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$664 million for Holocaust survivors, state fines Brooklyn shuls, Israel holds talks with Lebanon
Daily Update

$664 million for Holocaust survivors, state fines Brooklyn shuls, Israel holds talks with Lebanon

Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe receive in-home care from their local Jewish agencies with grants from the Claims Conference. (Courtesy)
Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe receive in-home care from their local Jewish agencies with grants from the Claims Conference. (Courtesy)

The state Sheriff’s Office fined five congregations in Borough Park for violating the governor’s Covid-19 restrictions, including a synagogue where a prominent chasidic rabbi tested positive last week.

The Bobov-45 shul received a $15,000 fine, Gothamist reports, for flouting Gov. Cuomo’s order that houses of worship limit attendance in neighborhoods currently experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus cases. The fine did not stop hundreds of unmasked worshippers from packing into the synagogue for holiday services on Saturday and Sunday. They were led by Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Unger, who congregants were informed tested positive for the virus last Friday, multiple sources said.

Sheriff Joseph Fucito said it wasn’t the agency’s job to ensure people don’t return to the facilities they’ve cited for violations.

Under the rules that went into effect on Thursday, religious services are capped at 10 people in the “red zone” areas of Brooklyn and Queens where the infection rate is the highest. All mass gatherings are prohibited. Public and private schools, as well as non-essential businesses, are also required to close for a minimum of two weeks.

Perspective: Writing in The Atlantic, Yehuda Kurtzer of the Shalom Hartman Institute calls the protests against Covid restrictions in Orthodox neighborhoods a “failure to grasp something essential about the nature of citizenship in a democracy.” Writes Kurtzer: “What we have now in Brooklyn is not an ultra-Orthodox crisis, or even a pandemic crisis; it is a citizenship crisis. The coronavirus is ours to defeat, if we are prepared to ask what we can do for our fellow Americans.”

School closures have placed a heavy burden on working mothers — rerouting, rearranging and, in many cases, canceling professional obligations as the reality of this school year begins to unfold.

The Jewish Week talks to working parents who have been reeling since the start of the pandemic, and who see no end in sight for a challenge that falls particularly hard on women.

“This is not working from home — this is hell,” said one mom, recalling sharing a makeshift office space with her husband for several months over the spring and summer while her two small children vied for her attention. “I have no clue what I’m going to do in the coming months. It is just going to be a free-for-all.”

Germany has agreed to provide $664 million to aid Holocaust survivors struggling under the burdens of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Claims Conference, which negotiated the agreement, some 240,000 survivors will be eligible for these additional payments, which total $2,800 over two years per survivor. The pandemic has adversely affected the elderly, and survivors have faced an onslaught of health, emotional and financial hurdles, according to the Claims Conference. A significant population of survivors, especially those in the former Soviet Union, live in poverty.

Negotiations also resulted in a $36 million increase over last year in funding for social welfare services for Holocaust survivors.

“In the face of a devastating global pandemic it was vital to secure larger increases for survivors while also seeking immediate funds to help them through these extremely challenging times,” said Amb. Stuart E. Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator.

Israeli and Lebanese officials sat down for their first border negotiations in 30 years.

Today’s maritime border negotiations are being called a “historic” achievement with the potential to bring more stability and prosperity to the region, Times of Israel reports. The talks are aimed at resolving a decade-old dispute over territorial waters in an area that may contain undersea natural gas reserves.

RelatedChevron wrapped up the $4 billion acquisition of Houston-based Noble Energy, which has a big natural gas business in Israel. The move suggests “that the days when Persian Gulf states bristle about business with Israel may be over,” the New York Times reports.

Critics of Mitch McConnell accused the Senate Majority Leader of anti-Semitic dog-whistling when he asked voters during a recent debate: “Do you want somebody from New York setting the agenda?”

On the surface, his remarks refer to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader and Jewish New Yorker, who would take McConnell’s title if Democrats regain control of the Senate. But McConnell’s critics pointed out that President Trump is also from New York, and McConnell has no problem with Trump setting the agenda for the country.

“‘Wait, Trump is from New Yo– oh, I see what he means by ‘New York,’” tweeted Jonathan Chait, a liberal writer for New York magazine. Matt Boxer, a Jewish studies professor at Brandeis, tweeted, “there’s a long history of ‘New York’ being used in this context to mean ‘Jews.’”

JTA analyzes the controversy.

Teitel Brothers, the 105-year-old Italian provisions store on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, is not Italian at all.

The Nosher visited the brothers who run the family-owned shop with their father to find out how Jewish immigrants from Austria built a successful Italian grocery store.


Despite the pandemic, a dangerously divisive presidential campaign, deep racial tensions and a climate emergency, the Jewish Week’s editor at large, Gary Rosenblatt, sees reasons for hope, starting with Nov. 3. “I pray we choose wisely — toward decency, toward healing, and toward, not away from, each other,” he writes.

Around the Agencies

The Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, in partnership with ignite: action, has launched a nonpartisan clearinghouse of trusted election resources for the Jewish community. Free&Fair: Our Duty to Democracy includes election-related information, training and resources for clergy and leaders, and a pledge for Jewish organizations to commit to closing for business on Election Day. The aim is to encourage the Jewish community to respond to widespread to confusion over voting rules and procedures and the possibility of a contested election, a tumultuous transfer or continuation of power, and potential upticks in political violence.

Streaming Today

American Sephardi Federation, in the first in its series exploring new research, Sina Kahen discusses his new book “Ideas: Bereshit,” exploring the weekly Torah portion through a Western Sephardi lens. Sina Kahen is a Sepharadi consultant, speaker, and author on Medical Tech, AI, and Jewish Philosophy. Drawing from science, philosophy, psychology and history, this series offers the reader a vision of Torah based on intellect and integration, rather than superstition and isolation. Register here. 12:00 pm.

Center for Jewish History presents Derek Penslar, author of “Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader,” exploring how Herzl, a cosmopolitan and assimilated European Jew, become the leader of the Zionist movement. With Daniel Schwartz of George Washington University. Co-sponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Free; registration required here to receive a link to the Zoom webinar. 4:00 pm.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2020 New York Virtual Event will feature Diane von Furstenberg as master of ceremonies and a lineup of speakers that includes Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor and the Museum’s partner in the Ferencz International Justice Initiative, and NBA All-Star Ray Allen. The event will also include celebrity readings from the Museum’s collections by Jason Alexander, Jamie Lee Curtis and Morgan Freeman. Register here for this free event. 6:00 pm.

Fairfield University presents Judith Rosenbaum, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Women’s Archive, for a lecture in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The lecture will explore how and why Jews pursued voting rights for women, what motivated their activism, what barriers they faced, and finally, how their experiences in the suffrage movement ultimately influenced gender equity within their own communities. Register to attend here. 7:30 pm.

The Actors’ Temple presents weekly Torah study for adults, meeting in Zoom with Rabbi Jill Hausman, beginning with B’reisheet, Genesis. (Meeting ID: 828 5047 5649, Passcode: 552089) Suggested donation, $10/class. 7:30 pm.

Stephen Wise Temple of Los Angeles and American Jewish Committee present a three-part webinar series on Judaism and race, co-sponsored with the American Jewish Committee. In the first session, panelists Robin Washington (journalist, filmmaker, and co-founder of the National Conference of Black Jews) and Marc Dollinger (author of Black Power, Jewish Politics) discuss the history of Judaism and race relations with moderator Saba Soomekh (Associate Director of AJC-LA). 10:00 pm.

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