The Jewish people’s soldier son, a captive of Hamas from June 2006 until October of 2011, is back in the public eye. He is now a sports columnist for one of Israel’s major newspapers, Yediot Aharonot. He was last seen covering the NBA finals, and those close to him say he is making a full recovery. Noam, his father, who waged a very public campaign to pressure the government to get his son back, has entered politics and is on the Labor ticket for the 2013 elections.
Last year, Naama Shafir’s arms were getting all the attention. Shafir, a native of Hoshaya, in the Galilee, attends the University of Toledo and is a star member of their basketball team. She ran into problems when she wanted to compete as part of Israel’s basketball team during the European basketball tournament. The European basketball league would not let her play in her standard white t-shirt under her sleeveless jersey, which she wore for modesty reasons. In the end, they capitulated, and she was allowed to compete in her shirt.
This year, it’s Naama Shafir’s knee that’s getting attention. Shafir suffered a torn ACL in her right knee in November, essentially knocking her out of the rest of the season. However, she will return to the University of Toledo Rockets for the 2012-2013 season, which will be her last. She was granted a medical hardship waiver that allows her to return. Shafir was also selected one of NCAA’s 30 women basketball student-athletes for the 2011-2012 Lowe’s senior class awards.
Read her UT bio.
Levi Aron (murderer of Leiby Kletzky)
Levi Aron is in jail awaiting his trial for the murder of Leiby Kletzky. The most newsworthy item about him seems to be that he is gaining weight. He is due to appear in court on July 27; his lawyers say he suffers from psychotic disorders.
Meanwhile, Leiby’s father Rabbi Nachman Kletzky is filing a $100 million lawsuit against Aron, claiming compensation for Leiby’s and the family’s pain and suffering. The elder Kletzky is also filing a lawsuit against Jack Aron, Levi’s father, because Levi held Leiby in the attic of the family home.
Recently, the family held the unveiling ceremony for Leiby. Traditionally, 11 months after a person’s death the family gathers for the unveiling of the headstone. Leiby’s relatives are also sponsoring a sefer Torah in his honor, which is expected to be completed by the winter. And in the neighborhood where Leiby was killed, the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative has passed. One million dollars in state grant money is funding the initiative, which includes high-tech security cameras positioned near schools, synagogues and street corners in Boro Park, Flatbush and Midwood.
The disgraced congressman, who gained infamy for tweeting explicit photos of himself, is now a disgraced ex-congressman. He resigned from Congress and is a stay-at-home dad for his young son. (News of his wife’s pregnancy broke shortly after the Twitter scandal.) Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, are still together.
The situation has not improved in Toulouse, the town in France that was the site of an anti-Semitic murderous rampage. While the official word from governments worldwide was condemnation, there were other, less welcome reactions as well. The school at which the murders took place received threats, and a study indicated that the number of violent anti-Semitic acts in France actually doubled from the same time period last year. In general, anti-Semitism in France seems to be on the rise. In April, in Marseille, a Jewish man and his friend were assaulted by men claiming they were Palestinians who wanted to kill Jews. Vandalism and defamation, too, are on the rise. France may be saying, “We will not tolerate anti-Semitism,” but the question is, is anyone listening?
Orot School in Beit Shemesh
The Orot School in Beit Shemesh, a religious girls’ school, came under attack from the extremist Haredi elements in the neighborhood at the beginning of the year. Claiming that having to look at immodestly dressed girls and their mothers infringed on their religious rights, and that the building housing the school rightfully belonged to them, many ultra-Orthodox men stood outside the school every day, hurling insults at the young school girls. The secular and national religious members of the city fought back, culminating in a protest which attracted thousands of Israelis all over the country. The fight became about more than just an elementary school. The city’s more moderate elements were tired of the gender segregation and acts they said demeaned women. Since the protest, the school-front has been quiet, but Beit Shemesh has not been. Just recently, a woman was attacked for dressing immodestly. Extremists threw stones at her as she exited her car in a commercial area of the city.
A news story may leave the public eye, it may no longer warrant the front page of the papers, but for the characters that peopled the story, the events are still front and center. Every once in a while, it’s important to check back in and see what’s happening in the world of the people who grabbed our attention for those few moments.