take this opportunity to reach out to those who are less fortunate; to be tolerant of our neighbors; and to recognize ourselves in one another.”

The president also reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Israel. “As a nation, let us be mindful of those who are suffering, and renew the unbreakable bond we share with our friends and allies, including the State of Israel,” he says.

“Michelle and I wish you and your families a sweet year full of health, happiness and peace,” he says. “L’Shanah Tovah.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

Jewish Michigan Student Attack Not Hate Crime, Cops Say

Design Pics/Thinkstock(LANSING, Mich.) -- A Michigan college student who claimed he was attacked and his mouth stapled because he was Jewish has been contradicted by police who say the fight might have been about a girl.

Michigan State University student Zachary Tennen was attacked by two other students at an off-campus party on Saturday, according to police. Tennen, 19, told ABC News affiliate WXYZ that he was taunted about being Jewish before the men became physical with him.

“They mentioned that they’re Nazis and they’re in the KKK,” Tennen said. “They came up behind me and punched me across the jaw. They knocked me unconscious and I found a staple in me after.”

Tennen took a taxi to a hospital, where doctors found a staple in his mouth before wiring his broken jaw shut.

Police in East Lansing, Mich., however, said Tuesday that they did not believe the attack was a hate crime, and privately told the Tennens that they believed the fight was over a girl.

Police said in a statement released to ABC News that they had interviewed two witnesses and identified a suspect, though the incident was still under investigation.

Tennen’s father, Bruce Tennen, told WXYZ that he disagrees with the police, and that his son talked to very few girls at the party and had never had a long-term girlfriend.

“I think this is a heinous crime and it sickens me,” Bruce Tennen said, adding that if police arrest and charge someone just with assault, he will hire his own lawyer and try to pursue an ethnic intimidation or hate crime in federal court.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Michigan Student Says Lips Were Stapled Shut Because He Was Jewish

Design Pics/Thinkstock(EAST LANSING, Mich.) -- A 19-year-old college student who was attending a party near Michigan State University early Sunday morning said he was beaten and his lips were stapled together after his attackers asked if he was Jewish, according to police.

Zachary Tennen told police that while he was at a party in East Lansing, Mich., two men punched him after he told them he was Jewish when they asked.

Tennen’s mother told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that the two men raised their arms “in a Nazi salute, chanting ‘Heil Hitler,’” before attacking Tennen. They then allegedly stapled his lips together, forcing a staple into his gums, according to the report.

Tennen told police that the men also said they were part of the Klu Klux Klan, according to Michigan State University’s school newspaper, The State.

According to that report, Tennen awoke from being knocked out and took a cab to a local hospital. He notified East Lansing police of the incident later Sunday morning.

The Tennens did not return calls from ABC News for comment.

According to the Indianapolis Star report, Tennen is now recuperating from surgery at home in Oakland County, Mich.

Despite Tannen's claims, the East Lansing police department said in a statement to ABC News Tuesday that they do not believe the assault was a hate crime. Police said they had interviewed two witnesses and identified a potential suspect, and the investigation was ongoing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Jewish Summer Camp in Pennsylvania 'Terrorized'; Five Charged

ABC News(WAYMART, Pa.) -- Five people face charges for allegedly terrorizing a Jewish summer camp in Pennsylvania.

In three separate episodes earlier this month, three adults and two juveniles caused property damage as they sped dangerously through Camp Bonim in Wayne County in a pickup truck, shouting anti-Semitic epithets and firing paintball guns at campers and staff, District Attorney Janine Edwards said in a press release. The three adults were arrested Wednesday morning and face felony and misdemeanor charges, including ethnic intimidation, terroristic threats and assault.

"These children were terrorized and in fear for their lives by the actions of this group," Edwards said in the release. "The vicious, cruel and obscene nature of the language hurled at the campers is unspeakable. Luckily none of the children suffered any serious physical injury, however, the emotional damage is immeasurable."

A judge arraigned Tyler Spencer, an 18-year-old from Linden, Tenn., and set his bail at $200,000. Spencer is accused of attempting to hit campers as he drove the Ford-350 pickup truck carrying the group. Spencer's alleged accomplices, Mark Trail, 21, and Cassandra Robertson, 18, both of Wayne County, were held on $20,000 bail. A 17-year-old and a 16-year-old face juvenile court cases.

In the first episode on July 14, Spencer told police that he drove in circles at a high speed to damage several fields on the Bonim campus, according to a police affidavit obtained by ABC News. When he returned with the same group of passengers the next day, Spencer said they ripped the camp's mailbox out of the ground before driving into the camp.

Police said Mark Trail then yelled racial slurs such as "You f***ing Jews go back where you came from" and "I'm gonna kill you, you f***ing Jews." During that episode, 18-year-old camper Alan Rosen was struck in the leg by a shot from a paintball gun while walking near the camp's synagogue, according to the affidavit, filed by Pennsylvania State Trooper John Decker.

At around 2:30 a.m. the next morning, campers saw the group doing "360s" in the camp's quad area before the truck came chasing after one of them, according to the affidavit. The campers told police the truck only missed them by about 10 feet.

On July 16, one day after the last incident at Camp Bonim, Spencer was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly driving into a counselor from the camp outside a local Turkey Hill store, breaking his leg. Spencer fled the scene, and was caught later that day by New York state police near Hancock, N.Y.

According to the affidavit, New York state police said the truck matched the description provided by Honesdale, Pa., police of the truck involved in the Camp Bonim crimes, and the truck's occupants admitted to both those crimes and the hit-and-run at the Turkey Hill. Trail and Robertson gave Pennsylvania state police written statements acknowledging their guilt in the incidents at the camp and store.

Presser said the camp community was relieved to learn that the group had been apprehended, and that he was impressed with the way law enforcement handled the case.

"They did whatever they could. We could see right away that they were working on it," he said. Wayne County is home to more than 30 summer camps, many of them drawing children from around the Northeast. District Attorney Edwards said in a statement to the press that her office "want[s] it known that Wayne County citizens value our camps. We want our camps to be safe."

The group is also being charged with damaging the grounds of an elementary school in Waymart, Pa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec012011

Al Qaeda Leader Zawahiri Says He Has US Hostage 

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a newly released audio message, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claims that his organization is holding hostage Warren Weinstein, a 70-year-old American who went missing last August in Pakistan. Zawahiri's statement is the first official claim of responsibility by any group in relation to the kidnapping.

"I tell the captive soldiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, we have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein," says Zawahiri in the 30-minute statement, which appeared on jihadi websites Thursday and otherwise focuses mainly on the situation in his native Egypt.

The leader of al Qaeda addresses Weinstein's family, telling them that "your government tortures our prisoners, but we have not tortured your prisoner." He also warns them not to trust President Obama's assurances that everything is being done to secure Weinstein's release, accusing the president of wishing "[Weinstein] would be killed to get rid of his problem."

In exchange for Weinstein's release, Zawahiri requests the lifting of the Israeli "siege" of the Gaza strip, the complete end of "bombings by America and its allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza," the release of all al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners and the closing down of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo bay, Cuba, in addition to the release of members of Osama bin Laden's family.

"Obama has the power, capacity and authority to free [Weinstein]," says Zawahiri. "He could also leave him in captivity for years and, if he does something stupid, kill him."

In August, Pakistani police arrested three men in connection with the kidnapping. Weinstein, a private U.S. citizen who has lived in Pakistan for seven years, was sleeping in his bed when assailants burst into his home to snatch him. The former USAID worker is currently employed by the private U.S.-based development firm J.E. Austin Associates.

All three suspects are from the same province in which Weinstein lived, an area far from the turbulent tribal regions near the Afghan border more usually associated with violent attacks. The men were arrested after investigators managed to track their cell phone numbers, the Lahore police chief said without elaborating.

Some in Pakistan have speculated privately that Weinstein was not a development worker, but instead worked in intelligence for the U.S. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah publicly announced his suspicions, telling local media that Weinstein was involved in "quite suspect" intelligence-gathering for the U.S. government and comparing him to Raymond Davis, the American CIA contractor who was jailed in Pakistan earlier this year for shooting two men on the streets of Lahore.

U.S. diplomats said Weinstein is not connected to any U.S. intelligence groups.

Weinstein is the first private citizen to be kidnapped in Pakistan since al Qaeda operatives abducted and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

On the new tape, Zawahiri also acknowledges for the first time the death of his number two, al Qaeda deputy leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan's tribal area in August. One senior U.S. official described his death at the time as "a tremendous loss for al Qaeda, because Zawahiri was relying heavily on him to help guide and run the organization, especially since bin Laden's death." According to U.S. officials, Atiyah was the "operational leader" of the terror group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Couple Allegedly Kidnaps Man to Force Him to Grant Jewish Divorce

Comstock/Thinkstock(TRENTON, N.J.) -- A middle-aged Jewish couple has been charged with luring an Israeli man to their suburban New Jersey home and allegedly holding him hostage until he agreed to grant his wife a religious divorce.

David and Judy Wax, 49 and 47, were scheduled to appear in federal court in Trenton on Monday, face up to life in prison for kidnapping if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, the Waxes convinced the victim, known only by his initials, Y.M.B, to come to their Lakewood home in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2010 to discuss the Talmud. After he arrived, two unidentified males jumped him in a second-floor bedroom, punching him in the face.

After the attackers allegedly handcuffed, bound and blindfolded the victim, the victim said that he heard them say he had to grant his wife a divorce without receiving custody of the children. The victim said that David Wax then picked the victim's head off the floor, allowing him to see under the blindfold. Wax was wearing a white cowboy hat. "Do you like my hat?" asked Wax, before allegedly kicking the victim in the ribs.

The victim was also allegedly shown a body bag and told "that if he did not comply, he would be buried alive in the Pocono Mountains," according to the complaint. The Poconos are a popular resort area in Eastern Pennsylvania. Wax allegedly laid the body bag on the victim and said, "For you to get used to the size."

The victim and his ex-wife had been engaged in a contested divorce in Rabbinical court in Israel. The victim had moved to the United States, where he continued to refuse to give his wife a "get," a divorce under Orthodox Jewish law. A "get "would permit her to remarry.

According to the alleged victim, he was held hostage for several hours and threatened with harm if he didn't verbally consent to the "get." The victim said that he consented to the divorce within the first half hour of his captivity, but was forced to consent to the divorce again and again in both English and Hebrew. He was also told that his father in Israel had to pay $100,000 to his ex-wife.

At 3:00 a.m., David Wax and the victim allegedly went by taxi to an ATM to attempt to withdraw money.

According to the complaint, the taxi driver told the men that a car was following the taxi. Wax said he was aware of the car. He allegedly told the victim that he had an "Italian team" in the following car who would take victim to the Poconos and bury him alive. Wax also allegedly called the victim's father in Israel and threatened him with a "special gift...called a bullet...in your head" if he didn't cooperate. He also said that others had wanted to give the victim "to mice in the mountains to eat him," but that the son had been spared because he agreed to the divorce.

According to the complaint, Judy Wax then drove the victim to his cousin's house in Brooklyn, New York and dropped him off.

Mitchell Ansell, attorney for David Wax, said that his client is not guilty and has always maintained his innocence. "He has no history of violence or criminal behavior, and he is the father of eight children. We're confident that when all the facts are made public that he will be cleared of these charges and his good and honorable name will be restored."

An attorney for Judy Wax did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Brooklyn Boy Murdered, Dismembered; Man Arrested

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police have arrested the man whom a missing Brooklyn, N.Y., boy had asked for directions before his dismembered body was found Wednesday in two separate locations, including the man's refrigerator, authorities said.

The two-day search ended today when remains believed to be that of Leibby Kletzky, 8, were found early Wednesday in two Brooklyn locations, two and a half miles from each other. Body parts were found in a black plastic garbage bag inside of a suitcase in a dumpster and in the refrigerator of a third floor attic of the home where 35-year-old Levy Aron lived, police said at a news conference.

"It was a very brutal murder," New York Assemb. Dov Hikind told ABC News New York affiliate WABC. "This is the worst possible conclusion imaginable."

Leibby was reported missing Monday when he did not meet his mother at a pre-arranged location seven blocks from his camp. Police say the boy and the mother had gone to the location Friday and she had showed him the route he was to take.

Police say Leibby left camp at 5:05 p.m. and missed the turn he was to take to meet his mother. He was lost and asked a stranger, Aron, for directions, police said. The suspect was reportedly described as wearing "trappings" of the Orthodox Jewish community.

Security video footage shows Leibby speaking to Aron on a corner by his car, police said. Aron then went across the street and entered a building, while Kletzky waited for seven minutes. When Aron returned, the boy and the man got into his car, police said.

Detectives discovered that the building was a dentist's office where Aron went and paid a bill while Leibby waited. After locating one of the dentists at the practice in New Jersey and a receptionist, the man's identity was determined and police went to his house, a three-story home owned by the suspect's father. Aron's parents live on the first floor, his uncle lives on the second and he had been living in the third floor attic apartment, police said.

Police arrived at Aron's apartment at about 2:40 a.m. and found the door slightly ajar. The suspect was standing shirtless in the middle of the room. When asked where the boy was, he pointed toward the kitchen, police said.

There was blood on the refrigerator handle and police found a cutting board and three carving knives inside along with remains that are believed to be the boy's, police said. Aron also directed them to the dumpster where more remains were found, police said.

There is no indication that Aron was connected to the boy or his family in any way prior to this incident, police said.

Thousands of community members, investigators and detectives participated in the search for Leibby Tuesday. The FBI was involved and a $100,000 reward was offered. Police describe the area as a "very safe neighborhood" and call the situation "every parent's nightmare."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr112011

Temple Attack Suspect Boarded Greyhound Bus for New York

Santa Monica Police Department(NEW YORK) -- The man suspected of using a never-before-seen launcher to fire a projectile at a California synagogue boarded a New York-bound Greyhound bus after the attack and police have alerted authorities along the bus route, police said.

Ron Hirsch, who is the subject of a nationwide manhunt, got on the bus the same day he hurled 300 pounds of pipe and concrete into the roof of a building adjacent to the Chabad House and less than a block from the Santa Monica Synagogue, police said.

Investigators confirmed that a man known as J. Fisher, a known alias used by Hirsch, purchased the ticket. He was originally scheduled to arrive in New York on Sunday, but surveillance video shows him getting off the bus in Denver, Colo., investigators said.

Police along the bus' route have been alerted. The bus makes 10 scheduled stops between California and New York.

Hirsch, who is believed to have family in New York, is a transient known in Los Angeles for towing a trailer full of possessions behind a bicycle, police sources said.

The projectile appears to have been fired from an alley, bounced off the center's wall and crashed through the roof. The bang shattered windows, punctured a hole in the synagogue and sent the 300-pound metal pipe into a neighbor's house where a young boy was sleeping. The incident took place shortly before prayer services at the Chabad House Thursday morning and triggered the evacuation of about 100 people from a four-block radius.

Hirsch is also known as Israel Fisher, according to information released by police. He constructed the projectile device using elements including concrete, explosive powder, dry ice and what appears to be an expansion joint sealant, or other expanding plastic or foam.

The oddly constructed mechanical launcher appears to have been highly effective at hurling its material, although it did not seriously damage the Chabad House, which appears to have been its target.

According to the Santa Monica Police Department, Hirsch, a heavyset white male, is being sought on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr112011

Calif. Police: Transient's Jerry-Rigged Launcher Attacked Synagogue

Santa Monica Police Department(LOS ANGELES) -- The man who constructed a never-before-seen launcher that fired a projectile into the roof of a building adjacent to a Jewish outreach center in Santa Monica, Calif., is a transient known in Los Angeles for towing a trailer full of possessions behind a bicycle, police sources said.

A joint FBI, Santa Monica police and Los Angeles police manhunt remained underway early Monday for Ron Hirsch, a 60-year-old man who has regularly frequented area synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking handouts, law enforcement officials said. Hirsch was last spotted on a bus in Denver and was heading east, police sources said.

According to multiple officials familiar with the case, Hirsch created a mechanical launcher that hurled 300 pounds of pipe and concrete into roof of a building adjacent to a Chabad House and less than a block from the Santa Monica Synagogue. The incident took place shortly before prayer services at the Chabad House Thursday morning and triggered the evacuation of about 100 people from a four block radius.

The projectile appears to have been fired from an alley, bounced of the center's wall and crashed through the roof. The bang shattered windows, punctured a hole in the synagogue and sent the 300-pound metal pipe into a neighbor's house where a young boy was sleeping.

Even as the investigation and manhunt were underway, officials faced a groundswell of concern across the Jewish community, where early speculation included al Qaeda-inspired terror as a motive.

Instead, a transient with an alias and a grudge that may be seated in a personal relationship at one religious institution was the one officials believe triggered a Friday afternoon security alert by the Anti-Defamation League to synagogues and other Jewish organizations in the Los Angeles area.

Hirsch is also known as Israel Fisher, according to information released by police. He constructed the projectile device using elements including concrete, explosive powder, dry ice and what appears to be an expansion joint sealant, or other expanding plastic or foam.

The oddly constructed mechanical launcher appears to have been highly effective at hurling its material, although it did not seriously damage the Chabad House which appears to have been its target.

According to the Santa Monica Police Department, Hirsch, a heavyset white male is being sought on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges. He "is known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking charity from patrons," one police official said. He is known to stay in motels from time to time for a night at a time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

Police Name Suspect in California Synagogue Blast

Santa Monica Police Department(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- Police have identified a suspect in a blast outside a synagogue and community center Thursday that was originally believed to have been an industrial accident. Police now say the explosion was caused by an intentionally-placed homemade explosive.

Ron Hirsch, 60, also known as Israel Fisher, is thought to be behind the Thursday morning explosion that sent a metal pipe encased in concrete through the roof of a home next door to Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica. No one was injured in the attack.

Police refer to Hirsch as a transient. He is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 207 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.

Hirsh faces numerous charges including possession of a destructive device.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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