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Cuomo and the Jews • Vaccine policies provoke Holocaust comparisons • Haredi cult leader arrested
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Cuomo and the Jews • Vaccine policies provoke Holocaust comparisons • Haredi cult leader arrested

FEELING THE HEAT: A worker bakes matzah at the Texas Shmurah Matzah Bakery in Fort Worth, Texas, March 15, 2021. The shmurah matzah bakery, a project of Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, is the only such operation in North America outside of Montreal and the greater New York area. (Chabad.org)
FEELING THE HEAT: A worker bakes matzah at the Texas Shmurah Matzah Bakery in Fort Worth, Texas, March 15, 2021. The shmurah matzah bakery, a project of Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, is the only such operation in North America outside of Montreal and the greater New York area. (Chabad.org)

 

Andrew Cuomo has enjoyed a good relationship with the Jewish community, although goodwill may not be enough to earn him strong support from its leaders and voters.

The Jewish Week examines the governor’s record on Jewish issues as he faces a probe into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Point: “He has violated the dignity of women who work with him. He should absolutely face consequences for his actions, whether it is resigning or being impeached.” — Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

Counterpoint: “The Jewish community owes him a debt of gratitude and it is shocking that they are not standing up for him and calling for due process.” — Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic political consultant.

Vaccine “passports,” an idea being rolled out in New York State and being considered by the Biden Administration, are drawing Holocaust comparisons.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Richard Grenell, Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany — who incidentally sits on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council — have asserted that asking people for proof of COVID-19 vaccination smacks of Nazism.

Why it matters: Jewish groups and others have long complained that Holocaust comparisons — especially pertaining to public health measures — are odious and borderline anti-Semitic.

Yaakov Weinstein, a leader of the extremist haredi Orthodox Jewish cult Lev Tahor, was arrested Sunday in Guatemala on suspicion of kidnapping children.

Sect leaders have faced a long list of kidnapping charges over the years. In 2019, four members were indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan for kidnapping two children in New York’s Sullivan County; their mother, the daughter of Lev Tahor founder Shlomo Helbrans, had tried to escape the sect.

Weinstein and about 230 members relocated to Guatemala from Canada in 2014 following allegations of mistreatment of its children, including abuse and child marriages.

New Yorker Menachem Rosensaft, a lawyer and leader of commemoration efforts among the children of Holocaust survivors, has written a book of poems reflecting on the legacy of the Shoah.

Poems Born in Bergen-Belsen” is being published in April to coincide with Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Rosensaft wrestles in the 82 poems with his parents’ experiences in the camps, recent genocides, racism, intolerance and the half-brother he never knew — who was killed alongside the boy’s father and grandparents on arrival at Auschwitz in 1943.

Rosensaft tells Reuters that he writes about children killed in the Holocaust to give them “a measure of immortality.”

What Else

The Anti-Defamation League found that a quarter of American Jews have personally experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years.

The State Department has revived the use of the term “occupied” to refer to Israel-controlled territory in the West Bank, but with caveats noting Trump administration changes in policy.

Deaths

Don Ashkenase of Great Neck, LI, who was instrumental in helping Young Judaea become an independent organization in 2012, passed away suddenly March 8 at the age of 77. Ashkenase was a founding board member and long-standing executive committee member of the independent Young Judaea, which for more than 70 years had been affiliated with Hadassah. Professionally, he was a health care executive who served as chief financial officer of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, executive vice president of Montefiore Medical Center, and chairman of Healthfirst, a health insurance provider. He was also a trustee on the Great Neck Board of Education, and held board appointments at UJA-Federation of New York and Commonpoint Queens.

Rabbi Michael Cook, longtime professor of Judeo-Christian Studies at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, has died at 79. He was best known for helping rabbis to understand and work in a culture steeped in New Testament ideas and teachings. Ordained at HUC in New York in 1970, Cook once said his career “coincided with a time in which navigating Christian America had become increasingly difficult for Jews due to the burgeoning of assimilation, intermarriage, blended families, and a declining Jewish birthrate.”

People and Places

The Jewish Center, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Lincoln Square Synagogue are offering a Vaccine Pop Up for New Yorkers ages 30 and up or with qualifying medical conditions. Co-sponsored by UJA Federation of New York, the site will offer the Moderna vaccine. 131 West 86th Street, Manhattan, today, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Information here.

Repair the World is matching volunteers to help source and find vaccine appointment projects happening across the country. The organization is working with VaxVolunteers.org, a centralized hub for volunteer opportunities at vaccine distribution sites in all 50 states. RTW volunteers will help by conducting state-by-state online searches to identify new medical and non-medical vaccine volunteer opportunities supporting the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, today, from 7:00-8:00 pm. Go here for details and to sign up.

Streaming Today

Meet alumni and a current student from Ben-Gurion University’s Medical School for International Health who work to reduce gender-based health disparities, remove barriers and expand access to high-quality health care. Learn how the diversity of patients at MSIH prepared them for their global health careers. Register here. 12:00 pm.

Join B’nai Jeshurun, The Grad Network Powered by Columbia Barnard Hillel, and JCC 20s + 30s for a Passover craft night. While sharing and connecting over the themes of Passover, create decorative Birkat Ha’bayit (blessings for the home). Get a supply list in your confirmation email. All attendees will receive a $15 gift card to offset the cost of supplies. Register here. 7:00 pm.

“Bringing Israel Home,” a new digital series, features live-at-home cooking featuring five-time James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov. Learn more about zero food waste in conversation with Leket Israel and Chef Asaf Doktor. Watch on Vimeo. 8:00 pm.

The Jewish Week and JTA present the North American launch of “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” by Israeli actress, producer and writer Noa Tishby. Join us for a conversation with Tishby and Gideon Raff, the creator of the Israeli series that was adapted as the hit Showtime series “Homeland.” Moderated by Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of The Jewish Week. Register here. April 6, 4:00 pm.

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