by Stephen Oryszczuk

Country: United States

An American rabbi has been named as the pope’s official ‘comedic advisor’ after winning a competition to make the pontiff laugh. Bob Alper, 70, told how he and his wife were perfectly in sync: when he got a hearing aid, she stopped mumbling. Alper won $10,000 for his chosen charity in Ethiopia.

Country: China

A primary school in Shanghai has become the first in the city to teach Hebrew. The launch of classes at Shanghai Evergreen School is part of a wider effort to boost students’ interest in minority languages. Taught by an Israeli teacher, the course will also include lessons on Jewish culture and history.

Country: South Africa

South Africa’s chief rabbi says ‘now is not the time to shout from the rooftops’ because the governing African National Congress (ANC) was not really serious about banning dual citizenship with Israel. Warren Goldstein’s call for calm comes after a minister’s threat to prevent Jews fighting in the IDF.

Country: France

Tributes have been pouring in from across the arts world after award-winning film director Chantal Akerman died last week aged 65. Akerman pioneered feminist and experimental filmmaking, but had recently been battling depression since the death last year of her mother, an Auschwitz survivor.

Country: Australia

An extreme right-wing Israeli politician has been told he is ‘not welcome’ by Sydney’s Jewish community. Moshe Feiglin, who frequently leads Jews up to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and calls Palestinians a ‘gang of bandits,’ has been told that the doors to the Great Synagogue in Sydney are ‘closed to racists’.

Country: Netherlands

Former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans has reassured Jewish leaders that he will act as ‘the EU’s first envoy on anti-Semitism’. Timmermans said that the ‘new anti-Semitism sometimes tries to hide behind anti-Zionism’. European leaders are worried about a rising tide of intolerance.