NewsBits: Sunday Morning Reading
Trip organizer opts out of Birthright, citing ideological constraints
A rift involving the directors of Israel’s leading program for Diaspora Jews has caused one of the project’s main figures to quit this month. Instead of working with Birthright Israel, travel organizer Shlomo Lifshitz will join Masa.
Lifshitz said he switched from Birthright, which brings young Jews on a first-time, free 10-day visit to the country, to Masa – which supports long-term programs for Diaspora students in Israel, after Birthright forbade him from urging participants to immigrate to Israel and shun intermarriage. “I was told I could no longer tell participants to make aliyah or marry Jewish partners,” said Lifshitz, who until recently was one of Taglit’s main trips contractors as founder and president of Oranim Educational Initiatives, a for-profit company established in 1986.
Sharon Udasin, a reporter for The Jewish Week who wrote about the rift earlier this month, said Monday she had learned days after publishing her extensive article that she was no longer invited to a Taglit follow-up trip she had planned to attend.
In its reply to a query by Anglo File about this, Taglit said: “There is no connection between the article and the decision whether the reporter will or will not join a Taglit-Birthright Israel group.”
Philanthropist wants Madoff trustee lawsuit tossed
On the hook for billions because of his ties to swindler Bernard Madoff, philanthropist Jeffry Picower filed court papers Friday saying he was a victim of the Ponzi scheme and is being unfairly targeted by the trustee trying to recover customer funds.