Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination with a speech denouncing the anti-Semitic and racist events at Charlottesville.
During his Democratic National Convention speech Thursday, Biden said that the “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017 and President Trump’s reaction urged him to run for president.
“Remember seeing those neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists coming out of the fields with lighted torches? Veins bulging? Spewing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ’30s?” said Biden, speaking from a studio in Delaware. “Remember the violent clash that ensued between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it?”
He then recalled remarks by President Trump, who during a weekend of clashes between the far-right demonstrators and counter-demonstrators — and mixed message from the White House — said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
“It was a wake-up call for us as a country,” said Biden. “And for me, a call to action. At that moment, I knew I’d have to run. My father taught us that silence was complicity. And I could not remain silent or complicit. At the time, I said we were in a battle for the soul of this nation. And we are.”
Background: Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, recalls what Trump did and didn’t say about the Charlottesville events.
Jewish convention highlights: Rabbi Michael Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, who at a fundraiser last year for the campaign told of meeting Biden at the shiva of a constituent of modest means, appeared in an introductory video. Rabbi Lauren Berkun, vice president of Rabbinic Initiatives at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, delivered a benediction. And Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, senior director of New Israel Fund’s NY/Tri-State Region, was seen with her family among the “virtual audience” of supporters shown on video streams.
Context: The Democratic convention showed that “the conventional pro-Israel view remains in place” among party leaders, but “progressives can still point to several important developments during the past year,” writes JTA’s Ron Kampeas.
Sen. Kamala Harris, newly nominated as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, will hold a “Virtual Conversation with the American Jewish Community.”
Harris will be joined at the Aug. 26 campaign event by her Jewish husband, Doug Emhoff. It will be the California senator’s introduction to the Jewish community as the running mate of Joe Biden. Harris ran for the top spot herself but dropped out in December.
The Trump administration plans to sell the F-35 stealth fighter jet to the United Arab Emirates over the objections of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to deny that he agreed to allow the UAE to obtain the fighter jet as part of the normalization agreement between Israel and the Gulf state. It is likely, however, that the United States promised the jets to the UAE to encourage the Emiratis to accept the agreement, The New York Times reported.
Asked at a White House news conference Wednesday about Emirati interest in the planes, Trump said, “they’d like to buy F-35s; we’ll see what happens. It’s under review, but they made a great — a great advance in peace in the Middle East. Look, they’ve definitely got the money to pay for it.”
Preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge over its Arab neighbors in the region is enshrined in law in the United States. Congress would have to approve such a sale.
Related: “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday officially informed the UN it is demanding the restoration of all UN sanctions on Iran, but allies and opponents declared the US action illegal and doomed to failure.” Read the AP story.
Thousands of Israelis protested in support of a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by 30 men in an Eilat hotel.
The case has sent shockwaves throughout Israel, after testimony indicated the men lined up outside the intoxicated underage girl’s hotel room, patiently waiting their turn to rape her, as eyewitnesses failed to intervene.
The owner of the hotel said surveillance video indicates that no such gathering in the halls took place, but also said she wasn’t responsible for what went on behind closed doors.
Brandeis University was the target of a bomb threat on Thursday, less than a week before classes for the fall semester are set to begin.
The Public Safety Department lifted a shelter-in-place order after a search.
In August 2017, an emailed threat caused the university to evacuate its campus. The threat was among a number of bomb threats against local institutions that were later found to be “hoaxes.” The perpetrator was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
A “sacred cacophony” is how one New York rabbi described the unparalleled experience of taking on a new pulpit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Jewish Week interviewed new rabbis who were introduced to their congregations during the pandemic. They describe scenes both familiar and strange, as they settled into their jobs via Zoom and were unable to gather with their congregants in their synagogues.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Rabbi Emily Cohen of the West End Synagogue, a Reconstructionist congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She spoke about the difficulty of “reading the room while giving a Zoom drasha — it’s nearly impossible. I’ve asked my congregants for forgiveness in advance in case I say anything that is taken the wrong way.”
Jewish tradition is ambivalent about the need for strong community leaders. In this week’s Torah portion, Shofetim, the Israelites are instructed to “appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes,” and yet later rabbis were wary about the ways power corrupts.” In this week’s Sabbath Week column, Rabbi Marcus Mordecai Schwartz recalls a rabbinical scandal in 18th-century Denmark that cuts to the heart of the matter.
And Rabbi David Wolpe reminds us that we are all ancestors-to-be, and our decisions now determine the fate of future generations.
Around the Agencies
Tel Aviv University celebrated the inauguration of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research. The new school, which belongs to the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, will be funded with a generous gift from the family of Vlad and Sana Shmunis, enabling a leap in research. At the Shmunis School, researchers will be able to identify mechanisms that drive cancer, COVID-19, and other diseases, developing new pharmaceuticals and improving patients’ quality of life. This is the second major donation to TAU from the Bay Area family, who previously established the Shmunis Family Anthropology Institute in 2018, a center dedicated to the study of the ancient past.
B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan launched a virtual High Holy Days “journey” exploring the themes and liturgy of the holidays through music, text study, art, poetry, and literature. The “Waze to the Light” events will include virtual prayer services, communal gatherings, learning programs and resources.
American-Israel Friendship League presents a viewing of “Gloves Story,” followed by a Q&A session with Dana Ruttenberg, artistic director and choreographer. “Gloves Story” is a film that explores the notion of personal space and the all-too-often invasion into it, through a story of modern dance. Streamed live. August 23, 12:00 pm.
Find more events at The Jewish Week Events Calendar.