Pastor arrested after conversion of Muslims in India

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has called for the immediate release of a pastor in India accused of bribing Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Chander Mani Khanna, who pastors All Saints Church in Srinagar, was called before a Sharia court accused of converting Muslim children by offering bribes.

A video appeared on YouTube apparently showing him baptising Muslim converts. Witnesses claim that police beat the converts to make them give evidence against the pastor.

According to AsiaNews, police arrested Pastor Khanna for promoting enmity between religious groups and outraging religious feeling.

Although Pastor Khanna denies all charges, he remains in police custody and there are fears that a fatwa may be issued against him.

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which his church belongs to, has written to the Government of Jammu and Indian Kashmir asking them to intervene on the pastor’s behalf.

The GCIC believes the charges were brought against the pastor because he failed to get a local Muslim’s son into the Christian school of his choice.

The church body said that tensions have risen in the region following the burning of a Koran in a Florida church this year.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, patron of Release International, knows Pastor Khanna personally. He described him as a “respected” priest who would “never use underhand methods to evangelise”.

“I am astonished that such a person can be arrested by an India committed to religious freedom and democracy,” said Bishop Nazir-Ali.

“I call not only for his immediate and unconditional release but also for protection for him and his family.

“Let us pray that freedom and justice will prevail in Kashmir for everyone: Muslim, Christian and Hindu.”

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Rhodes Scholars Get First Frum Woman

“Orthodox women should feel confident enough to pursue any kind of higher education,” says Oxford-bound Miriam Rosenbaum.

Princeton senior studies bioethics, helping the vulnerable.

In the fading November light of last Shabbat, Miriam Rosenbaum walked from the West Side to the East Side, and then to a building on Park Avenue where she walked up 18 flights — Shabbat had more than an hour to go — to an apartment, where 12 of the regional finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship had gathered for news of the scholarship winners.

Of the 12 local finalists, she discovered in her conversations, 11 were Jewish. When the Rhodes committee chose Rosenbaum, she became — to the best of anyone’s memory, or ability to qualify such things —the first Orthodox woman to be chosen in the 108 years that the prestigious award has been given to more than 7,000 students, who went on to post-graduate study at Oxford University.

It being Shabbat, Rosenbaum couldn’t tell anyone the good news until evening, but she was able to thank God in the interim; “Baruch Hashem,” blessed be God, comes easily and often to her lips.

(Brett Rosenberg, a Harvard senior from Chappaqua, was the other New York winner. Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, was accepted from the Washington, D.C. region).

Rosenbaum, 22, a senior at Princeton University, said she hopes to be a role model for Orthodox women pursuing secular, postgraduate degrees, while maintaining complete fidelity to Orthodoxy. “Many Orthodox Jewish women are very capable and very bright and should feel confident enough to pursue any kind of higher education that they want.”

An attractive young woman with dirty blonde hair and an easy laugh, she transitions quickly from piety to girlish laughter.

A resident of Riverdale, and a lifelong member of Rabbi Mordechai Willig’s Young Israel of Riverdale, she has considerable modesty and a meticulous sense of lashon hara, the Jewish ethics of appropriate conversation.

Prior to Princeton, Rosenbaum attended the Yeshiva of North Jersey, in River Edge, N.J., for elementary school; Bruriah high school, in Elizabeth, N.J.; and the Michlalah seminary in Jerusalem.

At Oxford, beginning in October, shell be studying bioethics, after concluding her undergraduate studies that have focused on public policy, as well as African-American studies, Near Eastern studies and Judaic studies.

After Oxford, she’ll return to Princeton with the Scholars In The Nation’s Service Initiative, a program leading to a graduate degree in public affairs. “I’m hoping to work in government as an advocate for people with disabilities, for the elderly and other marginalized and vulnerable populations in the health care world.â€

She’s had experience with the marginalized and the vulnerable, working at Camp HASC.

Avi Sacks, former director of Camp HASC (Hebrew Academy for Special Children), remembers Rosenbaum from her three years as a counselor for the youngest age group, the group “needing the most medical care.” There were children in wheelchairs and with feeding tubes, kids who were non-verbal, some not able to eat or drink on their own, children with palsy, and one girl who was so small (because of a medical problem) that Rosenbaum carried her around.

It could be “a little overwhelming,â admitted Sacks, “providing 24/7 care for seven weeks. You’re not off at night; even when the kids are sleeping, you’re watching, you sleep with one eye open, there are emergencies at night, there are seizures.

“And instead of going on to do other things,” said Sacks, “she came back not just for a second summer but for a third. She came back where she was needed.â€

Sacks, now associate executive director of HASC Center, the camp’s sister agency, noted that Rosenbaum maintained an involvement with her campers’ families even outside camp, and is invited to campers bat mitzvahs and simchas. “They think of her as part of their family. Miriam actually brought one of her campers to Princeton for a Shabbat.”

Rosenbaum has also spent summers interning at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s pediatric emergency room, and at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Rabbi Eitan Webb, director of the Princeton Chabad, one of the several Orthodox groups on campus in which she participates, said Rosenbaum came to Princeton “with a sense of purpose and a sense of wonder. … Any challenge that comes her way, she takes it on and keeps on going.”

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who had taught a course at Princeton on “the Jewish family” taken by Rosenbaum, recalls that “because of Miriam, another girl in the class — who had no Jewish upbringing €” became a bat mitzvah. Miriam offered to study with her. I heard the bat mitzvah was fantastic.”

“I€™m usually only here [in Princeton] during the week,” says Rosenbaum, “I go home every Shabbos.” It’s an hour and 20 minutes from Princeton to Riverdale, “but that’s not so bad. Going to Bruriah took an hour and a half,” she laughs. “My dad usually drives me back on Sunday; it’s our bonding time.”

Her Rhodes application essay was “about my grandfather who learnt in the Mir [yeshiva] in Europe during the war,” escaping the war “with the help of a Japanese official, Sugihara. I learnt the value of protecting people who can’t protect themselves,” which connects to “the realm of health care.

Sacks, from HASC, says, “I’m convinced she will make a tremendous imprint on society, through her interest in public policy and health care. This is not the last we’ll hear from her.”

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Biden Meets With Jewish Leaders On Pollard

Vice President Joseph Biden met with several Jewish American leaders to discuss the case of convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard.

During Monday evening’s meeting, Biden reportedly listened to the seven American Jewish leaders, who made a case for the severity of the sentence and the support of U.S. political leaders for clemency, Ynet reported. The newspaper did not name the participants.

Biden promised last month that he would meet with Jewish leaders on the Pollard case after telling rabbis at a political meeting in Florida that “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’ “

Jewish organizational leaders from across the political and religious spectrum have called on successive presidents to grant clemency to Pollard, a U.S. Navy civilian analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. In recent months, Obama has received a flood of clemency appeals on behalf of Pollard from members of Congress, former U.S. government officials and Israeli officials.

On Monday, Pollard entered his 27th year in prison in the United States.

Pollard’s wife, Esther, said in a statement issued Monday that her husband may not survive another year in prison.

“In the last year, as Jonathan’s [medical] condition became worse, he was too weak to even sit through a one-hour visit. I feel he’s withering away in front of my very eyes,” Esther Pollard said in the statement.

She added that after “26 years, all his systems are feeble and we both know that the next emergency hospitalization or operation are just a matter a time, and that no one is promising us he’ll make it through.”

Pollard has been hospitalized four times this year.

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He-Brewer Ryan Braun Wins MVP Award

Ryan Braun, the slugging outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, became the first Jewish Most Valuable Player in nearly five decades.

Braun, the son of an Israeli-born Jewish father and a Catholic mother, was named the National League MVP on Tuesday. He received 20 of 32 first-place votes and 388 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp was second with 10 first-place votes and 332 points.

Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963 was the last Jewish player to win the award. Other Jewish players who have been named MVP are Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers in 쌔 and Al Rosen of the Cleveland Indians in 1953.

Braun this season batted .332 this season with 33 home runs, 111 RBI and 33 steals to help lead the Brewers to the Central Division title.

Some have taken to calling the Los Angeles-reared Braun “The Hebrew Hammer.”

“I am Jewish,” Braun said last year. “It’s something I’m really proud of. But I don’t want to make it into something more than what it is … It’s a touchy subject because I don’t want to offend anybody, and I don’t want groups claiming me now because I’m having success. But I do consider myself definitely Jewish. And I’m extremely proud to be a role model for young Jewish kids.”

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Church Army looks forward to new future as a mission community

Church Army is preparing to open its doors to new members after it voted to become a mission community in the Anglican Church in the UK and Ireland.

Changes to the constitution were backed overwhelmingly at the Annual General Meeting this week.

Until now, Church Army was served by trained and commissioned evangelists. This week’s vote, however, will see Church Army shift from being a society to being a movement.

That means that anyone keen to be evangelists and identify themselves with the organisation in some way can be part of Church Army.

It hopes that the changes will help to expand its existing body of volunteers and supporters, and create a new community of people passionate about the Gospel and sharing it through words and action.

Mark Russell, Church Army Chief Executive, said: “This is an historic day for Church Army and I’m so excited about what the future holds for our new mission community.

“The vision is for Church Army to be an inclusive movement of evangelists, lay people, ordained, full-time, part-time, young and old – all of who are committed to changing our nation.”

Mike Gilbert, Mission Community Exploration Officer at Church Army, said it was the start of a “new chapter” in the life of Church Army.

“We hope that our mission community develops into a natural home for many people who are committed to evangelism and who are longing for a depth of spirituality and strength of community,” he said.

Church Army plans to appoint a Dean of Community to lead and care for its members, and will announce further details about how to join the community in the new year.

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247 and Alpha team up to fill churches with prayer

24-7 Prayer and Alpha are joining forces to equip thousands of churches for a year of prayer in 2012.

Kingdom Come (KC) 2012 is being launched to engage churches in praying around the clock during the Olympics year and build on the success of the year of prayer in Scotland in 2010 and in Ireland this year.

“As the Olympic and Paralympic Games bring the nations to our door, we are calling upon God’s people to pray that the name of Jesus will be lifted high in our lands once again,” says Pete Greig, a founding champion of 24-7 Prayer.

To help churches get praying for mission and justice in the UK, 24-7 and Alpha have porduced a ‘KC:Toolbox’ full of free downloadable resources.

There will be numerous KC썜 prayer events throughout the year but Christians can also get involved by hosting their own events, such as a 24-7 prayer room or a prayer vigil in their homes.

Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton says: “Kingdom Come 2012 is an exciting partnership between 24-7 Prayer and Alpha to support and mobilise prayer across the UK and Ireland next year.

“Prayer is the power behind our vision to see the re-evangelisation of our nations and the transformation of society. In 2012 we are going to be praying like never before.”

Christians from every denomination are already registering prayer walks, prayer rooms, prayer staking and prayer events on the website.

Follow the initiative at Facebook: KingdomCome2012 and Twitter @KingdomCome2012 or visit

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Archbishop to launch independence celebrations in Jamaica

The Archbishop of York is heading to Jamaica in January to kick off a year of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain.

Dr John Sentamu and his wife, Margaret, will visit the island from January 21 to 31.

During his stay, the Archbishop will preach at an ecumenical service in Montego Bay and a special service at the cathedral in Spanish Town.

The visit is being supported by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman.

In addition to preaching, the Archbishop will spend time meeting local Jamaicans and church leaders.

“I am looking forward to visiting Jamaica as it celebrates 50 years of independence, and sharing in the celebrations,” said Dr Sentamu.

Regional Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Elizabeth Fox said of the visit: “2012 marks the start of a significant year in Jamaica’s history, with the 50th anniversary of Independence.

“Jamaicans are deeply religious people and in fact, Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country in the world.

“We hope therefore that religious groups and Jamaican diaspora in the UK will see this as an opportunity to go back and visit during the Archbishop’s visit.”

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Jewish Agency Employee Accused Of Selling Survivors’ Info

An employee of a Jewish agency in Florida was arrested on charges of selling the identity information of Holocaust survivors.

Crystal Thorne, 23, was arrested over the weekend and charged with selling personal information about clients of the Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program at the Jewish Community Services of South Florida, the Miami Herald reported. Thorne, who worked at the agency’s North Miami office, appeared Monday in federal court in Miami.

Thorne was arrested after offering to sell the information — including names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers — to a police informant, who claimed that he intended to use them for a tax refund scam. They had agreed on a price of $1,000 for the 30 identities, according to the newspaper. Thorne had previously given the informant samples of five identities, according to the informant, the newspaper reported.

During her arrest, Thorne signed a statement saying that she had stolen the information from her employer, according to the newspaper.


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Belgian Jewish Teen Beaten By Moroccan Classmates

The beating of a 13-year-old Jewish girl in Brussels has Belgium’s Jewish umbrella group contemplating civil action.

Oceane Sluijzer, 13, was beaten by five Moroccan female classmates after a confrontation at a sports center last week, the European Jewish Press reported.

The attackers also shouted, “Shut up, you dirty Jew, and return to your country” at Sluijzer, who has filed a formal complaint with the Brussels police.

Belgium has about 40,000 Jews.

In response, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations of Belgium, the umbrella organization for Belgian Jewry, issued a statement expressing its hope that the investigation would proceed quickly while also hinting that it might file a civil action.

The committee expressed its “exasperation” over repeated anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attacks and asked Belgium’s education minister “to introduce appropriate educational programs in schools to prevent unjustified tensions between communities.”

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Billboard Trafficking In Stereotypes?


This billboard advertising an inexpensive vodka, seen this week on the West Side Highway, will be removed after complaints that it is anti-Semitic.

The marketing team behind the “Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing” billboards advertising cheap vodka has sobered up and pulled the signs down from their West Side Highway and other locations. The joke — along with a picture of two dogs, one wearing a Santa Claus cap and the other a yarmulke — is that Chanukah represents a better “value” than Christmas. But the Anti-Defamation League didnt buy it, saying the ads “reinforce anti-Semitic stereotypes … that Jews are cheap.” Brian Gordon of MGM, the company behind the marketing for Panache Beverage’s Wodka-brand vodka, laments the tendency of Jews, and he is one, and other minorities to perceive slights that aren’t there. It seems his client decided that in this case, perception is reality and that it had best, as the ADL urged, “consider a more appropriate message for the holidays.”

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