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Jewish vote stumps Trump, pilgrims stranded in Belarus, Jewish Museum to open
Daily Update

Jewish vote stumps Trump, pilgrims stranded in Belarus, Jewish Museum to open

Belarusian soldiers guard the border to Ukraine against hundreds of Jewish pilgrims on Sept. 15, 2020. (Courtesy of Shahar Eliyahu)
Belarusian soldiers guard the border to Ukraine against hundreds of Jewish pilgrims on Sept. 15, 2020. (Courtesy of Shahar Eliyahu)

President Trump spoke with American Jewish leaders during a pre-Rosh Hashanah call and made a partisan pitch for their votes.

Breaking with precedent for such calls from the White House, he pressed listeners to campaign for him and suggested that Israel would suffer if he is not reelected this fall, JTA reported. “I have to say this, whatever you can do in terms of Nov. 3 is going to be very important because if we don’t win, Israel is in big trouble,” Trump said.

A poll this week showed Joe Biden getting 67% of the Jewish vote and Trump 30%. But Jewish voters in swing states, particularly Florida, could swing what may be a close election. Trump signaled that he was mystified about why he would not command a larger share of the Jewish vote.

“Which really amazes me, and I have to tell you, because I saw a poll that in the last election, I got 25% of the Jewish vote and I said here I have a son-in-law and a daughter who are Jewish, I have beautiful grandchildren that are Jewish. I have all of these incredible achievements,” Trump said. “I’m amazed that it seems to be almost automatically a Democrat.”

Related: Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden will hold a Rosh Hashanah call with Jewish leaders this afternoon.

Satmar Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum will remain in Kiryas Joel and skip his annual visit to Brooklyn for Rosh Hashanah because of new cases of Covid-19 in his Rockland County town.

Rabbi Teitelbaum, 72 and a Covid survivor, typically travels to Williamsburg, the historic home of his branch of the Satmar chasidic movement, for the holiday, JTA reports. The announcement comes after the Kiryas Joel branch of Hatzalah, the Jewish ambulance corps, warned of new cases in the chasidic enclave. The announcement also follows exhortations by some Orthodox leaders in Brooklyn not to invite visitors from outside the communities for the upcoming holidays.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin apologized Wednesday evening for the government’s inability to manage the pandemic.

“I know that we have not done enough as a leadership to be worthy of your attention. You trusted us and we let you down,” he said in a nationally televised address. Some 5,523 new cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed on Tuesday, the largest number diagnosed in one day. There were 57,165 tests conducted on Tuesday.

Earlier Wednesday, the government announced that all Israeli schools except special education will close on Thursday, a day ahead of a three-week national lockdown, citing the rapid spread of the coronavirus to teachers and students.

Background: The rules of the lockdown, explained by the Times of Israel.

Hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are stranded on the border of Belarus and Ukraine, blocked from an annual Rosh Hashanah visit to the Ukrainian grave of Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

Ukraine closed its borders starting Aug. 29 in a move widely seen as trying to block the charedi Orthodox travelers. But hundreds of pilgrims have made the trip anyway — so many that the Red Cross in the Belarusian city of Gomel is providing humanitarian aid, setting up a field clinic to serve about 1,000 people who are still hoping to be admitted to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Belarusian soldiers are guarding the border checkpoint there, JTA reports.

A former Shin Bet director says peace with the Gulf states proves a central principle of Israel’s peace camp: Concessions on the Palestinian issue improve Israel’s standing in the region.

Admiral Ami Ayalon spoke with The Jewish Week about his new memoir, “Friendly Fire,” which describes his evolution from navy commander and intelligence chief to one of Israel’s loudest voices for a two-state solution. The peace accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain only came about, he noted, because Israel agreed to suspend annexation of the West Bank.

“If we are not to lose our identity as a Jewish democracy we have to divide this piece of land,” said Ayalon.

With winter coming here and Israel on the brink of a second national lockdown, aid groups are gearing up for a long battle with the coronavirus. 

The Jewish Week reports on the first-ever U.S.-Israel Conference on the Humanitarian Response to Covid-19. Agency leaders here and there warned that the nonprofit sector has to remain vigilant, as their response pivots from crisis to recovery. “We were overwhelmed with need and continue to be overwhelmed with need,” said Alex Roth-Kahn, managing director of UJA-Federation of New York’s Caring Department.

Synagogues throughout the region will be streaming High Holiday services via Zoom, YouTube, Facebook and other platforms.

The Jewish Week has started a list of virtual services and programs available to the public for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, most for free.

Related: Rabbi Yosie Levine, of The Jewish Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, explains why his Orthodox congregation will be praying in-person despite the pandemic. By “adhering to the best scientific advice,” he writes, his shul will “create an environment that still honors the value of communal gathering and communal prayer.”

Around the Agencies

The Jewish Museum will reopen to the public on Thursday, Oct. 1, preceded by five preview days for its members beginning Sept. 24. Visitors must reserve timed tickets, wear masks and observe social distancing ; the building will operate at 25% capacity. “Our remarkable staff has been hard at work for months planning a safe reopening of the Jewish Museum,” Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director of the Jewish Museum, said in a statement.

The Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island held its 41st annual food giveaway in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Over 1,500 bags of food were distributed Sept. 16 to those in need at the Aur Torah Sephardic Congregation of Staten Island. The event was a partnership with Met Council, Project Hospitality, Food Bank for NYC and City Harvest.

The Genesis Prize selection committee has released a list of nominees, and for the first time the global Jewish community has been invited to weigh in on the choice of a winner. The recipient of the 2021 Genesis Prize, honoring “extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values,” will receive a $1 million prize. Previous winners have donated their prize money to support philanthropic causes. This year’s nominees are Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan, actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Barbra Streisand, former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, actress Gal Gadot, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Marc Benioff and film director Steven Spielberg. Last year’s laureate was Natan Sharansky. Voting is open now on the Genesis Prize website.

The Helen Diller Family Foundation’s Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards is now accepting nominations for the 2021 season. The awards recognize up to 15 extraordinary Jewish teens (up to five from California and 10 from across the nation) annually with $36,000 each for demonstrating exceptional leadership and impact in repairing the world. Those wishing to apply or nominate a teen may do so at The nomination deadline is Dec. 18, 2020. All applications must be completed by January 8, 2021.

Streaming Today

Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents Toby Levy, who will tell her personal narrative and answer questions from the virtual audience. Ms. Levy was born in Chodorow, near Lvov, Poland in 1933 and grew up in an Orthodox family. In Spring of 1941 the Germans invaded Soviet-occupied Poland, forcing Jews into ghettos a few months later. In Fall of 1942 Ms. Levy’s family went into hiding. A Polish woman who had been a customer in her father’s fabric store took them in, where they remained hidden in a barn until June 1944 when they were liberated by the Red Army. The family came to the United States in 1949. Registration is included with a $10 suggested donation. 2:00 pm.

Center for Jewish History’s new “Family Affairs” series features three  leading scholars of modern Jewish history and the Holocaust discussing their research and writing about Jewish experience from a distinctively personal perspective. Featuring Daniel Mendelsohn, author of “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million”; Omer Bartov, author of “Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz”; and Atina Grossmann, co-editor of “Shelter from the Holocaust: Rethinking Jewish Survival in the Soviet Union.” Pay what you wish; registration required. 3:00 pm.

Hadar presents “For We Are Waiting For You: Enthroning God When We Feel Immobilized,” by Rabbi Aviva Richman, Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar. It is the second in a series of High Holiday Drashot by its faculty. Register here. 8:00 pm.

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