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Gulf states rebuke Iran, Orthodox women get ambulance, Florida State fights anti-Semitism
Daily Update

Gulf states rebuke Iran, Orthodox women get ambulance, Florida State fights anti-Semitism

Tehila Friedman, a new member of the Knesset from the Blue and White party, has captured Israelis' attention after her first speech as a lawmaker condemned the country's climate of political polarization.. (Screenshot)
Tehila Friedman, a new member of the Knesset from the Blue and White party, has captured Israelis' attention after her first speech as a lawmaker condemned the country's climate of political polarization.. (Screenshot)

The Democratic National Convention — at least its virtual, pandemic edition — begins this evening.

In a Jewish Week essay, Steve North remembers when he covered the 1980 convention at Madison Square Garden for a Long Island rock radio station.

“The national convention is the ultimate schmooze-fest, which is why this week’s online Democratic Party gathering will be not only unconventional, but a major disappointment to journalists who’ve enjoyed these ‘see and be seen’ proceedings over the years,” writes North, who was able to hobnob with the likes of Bella Abzug, Gilda Radner, Ruth Messinger and Simon and Garfunkel.

The Orthodox women’s EMT service Ezras Nashim won its right to operate an ambulance in Brooklyn.

New York State’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Council voted to grant an ambulance permit to the group which services charedi Orthodox women in Borough Park and Flatbush. Leaders of the all-male Hatzolah medical service had opposed Ezras Nashim’s efforts, saying that it’s immodest for women to serve as EMTs.

The Forward first reported the news of the permit, which came after years of lobbying and a major setback last year, when New York City’s medical services council denied Ezras Nashim’s request.

“I can’t believe it. At the end of such a long journey and struggle, I really believe that it’s a miracle. I’m so grateful,” said Leah Levine, Ezras Nashim’s director of outreach and development, in an interview with The New York Post.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday condemned Iran for threatening the United Arab Emirates after it announced normalization of ties with Israel.

In another sign of the thaw between Israel and the Gulf states, Council Secretary-General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf said in a statement “Iran must adhere to the UN Charter and refrain from interfering in the domestic affairs of other nations,” the Arab News website reported.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the UAE had made a “huge mistake” by taking steps toward normalization with Israel, and now faced “a dangerous future.”

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, has maintained a conspicuous silence over the deal, but local officials have hinted that Riyadh is unlikely to immediately follow in the footsteps of its principal regional ally. Nonetheless, analysts say the deal could cause Saudi Arabia to deepen its furtive relations with the Jewish state, the Times of Israel reports.

Another view: Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, lists five ways in which the pending peace deal represents “a fundamental shift in the paradigm of peace-making.” Most significantly,  “It shows that resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is nowhere near as important as countering the Iranian threat and stimulating Middle East development.”

An Israeli politician’s first speech to the Knesset, a fiery call for “a principled center” at a time of political polarization, has gone viral.

Without mentioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any other contemporary politician by name, Tehila Friedman indicted the win at all costs culture that has caused Israel to have three elections in the last year and a half. During an 11-minute speech that spanned Jewish history, Friedman, a member of the Knesset for the Blue and White alliance, exhorted Israelis to consider the lesson of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, the moderate leader who led the Jews of Jerusalem to safety and, ultimately, continued existence after the destruction of the Second Temple.

A Hebrew version of the speech has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, and a version with English subtitles released late last week is now also circulating widely.

Florida State University will do more to combat anti-Semitism in the wake of a protest over remarks by the student body president.

Thousands of students called on the student body president to be removed over social media posts they described as anti-Semitic. In an open letter to the campus community, university president John Thrasher said Aug. 12 that a task force will review Jewish student life on campus, students will be surveyed about anti-Semitism on campus and staff will be trained annually on issues including anti-Semitism, religious discrimination and ways to foster a more inclusive campus for Jewish students and employees.

“I want to reaffirm that this is a top priority. My university leadership team and I will continue to work determinedly to combat Antisemitism and unlawful behavior,” Thrasher wrote in the letter.

Background: In a Jewish Week essay, FSU student Keren Bard wrote of her efforts to found a Jewish Student Union at the school in the wake of the incident. “Jewish students feel unheard and disrespected. Incoming freshmen are being exposed to a culture of hate and disdain before they can even set foot on campus,” she wrote.

Rabbi Matt Green of Congregation Beth Elohim calls himself a “millennial rabbi crafting community for millennial Jews.”

Named to The Jewish Week’s list of “36 Under 36” Jewish leaders in 2018, Green is now engaging hundreds of young Jewish people in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Now entering his third year as assistant rabbi at CBE, he’s running the New Jewish Culture Fellowship, which invites artists to create new content to be consumed communally and, in turn, builds programming for people who call themselves secular, cultural Jews.

In a profile in the Detroit Jewish News shared on the Jewish Week’s website, Green describes how the pandemic has upended the Reform synagogue’s activities, and how he remains committed to “investing in young adult programming — crafting community for young Jews, especially if it is allowing them to craft it for themselves.”


Jewish Theological Seminary presents Rabbi Jan Uhrbach, director of the Block/Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts, in its series on preparing for the Days of Awe. She’ll ask, Do we need “faith” in order to pray? Can synagogue services be worthwhile and meaningful even if we’re not sure what we believe? August 17, 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm

Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center presents Rachel Brosnahan, the star of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” in an intimate conversation about the critically acclaimed Amazon series about a prim Jewish mother by day, a crass comedian on the stages of Greenwich Village clubs by night. Moderated by SiriusXM’s Jessica Shaw. August 17, 6:30 pm.

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