Globe Briefs July 28
Detroit advocacy group forms partnership with American Jewish Committee
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit has entered into a partnership with the American Jewish Committee.
The agreement between the local advocacy group and the national Jewish organization, announced Thursday, is meant to boost the regional council in its efforts in support of Israel, interfaith affairs and outreach to elected officials.
Members of the AJC’s Detroit board will be added to the JCRC board under the merger, according to the announcement. The joint agency will maintain a local focus while gaining access to the AJC’s national and global assets, which include 10 international offices.
“We are excited to start the next chapter of Jewish communal relations in metro Detroit,” said Richard Krugel, president of the JCRC. “JCRC’s partnership with AJC will bring together the strengths and resources of two highly respected organizations to benefit the lives of Jewish Detroiters and the community in which they live.”
The Jewish Community Relations Bureau in Kansas City, Mo., merged with the American Jewish Committee in 1991.
Local community relations councils function as the advocacy arms of organized Jewish communities, either as divisions of the federation umbrella philanthropies or as separately incorporated agencies. Some 125 local CRCs are members of the national Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
“The JCPA is delighted by the new partnership,” David Bernstein, the president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said in a statement. “It’s gratifying to see such a strategic pooling of community resources toward common goals. We know that both organizations will be stronger for it as well as the larger Jewish community.”
Portugal town opens Jewish heritage center
Portugal’s culture minister inaugurated a Jewish heritage center in the country’s east in memory of 80 former residents who were persecuted during the Portuguese Inquisition nearly 500 years ago.
Minister Luis Filipe de Castro Mendes and Israel’s ambassador to Portugal, Tzipora Rimon, attended the July 15 inauguration ceremony in Monsaraz of the Interactive Center of Jewish Culture, which is also known as the “House of Inquisition,” the Tribuna Alentejo reported Saturday.
“It aims to provide an in-depth view, with more content about a part of Monsaraz’s history and its Jewish community that previously had never been presented to the public in such a format,” Monsaraz Mayor José Calixto told the SAPO broadcaster about the new center, which contains an exhibition on the city’s former Jewish residents and Sephardic culture.
The already substantial Jewish community grew in Portugal considerably after 1492, when tens of thousands of Jews immigrated there from neighboring Spain as a result of the Spanish Inquisition — a campaign led by the Catholic Church and the Spanish royal house against the country’s Jews. In 1536, Portugal followed suit with its own inquisition. In both countries, Jews were stripped of their possessions, forcibly converted to Christianity or forced to leave. Thousands were killed in pogroms and executions.
Over the past 20 years, Spain and Portugal have invested millions in preserving the heritage their 16th-century Jewish communities left behind. Since 2013, both countries have passed laws allowing Sephardic Jews to become citizens, in what was described by both governments as an act of atonement for the inquisition.
In Portugal, the government recently allocated approximately $6 million to the Portuguese Jewish Network-Sefarad Routes — a state-funded project for preservation and commemoration works at sites connected to the country’s Jewish past. So far, it encompasses approximately 30 municipalities in the country’s center and north.
In Monsaraz, the new center was inaugurated on the opening night of the biannual Open Museum cultural festiva
Separately, the municipality of Elvas near Monsaraz has allocated approximately $350,000 toward renovating its ancient synagogue, Mayor Nuno Mocinha last week told Radio Porto Alegre. It is scheduled to open in April.
Hasidic camp bus crash in Poconos injures at least 9
An accident involving a minibus bringing Jewish campers home from a trip in Pennsylvania injured at least nine teenagers.
The Brooklyn-bound bus flipped over and rolled onto its side around 2:30 a.m. last Friday on Route 423 in the Pocono Mountains, News 12 Brooklyn reported.
The driver, identified as Bernard Zitroenbaum, 32, of Brooklyn, was uninjured, according to the Times-Union. Zitroenbaum’s wife said the passengers were from the Sanz Klausenberg Summer Camp in Woodbourne, New York, and had been on a trip.
Sanz-Klausenberg is a Chasidic sect whose members live primarily in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.
Zitroenbaum’s wife described the injuries as a broken foot and “a lot of bad scratches on the head.”