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City Council expels Jewish lawmaker • Central Synagogue probes abuse by former rabbi • LGBTQ students sue Yeshiva U.
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Daily Update

City Council expels Jewish lawmaker • Central Synagogue probes abuse by former rabbi • LGBTQ students sue Yeshiva U.

SET IN STONE: Washington’s National Cathedral is honoring Elie Wiesel by installing a bust of the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner. In this undated photo, sculptor Chas Fagan, left, holds a clay model of the bust as stonemason Sean Callahan, right, carves the bust into the walls of the cathedral. (National Cathedral)
SET IN STONE: Washington’s National Cathedral is honoring Elie Wiesel by installing a bust of the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner. In this undated photo, sculptor Chas Fagan, left, holds a clay model of the bust as stonemason Sean Callahan, right, carves the bust into the walls of the cathedral. (National Cathedral)

 

Central Synagogue is investigating sexually predatory behavior by its former senior rabbi, Sheldon Zimmerman, and asking why the synagogue was never informed of the abuses that led to Zimmerman’s suspension in 2000 as head of the Reform movement’s top rabbinical body.

Background: Zimmerman was Central’s senior rabbi from 1972 to 1985. In 2000, the Central Conference of American Rabbis suspended him following what it vaguely described at the time as “personal relationships” that violated ethical codes, and he resigned as president of Hebrew Union College, the Reform seminary.

Why now: An investigation was launched by the synagogue this fall after three women came forward and alleged sexually predatory behavior by Zimmerman in the 1970s and 1980s, the Forward reported. Two of the women had also spoken with CCAR during its investigation in 2000, according to a letter sent to congregants Tuesday by current Senior Rabbi Angela Buchdahl and senior leadership.

“We are devastated that a member of our clergy could abuse our (or any) pulpit and position of power within our community the way that Rabbi Zimmerman did,” according to the letter. “[W]e will discuss with the leadership of the CCAR and HUC how we can do better as a wider community to protect survivors and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The CCAR’s failure to disclose the nature of Zimmerman’s behavior has sparked “institutional self-reflection,” the group said in a statement quoted by the Forward.

Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will lose his law license for a year over allegations of abuse.

According to the filing in a New York state appeals court released Tuesday, the Democrat accepted the censure, and will continue mental health treatment.

Schneiderman resigned in May 2018 after multiple women said he physically abused them. Prosecutors said they were unable to bring criminal charges.

Brooklyn Democrat Chaim Deutsch was expelled from the City Council Tuesday after he pleaded guilty this week to federal charges of tax evasion.

Deutsch said he wouldn’t resign after admitting to evading more than $82,000 in property tax between 2013 and 2015. Council Speaker Corey Johnson says the law allowed him to declare that Deutsch “is no longer a member of the City Council.”

A spokeswoman for the Council told the New York Post that the seat will remain empty until a replacement is elected in November.

Borough Park activist Heshy Tischler — who hopes to succeed Deutsch on City Council — appeared in Brooklyn court Tuesday to face charges that he egged on a mob of Orthodox Jewish protesters who threatened a journalist.

The radio host was charged with inciting to riot, menacing, imprisonment and unlawful imprisonment in October after he and others protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Brooklyn menaced Jacob Kornbluh, a Hasidic Jew and reporter then at Jewish Insider and now at the Forward.

Tischler is set to appear in court again May 7, according to his lawyers.

LGBTQ students and alumni are suing Yeshiva University for discrimination.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York County Supreme Court claims that the university violated New York City’s human rights law when it refused to recognize an LGBTQ student club. It notes that the Modern Orthodox university receives state funds and benefits, and should not “pick and choose which New York City laws apply.”

Related: On Tuesday, 48 faculty members of Y.U.’s Cardozo School of Law sent a letter to the president of the university, condemning Y.U.’s refusal to allow LGBTQ students to form a club.

Response: “Our Torah-guided decision about this club in no way minimizes the care and sensitivity that we have for each of our students, nor the numerous steps the university has already taken,” Y.U. said in a statement.

NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, top, third from left, meets with haredi Orthodox Jewish leaders in Borough Park, in an undated photo supplied by his campaign. (Yang for New York)

A coalition of Jewish leaders endorsed Andrew Yang for mayor of NYC.

The businessman and former Democratic presidential candidate has been campaigning hard for the haredi Orthodox vote. The endorsers include representatives of the Belz, Bobov and Satmar Hasidic denominations.

Said Yang: “New York’s Jewish community is not only core to who we are as a City, it is also going to be critical to New York’s comeback. I have had such an amazing time visiting Borough Park, bumping into people on 13th Avenue, visiting local shops — where everyone I met was so optimistic about New York’s future.

How did you spend your pandemic? High school junior Ariel Kirman, 17, created a nonprofit to supply refugee mothers with diapering essentials. 

Kirman, who lives on the Upper West Side, is the daughter of Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union. Her nonprofit works with HIAS, the Jewish agency that helped her parents emigrate, and others in assisting needy refugee families, The Jewish Week reports.

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is taking careful steps back into the live-events business with its ReelAbilities Film Festival, which begins Thursday night.

Most of the films by and about people with disabilities will be screened online, but there will be a live screening at a drive-in theater in Queens and a comedy night on the Upper West Side institution’s rooftop.

The Jewish Week spoke with Isaac Zablocki, the director and co-founder of the festival, about representation in film, festival highlights and the Jewish community’s perspective on inclusion and diversity.

What Else

Iran’s foreign minister says John Kerry told him about undisclosed Israeli strikes on Iranian targets; the former secretary state says he said no such thing.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Israel was guilty of apartheid — an accusation that Israel immediately rebuffed.

New Jersey State Solicitor Jeremy Feigenbaum, an alum of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, NJ, will argue his first U.S. Supreme Court case today. He’ll face seasoned Justice Department lawyers in what the A.P. is describing as a “David vs. Goliath” argument over a proposed natural gas pipeline in New Jersey.

Streaming Today

JCRC-NY‘s Faculty Engagement Program presents Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, cultural advisor to the UAE president and chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University, and Prof. Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa in Israel, for a discussion of the Abraham Accords. Moderated by Dr. Shahar Sadeh, director of the Faculty Engagement Program at JCRC-NY. RSVP here. 11:00 am.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research celebrates the release of “Cry, My Heart, Cry: Songs from Testimonies in the Fortunoff Video Archive, Vol. 2”, celebrating the new album release produced by D. Zisl Slepovitch. The event will feature performances and a live discussion with the musicians behind the project. The program is part of Carnegie Hall’s Voices of Hope series. Register here. 1:00 pm.

The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights and the New York Board of Rabbis present “Justice Denied: How Nazi War Criminals Escaped Punishment,” featuring Philippe Sands, author, “The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive,” and David Marwell, author of “Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death.” Moderated by Rachel Donadio, former European Culture Correspondent of The New York Times. Register here. 4:00 pm.

On May 5 at 11:30 am., UJA-Federation and The Jewish Week present award-winning authors Roya Hakakian and Ruby Namdar in conversation about their experience immigrating to America, what they miss about their homelands, their literary lives and the Jewish ideal of welcoming the stranger. Moderated by Sandee Brawarsky. Register here.

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