JTA NEWS
18 August 2018 - 7 Elul 5778 - ז' אלול ה' אלפים תשע"ח
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US aircraft carrier gets a Torah scroll E-mail

Jewish sailors aboard the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford now have a Torah scroll to use during their six-to-eight-month stints at sea.

The umbrella body for Jewish chaplains, the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, dedicated the scroll on 29 November aboard the ship in Norfolk, Virginia. It was dedicated to the memory Sgt. Jacob Kamaras, a veteran of the US Army Air Corps during WWII. On hand for the ceremony were his son, Philip Kamaras, a New York lawyer, and his namesake grandson, Jacob Kamaras, a journalist and publicist in Houston.

The Kamaras family helped pay for the US$36,000 scroll as part of the chaplains’ council’s “Torah for Our Troops” campaign, which equips chaplains with travel-size Torah scrolls. The scroll, slightly smaller than those used in most synagogues, is designed for use in the shipboard chapel.

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Adolf Hitler waxwork removed from museum in Indonesia E-mail

A museum in Yogjakarta, Indonesia, which until recently had allowed visitors to snap selfies with a full-sized waxwork figure of Adolf Hitler against the backdrop of the Auschwitz death camp gates, has taken the figure down following a storm of criticism.

The De Mata De Arca visual effects museum has around 100 waxworks of celebrities, politicians and fictional characters, according to its website.

The figure of Hitler could be found standing between Star Wars’ Darth Vader and Indonesian leader Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. It was placed against a wall-sized banner depicting the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp with the notorious “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work sets you free”) sign.

The wax Hitler, which had been on display since 2014, proved popular with locals, who shared their selfies on social media platforms. The snapshots even showed some of the visitors doing the Nazi salute.

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Canada issues first Chanukah postage stamp E-mail

Just in time to celebrate the eight-day Festival of Chanukah, Canada has issued its first Chanukah stamp in the 150-year history of Canada Post, its official mail carrier.

Described as part of an initiative to highlight the nation’s cultural diversity, the stamps from Canada Post feature two colourful geometric designs: of dreidels and the menorah. Each pattern also has an online explanation of their relevance to the holiday.

“In offering the great products, Canada Post is enabling our community to share the beauty and inspiration of Chanukah with all Canadians,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

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Anti-Semitic sign posted outside a hotel in Poland E-mail

A very disturbing anti-Semitic sign, reminiscent of the Nazi era, was posted outside a Polish hotel recently. The sign read: “Entrance to Jews and all other thieves and traitors to Poland is prohibited.”

The hotel is located in the Polish village of Krzyzowice, which is in the Vratislav district near the Czech border.

According to Polish media reports, the hotel is owned by Peter Rebak, the leader of the Polish Right-Wing Radical extremist party. His party is an anti-Communist nationalistic party, and he burned the effigy of a Jewish person during a pro¬test in 2016.

Rebak was accused of hate crimes when he said that all Jews must leave Poland and head back to Israel.

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ALIBABA GROUP TO OPEN R&D CENTRE IN ISRAEL AS PART OF GLOBAL EXPANSION E-mail

Alibaba, China’s top e-commerce firm, announced in October that Israel is to host one of eight R&D (research and development) centres as part of the company’s US$15 billion global drive to build overseas research hubs to help it compete with global leaders in e-commerce, logistics and cloud technology.

The Alibaba Damo Academy will launch research bases in China, the US, Russia and Singapore, and is hiring 100 researchers to work on artificial intelligence, quantum computing and fintech, the company said.

The Chinese giant and its affiliates have undergone a rapid expansion in the past year, bringing it into direct competition with US e-retailer Amazon, as well as global payments, cloud and logistics firms.

Since last year, Alibaba has invested roughly US$2 billion to acquire a majority stake in Singapore-based retailer Lazada. com, creating a network of e-commerce hubs across Southeast Asia in partnership with payment affiliate Ant Financial.

It has also pursued a US$1.2 billion bid for US money-transfer service MoneyGram, in a pending deal that has come under scrutiny from critics, who say it poses a national security threat.

Along with an existing data science research lab in California, Alibaba has opened new data centres in Europe, the US, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, India and Indonesia since 2016, in a bid to boost its cloud business.

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