Israeli leader seeks alternative to ban on non-Orthodox female prayer at Jerusalem holy site
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister has instructed a quasi-governmental Jewish organization to find a solution for non-Orthodox Jewish female groups wishing to pray at one of Judaism's holiest sites.
An official said Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, to look into the matter. The official spoke anonymously according to government regulations.
Last week Israeli police detained women from a liberal Jewish group who approached the Western Wall in Jerusalem carrying prayer shawls. Orthodox Jews insist those are for men only. The women seek to worship at the site without such restrictions.
Jewish Agency spokesman Benjamin Rutland said Netanyahu told Sharansky that the Western Wall "must remain a source of Jewish unity rather than division." The wall is a remnant of the biblical Jewish Temple compound.
Homeowners appeal Santa Fe Co. deal with religious group that allows church construction
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A group of Taos-area homeowners is appealing Santa Fe County's decision to allow construction of a church where members drink a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament.
The six Arroyo Hondo homeowners object to the county spending about $400,000 to extend a waterline and build a sewage-treatment system there.
The notice of appeal filed in state court Wednesday argues using taxpayer money violates New Mexico's anti-donation clause and the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the church known as the UDV has been involved in legal battles for a decade and consistently declined comment.
The church sued after the county rejected it building plan. The county agreed last month to let it build a temple and to put in the water line.
Bible stolen from St. Louis church several days before holiday turns up at antique shop
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A 19th-century Bible stolen from a St. Louis church several days before Christmas has turned up at an antique shop and a suspect has been arrested.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a man hawked the Bible for $30 Sunday. But after conducting an Internet search Wednesday, the store that bought the nearly 15-pound Bible learned it had been stolen from St. Johns Lutheran Church. Police were called and the Bible returned.
The church has been the target of repeated burglaries. Thieves have stolen property, ruined food for the poor and damaged the building itself.
Police believe the man who's been arrested may be responsible for six burglaries at the church since September. Now, an anonymous donor is contributing money so the church can buy a security system.
Man indicted in bleach-throwing attack on NY rabbi who aides child sex abuse victims
NEW YORK (AP) — A Satmar Hasidic man has been indicted on charges he tossed bleach into the face of a New York rabbi who publicizes claims of child sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Wednesday that Meilech Schnitzler was indicted on two counts of attempted assault, two counts of assault and criminal possession of a weapon. The top charge carries a potential prison sentence of 15 years. A lawyer for Schnitzler did not immediately return a message for comment.
Prosecutors say Schnitzler threw a cup of bleach in the face and eye of Rabbi Nathan Rosenberg on Dec. 11. The government says both men live in Williamsburg and knew each other. Hynes says such "an act of thuggery in broad daylight" cannot be tolerated.
Utah births still highest in country, but they declined for 4th straight year
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Fewer babies have been born in Utah each of the past four years.
New data from the Utah Department of Health shows that about 1,000 fewer babies were born in 2011 than in 2010. That marks the first time there has been a decline four straight years since the 1980s.
The 51,144 babies born in 2011 in Utah last year were the fewest since 2004. The peak was 2007-2008 when 55,000 babies were born each year in Utah.
Utah still has one of the nation's highest birth rates despite the slowdown.
Officials at Intermountain Healthcare believe the decrease is due to the economic downturn. About 60 percent of the state's babies are born at Intermountain hospitals.
Utah County has state's highest birth rate. The largest city and county seat in that county is Provo, home of Brigham Young University. BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Colorado Springs pastor punched while trying to halt burglary at neighbors' house
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Police say a Colorado Springs pastor was punched in the face while trying to stop a Christmas Day robbery at a neighbor's house.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Jim Stevens, youth pastor at Central Church of the Nazarene, called police and went to investigate after another neighbor saw movement inside the house and an unfamiliar car parked outside.
The residents weren't home.
As Stevens was outside, a man and a woman walked out with their arms filled with items they had taken. Police say the man rushed at Stevens, threw the stolen goods at him and punched him before running away.
The man escaped but the woman and a second woman who had been waiting outside the house were arrested.