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CUNY students vote down IHRA definition • Jewish Week quizzes mayoral hopefuls • MacArthur ‘genius’ to head Jewish family agency
Daily Update

CUNY students vote down IHRA definition • Jewish Week quizzes mayoral hopefuls • MacArthur ‘genius’ to head Jewish family agency

The FBI Hate Crimes Unit posted Yiddish-language advertisements in in haredi Orthodox neighborhoods of New York to encourage residents to report hate crimes. (FBI)
The FBI Hate Crimes Unit posted Yiddish-language advertisements in in haredi Orthodox neighborhoods of New York to encourage residents to report hate crimes. (FBI)


Good morning and Chodesh Tov (the Hebrew month of Iyar began Sunday night). Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, begins tonight at sundown. 

The CUNY University Student Senate voted down a resolution Sunday that would have adopted a disputed definition of anti-Semitism.

The resolution, proposed by the Hillel president at Baruch College, said adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition would make CUNY’s 17,000 Jewish students “feel safe and welcome on any campus, including all CUNY campuses.”

Opponents, including the CUNY Law Jewish Law Students Association and the CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine, say the definition “endangers and defames those advocating for Palestinian rights as inherently antisemitic.” The Student Senate also voted down the JLSA’s resolution to that effect.

Background: The IHRA definition describes certain forms of demonizing Israel as anti-Semitic. Progressive and pro-Palestinian groups charge that it stifles free speech and political debate on campus.

The Jewish Week quizzed NYC mayoral candidates on fighting anti-Semitism, relations with the haredi Orthodox community, and other hot topics.

The Jewish Week sent questionnaires to all the candidates. (You can find links to their responses here.) Is more policing the answer to fighting anti-Semitism? What would they do to increase diversity at the city’s specialized high schools? How would they avoid a repeat of last year’s controversy on the Upper West Side, over the conversion of hotels into homeless shelters?

Read the responses by Maya Wiley, Eric Adams, Scott Stringer, Dianne Morales, Shaun Donovan, Ray McGuire and Kathryn Garcia. (Andrew Yang didn’t respond — yet.)

The FBI released advertisements in English, Yiddish and Hebrew in an effort to get more Orthodox Jews to report hate crimes in the New York area.

“Did you know many hate crimes are not reported?” reads the FBI Hate Crimes Unit’s advertisement, posted in haredi Orthodox neighborhoods. “The FBI wants to help, but we need to hear from you.”

Quotable: “Kudos to the @NewYorkFBI for once again demonstrating what community outreach is all about,” tweeted Rabbi Abe Friedman, director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

Labor leader Randi Weingarten responded to critics who said she had promoted an anti-Jewish stereotype.

In an interview published April 1 by JTA and The Jewish Week, the president of the American Federation of Teachers said “American Jews are now part of the ownership class,” suggesting the community’s relative affluence had made them less likely to support unions. Critics said her remarks were borderline anti-Semitic.

Weingarten responded yesterday in a Forward essay. “The point I set out to make was, simply, that historically, there was much less equivocation about whether to be pro-union in the Jewish community, because our shared history taught us to believe in justice for all, regardless of our own status.” She added: “But I didn’t express those thoughts artfully, and I used language that I regret.”

A cranky Andrew Cuomo reportedly lashed out at Sukkot observers on the campaign trail in 2006. 

A New York Times Magazine profile remembers the governor’s run for attorney general. It quotes a witness saying Cuomo grew impatient at a campaign event celebrating the fall holiday of booths. “These people and their f***ing tree houses,” Cuomo reportedly vented to his team.

A spokesman denied the incident, telling The Times: “His two sisters married Jewish men, and he has the highest respect for Jewish traditions.”

Fox News says it won’t be firing Tucker Carlson for endorsing “replacement theory,” a white supremacist conspiracy.

In a letter to the Anti-Defamation League, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said Carlson had raised a “voting rights question” in a segment of his show last week, and that he had not endorsed the racist theory that liberals are trying to “replace” white voters with immigrants.

ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt wasn’t convinced. “Carlson did not accidentally echo these talking points,” he wrote in response. “[H]e knowingly escalated this well-worn racist rhetoric.”

The View From Campus

Princeton sophomore Liana Slomka found an unexpected outlet during the pandemic: starting an online Jewish humor magazine called The Schmear. Not only did the project exercise her funny bone, but it served as a “reminder of the weird and lovely ways Jewish college students are united in one big community.”

People and Places

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, which serves 45,000 Jews and non-news across the five boroughs, appointed Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, M.D. as the organization’s new chief executive officer.

Brenner was most recently Senior Vice President at United Healthcare, where he led a national program to provide housing and support services to Medicaid members experiencing homelessness. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Brenner volunteered to launch and run a COVID recovery center in a hotel in Secaucus for the New Jersey Department of Health. In 2013, Brenner was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship for his work in Camden, NJ, where he served as a family physician, developed a program that both lowered healthcare costs and provided better care, and served as CEO of the Coalition of Healthcare Providers, reorganizing local hospitals’ urban outpatient clinics and expanding addiction services.

He succeeds John Kastan, who has served as Interim CEO since July 2020.

Streaming Today

JCC Manhattan’s virtual Israel Forum presents Maj. Gen. (res.) Amnon Reshef, a hero of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and founder of Commanders for Israel’s Security, in conversation with Israel Policy Forum’s policy director, Michael Koplow. Reshef will reflect on lessons from the Yom Kippur War, and the considerations that go into holding on to or relinquishing territory in the name of peace. Register here. 11:00 am. Later, at 8:00 pm, join the JCC for a Yom Hazikaron concert combining classic Yom Hazikaron songs along with contemporary pieces written by fallen soldiers.

Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle-Families Forum present a Joint Memorial Day Ceremony, “challenging the traditional narrative of victimhood and separation” and bringing Israelis and Palestinians together declaring, “War and occupation are not acts of fate — but a human choice!” Register here. 1:30 pm.

The Museum at Eldridge Street presents a virtual program exploring the forgotten world of Black cantors in the early-20th century. Henry Sapoznik will honor the memory of now forgotten Black cantors. Suggested donation: $12. Get tickets here. 6:00 pm.

Solomon Shapiro, a lone soldier in the IDF originally from New York, leads a conversation, “Yom HaZikaron: The Power of Jewish Peoplehood Through Personal and Collective Mourning,” with parents and siblings of fallen Israeli soldiers and terrorist victims. Presented by JCC Association of North American. Watch stream here. 8:00 pm.

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