Positive Jewish News of the Week by Alex Goldenstein

Odessa’s Jewish Orphanage Expands, Thanks to U.S. Philanthropist Mouli Cohen.

ODESSA — Launched ten years ago by the local Jewish community, an orphanage in Odessa, has experienced growth and success in recent months thanks to donations by philanthropist Mouli Cohen and his wife Stacy Cohen. The orphanage currently provides a home to 55 South Ukrainian boys and girls whose parents were either alcoholics, drug addicts or generally unwell. Some of the children have suffered from violence, others have been orphaned by one of their parents and their relatives are unable to raise them. “These children have nowhere else to go, so as a community we must continue to support a home for them,” says Rabbi Abraham Wolff, chief rabbi of Odessa, a city where around 50,000 Jews live. The story of the Jewish community orphanage began in September 1999 when the rabbi was approached by a woman who pleaded with him to take her two grandchildren. Her request was peculiar, but her explanation was heartbreaking. She told the rabbi: “My daughter was murdered in her yard… these are her children, who are students in your school. With my very small monthly pension, I am not capable of raising them, to supply them with meals or with the necessary clothing they need. Please take them!” The orphanage, which provides the children with the most basic physical and medical needs, and organizes weekly trips and events, currently employs a team of educators, counselors, doctors and psychologists to tend to the needs of the children. Without the support of Mouli Cohen, an Israeli-born American entrepreneur and philanthropist, and his wife Stacy Cohen, an author, the Jewish community would not have the resources needed to continue to expand the orphanage and take on more children. “With Mr. and Ms. Cohen’s important donations and interest for the orphanage, there is a brighter future for the Jewish children of Odessa,” stresses Rabbi Wolff. “It is an absolute honor that I can be involved in any way to help the orphanage. I have been amazed at the development of the kids at the orphanage, and seeing our children attaining top positions in local and regional English and Mathematics contests shows that our efforts are worth it,” says Mouli Cohen. Graduating students are granted matriculation certificates recognized by the local Ministry of Education that provides them with the option to continue their studies in academic institutes within the Community of Independent States or elsewhere in the world.

LOS ANGELES – TROUBLED singer Britney Spears is reportedly so in love with her agent Jason Trawick, that she wants to convert to Judaism so she can marry him. According to website and media reports on Monday, Spears has told sources that she will ditch her often-professed Christian faith and become a Jew.The Womanizer singer has recently been photographed wearing a Star of David necklace during her current world tour. Sources have also said that Spears, 27, has recruited a rabbi to help her study the faith. “Britney wants to try the religion Jason was brought up with,” and insider reportedly told celebrity website Bang Showbiz.

US national Micky Louis Mayon, one of the FBI’s 100 most wanted criminals, was apprehended in an apartment in Tel Aviv’s Florentine neighborhood Sunday by a newly-created task force dealing with illegal immigration. Mayon, 33, is wanted in the US for several federal crimes, including membership in the Ku Klux Klan, the burning of vehicles belonging to federal judges and several charges of severe violence. According to intelligence information relayed by Interpol, Mayon has been residing in Israel illegally since entering the country in 2008 and has changed his location every couple of days since his arrival.

Mayon was transferred to a detention facility following his arrest by the newly-formed Oz unit. On November 1, 2001 US agents, acting on a lead, made an unsuccessful arrest attempt when they found out that Mayon had fled to Tel Aviv. An international arrest warrant was issued against him few months later. In April 2007 Mayon fired a number of shots into the air during an argument with an African-American man, and in 1995, when he was 19-years-old, he was sentenced to prison for the first time after being convicted of drug use.