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45 dead in Lag B’Omer stampede • Dueling reactions to Riverdale anti-Semitism • UJA sends aid to St. Vincent
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45 dead in Lag B’Omer stampede • Dueling reactions to Riverdale anti-Semitism • UJA sends aid to St. Vincent

Israeli rescue forces and police at the scene where 45 people were killed in a stampede during celebrations of Lag B'Omer at Mt. Meron, April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli rescue forces and police at the scene where 45 people were killed in a stampede during celebrations of Lag B'Omer at Mt. Meron, April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

 

Israel declared a national day of mourning after 45 people were crushed to death in a stampede at a Lag B’Omer celebration at Mount Meron.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “a terrible disaster” and promised a thorough investigation of one of the worst peacetime tragedies in Israel’s history. Huge crowds were attending the annual gathering in the northern Galilee, and the stampede appeared to occur as people slipped and fell on a bleachers ramp surging with thousands of revelers, most apparently religious men.

Social media posts identified yeshiva students from Israel and the United States as among the missing. They included a 19-year-old who recently made aliyah to Israel from Teaneck, New Jersey, and Hasidic singer Shraga Gestetner of Monsey, N.Y., according to the Israel National News site. 

Yeshiva World identified victims Amram Tauber of Monsey, a student at the Brisk yeshiva, and Menachem Knoblowitz, 22, of Borough Park.

Health Ministry officials had urged Israelis not to travel to Mount Meron, worried the festivities could lead to mass coronavirus contagion.

Reaction: “I am heartbroken by the tragedy that occurred overnight on Mount Meron in Israel. The loss of life as thousands celebrated a joyous holiday is devastating. New York sends its thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims and to the people of Israel and the Jewish community worldwide who are reeling from this horrific incident.” — Gov. Cuomo

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-L.I.) criticized the governor and city officials after a spate of vandalism targeting four synagogues in Riverdale. 

Zeldin, candidate for governor in 2022, appeared at a news conference organized by former State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who referred to the vandalism as a “Night of Broken Glass,” Gary Rosenblatt reports.

But a local coalition of Jewish groups reject the obvious comparison to the Nazis’ 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, and in addition to praising local officials for their response to the attacks warned about “outside organizations” who seek to “reframe the message.”

Related: Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) denounced the swastika daubed by a vandal on the outside of a Port Washington elementary school earlier this week.

New York Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Christians have formed an Interfaith Security Council to talk about how to fight hate and improve relations with law enforcement.

The council was founded with support from two Jewish organizations, Community Security Service, which trains volunteers to provide security at synagogues, and the Community Security Initiative, the Washington Post reports.

Quotable: “In this environment where resources are scarce and the threat is so real, we have to make sure we are all communicating with each other and sharing best practices.” — Rabbi Bob Kaplan, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s Center for Community Leadership.

The Jewish Theological Seminary held a virtual commencement ceremony for 72 graduates of its five schools on Thursday.

JTS Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz delivered the commencement address, in which she noted that “the pandemic altered every aspect of life, including your academic training, and this virtual ceremony is yet one more celebratory moment tinged with sadness for unrealized dreams.”

Receiving honorary degrees were novelist Geraldine Brooks, philanthropist Jacob Rothschild and Avigdor Shinan, professor emeritus in the department of Hebrew Literature, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Related: For the first time, new cantors will be “ordained,” not “invested,” by JTS. The change in terminology, the seminary explained, “reflects the vital role that cantors play as clergy in our communities.” The ordination ceremony for 15 rabbis and five cantors will be held May 23.

A worker at the St. Lucia airport loads medical supplies headed to St. Vincent, where a volcano eruption and heavy storms have displaced 20,000 people. (UJA-Federation)

UJA-Federation of New York issued a $25,000 grant to Afya Foundation to send critical supplies to the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent after a volcano eruption and storms caused heavy damage.

The supplies included PPEs, jackets, bedding and diapers, delivered on April 24 by Afya in partnership with Jet Blue and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The volcano eruptions of the past three weeks displaced more than 20,000 people and cut off power and running water for thousands of others.

Opinion

Yesterday was the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau. Read about the Japanese-American troops who played a key role in the liberation of the concentration camp and its satellite camps.

Shabbat Shalom 

The Torah rarely mentions a Jewish holiday without adding a reminder about helping the poor. “Giving charity is not just part of the observance of the festivals, but paramount to it,” writes Rabbi Danielle Upbin.

More wisdom: “When another person needs us, it is not a burden but a mitzvah,” writes Rabbi David Wolpe.

Streaming

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene holds a virtual celebration to launch the behind-the-scenes book, “On the Roof: A Look Inside Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish” by one of the show’s stars, Samantha Hahn. Visit www.nytf.org/book to see the event. Sunday, 2:30 pm.

Faith in New York, a federation of Faith in Action, is hosting an online Multifaith Justice Mayoral Forum. Moderators include Faith in New York executive director Crystal Walthall; the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior pastor of Middle Collegiate Church; and Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann of SAJ: Judaism That Stands for All. Candidates involved include Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Scott Stringer, and Maya Wiley. Click here to register. Sunday, 3:00 pm.

Candlelighting, Readings

Friday, April 30, 2021
Iyar 18, 5781

Light candles at 7:34 pm

Saturday

Torah Reading: Emor: Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15-31

Shabbat ends 8:37 pm

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