BERLIN (JTA) — Leaders from both the Jewish and Protestant communities here have excoriated the efforts of ministers in the southwestern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg to convert Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
"These people came as Jews and when we lose them it is a quantitative and qualitative loss to our community," said Gerrad Breibart, a member of the administrative council of Germany's Jewish community and vice chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Breibart did not have an exact number of how many Jews from the former Soviet Union have been converted to Protestant Christianity, but he said the push for conversions had been occurring for about two years, mostly around Stuttgart.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Central Council and Protestant representatives condemned the financial exploitation of Jewish immigrants. Former Soviet Jews have been enticed to convert with promises of financial help, Breibart said.
The statement came after Breibart and Joel Berger, a rabbi in the southwestern region, met Sunday with senior Protestant leaders.
The church also agreed that when Jewish families come into contact with Protestant ministers, they will be referred to the nearest Jewish community.
Church leaders support the Jewish community's concerns and oppose these missionary efforts, Breibart said. "But some churches see their mission as conversion."
Ex-Arafat guard seeks freedom
TORONTO (JTA)– A former Yasser Arafat bodyguard whom Canada has attempted to deport for more than a year is trying to be released from protective custody.
At a bail hearing last week, Wahid Khalil Baroud, 45, a Palestinian bodyguard for Arafat and an alleged terrorist, said he came to Canada in 1991 from Greece "to rejoin my family and live in peace with my children." His wife and three children, who came to Canada in 1990, have refugee status.
The review in federal court was triggered by the refusal by Algeria and others to take Baroud in.
Under Canadian immigration laws, anyone in Baroud's position can seek release from custody 120 days after a court confirms a ministerial certificate that orders the deportation of someone alleged to threaten national security.
Baroud, who was born in Gaza and was a member of Al Fatah, testified that he left the organization in October 1990.
At issue in the hearing is whether the deportation can be accomplished "in reasonable time" and whether Baroud poses a threat to Canada.
A judge who confirmed the ministerial certificate on May 31 said he found no evidence that Baroud had engaged in terrorist activities. The hearing continues Nov. 9.
Germany, Israel to research cells
BERLIN (JTA) — Germany's largest bank has agreed to provide $1.8 million for a joint medical research project between the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem and the Georg-Speyer Haus in Frankfurt.
The German-Israeli undertaking, funded by Deutsche Bank, will focus on the investigation of specific leukemia and virus-infected cells.
The goal is to develop new medications and methods to inject them into infected cells.
In a statement, German bank officials said, "The possibility to promote a closer relationship between Germany and Israel via a scientific cooperation made this project for the Deutsche Bank particularly attractive."
The Hadassah Medical Organization is one of the leading medical institutes in Israel.
The Georg-Speyer Haus became internationally known because of Paul Ehrlich, a bacteriologist and the center's first director. Ehrlich, a Jew, developed the first effective medicine against syphilis.
Survivor of Lodz, historian, dies at 70
NEW YORK (JPS) — Lucjan Dobroszycki, 70, a survivor of the Lodz ghetto and a leading scholar of Polish Jewish history, died last week in New York.
Dobroszycki, who studied at the University of Leningrad and the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Science, spent much of his career preparing and editing "The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto." He came to the United States in 1970, where he joined the faculty of Yeshiva University and became a senior research associate at YIVO.
Dobroszycki was a member of Hebrew University's review board for Studies in Contemporary Jewry, and wrote or edited more than a dozen books in Polish, English, German and Hebrew. The funeral was held in Jerusalem Friday of last week
Israelis to treat Azerbaijani victims
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel sent a team of medical experts Wednesday to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to assist in the treatment of burn victims from Saturday's subway fire in the capital of Baku.
Two Israeli doctors traveled to Azerbaijan, bringing an aid package of some $25,000 worth of medicines, intravenous solutions and other medical materials.
About 300 people died in the weekend fire, which also left hundreds wounded.