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GOP Jews mum on election challenge • Georgia runoff’s Jewish mishegoss • Holocaust survivor on surviving Covid
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Daily Update

GOP Jews mum on election challenge • Georgia runoff’s Jewish mishegoss • Holocaust survivor on surviving Covid

Two of the 3,168 people who moved to Israel from North America last year arrive at Ben-Gurion Aiprort, Dec. 30, 2020. (Yonit Schiller)
Two of the 3,168 people who moved to Israel from North America last year arrive at Ben-Gurion Aiprort, Dec. 30, 2020. (Yonit Schiller)

Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, hasn’t responded to queries about efforts by President Trump and a number of congressional Republicans to obstruct certification of Joe Biden’s election to the presidency.

A growing number of Republicans falsely claim that Biden was fraudulently elected. Courts and electoral officials, including Republicans, have repeatedly refuted the claims. In December, Zeldin was among 126 House GOP members who joined a legal challenge to the vote in some states Biden won. The Supreme Court threw out the challenge.

Related: The Republican Jewish Coalition is not taking a position on efforts to overturn the election. “We aren’t getting involved in internal GOP congressional debates,” RJC director Matt Brooks told JTA Monday in an email.

On the trail: JTA has a recap on all the Jewish drama ahead of today’s Georgia Senate runoffs. Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale is “raising a voice against” Rev. Raphael Warnock, one of the Democratic candidates, for his past comments on Israel. Mark Silk, director of Trinity College’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, writes that Warnock and the other Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, represent a “Black-Jewish buddy story” and a culmination of the Civil Rights movement.

Michael Hurwitz, a newly named Queens deputy borough president, withdrew from the post Monday after his past tweets criticizing Israeli policies and lobbying efforts began to attract scrutiny.

Hurwitz is director of food access and agriculture at GrowNYC. In a tweet from 2019, he defended Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and her own tweet about Jewish influence on the Israel debate, saying Omar “speaks the truth, that AIPAC $$ influences votes in Congress.” In a 2018 tweet, he called right-wing Israeli politician Naftali Bennett a “cancer to Judaism.”

As scrutiny of the tweets spread in Queen’s Orthodox community, Hurwitz and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards “agreed that now is not the best time personally and professionally for me to join as was announced,” Hurwitz told the Queens Daily Eagle.

Hurwitz, who is Jewish, identified himself as a member of J Street, the liberal Mideast policy group. “I am a proud Jew. I am a lifelong Zionist,” he said “I love the state of Israel and I love that I’m raising my children Jewish in Queens.”

Nefesh B’Nefesh helped 963 New Yorkers move to Israel over the past year.

In all, 3,168 individuals moved to Israel in 2020 – 2,625 since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, according to a statement by Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit that assists immigration to Israel.

A rabbi ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in the Bronx is counseling Covid-19 patients — including Muslims — being treated at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus.

Rabbi Mike Schultz is head of Rambam’s Spiritual Care unit, which serves patients of all faiths and none. “I connect with Muslim patients because we have [a] shared sense of belief,” Schultz tells the Times of Israel. “There’s a sense that ‘you’ll understand me, I can talk to you about beliefs and God, as well as my illness.’”

In a moving New York Times essay, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor from Coney Island describes how her wartime experiences prepared her for life under Covid-19.

“[T]here is no comparison of anxiety, of the coronavirus, to the terror I felt when I was a child,” writes Toby Levy, a retired accountant and a volunteer docent for the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “That was a fear with no boundary. This is going to end, and I am already thinking, planning where I am going first, what I will do first, when this ends.”

The View From Campus

The Workers Circle, the 120-year-old Jewish social justice organization, is reaching a new generation of young activists with a college program. The Workers Circle College Network intends to “secularly engage with Judaism outside of Israel” and to ground “social justice values in a proud, Jewish cultural context.” In a Jewish Week essay, two of its student organizers describe its activities, which have included fighting voter suppression, advocating for a comprehensive, immigrant-inclusive Covid-19 relief bill and supporting a Green New Deal.

Streaming Today

Tel Aviv International Salon in partnership with OurCrowd presents Abu Dhabi’s Dr. Sabah al-Binali and Jerusalem’s Jon Medved in a discussion about the UAE, Israel and the business of peace. RSVP here. 12:30 pm.

Israel Policy Forum presents a video briefing featuring Barak Ravid (Walla! and Axios), who will cover the onset of another Israeli election campaign and the splintering of the political landscape, with the rise of new parties and the collapse of old ones. Register here. 2:00 pm.

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