(JTA) The son of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was sentenced to nine months in prison for campaign-funding violations in his father's 1999 race for Likud Party leadership. Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday sentenced Omri Sharon to another nine months of suspended imprisonment and fined him some $65,000. Because of the condition of the prime minister, who has been in a coma since a Jan. 4 stroke, the start of Omri Sharon’s prison term was postponed by six months to Aug. 31, Ha'aretz reported. His attorney said Omri Sharon would appeal the sentence.

(JTA) birthright israel has received many more applications for its upcoming trips than it has spaces available. Some 14,000 young Jews applied for 8,000 spots in the program's spring/summer 2006 trips in just the first 12 hours of registration Feb. 8. The organization provides free trips to Israel for Jews aged 18 to 26. In the six years since its founding, birthright has brought 98,000 people from 45 countries to Israel; the upcoming trip will include the program's 100,000th participant. "The level of demand is unprecedented and well exceeds our financial capability to accommodate the majority of those who currently wish to go on Taglit-birthright israel trips," said Susie Gelman, chair of the birthright israel Foundation. Taglit is the Hebrew name for the program. "As Taglit-birthright israel grows rapidly and develops into a community-supported organization, we hope that our friends will support us in enabling more young Jews to participate in the Taglit-birthright israel experience, so that we can send the 100,000th participant and plan for the next 100,000."

(JTA) An Israeli lesbian couple won state recognition as joint parents of their children. In a ruling hailed by gay rights activists, Israel's Family Affairs Court this week allowed Tal and Avital Yaros-Hakak to legally adopt three boys they had borne between them after being artificially inseminated. It marked the end of a 17-year legal battle for the Yaros-Hakaks, but activists said it would be a while before Israel fully recognizes single-sex unions.

The AP reports that an Orthodox man's case against a photographer for taking his picture has been dismissed (the man's case was based on the second commandment (graven images)).

(JTA) The Order of the British Empire was bestowed posthumously on a former South African chief rabbi. The honor was given last month for Cyril Harris' services to the South African Jewish community and in the interfaith arena. Harris, who led South Africa's Jewish community for 17 years until the end of 2004, passed away last September at age 68. Among those attending were Dame Helen Suzman, a veteran South African human rights campaigner and retired politician; Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, Ilan Baruch; and Kader Asmal, a legislator and former Cabinet minister. Harris played an active role in promoting reconciliation after the coming of democracy to South Africa in 1994, leading the Jewish community into the new South Africa. Ann Harris said her late husband felt the award was as much an honor for the Jewish community as for him, and that was why, before he took ill, he had elected to receive the honor in South Africa rather than in London.


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