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Man robs Brooklyn synagogue • Alan Dershowitz nominates Jared for Nobel • Flory Jagoda, giant of Ladino music, dies
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Daily Update

Man robs Brooklyn synagogue • Alan Dershowitz nominates Jared for Nobel • Flory Jagoda, giant of Ladino music, dies

COMFORT FOOD: David G. Greenfield, CEO of Met Council, speaks at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of The Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry in Kew Gardens Hills on Jan. 28, 2020. The kosher food pantry will be supplied by Met Council's citywide food distribution network and run by  staff and volunteers of Chazak, which serves the area’s Bukharian Jewish community as well as Jewish New Yorkers of all backgrounds. (Met Council)
COMFORT FOOD: David G. Greenfield, CEO of Met Council, speaks at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of The Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry in Kew Gardens Hills on Jan. 28, 2020. The kosher food pantry will be supplied by Met Council's citywide food distribution network and run by staff and volunteers of Chazak, which serves the area’s Bukharian Jewish community as well as Jewish New Yorkers of all backgrounds. (Met Council)

 

The upcoming Purim holiday offers synagogues and day schools a cruel reminder that an entire year has elapsed since Covid-19 turned life upside down.

The Leffell School in Westchester County, an early epicenter of the pandemic in New York state, is among the many Jewish institutions celebrating the holiday under the cloud of the pandemic. Although it is holding in-person classes, the school’s festivities will be curtailed to prevent the possible spread of the virus.

“We’ve lost almost an entire year of synagogue life and our personal lives,” said Rabbi Janine Jankovitz of Congregation Beth El Ner Tamid in Broomall, Pennsylvania. “I know people are tired and sad, and we’re trying to bring them just a little bit of joy.”

A Jewish high school in the Bronx that became one of the first schools in the country to close due to Covid-19 has created a video to honor the “heroes” of the coronavirus pandemic.

SAR High School shut down for in-person classes on March 3, 2020 after a New Rochelle student’s family member became the second diagnosed case of Covid-19 in New York. Nearly one year later, the student choir sings in the video marking the school’s reopening in September and its resilience.

Yeshiva College dissolved its Jewish Studies department, dispersing faculty into three other departments. 

The move comes following the departure of several faculty members over the past few years and the administration’s decision not to replace them, faculty told The Commentator, a student newspaper.

“The university administration has made it clear that we will not be allowed to hire anyone new to replace all these losses, so the department has slowly – actually, rapidly! – been shrunk,” Dr. Aaron Koller, a professor of Near Eastern Studies who previously served as chair of the Jewish Studies department, told The Commentator.

University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Selma Botman told The Commentator that “[i]t is not uncommon, in higher education, for faculty members to move from one department to another in order to align more closely with colleagues who share a common disciplinary focus.”

The NYPD released video of a man suspected of stealing six Torah crowns from a Flatbush synagogue.

Police have not identified the suspect, who is seen inside Congregation Beth El of Flatbush, on East 3rd St. near Avenue U, around 1 a.m. on Jan. 30, the New York Post reports. 

The silver crowns are valued at about $8,200.

Alan Dershowitz nominated Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, the Trump administration officials who shaped the Abraham Accords, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dershowitz is an eligible nominator in his capacity as an emeritus professor at Harvard University, Reuters reported Monday. Dershowitz represented the former president in his first impeachment.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is not for popularity,” Dershowitz wrote in his nomination. “Nor is it an assessment of what the international community may think of those who helped bring about peace. It is an award for fulfilling the daunting criteria set out by Alfred Nobel in his will.”

How did Stella D’Oro, the baked goods company founded by Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, become one of the Jewish community’s most popular brands?

Jews who keep kosher cherish (or at least tolerate) the Italian-style cookies, which are made without dairy products and can be eaten after a meat meal, The Nosher explains.

Deaths

Flory Jagoda, the Bosnian-born Holocaust survivor who became a champion of Ladino and Sephardic music after immigrating to the United States, died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Alexandria. She was 97.

As a singer, songwriter and performer, Jagoda was widely celebrated for her efforts to preserve Ladino music and Sephardic culture, winning a prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002. Her Chanukah composition “Ocho Kandelikas” (“Eight Little Candles”), written in 1983 when Jagoda was 60 years old, has become a beloved holiday tune widely covered by other artists.

Dustin Diamond, the Jewish actor who played Screech in the early 1990s sitcom “Saved By the Bell,” has died at 44 from lung cancer. In the series about a fictional Los Angeles high school, Screech was a nerdy sidekick to the main character, Zack Morris, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Diamond reprised the role in two successful spinoff series throughout the ’90s.

Teresa Zabinska-Zawadzki, whose Polish parents rescued Jews by hiding them at Warsaw’s zoo, has died at 77. She was born at the zoo in 1943 when Warsaw was occupied by Nazi Germany; her parents, zookeeper Jan Zabinski and his wife Antonina, saved the lives of about 300 Jews. Their story was told in Diane Ackerman’s 2007 book “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and the 2017 film adaptation starring Jessica Chastain.

Around the Agencies

JScreen, a national non-profit dedicated to preventing genetic diseases, will host various virtual events to mark Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week (Feb. 1-5). Today’s events include a Facebook Live webinar, “Everything You Need to Know about Genetic Carrier Screening,” at noon.

The Jewish Education Project is offering a three-session course led by Mindy Gold, founder and lead consultant of EdtechMMG, an education consulting firm, on how Jewish educators and leaders can create community online. Sessions will be held Feb. 4, 9, and 11. Register here.

Streaming Today

Israel Policy Forum presents Kaleigh Thomas, Associate Fellow of the Center for a New American Security, discussing President Biden’s priorities in the Middle East. How will the new administration navigate complex issues like Israel-Arab normalization, arms sales, and the U.S. role in the Persian Gulf? Register for the video briefing. 2:00 pm.

American Jewish University presents Rebecca Sacks, whose debut novel, “City of A Thousand Gates,” explores the emotional reality of contemporary life in the West Bank and the hardships of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where violence is routine and survival a luxury. Register here. 3:00 pm.

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