U.S. Report

Friday, January 25, 2002 | by

LOS ANGELES (JTA)—Leaders of a California synagogue will pay a friendly visit to the mosque Jewish radicals allegedly planned to bomb.

Valley Beth Shalom, one of the Los Angeles area's largest Conservative synagogues, has accepted an invitation to send a busload of members to the King Fahad Mosque for services on Feb. 22.

The mosque drew national headlines when two members of the militant Jewish Defense League were arrested and then indicted on charges of conspiring to destroy it and the office of an Arab-American congressman. The two have denied the charges. "Judaism has to reach out in spite of all the animosity," Valley Beth Shalom's Rabbi Harold Schulweis said. "If not, we will surrender all our life to the generals, admirals and militaries of the world."

Conservative rabbis pick Israeli president

NEW YORK (JTA)—The Conservative movement's rabbinical arm is to be headed by an Israeli for the first time.

The Rabbinical Assembly of America, which represents approximately 1,500 Conservative rabbis, mostly in the United States, will name Rabbi Reuven Hammer president at its convention next month in Washington.

Hammer, who made aliyah from the United States in 1973, was one of the rabbis involved in the 1998 Ne'eman Commission, a group that sought to find a way for non-Orthodox rabbis to perform conversions in Israel that would be recognized by the government. He is a professor of rabbinic literature at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, the Conservative seminary in Jerusalem.

Lawmaker wants Jews out of his jury pool

WASHINGTON (JTA)—A U.S. congressman is seeking to keep Jewish jurors out of his upcoming trial. Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) wants to add questions regarding ethnic background and religious affiliation to a proposed jury questionnaire, the Roll Call newspaper reported.

Traficant faces felony charges of bribery, accepting illegal gifts, racketeering, fraud, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

At a pretrial hearing earlier this month, Traficant worried about a Jewish backlash, saying he was concerned that Jewish jurors would resent his well-publicized support of alleged concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk. The lawmaker also has voiced support for the Palestinians and spoken out against Israel numerous times.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the use of ethnicity in the course of composing a jury.