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City shuts Brooklyn shul, Cuomo threatens noncompliant schools, Alaska mayor quits in sexting scandal
Daily Update

City shuts Brooklyn shul, Cuomo threatens noncompliant schools, Alaska mayor quits in sexting scandal

Members of New York's Grumpy Roadsters bike club, seen during the 2019 Wheels of Love fundraising bike ride for Israel's ALYN Hospital, plan an alternative ride this weekend in the Berkshires. (Friends of ALYN Hospital)
Members of New York's Grumpy Roadsters bike club, seen during the 2019 Wheels of Love fundraising bike ride for Israel's ALYN Hospital, plan an alternative ride this weekend in the Berkshires. (Friends of ALYN Hospital)

The city shut down a Borough Park synagogue associated with the Bobover chasidic movement for coronavirus violations.

According to a vacate order posted at the synagogue and shared with the Jewish media by a community activist, the NYC Buildings Department said they observed 379 persons entering the Bobov 45 synagogue on 49th street and 14th Ave., in violation of Gov. Cuomo’s executive order limiting gatherings to 10 persons.

The notice says the synagogue must remain “vacant and unoccupied until such time as the condition(s) giving rise to this vacate order have been corrected.”

Earlier this month, the synagogue was fined $15,000 for violating Covid-19 restrictions with large gatherings.

Related: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to withhold state funding from schools, yeshivas and municipalities in Covid-19 hot spots that are remaining open despite the governor’s closure orders. The hot spots include what Cuomo called “politically powerful” Orthodox communities. The state “could impound all funds” from jurisdictions violating the orders, the governor said in a briefing Wednesday, and that the warning applied to New York City officials as well as those in the village of Spring Valley, the town of Ramapo and Rockland and Orange counties.

The state provides private religious schools funding for transportation, textbooks and immunizations, among other things.

A group of Lower Manhattan residents is suing the city to stop the transfer of homeless men from an Upper West Side hotel to the Financial District.

Residents were set to be relocated from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to the Radisson Hotel on William Street next week after legal threats from UWS neighborhood groups and residents, Gothamist reports.

Downtown New Yorkers, Inc. has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan supreme court arguing that the city is only relocating the residents to Lower Manhattan to “cover up for their public relations disasters.”

The Department of Social Services and City Hall deferred to the Law Department, whose spokesperson called the lawsuit “shameful.”

Background: The Jewish Week spoke to Jewish residents of the Upper West Side, some who vehemently opposed the temporary homeless shelter’s impact on their quality of life, and others who said the residents should be welcomed.

Israeli police arrested a man on suspicion of assaulting a journalist last week as he reported on an illegal mass gathering of members of the charedi Orthodox community in Jerusalem.

The arrest following last Wednesday’s event, which was banned under the national coronavirus lockdown rules, mirrored a similar case in Brooklyn, in which an Orthodox mob surrounded a Jewish journalist and accused him of being a “moser,” or informant.

Perspective: JTA columnist Henry Abramson traces the complicated history of the “moser” accusation, and how, by the turn of the 21st century, “the slur of ‘moser’ served primarily as a rallying cry and justification for those who intend extrajudicial violence and seek to silence legitimate opposition.”

A Jewish foundation is asking Jewish organizations to close their offices on Election Day, to allow staff time to vote and engage with the process.

The Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah launched its Free&Fair: Our Duty to Democracy campaign to provide Jewish leaders and communities with resources to respond to confusion over voting procedures, the possibility of a contested election and the grim potential for political violence.

The Jewish Week spoke to Aaron Dorfman, the foundation’s president, about threats to election integrity, how faith communities can make a difference, and why a philanthropy dedicated to Jewish education and social justice has pivoted to promote the health of American democracy.

Related: JTA has a look at how Jewish groups around the country are protecting voting access in 2020.

The Jewish mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, has stepped down after admitting to a messaging affair with a local news anchor who then baselessly accused him of pedophilia and left an obscene voice message containing anti-Semitic epithets.

Ethan Berkowitz had led Alaska’s largest city since 2015. The affair broke into public view Friday after the news anchor, Maria Athens, who worked for a group of local TV stations, posted an amateur video to Facebook. In a voicemail laced with anti-Semitic language that she left for Berkowitz on Friday, Athens also threatened to kill him and his wife.

Germany has pledged to include Israel in Europe’s deal for a future vaccine against the Covid-19 virus, in keeping with Germany’s “special relationship” with Israel as a response to the Holocaust.

A Ynet report claims Germany used its influence on the E.U. to bend the rule that a European-produced vaccination would be given first to European countries. Germany justified the decision in part through its historical commitment to support Israel.


Bernard Cohen, the Washington-area lawyer whose volunteer gig with the ACLU led him to make history when he successfully argued Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that overturned laws banning interracial marriage, has died at 86 from Parkinson’s disease.

Around the Agencies

The Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv is partnering with Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ, to develop new solutions in digital health and telemedicine. Holy Name’s team will work alongside Sheba’s Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate (ARC) Innovation Program, which gives global digital healthcare startups the opportunity to collaborate with healthcare teams with the aim of identifying unfulfilled clinical needs and developing effective solutions.

The Wheels of Love charity bike ride for Israel’s ALYN Hospital has had to adapt to the Covid-19 era: Participants who would normally travel to Israel for the five-day event are being encouraged to create their own personal fundraising challenges. The Friends of ALYN Hospital group created #MyALYNRide, with close to 300 riders pledging to ride hundreds of miles in support of Israel’s only pediatric rehabilitation hospital. One Manhattan-based team, the “Grumpy Roadsters,” is headed out to the Berkshires on Oct. 18 for a two-day ride of 100 miles. Last year, the charity bike ride raised close to $3 million.

American Jewish Congress named Joel Rubin, the former director of Jewish outreach for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, to be its executive director. Rubin, a former congressional staffer, top State Department official and co-founder of J Street, will be the advocacy group’s first Washington-based director in a decade.

Rabbi Daniel Nevins is stepping down after 20 years as the Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School and dean of the Division of Religious Leadership at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In a letter to colleagues, Rabbi Nevins, a former pulpit rabbi, said he plans to return to “working directly with the Jewish community” at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. In a statement, JTS Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz thanked Rabbi Nevins for his “efforts to strengthen, expand, and enhance our education of future rabbis and cantors.”

Streaming Today

Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
presents Talia Lavin, a frequent target of extremist trolls who dove into a byzantine online culture of hate and learned the intricacies of how white supremacy proliferates online. In her new book, “Culture Warlords,” she reveals the extremists hiding in plain sight online. This program will be moderated by Political Research Associates (PRA) Executive Director Tarso Luís Ramos. Suggested donation: $10. 2:00 pm.

The Workers Circle presents an interview with Center for Common Ground’s Andrea Miller on how the Center is fighting back against voter suppression in communities of color across the south. Learn how you can get involved in this crucial work prior to the 2020 election. Co-sponsored by Congregation Kol Ami-White Plains, the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism (the RAC) and Jewish Currents. Registration required. 7:00 pm.

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