World News-roundup: Visiting Israelis swell Georgia’s shuls

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World News-roundup: Visiting Israelis swell Georgia’s shuls

Country: Russia
The first class of a newly established rabbinical seminary in Moscow for Reform Jews has started learning. Seven students – four women and three men – will help to address the current lack in Reform rabbis in the former Soviet Union. Only six Russian-speaking Reform rabbis serve the entire region.

Country: Georgia
Visiting Israelis have swollen shul numbers in Georgia for the first time in a generation. Rabbi Murdukhashvili of the Great Synagogue Tbilisi said: ‘On some Friday nights, I close my eyes and listen to the sound of 80 Jews singing in my synagogue – something I remember only from when I was young.’

Country: Lithuania
All Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania will be marked or memorialised by 2017, the country’s prime minister said last week. Algirdas Butkevicius also said Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had given his blessing for the go-ahead on a controversial construction project, located on top of a former Jewish cemetery.

Country: United States
Ahead of the High Holidays, a mikveh-peeping rabbi said sorry from his jail cell. Rabbi Barry Freundel was recently given 6.5 years for secretly filming over 150 women undressing in the mikvah ritual bath adjacent to his Washington synagogue. He also filmed a domestic violence victim in a safe house.

Country:  France
A former French government minister has apologised for saying Germany ‘took our Jews and gave us Arabs’ then walked back the comment. Patrick Devedjian, a right-wing politician who served under former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, was speaking about the European refugee crisis.

Country: Australia
New Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested he has Jewish roots and is a ‘good friend’ to the Jewish people. In a 2013 interview, the self-made millionaire said: ‘My mother always used to say her mother’s family was Jewish.’ Turnbull added that he would like to increase ties to Israel.

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