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Biden picks Harris, Ilhan Omar survives primary challenge, census deadline worries Brooklyn Orthodox
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Biden picks Harris, Ilhan Omar survives primary challenge, census deadline worries Brooklyn Orthodox

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., addressing the AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC on March 28, 2017. (Photo/AIPAC)
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., addressing the AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC on March 28, 2017. (Photo/AIPAC)

Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s choice for vice president.

The California senator, who made history Tuesday as the first Black woman to join a major party presidential ticket, is still in her first term.

As a senator, Harris, 55,  has been aligned with Biden on Israel: She is seen as a strong supporter with ties to AIPAC, the country’s largest pro-Israel lobby, and unlike some Democrats has not broached the idea of conditioning aid to Israel to influence its policies. During her presidential run, Harris separated herself somewhat from even the mainstream moderates in the pack, firmly opposing the idea of condemnatory U.N. votes or even strong public criticism aimed at swaying Israeli policy.

She is also married to Jewish lawyer Douglas Emhoff, who would become the country’s first Jewish second husband.

Reactions: Mark Mellman, president and CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel, says: “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the perfect team to restore the soul of this nation, to stop President Trump’s hateful agenda and to strengthen American leadership and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

President Trump called Harris “nasty” and “disrespectful” to Biden, and his campaign, in an ad it already had prepared, said she was part of the “radical left” and “phony.”

The Zionist Organization of America objects to a public statement by Harris opposing any attempts by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank absent a peace deal. A majority of Senate Democrats have spoken out against annexation.

On the Lighter Side: Harris does a killer impression of her Brooklyn-born mother-in-law.

Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York and the two other Democrats seeking to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee have said they do not want U.S. money to aid Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Meeks (Queens), Rep. Brad Sherman of California and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas are vying for the committee leadership vacated with the defeat of the current head, longtime pro-Israel voice Eliot Engel, in his New York primary in June.

Sherman and Meeks are longtime allies of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the country’s largest pro-Israel lobby.

Meeks suggested that aid to Israel could be used as leverage to influence its policy, JTA reported.

“Annexation is anathema to a two-state solution, and America cannot be used by its proponents to justify a pro-annexation position or policy,” he said. “On the contrary, the United States must be explicit in our opposition by applying pressure against Netanyahu should he annex territory, including leveraging US aid.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota on Tuesday survived a stiff Democratic primary challenge.

Omar — who represents Minnesota’s 5th District, which includes Minneapolis — has repeatedly angered a large segment of the pro-Israel community and other Jewish voters with comments that critics say promote anti-Semitic tropes about American Jews and Jewish influence on politics.

Her challenger, Antone Melton-Meaux, described himself as a pro-Israel progressive and made Omar’s comments on Israel a key part of his campaign. He drew major support from national donors in recent months, including NORPAC and Pro-Israel America, two political action committees that tend to lean right on Israel policy.

The victory means Omar is nearly certain to easily win a second term in November in her solidly liberal 5th Congressional District.

Community leaders worry that Brooklyn’s Orthodox community could be severely undercounted in the 2020 census.

The Census Bureau’s decision to shorten the deadline for the census may have particularly dire consequences for the chasidic neighborhoods, which already had low rates of participation in 2010 and lost out on federal funding that is allocated based on population.

Minority communities in general tend to be undercounted in the census and chasidic Jews, who in some areas primarily speak Yiddish, are no exception. Distrust of local government stemming from the handling of the coronavirus epidemic may also suppress participation, JTA reports.

Now the count will end a month earlier than originally scheduled, on Sept. 30, right in the middle of the Jewish holiday season.

“It’s something that’s very concerning to us as a community,” said  Rabbi Avi Greenstein, executive director of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council. “When we have something that’s so simple to do and there’s so much on the line for it, it’s quite frustrating when the numbers are low.”

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to threatening Jews in Lakewood over violations of the state’s lockdown rules that took place there in March.

In Facebook messages directed at New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and others, Anthony Lodespoto, 43, said he would attack Jews in the heavily Orthodox township with a baseball bat. Lodespoto reportedly was angry about parties in Lakewood, including multiple Jewish weddings, that did not comply with the state’s social distancing rules. Criticism of Lakewood’s Jews was rampant on social media at the time, prompting Murphy to condemn hate speech inspired by the pandemic.

Lodespoto pleaded guilty to charges of “bias intimidation” on Friday, New Jersey Advance Media reported. Prosecutors are seeking a six-month jail term for Lodespoto, who has been jailed since his arrest.

New York’s Holocaust museum is planning to reopen in September.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust said Tuesday that pending approval from the city and state, it would open with limited capacity. The museum will be open three rather than five days a week with only a quarter of its previous visitor capacity and additional cleaning protocols.

New York’s museums have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and have still not been given the green light to reopen by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The museum also said it would be extending its popular exhibit about Auschwitz through May 2021.

“First and foremost is the safety of our visitors and our employees,” the museum’s president and CEO, Jack Kliger, said in a statement. “As people venture out again seeking educational experiences in safe public places, museums such as ours are uniquely qualified to welcome them back.”

Radio DJ Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow is returning to 77WABC, where he worked for 13 years in the 1960s and ’70s.

Born Bruce Meyerowitz and raised in Sheepshead Bay, Morrow, 84, also spun records on New York’s WCBS-FM, an oldies station, and until recently was heard on SiriusXM. “Cousin Brucie’s Saturday Night Rock & Roll Party” will air Saturday nights beginning Sept. 5 on 77WABC and sister station WLIR-FM 107.9, Radio Ink reports.

Streaming

American Jewish Committee hosts a conversation with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the Democratic Caucus Chair. He is a member of the House Judiciary and Budget Committees, along with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations. Jeffries, who has sought to bridge minority communities and raise sensitivities around race and ethnicity, will provide insight into the priorities and perspectives of the Democratic Caucus. August 12, 11:00 am.

The Musa Eretz Israel Museum Tel Aviv presents the Crafts and Design Biennale 2020, with a virtual tour of some featured artists in this exhibition presented by the America-Israel Friendship League. Yuval Saar, co-chief curator of the first Tel Aviv Crafts and Design Biennale, and featured artists Ronit Baranga and Dov Ganchrow will lead the webinar. August 12, 12:00 pm.

The Center for Jewish History and the National Museum of American Jewish History present author Sue Eisenfeld, who in writing Wandering Dixie: Dispatches from the Lost Jewish South travelled to nine states, uncovering how the history of Jewish southerners converges with the region’s complex conflicted present. From South Carolina to Arkansas, Eisenfeld explores the small towns where Jewish people once lived and thrived. August 12, 4:00 pm. Pay what you wish.

The Orthodox Union’s Project Resilience, featuring live sessions with mental health professionals, features Dr. Rona Novick’s course, “Pandemic Parenting: Growing Strong Children in Challenging Times.” August 12, 7:30 pm.

Vibe Israel USA presents the Unboxing Israel 2020 Summit, a virtual summit intended for anyone engaging with young adults about Israel – including Jewish community leaders, educators, marketers and Israel travel professionals. It will teach attendees how to tell Israel’s story and equip them with practical tools and techniques for engaging the next generation with Israel. Co-sponsored by Hillel International, Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israel Consulate General of New York, the JCC Association of North America and the Israel Ministry of Tourism. August 13, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, $18.

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