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2016-02-26 digital edition

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February 26, 2016  RSS feed
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Complied from JTA news service

Netanyahu meets with Reform leaders in wake of Western Wall decision

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with leaders of the American Reform movement, who thanked him for the decision to expand the Western Wall egalitarian prayer section.

The leaders, in Israel for the annual meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform movement’s rabbinical organization, met with Netanyahu on Monday, Feb. 22. The Reform delegation told the prime minister that the movement is committed to supporting Israel, but said it expects the Israeli government to advance pluralism, religious freedom and equality, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office sent to Israeli news organizations.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu slammed statements disparaging liberal streams of Judaism in the wake of the Cabinet’s approval to expand the egalitarian section at the Western Wall. “I reject the recent disparaging and divisive remarks by ministers and members of Knesset about Reform Jews,” Netanyahu said. “Reform and Conservative Jews are part and parcel of the Jewish people and should be treated with respect.”

Following the vote, Moshe Gafni, a haredi Orthodox lawmaker who chairs the Israeli Knesset’s powerful Finance Committee, said he would not recognize the decision and called Reform Jews “a group of clowns who stab the holy Torah.”

Israeli soccer player earns NFL tryout

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli professional soccer player will be trying out for the National Football League as a kicker. Gal Mesika will be the first Israeli to participate in a tryout attended by pro football scouts when he attends the free agent specialists combine in Arizona starting March 14, according to Steve Leibowitz, president of American Football in Israel.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has donated millions to Israeli American style football, recommended Mesika for the tryout. Kraft watched Mesika kick when he was in Israel hosting 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A demo tape led to an invitation to train with one of the leading kicking coaches in the United States, Gary Zauner. The training led to Mesika being invited to attend the combine for unsigned kickers, punters and long snappers.

Mesika, a goalie in top Israeli soccer leagues for the past decade, was the place kicker and punter for the Israeli team in American football in its inaugural international game, a 28-20 victory over Spain last summer.

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