JTA NEWS
1 April 2015 - 12 Nisan 5775 - י"ב ניסן ה' אלפים תשע"ה
JTA NEWS :
Shavei Israel re-establishing Kaifeng, China E-mail

Dipping an apple in a bowl of honey and blowing the shofar are two of the most iconic images of the Jewish New Year. But those customs are nothing short of miraculous when they take place so far from Israel or other large Diaspora Jewish communities that they are literally on the other side of the world.

This past Rosh Hashanah, Shavei Israel organised a gathering in Kaifeng, China, where the small Jewish community celebrated the coming of the New Year with the same vigor as Jews in Jerusalem, New York or Paris.

Jews are believed to have first settled in Kaifeng, which was one of China’s imperial capitals, in the 8th century, arriving there from Persia and Iraq as they made their way eastward along the Silk Route. In 1163, Kaifeng’s Jews built a large and beautiful synagogue.

At its peak, during the Ming Dynasty (13681644), the Kaifeng Jewish community may have numbered as many as 5,000 people. But, by the mid1800s, assimilation had taken a heavy toll and the Chinese Jews’ knowledge and practice of Judaism had largely faded away. The last rabbi of the community died in the early part of the 19th century, and the synagogue building was all but destroyed by a series of floods, which struck the city in the 1840s.

All of which makes the dogged perseverance by several hundred Kaifeng Jews to maintain their Jewish identity that much more remarkable.

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Anti-Semitic conference takes place in Iran E-mail

An Iranian conference devoted to promoting anti - Semitic propaganda – whose cancellation last year was attributed to the “more moderate” tone of the new government of President Hassan Rouhani – has gone on as planned this year, drawing a who’s who of Holocaust deniers and international antiSemites to Tehran.

The New Horizon Conference, which recently took place in Tehran in October as part of its 13th International Resistance Film Festival, has also drawn some high-profile American anti-Israel activists such as Medea Benjamin of “CODEPINK,” revealing a disturbing collusion between those activists and Iranian purveyors of anti-Semitic agitation and propaganda, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“This conference provides yet another example of how the Iranian government facilitates the spread of global anti-Semitism,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “Participation by an international assortment of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites is de rigueur for these types of events. A disturbing new element in this anti-Jewish gathering is the appearance on the guest list of a few high visibility U.S. antiwar and anti-Israel activists who claim their positions are not motivated by anti-Semitism. It will be harder for them to make that claim now, given their open collusion with this event and its Iranian government sponsors.”

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Was Jack the Ripper a Polish Jewish immigrant? E-mail

For more than a century, the identity of Jack the Ripper, the brutal murderer who stalked the Whitechapel area of Victorian London, UK has been a mystery. But now DNA evidence reportedly points to a Polish Jewish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski, who spent his final decades locked up in a lunatic asylum.

According to British media reports, a shawl recovered from the scene of the murder of Catherine Eddowes was found to contain DNA of the victim and of Kosminski, who had been named at the time as a suspect in the murders. The DNA in the shawl was analysed by Dr. Jari Louhelainen, who the Daily Mail called a Finnish “world renowned expert in historical crime scenes.”

Louhelainen was reportedly called in by the British owner of the garment, which was purchased at auction in 2007. The DNA on the shawl was crosschecked with that of Kosminski’s descendants, reports said. Kosminski died in 1919 in an asylum, where he had been institutionalized since 1891.

The identity of Jack the Ripper has been the subject of much speculation throughout the years. The murderer is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of at least five prostitutes in the British capital in 1888. Other candidates touted for the murders included a grandson of Queen Victoria, a painter, a duke and even a former British prime minister. For over a century the identity of notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper has baffled criminologists.

Jack the Ripper is the best known name given to the unidentified serial killer active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888.

The name originated in a letter written by someone claiming to be the murderer that was widely disseminated in the media. The letter is widely believed to have been a hoax, and may have been written by a journalist in a deliberate attempt to heighten interest in the story. Within the crime case files as well as journalistic accounts the killer was known as “the Whitechapel Murderer” as well as “Leather Apron”.

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