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Hillel trims staff, aid for ex-Orthodox, Reuven Rivlin in your pocket
Coronavirus 2020Daily Update

Hillel trims staff, aid for ex-Orthodox, Reuven Rivlin in your pocket

An Israeli soldier salutes fallen comrades at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem hours before the start of Memorial Day, which began April 27, 2020 at sundown. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 via JTA)
An Israeli soldier salutes fallen comrades at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem hours before the start of Memorial Day, which began April 27, 2020 at sundown. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 via JTA)

Hillel International has laid off or furloughed 30 positions at its Washington, D.C., headquarters — over 20 percent of its workforce, JTA reports. The campus organization internationally employs 1,000 people, most of whom work with Hillel International on fundraising, talent recruitment and program support.

The organization did not disclose which staff positions were eliminated and which were furloughed, but the nearly 100-year-old group operates some activities that are not possible during the pandemic.

In an email message, Adam Lehman, Hillel International’s president, stated, “Major areas of our activities and operations have been disrupted; and the far-reaching financial implications of the pandemic are negatively impacting our current fiscal year results and producing a very challenging and uncertain fundraising and financial outlook for the future.”

Hillel International runs Birthright trips to Israel for approximately 7,000 college students each summer, but the free 10-day identity journeys have been called off through at least June and are unlikely to happen with the same frequency or enrollment in the coming year, if at all.

National Jewish Health, a 120-year-old nonsectarian hospital in Denver, is offering Covid-19 antibody testing that was developed by researchers there and has received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, television station KDVR reports. The hospital’s tests detect antibodies in the bloodstream, an effective way to determine if a patient has already had the disease.

The tests are available with or without a doctor referral. Self-referral tests cost $94, due when the appointment is made.

“The introduction of antibody testing is the result of tremendous collaboration between our scientists, physicians, and laboratory experts to create robust and effective tools that are needed to continue to make progress against this pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Salem, president of National Jewish Health.

Footsteps, the nonprofit that supports people who have left or want to leave the haredi or chasidic community, is offering funding to members of its community under financial strain as the coronavirus takes its toll.

The limited pool of funding is for members of its community who “are struggling right now, physically, emotionally, and financially.”

“To all of our members: if you have lost your job or had your hours cut, if you are at risk of losing secure housing, or if you are simply struggling to make ends meet as a result of COVID-19 and related safety measures, Footsteps wants to help” through its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funding, the organization states.

Funding is available based on financial need. The application deadline is April 30.


Four people in Israel died of coronavirus since yesterday, bring the total to 208, the Health Ministry says. The total of people in the country diagnosed with the disease stands at 15,589.

Sheba Medical Center has signed a historic “Emergency Agreement” with the U.S. National Institutes of Health to conduct applied scientific and clinical research in the hunt for treatments that will end the global Covid-19 pandemic, the hospital reports. It will supply the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center with blood samples, plasma and the Covid-19 virus itself from infected patients in Israel, as well as all relevant information via a series of clinical trials the hospital is currently conducting on various treatments from global pharmaceutical companies.

“This collaboration brings together the outstanding clinical acumen of Sheba Medical Center with our state-of-the-art approaches to the scientific investigation of human infectious disease,” said Dr. Daniel Douek, senior investigator in the Human Immunology Section of the NIH Vaccine Research Center.

Israel’s Health Ministry has announced that Olympic athletes can return to their training regimens in light of the recent easing of coronavirus restrictions, according to a press release from the Olympic Committee of Israel.

The permission applies to about 350 Israeli athletes, including members or hopefuls for the Olympics, Paralympics and Ayelet Association of Motor Sports. Discussions are ongoing regarding the return of professional sports activities.


Theodore “Ted” Paul Ruskin, an active member of Denver’s Jewish community, died of Covid-19 on April 7, according to JTA. He was 76.

A native of Brooklyn, Ruskin was fluent in Hebrew and a sculptural designer. He opened his own tombstone memorial business, and helped found Denver’s Babi Yar Park, a memorial to the victims the Ukrainian massacre. He moved to Denver in 1970, earned a master’s in business administration, and worked as a business education teacher at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, retiring in the mid-1980s due to advancing blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa.

Ernest Einzig (better known as Zeide Ernie), a renowned expert in woodworking and stained glass who used his skills at Yeshiva Har Torah in Little Neck, Queens for three decades, died of Covid-19 on April 5. He was 97.

Born in Budapest, where he apprenticed as a tailor before fleeing rising anti-Semitism for America in 1939, he was later drafted into the U.S. Army and earned a Purple Heart during World War II, JTA reports.

Mr. Einzig left behind “a sprawling family — roughly 30 grandchildren, over 100 great-grandchildren, and even several great-great-grandchildren,” according to JTA.


Bnei Avika and Babayit will sponsor a Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut Zoom concert on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Entertainment by Eitan Katz.

Tetavi, an Israeli high-tech video firm, will allow Israelis to bring President Reuven Rivlin into their homes for the holiday, which begins Tuesday night, via alternate reality (AR) on their cell phones, the Jerusalem Post reports.

In a prerecorded message, Rivlin wishes uses a happy Independence Day and invites them to take a selfie with him with a simple screenshot.

Jewish Federations of North America and more than 30 partner organizations will sponsor a global celebration of Israel’s 72nd birthday during a virtual one-hour event on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Participants will include “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt and his brothers, Broadway performer Caissie Levy, Israeli pop singer Rita, and Jewish rapper Matisyahu. The ceremony will also feature a cooking demonstration by cookbook author Adeena Sussman, and appearances by West Wing actor Josh Malina, and sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, son of former Israeli President Chaim Herzog, will recount Israel’s War of Independence and pay tribute to former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The Forest Hills Jewish community will hold a virtual Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. The event will feature veterans of the Israeli Army, and a multimedia program. To join: Zoom, meeting ID 940 0813 9559, password 051448; dial-in, (646) 558-8556 and enter the Zoom information.

UJA-Federation of New York has compiled a guide to help the Jewish community find advice, resources and volunteer opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak. UJA and the Jewish Board also have listings of volunteer opportunities.

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