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Israel offers aid to Lebanon, day school leaders plea for help, L.I. teens rebuild neighbor’s home
Daily Update

Israel offers aid to Lebanon, day school leaders plea for help, L.I. teens rebuild neighbor’s home

Firefighters douse a blaze at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut, Aug. 4, 2020. (Ibrahim Amro/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters douse a blaze at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut, Aug. 4, 2020. (Ibrahim Amro/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel offered Lebanon humanitarian assistance after a massive explosion at Beirut’s waterfront killed at least 100 people and injured thousands.

Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz announced the offer on Twitter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli army and at least one Israeli hospital also offered aid.

Because Lebanon and Israel are still technically in a state of war, the offers are being extended through third-party diplomatic channels.

Initial reports said the blast was in a warehouse storing 2,750 tons of the agricultural fertilizer ammonium nitrate. Videos posted to social media showed the forceful blast cutting a wide swath of damage across Beirut, and area hospitals have been overwhelmed with the injured.

Israeli authorities told multiple news organizations that the country had nothing to do with the disaster.

Twelve New York Jewish day school administrators put out a public plea for a coordinated Jewish community effort to open schools safely in the fall.

In an open letter in JTA, the administrators said their schools can’t be expected to tackle the challenges of opening during the pandemic if each “individual school is still left to figure out how to ‘make it work’ during the most confusing and volatile time of our generation.”

The letter calls for “community-wide leadership” in standardizing medical advice; procuring and implementing proper PPE, testing and HVAC/ventilation systems; offering mental health services for staff; and providing extra funding.

“Make grants easier to access, with quicker turnaround time, and a timeframe that actually works within the context of schools, which never have months to spare before putting programs and procedures into place,” administrators wrote.

The letter acknowledged the national grant and loan program put together by a consortium of Jewish funders to which day schools, among other institutions, could apply. But, they said, “That is not enough.”

Barack Obama endorsed Jamaal Bowman, the Bronx principal who defeated Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) in the June 23 primary in New York’s 16th congressional district, after reading the candidate’s public correspondence with a local rabbi. 

According to Jewish Insider, Bowman attributed Obama’s endorsement to his response to an open letter from Rabbi Avi Weiss, the founding rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Weiss had been critical of Bowman’s remarks about Israel; Bowman responded to Weiss’s letter by saying he opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel — but also likened Palestinians to the African-Americans victimized in the U.S. by police brutality.

Bowman said in a video posted Monday that Obama “read our response to Rabbi Weiss’s letter… He loved it. He wanted to meet me. He called me, we talked, [and] we got the endorsement.”

Rabbi Weiss told Jewish Insider on Monday that “perhaps” Obama didn’t read the original letter he sent to Bowman, which accuses Bowman of being “soft” on Israel and willing to condition U.S. aid to the country.

Teenage girls from Long Island’s five towns are volunteering to rebuild a Long Island home ravaged by Hurrican Sandy.

The volunteers are part of the Orthodox Union’s Project Community, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, CBS2 reports. James Hodge’s Long Beach home was damaged by the hurricane eight years ago. The teens are doing non-skilled labor.

“Just to be unified with all different types of people, who are so incredible and just want to work together for a good purpose,” said 17-year-old Sarah Leiderman, of Cedarhurst.

Said Rabbi Ethan Katz, the director of NCSY Relief Missions: “All they want to do is help. It’s about empowering them, it’s about creating future leaders, it’s about fundamental Jewish values of repairing the world.”


In the summer of 1948, a nearly extinguished culture was preserved on New York’s Upper West Side.

That year, an amateur folklorist named Ben Stonehill showed up at the Hotel Marseilles on 103rd St. in Manhattan and recorded the songs and memories of the Jewish refugees living there. Those recordings made their way into the Library of Congress and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, and onto the web through a partnership with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. The Jewish Week spoke with Yiddish scholar Miriam Isaacs, who curated the archive, about memory and the power of song.


American Jewish University, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, presents a discussion about the film “About Face: The Story of the Jewish Refugee Soldiers of World War II” with AJU’s Prof. Michael Berenbaum and director and filmmaker Steven Karras. The book chronicles the German citizens who bravely joined the allied forces, rebelling against the existential threat posed by the Nazi regime. Wednesday, August 5, 3:00 pm.

VIVAH, The Blue Dove Foundation, and The Gender Equity In Hiring Project present a panel of experts in the areas of women’s trauma and global inequity — highlighting the universal imbalance that women everywhere are individually experiencing during the pandemic. August 5, 8:00 pm.

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