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Kosher meals for school kids, Jerusalem cops clash with charedim, hero of Soviet Jewry movement dies
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Coronavirus 2020Daily Coronavirus Update

Kosher meals for school kids, Jerusalem cops clash with charedim, hero of Soviet Jewry movement dies

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  meet in Jerusalem, May 13, 2020. They discussed the coronavirus pandemic, among other topics, with Pompeo telling Netanyahu: “You’re a great partner, you share information -- unlike some other countries that try and obfuscate and hide that information,” an apparent reference to China. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem, May 13, 2020. They discussed the coronavirus pandemic, among other topics, with Pompeo telling Netanyahu: “You’re a great partner, you share information -- unlike some other countries that try and obfuscate and hide that information,” an apparent reference to China. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Kosher “Grab-and-Go” meals are available on the Lower East Side for those in need during coronavirus pandemic, the city’s Department of Education has announced.

According to the department’s website, “Meals offered at our kosher meal sites are free and available to any New Yorker that requests them.”

People can pick up free meals on weekdays at Public School 134, 293 East Broadway – and at P.S. 48, 4360-78 Broadway – which is one of the first two kosher-specific locations since DOE recently began its distribution initiative.

Last month advocates for the Jewish and Muslim communities had complained that the city had been slow to provide carry-out lunches to low-income religious students who rely on school for meals.

Meals can be picked up at all Meal Hubs 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Meals Hubs will operate for children and families from 7:30 am to 11:30 am, and for adults from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. All adults and children can pick up multiple meals at one time. No dining space is available, so meals must be eaten off premises.

New Jersey’s Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis and their communities have been getting life-saving supplies to the frontlines and masks and gloves to residents who need them, according to chabad.org.

Chabad of Hoboken & Jersey City, and Chabad of Bayonne distributed face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray to thousands of individuals and families. An anonymous donor made it possible to give out more than $100,000 worth of protective gear to the community, distributing 60,000 masks, 120,000 gloves, 1,200 hand sanitizers and 1,200 disinfectant sprays. Rabbi Mendel Solomon, director and spiritual leader at Chabad at Short Hills, has been delivering masks to doctors.

The mask distribution comes as part of broader Chabad efforts to “keep people not only safe, but also connected, during these turbulent times.”

The Riverdale Y is sponsoring a fundraising “Virtual 1K, 5K & 10K Run/Walk” through May 17. Proceeds will go to the Y’s Coronavirus Emergency Fund, whose work includes “feeding over 150 seniors daily; providing emergency childcare for first responders; and providing at-home fitness, enrichment and cultural programs to thousands in our community.” T-shirts are for sale.

Israel

Haaretz reports that the government has approved a series of further steps to ease the lockdown restrictions, including allowing group prayer and partial reopening of the economy and stores.

Jews holding an illegal prayer gathering in Jerusalem clashed with police officers who tried to disperse them early Thursday, highlighting “simmering tensions as authorities attempt to keep a lid on the coronavirus while opening up parts of the country,” according to the Times of Israel. Eight people were arrested and a police officer was lightly injured in the fighting in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, the scene of frequent rows between members of the insular ultra-Orthodox community and police.

Israel’s Health Ministry is planning on allowing event halls to open as early as next week, and events, including weddings, will be allowed to be held with up to 100 participants, according to Yeshiva World News. Weddings and funerals are currently limited to up to 50 participants and must be held in outside areas.

Participants at weddings or other gatherings in halls will still be required to maintain social distancing regulations. The Knesset will hold a vote regarding the plan later this week.

Train service in the country will resume on Sunday, but with restrictions on the number of passengers. Moshe Bar Siman Tov, outgoing Health Ministry director-general, yesterday apologized for a “misunderstanding” over an earlier announcement that there would be no limit on the number of passengers allowed on a train once they began operating.  Limitations will also apply to inner city buses and cabs.

Israel Air Force jets marking Israel’s Independence Day last week flew over a hospital in largely Arab East Jerusalem to honor medical teams there, honoring a request by the city’s mayor.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon asked the Israel Air Force to change the course of its flyover to salute medical teams at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Sheikh Jarrah, the only hospital in east Jerusalem to open a designated coronavirus ward. Haaretz reported that the Air Force complied with Leon’s request, and after flying over two other Jerusalem hospitals under Jewish auspices, the aircraft continued eastward. “This was a historic, moving event, symbolizing unity in the battle against the coronavirus,” Leon said.

Arab residents of east Jerusalem and St. Joseph’s Hospital staff viewed the move as a “positive gesture,” according to Haaretz. “

Two days later, Home Front Command soldiers, in uniform but unarmed, unpacked food boxes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have signed off on an agreement that will set aside $228 million for potential loans to Ramallah, in order to offset expected losses due to the coronavirus crisis, according to the Times of Israel. Starting in June and continuing for the following four months, Israel will use the new bank of funds to “top off the sum of monthly tax revenues that it sends to the PA to NIS 500 million ($142 million) — should the monthly sum be less than that amount.”

Deaths

Martin Wenick, a leader of the fight to free Soviet Jews who was later instrumental in helping them resettle in the United States, died on May 7 due to complications of Covid-19, JTA reports. He was 80.

Mr. Wenick spent 27 years as a State Department diplomat before taking over in 1989 as the head of the National Conference for Soviet Jewry, a coalition of Jewish organizations working to support Jews struggling to survive under Communism. A fluent Russian speaker, he had been stationed in Moscow in the early 1970s, where he followed the plight of Jews denied visas to emigrate.

After his retirement from the State Department, Mr. Wenick spent three years leading NCSJ. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of restrictive emigration policies for Russian Jews, he became the executive director of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the lead Jewish agency helping to resettle 140,000 Soviet Jews in the United States.

Leading HIAS from 1992 until his retirement in 1998, he oversaw the resettlement of tens of thousands of Soviet Jews, brought the final remnants of Syria’s Jewish community safely to the United States, and helped members of the Baha’i faith escape persecution in Iran, among other initiatives, the organization said.

Mark Hetfield, HIAS’s president and CEO, remembered Wenick as “the ideal defender of refugees” because of his diplomatic experience and passion for human rights.

Upon leaving HIAS Mr. Wenick and his wife established a scholarship program for young emigres. “One of the most interesting aspects of it each year was to see these kids who have been here only two or three years applying to go to colleges and to see the skills and talents that they brought with them,” he told an interviewer in 2010.

Saadya Ehrenpreis, a man with Down syndrome who “defied expectations” by taking part in an educational program at Yeshiva University, died on April 28 at 35 from Covid-19, JTA reportsWhen he was an infant, a doctor had told his mother that Saadya  would “never walk, talk or amount to anything.”

With the help of his family, he graduated high school, spent several years studying in yeshiva in Israel, and attended Yeshiva University

“One of things that made him special was his unwavering optimism,” said Avi Ganz, the program director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yeshivat Darkaynu, a Israel gap year program for young men with special needs, which Ehrenpreis attended. “People were drawn to him because he saw only beauty in other people.”

Mr. Ehrenpreis grew up as one of eight children in Brooklyn. After graduating high school at 21, he went to Israel, where he studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He  subsequently went on to study at Yeshiva University as part of a program that allowed him to participate in specialized classes at the university’s campus in Manhattan. At YU, he lived in a supervised group apartment.

Streaming

A new version of Leonard Cohen’s iconic song “Hallelujah,” performed in English, Hebrew and Arabic, was released as part of a benefit supporting first responders in Israel. The recording was made as part of “Saving Lives Sunday,” a virtual benefit to support the emergency response organization United Hatzalah of Israel in its fight against COVID-19.

Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s Jerusalem-based Director of International Interreligious Affairs, will take part in a “Multi-faith Unity Prayer for the Holy Land and the Holy World” on Thursday at 11 a.m. The event is hosted by David Less and Ghassan Mansara of the Abrahamic Reunion.

HIAS, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Mazon will sponsor a webinar on “the impact of the pandemic on the people we serve” on Thursday at 3 p.m. Policy experts will talk about increased food insecurity, the evolving threats to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and asylum system, and the COVID-19 emergency in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers.

Hillel will sponsor “A Conversation with Bari Weiss,” New York Times op-ed staff editor and writer, on Thursday at 5 p.m. She will be interviewed by University of Texas Hillel executive director Maiya Chard Yaron about “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.”

The Israel Tennis & Education Centers Foundation will sponsor a webinar Lunch and Learn discussion on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. with author Rabbi Daniel Gordis and Daniel Diker, former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress. Their topic: “National unity and Israel’s Arab moment, killing the Coronavirus and testing the US Peace Plan.”

The Jewish Community of Rye will take part in a virtual Tikkuin Leyl Shavuot, or “all night online experience of sacred Jewish study,” featuring Reform rabbis from the U.S. and Israel, on May 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Chai Lifeline is offering a video lecture on “Going Through It, Growing Through It: Torah Perspectives & Mindful Coping in the Age of COVID-19.” The series will include video and audio recordings of renowned rabbis and mental health experts, as well as members of Chai Lifeline’s crisis intervention team, Project Chai.

UJA-Federation of New York has compiled a guide to help the Jewish community find advice, resources and volunteer opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak. UJA and the Jewish Board also have listings of volunteer opportunities.

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