News outlet says Israel planted DC surveillance devices

Politico reported Sept. 12 that Israel likely planted cellphone surveillance devices found near the White House and other Washington, D.C., locations.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump and his top aides, an unnamed senior official said. The devices work by fooling cellphones into providing identifying information and location, as well as call content.

An official told Politico that there have been no consequences for Israel’s behavior and the Trump administration has not criticized the Israeli government.

“It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” the former senior intelligence official said, noting that the FBI based the accusation on a detailed forensic analysis.

But Israeli Embassy spokesman Elad Strohmayer denied the allegations.

“These allegations are absolute nonsense,” he said. “Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period.”


Community leaders seek new trial for Jewish man facing execution

Jewish community leaders in Texas are calling for a new trial for convicted murderer Randy Halprin, a Jewish man whose execution is set for Oct. 10,

Halprin was part of “The Texas Seven” that escaped from prison in 2000 and killed a police officer after robbing a sporting goods stores. Four of the other members of that group have already been executed, and one killed himself before police could arrest him.

Halprin’s attorneys have alleged that sentencing Judge Vickers Cunningham has a history of bigotry and privately made anti-Semitic slurs.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot received letters of support from Jewish community leaders and another from more than 75 Texas faith leaders.

“When we speak about hatred and anti-Semitism in our communities, we often note that one kind of discrimination or bias goes hand in hand with another. So it is unsurprising to read in Mr. Halprin’s brief that Judge Cunningham also used the most offensive language to talk about Black and Latino defendants,” the letter from 14 Jewish leaders read. 


Brazilian Jewish entrepreneur wins Bronfman prize

A Jewish social entrepreneur from Brazil who works to alleviate global hunger won the 2019 Charles Bronfman prize on Sept. 4, JTA reported.

David Hertz co-founded Gastromotiva, which uses cooking classes and nutrition education as tools to “create opportunities for those living on the margins of society.”

The award, which includes $100,000 in prize money, was established by the philanthropist’s children and honors humanitarians under 50 “whose innovative work, informed by Jewish values, has significantly improved the world.”


Torah scrolls salvaged in Minnesota synagogue fire

Although a fire destroyed Adas Israel Congregation in Duluth, Minnesota, on Sept. 9, firefighters were able to salvage Torah scrolls, reported.

The scrolls and other artifacts were located in the 120-year-old Modern Orthodox synagogue’s basement.

“It feels like one of your family members passed away,” David Sher, a board member and lifelong worshipper at Adas Israel, said to the Star Tribune. “We have no idea what we are doing (next). There are no words right now.”

An investigation into the fire is ongoing, although police said no accelerants were discovered at the scene. JN

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