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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 16, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 104

Postal Workers Find Porcupine in Mailbag

IsraelWire News Service

Postal workers in Tel Aviv were somewhat surprised when they found a porcupine in a mail sack that had arrived from Latvia. Security agents employed by the Postal Authority called Nature Reserve Authority experts to deal with the porcupine that was inside the bag, among hundreds of letters. The animal experts said the condition of the animal was not too good, but it showed significant improvement after it was taken out of the mailbag.

Wiesenthal Center Defends Report

Israel Faxx Staff Report

The Simon Wiesenthal Center defended its latest Holocaust report after a backlash by the Swiss government and even by the famed Nazi hunter for whom the center is named. "We are not backing down. This is not a report about the Swiss people of 1942 or the Swiss government or people of today," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Wiesenthal Center.

Hier said historian Alan Schom's report, "Survey of Nazi and Pro-Nazi Groups in Switzerland, 1930-1945," was a survey of extremist groups. It was also very critical of the Swiss government during World War 2. Schom's report has raised a storm of criticism in Switzerland, where Swiss President Flavio Cotti said it "insults an entire generation."

Auschwitz Town Synagogue to be Restored by Elaine Johanson (VOA-New York)

A private Jewish organization in New York Monday announced plans to restore the last remaining synagogue in the town of Oswiecim, Poland -- better known by its German name, Auschwitz. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were brought to the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz during World War 2 and died in its gas chambers.

There were at one time about a dozen synagogues in the town of Auschwitz. All but one disappeared -- along with Oswiecim's entire Jewish population. The newly-restored synagogue will be the first Jewish presence in the town in over 50 years.

The organization called Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation is dedicated to restoring the synagogue and a nearby building as a religious and cultural center so visitors can mourn loved ones lost in the Holocaust. And -- by being at the scene -- they can reconstruct for themselves a sense of Jewish life in Poland before World War 2.

US Rep. Thomas Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress, says the restoration of the synagogue in Auschwitz is about more than a remembrance of things past. He warns of present dangers, including the rise of extreme right wing political groups all over Europe.

"After years of having been excluded from parliament, the anti-Semitic far-right next week will re-enter the parliament of Hungary. This -- in a country where some 600,000 of our brothers and sisters were massacred, many of them in Auschwitz."

The legislator -- born in Hungary -- says Auschwitz today is a bridge of sorts that Jews must cross to protect their future. "Auschwitz is needed, not just a place for prayer, reflection, remembrance, but to make the connection between the nightmares of the past, the dangers of the present and our hopes for the future."

Lantos plans to visit Oswiecim next month to see first-hand the reconstruction plans. The New York group hopes to have the project completed within one year.

The government of Poland is fully supportive. In March this year, the synagogue -- most recently used as a carpet warehouse -- become the first facility returned to the Polish Jewish community under a government program set up to make restitution for seized Jewish property.

Canadian Church Calls for Halt to Proselytizing Jews

IsraelWire News Service

The United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination with over 700,000 members, has called upon its membership to realize that Christianity is not superior to or a replacement for Judaism.

The United Church has called upon its followers to cease all activities related to the converting of Jews to Christianity. Canadian Jewish leaders have welcomed the church's position.

Worrisome Demographics

By Arutz-7 News Service

Almost half of the immigrants to Israel from the countries of the former Soviet Union last year were not Jewish according to Jewish Law. According to Halakhah, one born to a Jewish mother, or one who has converted, is Jewish; Israel's Law of Return, which allows any Jew to immigrate to Israel, also recognizes anyone with a Jewish spouse, father, or grandparent (if he is accompanied by the Jewish parent or grandparent).

Other statistics released recently show that Jerusalem's Arab population is growing almost four times faster than the Jewish population. In 1967, Arabs made up about 25% of the city's population, while today it is approximately 30%. The Arab population in Jerusalem increased by 3.7% in 1996, while the Jewish population there increased by 1%. It was also found that the main reason for Jewish residents moving out of Jerusalem is the high cost of housing.

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