First Read For Jan. 26
News RoundupThe headlines American Jews are waking up to today.

First Read For Jan. 26

Israel listed as one of 'Eight Great' countries; Researchers document more than 40k WW2 persecution sites; Katz's Deli goes global; Israel sets sights on moon; More...

Katz's Delicatessen, a NYC staple, is coming to Spain in the form of a pop-up restaurant. Wikimedia Commons
Katz's Delicatessen, a NYC staple, is coming to Spain in the form of a pop-up restaurant. Wikimedia Commons

Is Israel one of the world’s great nations?

The American Interest thinks so.

The quarterly, neoconservative political journal this week put Israel, for the first time, on its list of “Eight Great” countries. Israel was number eight, behind such predictable choices as the United States, Russia, India and Iran.

“Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs,” the journal stated. “Three factors are powering Israel’s rise: economic developments, the regional crisis, and diplomatic ingenuity. Israel’s newfound clout on the world stage comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built up over many years.”


Israelis may be able to light up soon, without fear of a legal penalty.

Haaretz reports that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he supports the decriminalization of marijuana use. The minister said he is adopting the conclusions of a panel he tasked with reviewing the matter. The panel recommended shifting focus from criminal prosecution of users to administrative fines and educational campaigns

The new policy would still require the cabinet’s approval because it should be coordinated with other government ministries, Erdan said. Criminal prosecution, he said, should only be used as a last resort.


Researchers have documented more than 40,000 sites where the Nazis persecuted Jews during World War II, far higher than the figure they had estimated they would find, according to the Times of Israel.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which coordinated the study, “estimated that the team would uncover about 5,000 persecution sites, which would include forced labor camps, military brothels, ghettos, POW camps, and concentration camps,” the newspaper reported. “Now, the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945” contains more than 42,500 sites that the Nazis used to persecute, exploit, and murder their victims.”

“But quite frankly, you could put it much higher than that,” said Geoffrey Megargee, the project leader.


Israel still has its sights on the moon.

“SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization, is one of five finalists in the Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million Google-backed competition to land and operate a robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon, the XPrize Foundation said,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Contenders have until December 31 to launch their spacecraft, said the foundation, which is running the lunar prize and eight other technology stimulus contests. Competitors must also complete activities on the lunar surface, such as having their vehicles travel 500 meters and broadcast high-definition video.

Since the contest was announced in 2007 interest in the contest has been high, with 33 teams originally signing up to compete for the $20m. first prize.
If successful, it will be the first time an Israeli spacecraft lands on the moon.



You’ll be able to get a good pastrami soon in Spain.

“New York City staple Katz’s Delicatessen is coming to Spain in the form of a pop-up restaurant at the Only You Hotel Atocha in Madrid,” Virtual Jerusalem reports.

The pop-up restaurant is apparently limited, as an “extension of the hotel’s Seagram’s New York residency,” according to the newspaper. “The mini-Katz’s doesn’t feature the whole New York menu, but includes hallmarks, like matzah ball soup, hot dogs, knish and egg creams.”

This isn’t the first time the storied deli has expanded – Katz’s opened a take-out only branch in Brooklyn last year.

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