Country: Germany

An imam has helped complete the writing of a new Torah scroll in central Germany. Bilal El-Zayat, president of the Islamic community of Marburg, who often attends High Holy Day services, placed his hand on that of a scribe to pen the last letters, before joining a celebratory parade through the city. 

Country: Peru

A Jewish New Yorker imprisoned in Peru for helping left-wing rebels has left the country after 20 years. Lori Berenson, 46, was escorted to the airport by the military. In 1995 she was convicted of treason for plotting to overthrow the government. She spent 15 years in prison then a further five on parole.

Country: Italy

Up to 100 Jewish souvenir vendors wore yellow Stars of David pinned to their clothing in a protest against new rules barring them from selling near the Vatican. Others had signs reading: ‘History is repeating itself.’ A spokesman for the group defended the use of Holocaust imagery in the demonstration. 

Country: Russia

An American philanthropist is extending his initiative of giving away free Jewish children’s books to families by starting to distribute them in Russia. Harold Grinspoon’s PJ Library project already operates in eight countries, and gives secular Arabic-language books to Arab schoolchildren in Israel.

Country: Hungary

A life-size bronze statue of a Hungarian minister who sent thousands of Jews to their death is to be unveiled in the country this month. In 1939 Balint Homan restricted the rights of Jews and then, in 1944, ordered their deportation. The statue was part-funded by the centre-right Hungarian government. 

Country: United States

Reams of American Jewish literary news and opinion from 1942-99 is now available as a free digital archive. The searchable treasure trove is material from Jewish Book Annual, with sections in English, Hebrew and Yiddish. The first essays are set against the backdrop of the Nazi threat in Europe.