06.29.05 Update


The U.S. House of Representatives approved aid for Israel and the Palestinians. (JTA) The foreign operations appropriations bill was approved 393-32 on Tuesday. Israel, as usual, was the biggest single beneficiary of the assistance, receiving $2.52 billion - $2.28 billion in military assistance and $240 million in economic assistance. The House also acceded to President Bush's request for $150 million for the Palestinians, in addition to the $150 million already agreed to in another request earlier this year.

A survey sponsored by the Jewish Agency suggests that over the course of 15 years as many as 500,000 Jews could immigrate to Israel from North America. More from Ha'aretz here.

A group of Conservative rabbis launched a Web site supporting the inclusion of gays in their movement. (JTA) The site, www.keshetrabbis.org, went online earlier this month and now lists 99 rabbis who support the ordination of gay rabbis and the inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender Jews in movement activities and institutions. Some of the rabbis also support allowing Conservative rabbis to perform gay wedding ceremonies, though not all have signed on to that. "The primary purpose is to give Conservative rabbis who are inclusive in their approach a chance to connect and learn together and to reassure each other that they are not alone,” said Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Sharon, Mass., one of the site's six founding rabbis. "But the primary purpose is to offer GLBT Jews an opportunity to connect with Conservative and Masorti rabbis who are inclusive in their approach." The Rabbinical Assembly, the movement's rabbinic arm, voted in 1992 against ordaining gay rabbis and officiating at same-sex weddings, but will reconsider its approach to homosexuality in March.

The Jerusalem Post reports that about 100 people were arrested today for blocking roads in protest of the disengagement.

Prisoners in Poland cleaned up a Jewish cemetery. (JTA) Inmates from Hajnowka Prison in the northeastern town of Narewka participated recently in a project to clean up a nearby Jewish cemetery as part of an effort toward education and rehabilitation. Michael Schudrich, Poland's chief rabbi, said the inmates also saw films and heard lectures about Jewish culture, adding that he hopes the project will be expanded to other prisons and Jewish cemeteries throughout Poland.

Jewish and Arab youth joined forces to beat back the brush on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. (JTA) Thirty teenagers, including those from Arab communities, Palestinian areas and the Jewish community abroad, are attending a weeklong camp in the Galilee arranged by the Society for the Protection of Nature. Their main objective is to clear a half-mile swath through thick brush on the lake's banks, providing an alternative to its overcrowded and overpriced beaches. The society said the new beach also would serve as a segment of a new, 37-mile hiking trail around the Galilee.

The Associated Press
reports that a $2.5 billion gas deal between Israel and Egypt will be settled this week.

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