Globe Briefs May 26

Globe Briefs May 26

Prominent Connecticut rabbi ordered to pay $20M to former student

The founding rabbi of a Connecticut yeshiva must pay $20 million to a man who claims the rabbi raped and sexually molested him hundreds of times when he was a minor.

On May 18, a federal jury ordered Rabbi Daniel Greer and the Yeshiva of New Haven to pay Eliyahu Mirlis $15 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, according to The Associated Press.

In the civil lawsuit, which was filed last year, Mirlis claimed the abuse occurred for three years when he was a student at the yeshiva, which Greer also served as principal. He said the abuse took place on school grounds and in Greer’s home. Mirlis, now 29, attended the Orthodox Jewish school from 2001 to 2005.

The complaint states that the abuse began when Mirlis was 15 and Greer was in his 60s, the New Haven Register reported.

Greer has denied the allegations and his attorney said he would appeal the judgment, AP reported. The rabbi repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination last week when he was called to testify at the trial, according to the New Haven Register.

In addition to founding the Yeshiva of New Haven, Greer has testified before Connecticut’s state legislature on topics such as same-sex unions, which he opposed. He has served on the New Haven police commissioners’ board and as a chairman of the city’s Redevelopment Agency.

Greer’s daughter, Batsheva, was one of five Orthodox students who sued Yale in the late 1990s claiming the Ivy League university violated their constitutional rights by requiring they live in coed dorms.

Trump, family make private visit to Western Wall

President Donald Trump visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to go to the holy site.

Trump arrived there under heavy security Monday afternoon with his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. No Israeli politicians or officials accompanied the family. U.S. officials reportedly had rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the site with Trump.

Trump was presented with a Book of Psalms with his name printed on it by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz. The inscription printed inside read: “This ancient book will safeguard you so you can safeguard the entire world. With appreciation and admiration for being the first United States president to visit the Western Wall.”

Following a brief description of the history of the wall, Trump went to the men’s side, with his daughter and wife heading to the women’s section. Trump, who wore a black kippah, stood in front of the wall with his hand resting on it for several moments before placing a note in its cracks and backing away.

In the guest book, Trump wrote, “This was a great honor — Peace!”

The entire Western Wall plaza was closed off, with the area in front of the wall covered by cloths to allow the First Family to enjoy a private visit, except for the pool television cameras.

The Trump family walked to the wall from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, which they visited first, arriving there on foot from the Jaffa Gate.

Kevin Pillar suspended by Blue Jays for homophobic slur

The Toronto Blue Jays suspended their center fielder Kevin Pillar for two games after he hurled an anti-gay slur at an opposing pitcher.

Pillar used the slur against Jason Motte of the Atlanta Braves during a game May 17 when he thought the pitcher tried to “quickpitch” him — throw a pitch before he was ready to hit in the batter’s box.

The Jewish player was quick to apologize for the incident.

“I was ashamed. I regret saying it,” he told reporters before another game against the Braves. “I’m going to be used as an example of how words can really offend a lot of people.”

Pillar, known as one of the top defensive outfielders in the major leagues, returned two days later, when the Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles. He was also fined an undisclosed amount.

Jewish Israelis less certain of Trump’s support for their state, poll suggests

A poll in Israel about President Donald Trump suggested his popularity among Jews there has declined since he first took office.

In the poll of 500 Jewish-Israeli adults conducted last week for The Jerusalem Post, 56 percent said they considered the Trump administration more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. In January, 79 percent of respondents in a similar poll had said this about Trump, who visited Israel on Monday as part of his first presidential trip abroad.

The latest poll, whose results were published prior to Trump’s arrival, found that 4 percent consider the administration to be more pro-Palestinian, rising from 3 percent in the January survey.

Those who deemed the administration to be neutral doubled to 21 percent, compared with 10 percent in January. Nineteen percent of respondents did not know, up from 8 percent.

The poll, which was conducted by the Smith Research agency, had a margin of error of about 4.5 percent.