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City closing Upper West Side shelter, Jared Kushner at odds with settlers, Hebrew U. opens virus lab
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City closing Upper West Side shelter, Jared Kushner at odds with settlers, Hebrew U. opens virus lab

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams protests a decision to remove homeless residents from a temporary shelter at the Upper West Side's Lucerne hotel, Sept. 9, 2020. (Via Twitter)
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams protests a decision to remove homeless residents from a temporary shelter at the Upper West Side's Lucerne hotel, Sept. 9, 2020. (Via Twitter)

New York City will relocate homeless individuals from a hotel on the Upper West Side to a traditional shelter midtown.

The conversion of The Lucerne hotel into a shelter during the pandemic divided the neighborhood, with area Jews on both sides. Critics said the shelters brought crime, drug use and vagrancy to the area. Defenders said early problems had been addressed and the opposition smelled of “NIMBYism.

“You’re not hearing many local voices arguing on Facebook that this is the wrong move to make,” area resident Shachar Benjamin, 28, told The Jewish Week.

Not everyone on the Upper West Side welcomed the decision. “It’s a sad day when the threat of lawsuit gets city hall to reverse a decision,” tweeted Helen Rosenthal, who represents the area on the City Council. “What message does this send that groups who can afford to hire high-powered lawyers R the ones who will get their way?”

Jared Kushner said the administration’s peace plan is an attempt to “save the two-state solution” because it stops Israel from further expanding its presence in the West Bank.

“What we did with our plan was we were trying to save the two-state solution, because… if we kept going with the status quo… ultimately, Israel would have eaten up all the land in the West Bank,” Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser told reporters during a phone briefing ahead of the White House signing next week of the Israel-UAE normalization deal.

The comments mark some of the most specific the Trump administration has made at odds with Israel’s expanding settlement enterprise, the Times of Israel reports.

Kushner said the Trump plan presented in January this year was still on the table even though it had been rejected by the Palestinians, and that it provides them with their best hope of stopping continued Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Related: Benny Gantz, Israel’s prime minister in waiting, wants to convene a planning committee to approve 5,000 housing units in the West Bank. The leader of the centrist Blue and White party has been trying to shore up support among supporters of the settler movement.

The official residence of the U.S. ambassador to Israel has been sold to an unidentified buyer.

Billionaire businessman and top GOP donor Sheldon Adelson offered the highest bid on the Herzliyah property, but the U.S. Embassy’s statement announcing the sale did not identify the buyer.

“The buyer was selected solely on the basis of having submitted the highest and best offer,” the statement said. Globes reported last month that the Trump administration wanted to complete the deal before the November elections “to emphasize that the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a ‘fait accompli.’”

Balkan politics may sink normalization talks between Israel and Serbia.

Last week, President Trump announced that Serbia would move its embassy to Jerusalem in the next year, and that Israel and mostly Muslim Kosovo will establish “full” diplomatic relations with Israel. On Friday, Israel made the surprise announcement that it and Kosovo agreed to recognize each other, and Kosovo vowed to open an embassy in Tel Aviv.

However, reports say Serbia will not move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes Kosovo as an independent country. The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post each cited unnamed sources who said that Israeli recognition of Kosovo would torpedo the Israel-Serbia relationship.

ContextWhy did Israel get involved in the Balkans? Raphael Ahren of the Times of Israel explains.

Related: A Norwegian politician nominated Trump or the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The Defense Ministry of Israel launched a lab at Hebrew University of Jerusalem to test potential Covid-19 vaccines on live viruses, a first for Israel.

The Biosafety Level 3 National Laboratory for Coronavirus Research will include an advanced air filtration system, a system for storing biological samples and robots that will handle live virus samples, according to a statement by Hebrew University. The first wing of the laboratory for the treatment of viruses and tissues is already open for activity. The second wing will open in November.

“Until now, experiments could be conducted on dead virus samples, but the new lab will allow researchers to study the behavior of living virus, how to identify it and how to kill it,” said Re’em Sari, vice president of research and development at the Hebrew University.


Natan Sharansky, in a Jewish Week op-ed written with historian Gil Troy, remembers the united Jewish communal effort that helped free him and other Soviet refuseniks, ands says that spirit is needed to fight present-day anti-Semitism. “Rather than continuing this silly debate about which form of Jew-hatred is worse, we should unite in zero-tolerance against all bigotry,” he writes.

Around the Agencies

Met Council, the largest provider of emergency kosher food in the country, will kick off it’s biggest-ever high holiday food distribution this week. The kick-off follows a surge in demand for meals after the Covid-19 pandemic hit a high in New York over the spring. While Met Council normally ships kosher food to 40 sites for nearly 60,000 people, this year it has prepared food for nearly 200,000, most of them Jews. Children, homebound seniors and the unemployed are among those receiving food packages. “This is one of the most challenging years we’ve ever faced at Met Council but we’re determined to make sure everyone who wants a holiday meal can get one,” said Met Council CEO David Greenfield in a statement.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has been awarded a grant of $119,433 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant, through Save America’s Treasures Grant, will enable YIVO to preserve four music and theater collections that are part of the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections project, a seven-year, $7 million international preservation project. These collections include resources for the study and exploration of  modern Jewish culture and American Jewish immigrant culture, as well as American theater and popular culture more broadly.

Streaming Today

Museum of Jewish Heritage presents a one-year anniversary discussion with the creators  of “Those Who Were There: Voices from the Holocaust,” the only podcast dedicated to sharing the history of the Holocaust through the first-hand testimonies of survivors and witnesses. The podcast draws on recorded interviews from Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, which comprises the oral histories of over 4,000 people. Featuring Eric Marcus, Stephen Naron, Eleanor Reissa, and Nahanni Rous. 2:00 pm. Registration is included with a suggested donation of $10.

JCRC-NY presents a webinar for synagogue leaders on “Keeping Your Online High Holiday Services Secure.” Experts will discuss how extremists regularly take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic as a vehicle to spread hate and conspiracies. 12:00 pm. Click here to register. 

The Center for Jewish History presents a discussion of “Confronting Modernity, 1750-1880,” vol. 6 of The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, edited by Elisheva Carlebach. Featuring Elisheva Carlebach, Deborah Dash Moore, Dara Horn and Itamar Borochov, asking what happens to our understanding of Jewish civilization when those who are often marginalized move to the center of the story. Presented by The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization and the Center for Jewish History, American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. 4:00 pm.

92Y Recanati-Kaplan Talks presents Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman with Gidi Grinstein, founder of the Reut Group and Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), for a conversation about the global innovators coming up with creative solutions to our most pressing problems and the Covid-19 crisis at breakneck speed. 6:30 pm. $15. Buy tickets here.

The Jewish Grandparents Network and the Blue Dove Foundation present a discussion to help guide grandparents and family members in identifying and addressing emotional problems and exploring approaches to promoting emotional wellbeing in themselves and their grandchildren. Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, author of “Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children” and “Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family” and a resident scholar at Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center, will join David Raphael, co-founder and CEO of the Jewish Grandparents Network. 7:30 pm.

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