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Kushner kids will attend school in person, Democratic convention opens, OU releases advice for safe holidays
Daily Update

Kushner kids will attend school in person, Democratic convention opens, OU releases advice for safe holidays

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York delivered remarks during the virtual Democratic National Convention, saying the coronavirus was a metaphor for the sickness in American political culture, Aug. 17, 2020. (Screen shot)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York delivered remarks during the virtual Democratic National Convention, saying the coronavirus was a metaphor for the sickness in American political culture, Aug. 17, 2020. (Screen shot)

Democrats launched their virtual convention with appeals for a once-fractured party to come together and oust Donald Trump from the presidency.

While speaker after speaker said Trump is stoking racial divisions that are ripping the country apart, Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, explicitly cited rising anti-Semitism.

“Over these past few years, America’s body politic has been weakened. The divisions have been growing deeper: the anti-Semitism; the anti-Latino, the anti-immigrant fervor; the racism in Charlottesville, where the KKK didn’t even bother to wear their hoods,” said Cuomo.

One of the most pointed appeals for unity Monday night came from Bernie Sanders, the Jewish senator from Vermont who was the most serious rival to the eventual nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sanders, given one of the longest speaking slots, appealed to his progressive followers to embrace Biden, a centrist. Sanders endorsed Biden in March after a divisive primary season, but party leaders fear that the Vermont senator’s followers remain skeptical of Biden.

“Together we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate, and more inclusive,” Sanders said. “I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one.”

The convention — all virtual, because of limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic — started with a montage of unrest that embraced the recent Black Lives Matter protests and condemned the deadly march by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Last week, Biden announced his selection of Kamala Harris, a Black woman, as his running mate on the third anniversary of that march.

In a keynote closing the evening, Michelle Obama, the former first lady, linked Trump’s isolationism and his rejection of international treaties to what she depicted as his uncaring policies at home — alluding to Trump’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by her husband, President Barack Obama, in 2015.

President Donald Trump said Monday that his 2017 decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of Israel was done for evangelical Christians.

“And we moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,” Trump said at a rally held at an airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “That’s for the evangelicals.”

Pro-Israel evangelicals, a large part of the president’s base, were prominent at the ceremony inaugurating the Jerusalem embassy. Trump has complained, as he did again on Monday, that American Jews were not sufficiently grateful for the move.

“You know, it’s amazing with that — the evangelicals are more excited by that than Jewish people,” he said to cheers from the crowd. “That’s right, it’s incredible.”

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will be sending their three children — the grandchildren of President Donald Trump — back to in-person classes at their Jewish day school this fall.

“This virus impacts different people in different ways. We know a lot more now than we did,” Kushner, a White House senior adviser and son-in-law of the president, said Sunday on the CBS news show “Face the Nation.” “And assuming our school is not opening up five days a week, I wish they were, but we absolutely will be sending our kids back to school and I have no fear in doing so.”

The couple’s children — aged 9, 6 and 5 — attend the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School, which sent a 17-page document to parents detailing its plan to reopen for this academic year. Under the plan, the Washington, D.C., school will start the 2020-21 academic year with an “Off-Campus & Outdoor model,” combining distance learning for academic instruction, with “regular in-person opportunities for outdoor education and community building.”

Kushner has been involved in the White House response to the pandemic and, amidst criticism that the administration response has been botched and inconsistent, praised the president for taking control of the coronavirus. Trump has been pushing for schools to reopen for in-person classes.

In addition: Kushner said Israel will not move forward with its West Bank annexation plan without U.S. approval — and that consent won’t come for some time. “That land is land that right now that Israel, quite frankly, controls,” Kushner said. “Israelis that live there aren’t going anywhere. There shouldn’t be any urgency to applying Israeli law.”

Some 250,000 new immigrants to Israel will arrive over the next five years, the Jewish Agency estimates.

According to the report, presented by the agency’s chairman, Isaac Herzog, to President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday, some 8,500 immigrants arrived in Israel from dozens of countries during the first half of 2020, half the number that came during the same period the previous year. The decrease likely is due to the coronavirus crisis.

But there was a dramatic rise in the number of people who inquired about immigration to Israel this year, with 90,000 calls from around the world. In addition, some 25,000 new immigration files were opened, a 91 percent increase in Western countries and 400 percent in North America.

The report found that there are 10,000 to 14,000 Jews waiting to emigrate from Ethiopia, and their arrival will be spread over several years.


A far-left litmus test on Israel by the Democratic Socialists of America shows the need for advocacy by and for Jews on New York’s City Council, write two candidates for the council in an op-ed for The Jewish Week. “As candidates seeking election in 2021, we are deeply concerned about the loss of the Jewish presence in city politics, particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise,” write Jessica Haller and Andrew Cohen.

Related: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on local candidates seeking the support of the DSA to decline its request not to visit Israel if elected. “You can dislike the Israeli government at this moment or specific policies, but to suggest that people shouldn’t visit there, I think is wrong,” de Blasio said in an interview with NY1. “To support the BDS movement, is wrong.” (h/t Jewish Insider)

Irving Berlin wrote an anti-lynching song for the Broadway stage in 1933, and insisted that a Black woman sing it. The song and episode is “a reminder that Berlin represents how immigrants not only give back to their adopted country, but shape our national narrative, our language and our traditions for the better,” writes Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of The Jewish Week.

Around the Agencies

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces named Rabbi Steven Weil as its new national director and CEO, succeeding Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, who has led FIDF for six years. Weil comes to FIDF following an 11-year tenure at the Orthodox Union, where he was executive vice president and senior managing director. FIDF raised more than $570 million between 2015-2019.

Birthright Israel is launching an interactive video “Choose Your Own Adventure” on a platform called Eko, allowing people to choose in real time which sites in Israel they want to visit. A local Israeli guide will introduce visitors to the locations and Israelis who can provide a deeper perspective. The video tour takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Birthright Israel trips are still on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America have provided a detailed document with their guidance for synagogues for the upcoming High Holidays in light of the pandemic. The guide provides 16 points related to specific High Holiday elements.


Democratic Majority for Israel presents a discussion featuring Representative Max Rose, Kathy Manning, and Ritchie Torres. The event is second in a series of live virtual events during the Democratic National Convention, featuring prominent foreign policy experts, pro-Israel lawmakers and Democratic political strategists. Aug. 18, 1 p.m.

An internet videoconference (via Zoom) will address the topic of “Restoring Jewish Cemeteries of Poland: The Task Ahead.” Simultaneous two-way Polish-English translation will be available. ​One hour prior to the formal meeting, there will be “Introduce Yourselves” live-meeting rooms where attendees will have the opportunity to meet informally to share topic-related issues. The meeting is organized by the Friends of Jewish Heritage in Poland, The Matzevah Foundation, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, and the Chief Rabbinate of Poland. Aug. 18, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Join Tablet Magazine Deputy Editor Stephanie Butnick, co-host of the Jewish podcast “Unorthodox,” for a new MJH Live series exploring the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. She will be joined by Melbourne-based author and historian David Slucki, whose 2019 book “Sing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons” shows how traumatic family histories leave their mark for generations. Aug. 18, 7 p.m.

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