In the news this week, report finds a 5 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, India Pitcher Festival stampede death toll rises, sex abuse allegations surround L.A. Buddhist teacher, and other stories.
A report by the Community Security Trust (CST) on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK shows a slight rise of 5 percent in 2012 (640 incidents) compared to 2011. A total of 640 incidents were reported against 608 in 2011. According to the report, the total of 640 incidents included 100 reported under a new exchange program with the Metropolitan Police Service, whereby CST and MPS exchange all anti-Semitic incident reports received by either agency, in full anonymity, throughout the year. The Jerusalem Post
Anxious relatives searched for missing family members in northern India on Monday during one of the world's largest religious gatherings, unsure if their loved ones were caught in a stampede that killed 37 people or had simply gotten lost among the tens of millions of pilgrims.
People thronged to the main hospital in Allahabad to see if their relatives were among 37 dead and 39 people injured in Sunday evening's stampede at the city's train station. Tens of thousands of people were in the station waiting to board a train when railway officials announced a last-minute change in the platform, triggering the chaos.
An estimated 30 million Hindus took a dip Sunday at the Sangam – the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers – as part of the 55-day Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival. Sunday was one of the holiest days to bathe. The Huffington Post
At 19, Shari Young was in search of enlightenment. She thought she had found it at the Cimarron Zen Center (now known as Rinzai-ji) in Jefferson Park and in a Buddhist teacher, a man named Joshu Sasaki Roshi.
But she said Roshi, as his followers call him, began using their one-on-one meetings to fondle her breasts and grope her body. She consented in confusion but left after nearly a year.
That was in the early '60s, she said. A recent investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders has suggested that Roshi, a leading figure in Zen Buddhism in the United States, may have abused hundreds of others for decades. According to the group's report, that abuse included allegations of molestation and rape, and some of the incidents had been reported to the Rinzai-ji board, which had taken no effective action. The Los Angeles Times
Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28 sets the stage for a succession battle that is likely to determine the future course of a church troubled by scandal and declining faith in its traditional strongholds around the world.
Citing advanced years and infirmity, Benedict became the first pope in six centuries to resign. Vatican officials said they hoped to have a new pope in place by Easter, while expressing shock at a decision that some said had been made as long as a year ago.
Saying he had examined his conscience “before God,” Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics. That task will fall to his successor, who will have to contend not only with a Roman Catholic Church marred by the sexual abuse crisis, but also with an increasingly secular Europe and the spread of Protestant evangelical movements in the United States, Latin America and Africa. The New York Times
When the national director of the Anti-Defamation League takes out a large advertisement in the print edition of The New York Times, you kind of have to take notice. Given the cost of such an ad (surely more than one in the Forward!), the February 7 statement by Abraham Foxman signals that his organization believes the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — known as BDS — is anti-Semitic hate speech that poses a real and potent threat to Jews everywhere. It is an assertion that you hear repeated by those trying to keep BDS sympathizers far outside the acceptable perimeters of the Jewish communal tent. Are they right? Yes and no. The Jewish Daily Forward