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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘education’

California Resolution Urges Action on Campus Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

The California State Assembly on Monday passed a resolution urging action on the increasingly rampant anti-Semitism on University of California (UC) campuses.

The resolution urges each UC campus to “adopt a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.”

The bipartisan measure was introduced by State Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) follow-ing a series of events that targeted Jews and Israel on UC campuses, including an incident at UC Davis in which a swastika was painted onto an Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Jewish fraternity build-ing and the UCLA student government’s probing of a Jewish student’s religious identity during a hearing on her application for a judicial board position.

The resolution was previously passed unanimously in May by the California State Senate, 35-0, and by the California Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, 8-0, in June.

NY School District to Pay $4.5 M for Ignoring Years of Anti-Semitism

Monday, July 13th, 2015

A lawsuit brought in 2012 by five Jewish students against the Pine Bush Central School District in Pine Bush, New York, ended late last week when a judge approved a settlement which requires the school district to pay out nearly $4.5 million and to significantly revamp its policies regarding anti-Semitism.

The five students suffered years of physical and verbal assaults, intimidation and harassment, sometimes right in front of school district administrators and personnel. For years the complaints made by the students and their parents were largely ignored or even ridiculed.

The students alleged that the school district and various officials within it violated their rights to an education free from national origin and/or religious discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the New York Civil Rights Law.

The degradation suffered by the Jewish students (all of which happened within the past five years and it all happened in New York State, not the Middle East or Europe) included one student being pinned down while another tried to shove coins down her throat, being beaten with a hockey stick; swastikas scrawled on books, playground slides, walls, desks and even on the face of one of the Jewish students; holocaust “jokes”; threats to throw a Jewish student in an oven and Hitler salutes.

The Jewish Pine Bush students were called “disgusting Jew,” Jesus Hater, Christ Killer, “ashes” and “crispy” (Holocaust references) to name just some of the allegations raised in the Complaint.

These incidents took place during the past decade and they occurred in a schools district less than a two hour drive from New York City, not in the Middle East or in Europe.

Throughout their school years, the Jewish students suffered from trauma and other injuries. Several of the students were removed from the schools by their parents because the administration did little to nothing to ameliorate the situation. One student was home schooled because she became too traumatized to return to the Pine Bush schools.

When the lawsuit was first filed in 2012, one school official allegedly responded that the complainants’ “expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.”

Three things happened in the past year that likely factored into the decision by the defendants to settle the case, after having initially claimed they had done all that was required of them in response to the complaints and incidents.

First, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York signaled its interest in the litigation, announcing that it deemed the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find the defendants had not responded adequately to the discrimination.

Second, the U.S. District Court judge before whom the trial was set to take place had denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, meaning that should the students be able to produce the evidence they claimed they had, a case would be made out for “severe and discriminatory harassment” by a fact-finder.

And third, the trial was about to begin. The settlement was announced late last month, shortly before the trial was set to begin, and the Judge presiding over the case approved the settlement (as two of the plaintiffs are still minors) last week.

The $4.48 million settlement requires payment of $581,803.80 to each of the five students, as well as $1,493,333 in legal fees and $77,648 for costs.

The school district also agreed to reform various policies including harassment, discrimination and bullying policies and to require investigation and documentation of reported harassment; impose “meaningful, consistent, minimum consequences” for harassment; implement monitoring for discriminatory harassment; and the training of staff to understand and implement these policies; and various other related changes.

FBI Raids Michigan Jewish Institute Affiliated with Local Chabad

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

(JNi.media) Michigan Jewish Institute, a religious college with offices in Southfield and West Bloomfield, Michigan, is at the center of a federal investigation. MJI is closely affiliated with the Michigan State Chabad-Lubavitch organization through Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, MJI’s president, and Dov Stein, MJI’s director of academic administration.

WXYZ 7 Action News has confirmed that federal agents executed a search warrant at the Michigan Jewish Institute on Tuesday.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Education told 7 Action News the raid came in connection to their own investigation.

According to an eyewitness who spoke to the Forward, some 15 federal agents raided the MJI’s administrative offices in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit, Tuesday morning. The agents led the employees into a conference room, took their personal details and sent them home. Then agents brought boxes into the building on a hand truck.

The Michigan Jewish Institute issued the following statement on Wednesday:

Michigan Jewish Institute has provided educational opportunity and career pathways for thousands of students over many years, and we are proud of our accomplishments.

MJI is cooperating fully with the federal authorities. We are continuing operations as normal. We remain committed to our students who rely on the Institute, and we appreciate the dedication of our nearly 100 faculty and staff who are focused on our students.

We will not be providing any further comments until we have more information.

Established in 2004, with 300 students, MJI today boasts more than 2,000 students, the vast majority of whom participate in the school’s distance learning program, many of them overseas.

The school uses the Sakai collaborative learning environment, which offers document distribution, a gradebook, discussion, live chat, assignment uploads, and online testing.

As US citizens, MJI students may claim financial assistance under the Federal Pell Grant Program, which offers up to $5,730 per student annually.

The school website encourages applicants to check whether they are entitled to a government grant, a practice of just about every US college.

At this point, the FBI appears to have cast a wide net in the hope of finding incriminating evidence, and so speculations regarding the reason for the raid are just that. The Forward, which covered the school back in 2012, is suggesting the feds were concerned MJI was pulling a scam, signing up students who were not real graduation prospects.

Or, a more likely explanation, is that this could be a management and supervision issue.

One Chabad official who spoke to JNi.media on Wednesday commented on one part of the Forward story, that described the difficulties the school had experienced in receiving its accreditation; the official argued that this is not unusual for minor colleges, which face more academic scrutiny.

Stay tuned.

Exclusive: First IDF Cyber-Defense Program Opens at Yeshiva

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

For the first time ever, Hareidi religious boys are learning in a four-year Beit Midrash program, while studying cyber defense in preparation for service in the IDF.

Beit Midrash Derech Chaim is a new program approved by Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the IDF; it’s also the first institution in Israel ever to offer such a program. The yeshiva simultaneously features two years of full-day Torah study that lead to expertise in Talmud with a focus on practical Halacha as well as breadth of knowledge and Jewish philosophical thought.

Students at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim also study in a secular curriculum approved by the IDF, the Jerusalem College of Technology and the Ministry of Defense.

Students at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim also study in a secular curriculum approved by the IDF, the Jerusalem College of Technology and the Ministry of Defense.

Boys who graduate Derech Chaim enter the IDF with the ability to become Torah scholars, IDF soldiers and highly employable Israelis upon their discharge from their army service.

“Our second year boys, who will be entering active service in the Cyber Intelligence Unit in November, took the major test for entry this past week,” noted Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Karmi Gross in an exclusive interview this week with JewishPress.com.

“The test is taken by around 4,000 of the brightest boys entering the army (cyber is the highest priority of the army),” he explained. “In groups that take the test it is considered normal for 35 percent to pass. Excellent groups pass at a 65 percent rate. We just received notice that our boys passed at an 80 percent rate; this is an incredible accomplishment.”

Equally important, he said, was the fact that the officers who administered the test had commented they had no idea what to expect from hareidi religious boys.

“In their words, the boys made a tremendous ‘kiddush Hashem,’ going out of their way to thank those who gave the test and act in ways that made the name of Heaven beloved by their actions,” the Rosh Yeshiva added.

“The major general who called me could not stop gushing over their knowledge and behavior. As you can tell from my tone, we are incredibly proud of what they have accomplished.”

Students are expected to use the library often for their studies at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim.

Students are busy burning the midnight oil in their studies at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim.

The curriculum was developed and approved by the Jerusalem College of Technology (Machon Lev), the IDF Intelligence Unit and the National Cyber Defense Department in the Ministry of Defense.

Also included are one thousand hours of pre-army technology studies, with classes focused on the study of cyber defense (systems security) in accordance with the request of the IDF.

For further information about the program and/or registration, email the Rosh Yeshiva at rkgross@gmail.com.

Shin Bet Foils ISIS Terror Cell in Negev Bedouin Town

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Six suspected new Da’esh (ISIS) recruits have been arrested in the Negev Bedouin town of Hura, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) announced Monday.

Hura is one of the seven original Bedouin towns created for the permanent settlement of the Negev Bedouin by the Israeli government, along with Rahat, a large city considered to be the “Bedouin capital of the Negev.” Hura is located on Highway 31 just outside of Be’er Sheva, about 25 minutes west of Arad.

The suspected terrorists were identified as: Bashir Jabran Salim abu Alkyan, 26 (Hura elementary school teacher); Akram Al’ab Ahmed abu Alkyan, 30, (elementary school teacher, Rahat); Muhammad Al’ab Ahmed abu Alkyan, 27, (high school teacher, Hura); Khader Hassan abu Alkyan, 27, from Hura; Sharif Shahada Rezek abu Alkyan, from Atir; and Hamza Abed Ali Alkyan, (teacher from Hura.)

The suspects were accused of actively spreading Da’esh ideology. They were also allegedly attending secret meetings of the terror group’s movement, the Shin Bet said in its statement.

Four of the six suspects are teachers and used their positions as educators to spread the ISIS philosophy and propaganda among students and teachers. All six shared the Da’esh doctrine with their family members and associates, according to the Shin Bet statement.

The suspects were indicted on charges of distributing materials for an illegal organization; support for a terrorist organization; conspiracy to commit a crime and illegally exiting the country. Those who were teachers were brought to a hearing at the Education Ministry and their teaching licenses were revoked as well.

Several of the suspects allegedly were planning to travel to Syria to join the ranks of the terror group in its fight against government troops there. A number of other members of the terrorist cell had already left Israel and gone to Syria to fight for Da’esh.

In addition to the arrests carried out over the past two months, a school principal was investigated on suspicion of knowing about the teachers’ involvement with the terror group – and failing to report it to authorities. Other school personnel were investigated as well.

The Education Ministry also issued a statement stating its plans to begin working in the schools to restore stability and confidence among the other teachers and the students in the aftermath of the arrests.

British Teens Accused of Holocaust Theft at Auschwitz

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Two British teenage boys were caught stealing precious historic artifacts at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camps, Polish police said Tuesday.

The two 17-year-olds were detained Monday by police on suspicion of stealing belongings of prisoners who were inmates of the camps during the Holocaust in World War II.

They were spotted Monday afternoon lurking near a building where German Nazi guards used to store belongings confiscated from the prisoners in the camps, said a spokespersons for the museum at the site.

Both of the boys are students at the Perse School of Cambridge, England and were participating in a school history trip at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the school.

The teens “attempted to keep some items of historical importance which they had found on the ground,” the school claimed. “We understand they have explained that they picked up the items without thinking and they have apologized unreservedly for the offense they have given, and expressed real remorse for their action,” said the Perse School spokesperson.

A body search turned up a piece of spoon, a number of buttons, two pieces of glass and a fragment of a razor, which may have been stolen from the site, police said.

Both boys were questioned through an interpreter, according to regional police. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison for the offense. The spokesperson for the Perse School said the students are cooperating “fully” with the authorities.

Apparently it is not unusual for visitors to try to steal artifacts from the death camp, as horrific as that may seem to some. According to the museum curators, a Swedish man was imprisoned in 2010 for masterminding the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes Freedom) sign posted over the entry gate and which heralded the arrival of prisoners at the death camp at Auschwitz.

No Ramadan Fasting Allowed for Muslims in Xinjiang, China

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

Residents of the majority- Muslim province of Xinjiang in China are not being allowed to celebrate their religious holiday this year.

The Chinese government posted statements banning the traditional month-long daily fasts on the websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations.

“No teacher may participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students, or coerce students into religious activities,” read a statement on the website of the No. 3 Grade School in Ruoqiang County in Xinjiang, according to the Virtual Jerusalem website.

“Students shall not participate in religious activities; they shall not study scripts or read poems at script and choir classes; they shall not wear any religious emblems; and no parent or others can force students to have religious beliefs or partake in religious activities,” another post on the website read.

Restaurants have been ordered to stay open in the province, including those owned and operated by Muslims, according to the Saudi Arabian Arab News website. Shops have been threatened with closure if they do not continue selling cigarettes and alcohol throughout the month of Ramadan.

According to the post, the ban is intended to “protect students’ well-being” and “prevent the use of schools and government offices from promoting religion.” But the ban may be adding fuel to a fire that is already beginning to blaze in the province against the Han ethnic majority in China, the largest such group in the country.

Dilxat Raxit, the Sweden-based leader of the Uighur people, however, warned in a statement last Friday, “The faith of the Uighurs has been highly politicized and the increase in controls could cause sharp resistance.” The second-largest ethnic group in China is comprised of the Uighurs, who largely identify with Islam. All told, there are some 56 recognized ethnic groups in the country.

“China’s goal in prohibiting religious fasting is to forcibly move Uighurs away from their Muslim culture during Ramadan,” said Raxit, a spokesperson for the exiled World Uighur Congress. “Policies that prohibit religious fasting are a provocation and will only lead to instability and conflict.”

The ruling party, which officially is atheist, is “encouraging” its members to avoid daytime fasting – a direct slap at the Islamic practice during Ramadan.

“They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan,” Raxit said in an interview with Radio Free Asia.

In December 2014, China prohibited the wearing of burkas – Islamic full-body, veiled robes – in public in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, referred to by some as East Turkestan. Some eight million Turkish-speaking Uighur Muslims populate the northwestern Xinjiang region, which has been autonomous since 1955, but remains subject to security restrictions by Chinese authorities.

Last month violence in a Xinjiang open air vegetable market left 43 people dead. A year ago 13 radical Islamic terrorists were killed in a clash with police. Attacks at train stations in Urumqi and in southwestern China were also blamed on Muslim extremists.

The most populous nation in the world, China is also the third largest country in size geographically. Its role as a leader in world politics as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council is also bringing China to global prominence as well.

Up to this point, China has maintained a relatively low profile on the world stage with regard to the issue of terrorism driven by radical Islam. But its obvious return to the traditional Communist government intolerance for any religious practice, however – particularly timed to coincide with Ramadan — indicates a likely change in that attitude.

What remains to be seen is how local Muslims will respond to the whip, and whether – and how – fellow Muslims around the world will protest on their behalf.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/no-ramadan-fasting-allowed-for-muslims-in-xinjiang-china/2015/06/21/

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