The Jewish Week is always here for you.
We need your support now.
Your contribution will help us bring you vital news
and frequent updates about the impact of COVID-19.
BDS charges fly in City Council race • Jamal Bowman raps Israel on vaccines • This Jew really loves trees
Daily Update

BDS charges fly in City Council race • Jamal Bowman raps Israel on vaccines • This Jew really loves trees

A DAY TO REMEMBER: To mark today's International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021, Yad Vashem will once again launch the iRemember Wall. Each participant who joins the event will be randomly linked to one of the individuals recorded in Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names.
A DAY TO REMEMBER: To mark today's International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021, Yad Vashem will once again launch the iRemember Wall. Each participant who joins the event will be randomly linked to one of the individuals recorded in Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names.


Facebook will direct people who search for information about the Holocaust toward accurate third-party information.

The move, coinciding today with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the latest attempt by the social media giant to allay concerns over Holocaust denial and other misinformation on the site.

Related: The Anti-Defamation League said the online gaming site Twitch was the most effective social platform at curbing Holocaust denial. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a report card that progress in the fight against online anti-Semitism has been mixed — and that the stakes are only growing.

The boycott Israel movement was injected into a Queens City Council race when the Democratic Socialists of America accused a candidate of reversing her stance on the issue.

A special election is under way to replace the vacant seat formerly held by Rory Lancman in the 24th City Council District, covering parts of eastern Queens. The Queens DSA outraged many in the pro-israel community in 2020 when they asked candidates to pledge not to visit Israel, presumably on trips sponsored by pro-Israel groups.

DSA accused candidate Soma Syed of hypocrisy for reneging on the pledge. Syed fired back, saying DSA had “anti-semitic rhetoric,” “reckless policies” and a “tendencies for bad ideas.” (Queens County Politics explains the complicated back and forth.)

Related: Michael Miller and Noam Gilboord, officials of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, accused DSA of “an insidiously discriminatory application of a double standard concerning Israel.” Their op-ed appears in the Queens Daily Eagle.

A growing number of Democrats, including Rep. Jamal Bowman of the Bronx and Westchester, have been speaking out against Israel for not vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to the Covid vaccine,” tweeted Bowman. “This cruelty is another reminder of why the occupation must end,” he added. Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Marie Newman of Illinois have also criticized Israel.

Israel is vaccinating its own Arab citizens and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and says it is not responsible for inoculating the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Related: Riverdale’s Rabbi Avi Weiss blasted Bowman in an open letter, saying, “It would make sense to not only speak to the Israelis, but to New York Jewish leadership before making outrageous allegations about Israel’s vaccine policy.”

Met Council and Chazaq are opening a new kosher food pantry tomorrow in Flushing.

The Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry will be supplied with food by Met Council — described as America’s largest Jewish charity — and operated by Chazaq, a grassroots organization serving the Bukharian and other Jewish communities in Kew Gardens and neighboring areas.

A new “biography” of Yiddish depicts the life, near death and inspiring revival of the language of Ashkenazi Jews.

The Jewish Week interviews Rutgers prof Jeffrey Shandler, author of “Yiddish: Biography of a Language.” Says Shandler: “While I also value the work people do to study the pre-Holocaust culture of Yiddish, the story shouldn’t end there. To me it’s important to look at how we want the culture to move forward against considerable odds.”

A 33-year-old Columbia University graduate has racked up more than 110,000 followers on TikTok by posting short videos about the vegetation around his Los Angeles home.

Actor Tobin Mitnick, known as “A Jew Who Loves Trees,” is planning a suite of videos for Tu b’Shvat, the holiday that celebrates trees, including a 60-second Seder and a family-friendly mini-lesson about trees in Jewish mysticism.

Tu b’Shvat begins tonight at sundown.

Around the Agencies

A new Queens College virtual exhibition, “Romaniote Memories, a Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece, to Manhattan: Photographs by Vincent Giordano,” explores one of the oldest Jewish communities in existence and its presence in New York City. Romaniote Jews, a millennia-old sect that practices traditions dating to ancient Greece and Rome, emigrated from Ioannina, Greece, to New York City’s Lower East Side, where they founded a synagogue in 1927. The Giordano exhibition features over 100 photographs of the community presented in 10 thematic sections, including the synagogue’s art and architecture, religious rites and celebrations, as well as photographs taken during the High Holidays in Ioannina, Greece, in 2006.

The Jewish Educator Portal, launched by the Jewish Education Project in August, has attracted over 13,000 educators around the globe looking to share resources, network around best practices, and provide opportunities for professional growth. Beginning this month, the Portal will include private network spaces for educators to connect with other members, facilitate discussions, and share network-only resources. Every Jewish educator can access the Portal for free.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Paley Center for Media and the Claims Conference will focus on the alarming rise in hate speech and acts of violence towards Jews. Additionally, panelists will focus on exploring the most effective ways for media to educate, inform and make an impact on the dangers of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. Moderated by journalist Paula Zahn, the panel will feature Monika Bickert, Facebook Vice President of Content Policy; Martin Fletcher, journalist; Eva Schloss, Holocaust survivor; Sara J. Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President, Claims Conference. Find link here. 9:00 am.

The Auschwitz Memorial, as part of the commemoration of the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp, will hold a debate panel on the influence of war and the Holocaust on the formation of a child’s identity. Participants: survivors Lea Balint and Janina Rekłajtis, and Melissa Hacker, president of the Kindertransport Association. The debate will begin immediately after the broadcast of the main commemoration event and will be available with Polish and English subtitles. Find the complete schedule of commemoration events, available on the YouTube page and social media of the Auschwitz Memorial, go here. 11:00 am.

The Workers Circle commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day with an all-Yiddish talk by professor Miriam Trinh on the surviving texts of Zalman Gradowski, which capture his testimony as a member of the sonderkommando in Auschwitz and one of 6,000,00 Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Register here. 1:30 pm.

Yiddishkayt Initiative‘s virtual commemoration will consist of three programs: “Remembering Kristallnacht” at 2 pm; “A Lucky Guy,” a new play reading, at 5 pm; and “God and the Holocaust: Commemoration Concert” at 8 pm. Get schedule here.

The National Arts Club presents member Elizabeth Bellak, with her daughter Alexandra, discussing the journal of her sister, Renia Spiegel. Spiegel was a Jewish teenager in southeastern Poland when she began writing her diary, months before the advent of World War II. By the time she was executed by Nazi soldiers, Spiegel had chronicled life under a totalitarian regime. Her journal, hidden in a safe deposit box in New York City for decades, has been described as a counterpart to Anne Frank’s diary, a valuable historical document and a poignant coming-of-age story. Register here. 3:00 pm.

Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with a virtual reading of excerpts from diaries kept by Jewish children during the Holocaust. The excerpts will be read by actors and public figures including Liev Schreiber, Mayim Bialik, Andrea Burns, Mandy Gonzalez, Daniel Kahn, Adam Kantor, Telly Leung, Caissie Levy, Stephanie Lynn Mason, Zalmen Mlotek, Amit Rahav, Eleanor Reissa, Yelena Schmulenson, Alexandra Silber, Abby Stein, Danny Strong and Michael Zegen. The evening’s readings are curated by Alexandra Zapruder, the author of Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust. Register here. 8:00 pm.

Streaming Today

American Sephardi Federation presents Gila Green, discussing her new work “White Zion.” The novel takes readers into the worlds of 19th-century Yemen, pre-State Israel, modern Israel and modern Canada. Green’s novels feature characters of Sephardi, Yemenite and mixed Middle Eastern heritage. Register here. Noon.

Jewish Living at the JCC presents an evening with Lisa Novick Goldberg, who will discuss her memoir, “The Apple and the Shady Tree – The Mafia, My Family, and Me,” about how her familial relations to the Mafia profoundly shaped her life. In her memoir, Goldberg examines her complicated relationship with her father, whose closest friends happen to be bosses of the Genovese crime family. Radio host, writer, and author Amy Guth will interview Goldberg. $8-$10. Register here. 7:30 pm.

read more: