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Huge Satmar wedding in Brooklyn • Netanyahu meets with Saudi leader • Jonathan Pollard is fully free
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Huge Satmar wedding in Brooklyn • Netanyahu meets with Saudi leader • Jonathan Pollard is fully free

The New York Post obtained a video of what it said was a massive wedding held Nov. 8 at the Yetev Lev synagogue in Williamsburg for a chief Satmar rabbi’s grandson. (Courtesy)
The New York Post obtained a video of what it said was a massive wedding held Nov. 8 at the Yetev Lev synagogue in Williamsburg for a chief Satmar rabbi’s grandson. (Courtesy)

Members of the Satmar chasidic movement held a massive wedding in Brooklyn arranged to avoid detection by secular authorities.

The Nov. 8 wedding took place at Congregation Yetev Lev B’Satmar in Williamsburg attended by followers of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, whose grandson was the groom. The New York Post first reported about the wedding on Saturday. The synagogue’s president, Mayer Rispler, died of Covid-19 in mid-October, after having openly urged his community to follow city and state health rules earlier in the pandemic.

Photographs published in the Post show the synagogue packed with guests, in violation of pandemic rules limiting houses of worship to 50% capacity at most, and less in areas with many Covid-19 cases. A previous wedding for the grandson of another Satmar leader was held under an agreement to severely limit the guest list.

Consequences: Gov. Cuomo called the event “a blatant disregard of the law,” “illegal” and “disrespectful to the people of New York,” and said the city is investigating.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It was the first known high-level meeting between an Israeli and Saudi leader. Netanyahu was accompanied by Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen, according to the Hebrew media and cabinet sources.

Upshot: Saudi sources told the Wall Street Journal that the meeting, which lasted several hours, focused on Iran and the establishment of diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem, but yielded no breakthroughs.

Background: “Covert ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia are believed to have been growing in recent years,” The Times fo Israel reports. “The shift in policy has reportedly been led by the crown prince, who sees Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence in the region.”

Jonathan Pollard is free to travel to Israel.

Lawyers for the convicted spy announced Friday that the U.S. Parole Commission had lifted remaining restrictions on him, five years after he was paroled from federal prison, and 35 years since his Nov. 21, 1985 arrest on charges of spying for Israel.

Pollard, who has been living in New York, “is free to travel anywhere, including Israel, for temporary or permanent residence, as he wishes,” said the statement from Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, two prominent lawyers who have for years represented Pollard for free.

Why it matters: “The Justice Department’s decision to let his parole restrictions expire may be one of the final gifts from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel,” reports The New York Times. “Mr. Pollard’s case had long been an irritant in the relations between the two countries, and both sides at times had used him as a diplomatic bargaining chip.”

Reactions: The Rabbinical Assembly welcomed the news, saying Pollard “served the longest sentence of any individual ever convicted of similar offense in the United States.”

Tom Hanks and singer Billy Porter have agreed to help lead a fundraising campaign to help turn Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue into an anti-racism center.

The community where 11 Jews were killed by a gunman in 2018 is raising funds for the project in a campaign titled “Remember. Rebuild. Renew.” “Through this effort and with the support of people of all backgrounds, we will transform a site of hate and tragedy into a site of hope, remembrance and education,” the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle quoted Rabbi Jeffrey Myers as saying.

A federal court sided with the University of Oklahoma over a Holocaust survivor who said a painting looted from her family by the Nazis belongs in France.

Survivor Léone Meyer was seeking to reverse a 2016 agreement in which the painting, by French impressionist Camille Pissarro, would be displayed on rotation at the university’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The painting was donated to OU in 2000 by a Jewish family that had obtained it after the war.

According to a university press release, Judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled in favor of the university and the OU Foundation, ordering Meyer to end her litigation.

Ron Soffer, Meyer’s attorney, issued a brief statement saying the case should be allowed to move forward in a French court.

Allies: The New York-based Claims Conference sides with Meyer, writing that “restitution is restitution” and that looted art should be returned to its rightful owners.

Deaths

Rabbi Chaim Moshe Mordechai Shaikevitz, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and pillar of the Jewish community in Milan, Italy, for more than three decades, died Oct. 23 after a sudden heart attack. He was 61 years old, Chabad.org reports.

Streaming Today

Jewish Theological Seminary presents Rabbi Mychal Springer in an exploration of suffering and the paradoxical teaching of the Kotzker Rebbe that “there is nothing more whole than a broken heart.” Springer is manager of Clinical Pastoral Education at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and an adjunct professor at JTS. Register here for the Zoom Link. 1:00 pm.

Momentum presents Kerry Brodie, founder and executive director of Emma’s Torch, and Juliana Pena, IsraAID programs officer for the Americas, for a conversation about their personal journeys to working with refugees, their stories of challenges and successes from the field, and what each one of us can do to welcome newcomers into our communities and our hearts. Register here. 1:00 pm.

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