An Orthodox rabbi in Lakewood, N.J., who is suing his state’s governor over restrictions on gatherings was arrested on Monday night for holding one, JTA reports. Rabbi Yisrael Knopfler was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing the law and violating the New Jersey governor’s executive order banning gatherings.
The arrest came after police broke up an event that the rabbi organized on Lag B’Omer, which commemorates the end of a historical plague and typically include bonfires and concerts. Public celebrations like it were prohibited this year because of the coronavirus.
A video of the arrest shows the police arresting Rabbi Knopfler while a crowd shouts at the police, calling them “Nazis,” “Gestapo” and “anti-Semites.”
Last week, the rabbi joined another New Jersey clergy member, a Christian reverend, in a lawsuit that challenges Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order barring gatherings of any size.
Shomrim, a volunteer Jewish neighborhood patrol, has delivered thousands of coronavirus safety kits including face masks and information about Covid-19 to residents of the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, according to local news source BoroPark24.
The kits, which also included games for children, were delivered to thousands of community members who sent in requests to Shomrim.
An Orthodox synagogue in Florida is punishing members who gathered last Shabbat for a minyan, in violation of social distancing regulations, Yeshiva World News reports.
The Young Israel of Deerfield Beach informed the congregation in a mass mailing that the unnamed members of the congregation, whose number also was not given, had participated in a “rouge” (that is, rogue) minyan at a local apartment building. “Raw chutzpah and dangerous Safek Pikuach Nefashos [threat to life],” stated the letter, signed by the synagogue’s rabbi, president and executive board. “Those individuals who participated will be stripped of any current positions in our Shul and denied any forms of Kibudim [honors].”
Hillel International and BBYO, the Jewish teen movement, are connecting graduating high school seniors with current college students for virtual campus visits. Nearly all colleges are closed to actual visits by prospective and accepted students and their families.
“In this time of uncertainty and fear, one of the most important things we can do for the class of 2024 is to give them a chance to meet and hear from members of campus communities,” said Mimi Kravetz, chief experience officer at Hillel International.
Why do some charedi Jews flout the city’s social distancing regulations? Columnist Eli Reiter explains in the Daily News.
Meanwhile, thousands of charedi Orthodox Jews have donated blood plasma, which public health officials believe may be used to help treat people suffering from Covid-19. “The community has taken a tragedy and turned it into a superpower,” an expert on plasma treatments told The New York Times.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, yesterday addressed the role that faith leaders must play in the world’s common battle to defeat Covid-19 in a video conference hosted by Omar Hilale, permanent representative of Morocco to the United Nations.
The conference was attended by representatives of all U.N. member states.
“During this tragic pandemic, it is essential that faith leaders help raise universal awareness about the multifaceted challenges facing each and every nation. Religious leaders must create messages of hope, optimism, and solidarity by teaching the need to embrace the importance of working together not only to fight this pandemic, but also to emerge stronger in the post-Covid era,” Rabbi Schneier said.
He told the world leaders that he came to them not only as a religious leader but as a survivor of the Holocaust. “After my liberation in January 1945, on Allied Victory Day May 9, the world awoke to the realization of a Europe in shambles with the loss of over 50 million people including 6 million of the Jewish people including my grandparents and family members who perished in Auschwitz.
“Once again we have an opportunity to build a better world together. United we prevail – divided we fail,” the rabbi said. “Covid-19 has shown no mercy; there is no immunity – no borders, no denominations, the young – the old, the rich – the poor; the have nots most of all, but not exclusively. Together we must be a source of comfort and strength to our children, the lost and the infirmed.”
Senior rabbi of Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, he was joined in the conference by U.N. Secretary General António Gutterres, and Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the General Assembly.
Martin Lovett, a British cellist and the last surviving member of the world-renowned Amadeus String Quartet, died in London on April 29 after contracting Covid-19. He was 93.
A native of England, Mr. Lovett was the last member to join Amadeus, whose other three players — Siegmund Nissel, Peter Schidlof, and Norbert Brainin — were all Austrian-born Jewish refugees who met in an internment camp after fleeing Nazi-occupied Vienna. Lovett had to learn German quickly to communicate.
Lovett was just 20 when Amadeus had its first performance, in 1948, at London’s Wigmore Hall. The group would go on to become one of the most celebrated string quartets of the 20th century, touring the world extensively and making 200 recordings, including the complete works of Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven.
“The Amadeus were the first British string quartet to conquer the world stage, earning a global reputation from their recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and major U.S. tours,” the classical music critic Norman Lebrecht told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The quartet disbanded in 1987, after which Mr. Lovett continued to perform in various chamber groups and was a judge in international chamber music competitions. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his services to music, as well as the German Grand Cross of Merit and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Arts and Sciences.
Israel is drawing up plans to resume commercial flights to some nearby countries with low Covid-19 contagion rates starting July 1, the Times of Israel reports. Travel in and out of the country has been all but shut down for over a month, but Israel and other countries that have managed to have curtailed the spread of the disease have been discussing the possibility of creating a special travel zone that would see trips resume without the need for strict quarantine measures.
Israel reportedly will start reopening travel with Greece and Cyprus on July 1, before resuming flights to several other European destinations. A preliminary pilot program in June would see flights to unspecified nearby destinations resume, albeit while still requiring returning travelers to quarantine for 14 days, according to a proposal drawn up by airline executives and presented to the Health Ministry.
Israel is considering using a form of a medical passport for Israelis who wish to travel abroad. A spokesperson for Israel’s Airports Authority said that there’s a very good chance that an Israeli lab will soon develop a 45-minute test for Covid-19 to enable passengers to achieve quick results and avoid a two-week quarantine upon reentering the country.
Channel 12 reported that 45-minute tests are already in use in some Israeli hospitals but are expensive, about $205, four times the amount of standard coronavirus tests. Austria is already offering testing for Covid-19 at its Vienna airport. Their tests currently require a three-hour wait and cost 190 euros ($209).
The Gesher educational organization will host an online conference focusing on “Israel and World Jewry in light of the Corona Crisis” on Thursday at 11 a.m. Most of the sessions will be in Hebrew. For information: gesherusa.org
Dr. Tammy Jacobowitz, chair of the Tanakh department at SAR High School, will discuss “I’ll Be There for You: Blessings and Challenges of Friendship, Especially Now” in a webinar Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by Maharat and Svivah.
The America-Israel Friendship League will host a webinar on “Covid19: The Race to Medication & Vaccination,” on Wednesday at noon.
The Westchester Jewish Council’s Israel Roundtable will sponsor a “Lunch and Learn” program on “The Lasting Impact of COVID-19 on Israel” on Wednesday at noon.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs will sponsor a webinar on “Democracy in Israel: An Analysis of the Current Political Situation,” on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
On Thursday at 3 p.m., JCPA will conduct a “Briefing Call on Jewish Community Advocacy During COVID-19.”
On May 20 JCPA will sponsor a 2 p.m. webinar on “Israel’s Race for the Cure: A Conversation on Public Health Policy, Testing, and Vaccine.”
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will take part in a webinar on various aspects of the coronavirus crisis on Wednesday at noon. The university will also sponsor a webinar on May 27 at noon about “Working on the Front Lines.”
A celebration of the career of sociologist Samuel Heilman, co-sponsored by the Baruch College’s Wasserman Jewish Studies Center, the Graduate Center’s Center for Jewish Studies, and Queens College Center for Jewish Studies, will be held on Friday, May 22, at 10 a.m.
Broadway star Alexanda Silber, who has performed in “Fiddler on the Roof,” will entertain online in an event sponsored by the JCC of Mid-Westchester on Thursday at 11 a.m. To watch: Zoom ID 817 9127 4306, password 797061.
The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance will hold an online, “contagion-free” Rosh Chodesh Sivan Virtual Women-Led Tefilla on Sunday, May 24 at 9:30 a.m. It will include Shacharit, Torah reading, and Mussaf, plus Psalms “for our ailing loved ones,” led by Jennifer Horowitz.
The Jewish Education Project will sponsor a livecast on “Adapting: The Future of Jewish Education,” with CEO David Bryfman on Wednesday at 2 p.m. His guest will be Maya Bernstein, co-founder of UpStart and co-director and facilitator of the Certificate in Facilitation at Georgetown University’s Center for Transformational Leadership.
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.