News Briefs: Anti-Semitism Soars in France and More

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Longtime Jewish Federation Employee Dies

Former Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia employee Joe Polidoro, who spent 38 years with the organization, died Jan. 26, according to his family.

Polidoro, 70, of Philadelphia, retired in 2013 as Jewish Federation’s senior database analyst.

“Joe was beloved by all at the [Jewish] Federation, and he was seen as the go-to guy who could always help,” said Michelle Wetzel, who was the information technology director there from 2004-08. “He was never subpar and always gave 200 percent.”

Kosher Hotel Proposed in Florida

Kosher patrons of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., will have a nearby lodging option if a proposed kosher hotel comes to pass, according to JNS.org.

The Kosher House — to be built across the street from the casino — would feature synagogue space and a kosher restaurant, as well as automatic elevators operating on the Sabbath, developer Sharon Sharaby said in an interview with the South Florida Business Journal.

The six-story, 100-room hotel would have 87,124 square feet of space, 104 parking spots and a pool on the roof. Sharaby said room rates would be in the $125 to $150 range.

The City of Hollywood Technical Advisory Committee will hear Sharaby’s proposal in the weeks ahead. Sharaby’s firm, the Shoppes of Hard Rock LLC, holds a 99-year lease on the two-acre site, which is also home to a McDonald’s.

Anti-Semitism Soars in France

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Feb. 11 that the number of anti-Semitic acts committed in the nation increased by 74 percent in 2018, JTA reported.

There were 541 anti-Semitic acts in 2018, compared to 311 a year earlier.

Castaner said that “anti-Semitism is spreading like poison” and called it “an attack against hope.” He pledged that the government would fight it.

The same day Castaner spoke, a tree planted near Paris in memory of Ilan Halimi — a man kidnapped and tortured in 2006 by a gang that thought his Jewish family would pay ransom — was chopped down. In addition, swastikas and anti-Semitic epithets were recently painted around the city.

JFNA Supports Security Grant Approval

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) said it was appreciative of Congress for approving $60 million for FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program on Feb. 14. President Trump is expected to approve the measure.

“Since Sept. 11, nonprofits generally, and Jewish communal institutions specifically, have been the victim of an alarming number of threats and attacks,” said William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Washington, D.C., office of Jewish Federations.

JFNA said those risks prompted the creation and continuation of a strong security program so at-risk nonprofits can respond to threats by hardening their facilities and improving preparations to deter, detect, mitigate and recover from potential attacks.

“We witnessed the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in North American history just a few months ago — the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh,” said David Golder, JFNA’s Domestic Policy and Government Affairs Committee. “This and other recent episodes underscore that Violent Homegrown Extremists across the ideological spectrum continue to target our institutions.”

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Andy Gotlieb is the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent. He holds 31 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. Prior newspaper stops include the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Tampa Tribune and the Philadelphia Business Journal. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various times, business, politics, crime and government, among other beats. The final 2.5 years in that stretch was an editor at the Philadelphia Business Journal, where my responsibilities included complete control over a weekly section and working with both staff writers and freelancers. In late 2005, I switched gears and began working in public relations for the next decade. I learned the ins and outs of public relations -- including being on the other side of the media-PR equation -- and made numerous contacts. I rejoined the ranks of journalism in March 2016, starting as the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent.

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