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Knesset dissolves • Court backs Fordham U over Palestinian group • Sanitation Dept. retrieves lost tefillin
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Knesset dissolves • Court backs Fordham U over Palestinian group • Sanitation Dept. retrieves lost tefillin

Sanitation workers at a facility in Brooklyn lead a successful search for a lost set of tefillin, Dec. 21, 2020. (United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg)
Sanitation workers at a facility in Brooklyn lead a successful search for a lost set of tefillin, Dec. 21, 2020. (United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg)

A New York State court overturned a 2019 lower court ruling that would have allowed Students for Justice in Palestine to form a chapter on the Fordham University campus.

The university had rejected the pro-Palestinian group four years ago in part because they “have engaged in disruptive and coercive actions on other campuses.” The New York State Appellate ruling acknowledged the university’s concerns about the group, and said SJP’s representative had no standing to pursue legal action against the university, Jewish Insider reports.

Reactions: “Today’s court ruling sets a precedent for private universities, showing that they have a right to reject hatred and discrimination from fomenting on campus,” said Carly Gammill, director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, in a statement.

“It’s disgusting that Fordham is still fighting against SJP after four years of this lawsuit,” said Fordham SJP member Veer Shetty in a statement issued before the court ruling. “While we organize and educate about an important human rights issue, the school continues to spend our tuition money on a team of lawyers to silence us. Palestinians deserve justice!”

Israel’s Knesset dissolved Tuesday night after failing to pass the 2020 budget, triggering an election that will take place on March 23.

A coalition formed earlier this year by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the centrist Blue and White leader Benny Gantz had been shaky from the start, as Netanyahu balked at the stipulation that Gantz become prime minister after 18 months. The two also fought publicly about a range of issues.

Analysis: “The general consensus is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the day,” writes Haviv Rettig Gur. “By enticing rival Benny Gantz into a unity government after three indecisive elections, Netanyahu shattered his opponent’s broad center-left alliance and then spent the months since wriggling his way out of their rotation agreement.”

Jamaal Bowman wants to be the bridge between his Jewish and Black constituents.

“The Jewish community cares about a lot of things in addition to Israel,” the congressman-elect told Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institue, in a podcast interview. “Israel is very important, but they care about housing and jobs and health care and education and family and community, and all of the things that really led to me running for office in the first place.”

The progressive Democrat shocked the political establishment by defeating incumbent Rep. Eliot L. Engel in a district that straddles the Bronx and Westchester County. Bowman reaffirmed that he doesn’t support the boycott Israel movement, but believes that uplifting the human rights of the Palestinian people is “about the long-term safety and security of Israel.”

Is New York’s mainstream liberal Jewish voter an endangered species?

In an event organized by New York Jewish Agenda, panelists agreed that no one city-wide candidate could fully represent the “Jewish vote.” And with emerging constituencies on the Orthodox right and progressive left, the stereotypical “New York Times-reading” liberals are losing their historical clout. Andrew Silow-Carroll reports.

Prominent Twitter users criticized Congress for allocating a “surprise” $500 million to Israel in what they mistakenly referred to as the pandemic relief bill.

The allocation was neither a surprise nor part of the $900 billion in relief. It is included in the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, a separate piece of legislation, passed at the same time in a desperate legislative effort to keep the government operating before the year is out, JTA explains.

Actor and liberal activist Alyssa Milano was among the people sharing the misinformation in messages that have been shared hundreds of thousands of times.

The New York City Sanitation Department helped an Orthodox man in Brooklyn retrieve his tefillin from the trash.

The man told the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg that he had mistakenly thrown out the leather prayer objects, which can cost many hundreds of dollars. The UJO alerted the Sanitation Department, which led the successful, hours-long search Monday through a garbage heap at the Varick Avenue transfer station.

“It’s really nice when we can make it work because you think, well if I threw something in the trash, it must be gone forever. Well, not necessarily; we have a fair amount of these lost and founds,” a department spokeswoman told JTA. “There’s a happy feeling.”

Around the Agencies

The Jewish Federations of North America will advise nonprofits on how they can get their share of pandemic relief. “We are pulling back together again the team of experts both from within the JFNA and lay leaders who train themselves on the program to offer volunteer support to help fill out forms and connect banks and such,” Eric Fingerhut, the group’s CEO, said in an interview Monday after news broke of agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the $900 billion stimulus plan.

Young Israel of Jamaica Estates is hosting a virtual run/walk/raffle, raising money for Israeli charities. Over the last 18 years, the Queens synagogue’s 5K run/walk and raffle for Israel has raised over $1 million. Find out more about the event, which runs until Jan. 17, here.

Streaming Today

Mosaic magazine presents a staged performance of “My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner,” a modern Jewish classic by the Yiddish writer Chaim Grade, which the magazine published in a new English translation by Ruth R. Wisse. The staged performance of the story uses Wisse’s new translation as a script, and features two actors. After the show, Wisse will be available for Q&A. A ticket costs $30, and comes with a year-long subscription to Mosaic. Sign up here. 7:00 pm.

Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza and his Cuban band present the 25th Anniversary “The Not Exactly Christmas Show,” performing live in front of a private audience at the City Winery and streaming live through partnerships with performing arts venues throughout the United States. Special guests include Spyro Gyra co-founder Jay Beckenstein, Julio Fernandez, and the bassist Francisco Centeno. Tickets are $10. 8:00 pm.

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