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A ‘new era’ in the Mideast, Queens yeshiva has cases, young NYers fail Holocaust test
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A ‘new era’ in the Mideast, Queens yeshiva has cases, young NYers fail Holocaust test

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Donald Trump participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 15, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Donald Trump participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 15, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain gathered on the White House lawn to mark historic normalization agreements between Israel and the two Arab countries.

“This day is a pivot of history. It heralds a new dawn of peace,” said Netanyahu.

The agreements, JTA reports, include security components as well as pledges to expand cooperation in civilian areas. “The normalization of relations is not just the cessation of a former policy — it is also the start of a new era of friendship,” Hend Al Otaiba, the spokesperson of the Emirati Foreign Ministry, told The Times of Israel.

The so-called “Abraham Accords” feature no specific commitment to working toward a two-state solution, but seek a “just” end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Times of Israel notes drily, “It’s official: The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are now less pro-Palestinian than the Europeans.”

JTA has reactions from Jews living in Bahrain.

Observant Jews attending the ceremony held an afternoon Mincha prayer service on the  White House lawn.

Group reactions: Democratic Majority for Israel and the American Zionist Movement separately welcomed the accords, and urged the Palestinians to come back to the table. World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said the signing represents “a new era of regional stability, prosperity, and opportunity.” Hadassah Medical Organization said it will establish new relationships of its own with medical professionals and institutions in both nations. AIPAC called the ceremony “a historic event in the advancement of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.” The Republican Jewish Coalition has a full-page ad in The New York Times thanking Trump.

Another view: The head of Americans for Peace Now explains why he isn’t celebrating the new accords.

Most New Yorkers under 40 can’t name a single Nazi camp or ghetto, a new survey finds.

The survey of millennial and Gen Z attitudes, by the Claims Conference, found that Holocaust knowledge was particularly low in New York, despite the state having the largest population of Jews in the country. Some 28% of younger New Yorkers said they believed the Holocaust was a myth or has been exaggerated.

Nationally, a shocking 11% of the respondents believed the Jews were responsible for the Holocaust, 15% said they thought the Holocaust was a myth or has been exaggerated, and 20% said people talk about it too much. Nearly half said they had seen Holocaust denial online.

“Not only was their overall lack of Holocaust knowledge troubling, but combined with the number of Millennials and Gen Z who have seen Holocaust denial on social media, it is clear that we must fight this distortion of history and do all we can to ensure that the social media giants stop allowing this harmful content on their platforms,” Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference, said in a statement.

Students at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway will temporarily transition to virtual learning after at least 13 students tested positive for Covid-19.

The all-boys Darchei Torah joins area yeshiva high schools that have partially closed due to students testing positive for Covid-19, The Jewish Week reports.

Members of the de Blasio administration suspended in-person learning at the school after over a dozen students tested positive for Covid-19, according to Politico.

The lead rabbi of another yeshiva in the neighborhood — Yeshiva Derech Ayson in Far Rockaway — circulated a letter among community members admonishing members of the community who are not following strict safety guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

As the daily number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in Israel continued at record levels, a major hospital in Jerusalem said it would not admit more Covid-19 patients.

Shaare Zedek Medical Center is at capacity with the country’s largest number of corona patients in critical condition, many on respirators, JTA reports.The daily number of diagnosed coronavirus cases In Israel rose to nearly 5,000 on Monday, with a positive test rate of 10.8 percent. Israel has seen a total of 1,141 deaths from the pandemic.

Israel will go under a near-total lockdown on Friday, two hours before the Rosh Hashanah holiday, that will run for at least three weeks.

Around the Agencies

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan announced the launch of The Wechsler Center for Modern Aging, a space for older adults to “reimagine their lives in a Jewish communal setting,” according to a statement sent out by the JCC. Programming — virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic — includes group meal prep and nutrition classes, and introductions to “living well together” and “how your later years can be the best years.” The new center’s inaugural event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 15. The center plans to open for in person activity in 2021.

New Yorkers Esther Shimunov, left, and Hannah Kruntiansky are among the recent college graduates on a 10-month volunteering program in Israel’s periphery run by BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change and MASA Israel Teaching Fellowship.

BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change and MASA Israel Teaching Fellowship welcomed college graduates from the US, UK, Canada and Singapore for a 10-month volunteering program in Israel’s periphery. This year’s program started with a two-week quarantine in line with Israel’s Covid-19 restrictions, as the country experiences a second wave of infections. After quarantining, participants will run English classes in primary schools in Be’er Sheva, Rahat, Nazareth, Ramla, Beit She’an and in the underserved neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv. Participants include Esther Shimunov, 21, who grew up in the Bukharan community in Queens and will be teaching at a schools in Jaffa and Nazareth, and Hannah Kruntiansky, 23, a Manhattanite who arrived in Israel in late August after teaching English in Thailand for several months. She is heading to the Bedouin city of Rahat in the Negev desert to teach a group of junior high school students for five months.

Educating for Impact, a London-based nonprofit that promotes Jewish schools in Europe, announced 2.3 million euros (approximately $2.7 million) in emergency grants to 13 schools to ensure they can keep their doors open as well as provide scholarships to students struggling to afford tuition as a result of the pandemic. The European Jewish Community Day School Crisis Fund is funded by two external funders, Maimonides Fund and Mikhail Fridman, and five EFI partners: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation, Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe and an anonymous donor. All communities that applied for grants received support.

Yad Vashem’s Online Exhibition is marking the upcoming Jewish New Year with new stories, including that of Mojsze Treschtschanski (b. 1934) and his brother Yudel (b. 1935), two of the so-called “Bialystok children” who were deported from the Terezin ghetto to Auschwitz in October 1943. The virtual exhibit includes a New Year’s card created by Mojse. The exhibit features testimony, artifacts, photos, cards and prayer books from Yad Vashem’s collections, offering a glimpse into some of the ways that Jews before, during and immediately after the Holocaust marked these special days.

University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School announced a $10 million commitment from Wharton MBA alumnus Yuri Milner and his wife Julia to create the Friends of Israel MBA Fund. The new fellowship will provide full-tuition financial support to Israeli MBA students at the Wharton School — over 60 students over the next decade. Milner, an Israeli science and technology investor, attended Wharton in the 1990s and went on to found DST Global.

The Orthodox Union has created an online Torah learning platform, “Chag at Home,” offering high-level learning resources for people spending the High Holidays alone, including singles, the elderly, vulnerable populations and families with small children. The platform includes renowned Torah educators, content for families, guides for study, holiday table discussion and activity sheets for children and teens. “We hope that by offering a wide range of content for members of our community of all ages, Chag at Home will help everyone start the Jewish year off right,” said Orthodox Union managing director of Torah Initiatives, Rabbi David Pardo, in a statement.

Streaming Today

The Renew Democracy Initiative presents a conversation with David French,  Irshad Manji and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, asking, Can Democracy Survive Without Religion? Register here. Tickets are free, with a suggested donation of $25. Sept. 16, 12:00 pm.

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