Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders urged Gov. Cuomo to ensure that New York State include incarcerated people in the current phase (Phase 1B) of the vaccine rollout.
The letter, signed by over 120 clergy, was co-sponsored by Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan and Mt. Zion Church of God 7th Day, with the support of Center for Community Alternatives and the New York Jewish Agenda.
“As the vaccine for COVID-19 is distributed among our highest risk neighbors, it is clear that although those who are incarcerated have a very high risk of infection, they are among the most invisible when it comes to setting our priorities,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, and board member at New York Jewish Agenda.
A splashy new outpost of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Resort empire coming to Times Square will include a synagogue.
The historic Garment Center Congregation will be on the ground floor and two sub-floors of the entertainment complex, which will include hotel rooms, restaurants and bars, the New York Post reports. The synagogue rented space on the property from a previous owner, the New School, and the buyer was required to negotiate with the congregation.
Singer Jimmy Buffett parlayed his “easy in the islands” vibe into a vast entertainment company, which includes tropical-themed hotels and casinos. The Manhattan complex at 560 Seventh Ave., expected to be completed in late spring, will feature Times Square’s only outdoor pool — and Margaritaville’s only synagogue.
Conservative rabbis with ties to Jews in Uganda are condemning the Israeli Interior Ministry’s decision to reject the right of those Jews to immigrate to Israel.
Yosef is a member of the Abayudaya, who began practicing Judaism in 1919 after a Ugandan leader, Semei Kakungulu, declared himself a Jew and began adopting Jewish practices. In 2002, the Conservative movement began overseeing official conversions in the community.
Reactions: “We’re profoundly disappointed by the Interior Ministry’s decision,” said Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly. “We see it as a profound insult to the Conservative movement.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights organization, condemned the Interior Ministry’s position on the Yosef case as “pure racism.”
Librettist and New York native Gene Scheer recalls his shock at hearing President Biden recite one of his lyrics at the inauguration.
Biden recited a line from “American Anthem,” a song Scheer had written in 1998: “The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?”
“I had no advance warning or advance notice that this was going to happen,” Scheer tells JTA. “It was quite a moment for me.”
A history of Jewish women in early New York won National Jewish Book Awards in three categories.
Laura Arnold Leibman‘s “The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects,” was recognized by the Jewish Book Council in history, Jewish studies and women studies categories. Read the Jewish Week’s interview with Leibman.
Among the award-winning novels were Colum McCann’s “Apeirogon,” set in Israel and Palestine, and Max Gross’ “The Lost Shtetl,” about a Jewish village in Poland that somehow escaped discovery by the Nazis. The Jewish Week wrote about Gross’ book in July.
Magda Teter, a historian who teaches at Fordham University, won the The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award for books based on archival material for “Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth.”
“From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History,” by Nancy Sinkoff, won the top award for biography. Sinkoff is the Academic Director of the Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers.
“Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times,” the final book published by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who died in November, was awarded the Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year.
See all the winners and finalists here.
In Other News
Biden’s Israel policy is shaping up: Draw the Palestinians close, draw Israel closer.
Biden froze the sale of stealth jets to the United Arab Emirates, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Biden marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a statement recalling how his father always felt “that we should have done more to prevent the Nazi campaign of systemic mass murder.”
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is showing 92 percent effectiveness in Israel.
Defiance of Covid safety guidelines and violent clashes with police by charedi Orthodox Jews are threatening a backlash against Prime Minister Netanyahu. Read how the fervently Orthodox “have emerged as the most prominent, and most violent, opposition in Israel to restrictions designed solely to help minimize the loss of life from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hoo-boy: “How American Jewish Pedophiles Hide from Justice in Israel” is not the headline anyone wants to see.
Around the Agencies
Bergen Community College in Paramus, N.J., named Eric M. Friedman its eighth president. Friedman comes to BCC after working for 13 years at Hudson County Community College. Friedman has been the chair of the Lifelong Learning Committee at his longtime synagogue, Temple Sinai in Summit, N.J., and has participated in fundraising events for N.J. federations. His son Gabe is deputy managing editor of JTA, the Jewish Week’s sister site.
American Sephardi Federation presents a Seder Tu B’Shevat featuring Western (Spanish and Portuguese) Sephardi communities around the world. Sign-up here. Noon.
Marlene Meyerson JCC celebrates the “new year of the trees” with a Tu B’Shevat seder. Participants will be invited to sample delicious fruits and nuts, and taste red and white wine or grape juice during the seder, if they have it available. Led by Rabbi Brian Fink, director of Engage. Register here. 1:30 pm.
American Friends of Kaplan Medical Center presents a discussion of how, 15 years ago, the UN finally recognized the Holocaust with an international Day of Remembrance. Featuring Ron Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s Ambassador to the EU and NATO, and Dr. Ron Adam, Israel’s Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda. Register here. 2:00 pm.
The Museum of Chinese in America and the Center for Jewish History, as part of their new online exhibition, “An Unlikely Photojournalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown,” present co-curators Kevin Chu and Lauren Gilbert in a behind-the-scenes look into Bocian’s life, his collection and the genesis of the exhibition. Bocian’s grandniece and nephew will also be in attendance to share their memories. Register here. 4:00 pm.