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Jewish groups praise, question high court’s immigration ruling

 
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WASHINGTON – Most Jewish groups that have weighed in on Arizona’s controversial immigration law thought that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to repeal three of the law’s four parts was promising, but they were concerned with the decision that law enforcement officials still would be allowed to check the legal immigration status of people they detain.

The three provisions that the high court invalidated on Monday authorized police to arrest illegal immigrants without warrant if there was probable cause that they committed an offense that made them eligible for deportation; made it an Arizona state crime for immigrants not to carry registration papers or some sort of government identification; and forbade immigrants unauthorized to work in the country to apply, solicit, or perform work.

Michael Wildes, a former mayor of Englewood who is also an immigration lawyer, said that the overall effect of the decision would be positive, “although we still have a broken immigration system,” he said. The decision “has had a calming effect on many of the immigrants in the North Jersey area,” who had feared that if all the provisions had passed, eventually “similar laws would be passed in New Jersey, and eventually the police would be given a Gestapo-like power to stop people.” The decision was good, he said, because “the government has returned to the position it’s had for years, that immigration is federal, not to be tampered with by the states.”

Many immigrants are Jewish, according to Wildes’ father, Leon Wildes, also an immigration lawyer. “They come from Israel, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Switzerland, Belgium, France — they come from strong Jewish communities throughout the diaspora. Some of them have come here and overstayed. And the community has its fair share of children. Some of the public and private schools in the area take them in, and others don’t.”

Michael Wildes pointed out that immigrants’ attention has been “galvanized by President Obama’s decision last week about the Dream Act,” which will offer illegal immigrants brought to this country as children a possible path to legal residence. “There are scores of Jewish students who are imperiled,” he said, just as are many thousands of others. Jews are “people of the passport,” and as such they are “just as vulnerable as anyone else.”

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was among the groups that welcomed the repeals but had reservations about the court’s decision.

“Though we view the positive part of this ruling as another step in the advancement of immigrant rights — forwarded recently by President Obama’s executive order halting deportations of Dream Act eligible individuals — we remain extremely concerned about the potential for racial profiling as a result of today’s decision,” Mark Hetfield, the interim president and CEO of HIAS, said.

The law, passed in April 2010, was meant primarily to deal with illegal immigrants coming from Mexico, its proponents said when it was passed. They also noted that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had issued an executive order establishing a training program on how to avoid racial profiling when implementing the new rules.

In April, HIAS coordinated a letter to Brewer, a Republican, and also joined more than 100 other faith-based organizations and civil rights groups in submitting an amicus brief that urged the Supreme Court to strike down Arizona’s law.

Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman and national chair Robert Sugarman called the ruling a “mixed outcome.”

“One of our primary concerns has been that Arizona’s law would exacerbate fear in immigrant communities and, in particular, make victims and witnesses of hate crimes reluctant to speak with police,” they wrote.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, noted that the RAC welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn most provisions in the law but called on Arizona to urge caution on the remaining part.

“We urge Arizona and the lower courts to endorse the principle that all women, men and children deserve equal protection under the law, as appearance offers no grounds on which to assume the legal status of an individual,” Saperstein wrote. “Engaging in racial profiling only jeopardizes the safety of entire communities, as members of immigrant communities fearful of being profiled are discouraged from cooperating with law enforcement on issues.”

Nancy Kaufman, the CEO of the National Council for Jewish Women, wrote that the high court’s ruling “is a welcome step toward ending the efforts by state legislatures to superimpose their own vindictive legislative regime on federal immigration law.”

JTA Wire Service contributed to this report

 
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Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.

 

Shabbat in the White City

Fair Lawn man aims for Guinness-record dinner in Tel Aviv

Jay Shultz is determined to set a new world record while promoting Tel Aviv — usually cited for its nightlife and startup culture — as a great place to spend Shabbat.

The 37-year-old Fair Lawn native, who has lived in Israel since 2006, has earned a reputation as the “International Mayor of Tel Aviv” after a series of grand-scale initiatives geared at positioning his adopted city as welcoming haven for young professional immigrants.

His latest exploit: Through his popular White City Shabbat program, which offers communal meals for young Israelis and immigrants at local synagogues, Mr. Shultz launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to sponsor the world’s largest Shabbat dinner.

 

Lighting up Africa

Frisch raises money for solar technology with fashion show

What do the students at a New Jersey Jewish high school and 450,000 residents of rural African villages have in common?

Since 2008, the nonprofit agency called Innovation: Africa — iA — has brought Israeli solar technology to provide clean water, drip irrigation, and refrigeration to villagers in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. And for the last three years, this UN-award winning program has been a focal point for the Frisch School in Paramus.

An African Encounter Night and Africa-themed fashion show held last month exposed students and parents to iA’s work and raised another $3,300 toward Frisch’s goal of contributing $10,000 to light up a sister school in East Africa using solar panels.

“The fact that Frisch has decided to educate children on wider global issues is remarkable and demonstrates a break from the norm,” said Emma Goldman, Innovation: Africa’s outreach coordinator.

 

RECENTLYADDED

Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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