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Bernie Madoff said to die in prison • Manhattan JCC head to retire • How to celebrate Israel’s birthday
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Daily Update

Bernie Madoff said to die in prison • Manhattan JCC head to retire • How to celebrate Israel’s birthday

REMEMBER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hangs a wreath at the State Memorial Ceremony of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, which was held at Yad LaBanim in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon, April 13, 2021. (Kobi Gideon, GPO)
REMEMBER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hangs a wreath at the State Memorial Ceremony of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, which was held at Yad LaBanim in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon, April 13, 2021. (Kobi Gideon, GPO)

 

Good morning! Yom Ha’atzmaut, celebrating Israel’s 73rd year of independence, begins this evening at sundown. See a list of virtual events at The Hub. UJA-Federation of New York also has a list of in-person and virtual events here.

Bernie Madoff, the fraudster who ran a $17.5 billion Ponzi scheme ensnaring thousands of investors, including a long list of Jewish organizations and families, has died at 82.

The Associated Press reported Madoff’s death Wednesday at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.

The Queens-born money manager’s victims included European hedge funds, elderly retirees, Jewish celebrities like Elie Wiesel and Sandy Koufax, Yeshiva University, elite Orthodox Jewish day schools in New York and Boston, and Hadassah.

Background: The Jewish Week looked back on his legacy, five years after his conviction in 2009.

Rabbi Joy Levitt announced plans to retire as CEO of the Manhattan JCC, the country’s largest. 

“Joy has been the primary reason for the JCC’s incredible growth and success over the past two decades,” Sheryl Kaye, chair of the JCC’s board of directors, wrote Tuesday to JCC members and staff.

Why now: “The JCC is poised for greatness in its next chapter. We learned so much this year,” Rabbi Levitt said in an interview with The Jewish Week. “I’ve been here almost 25 years, and in this job for 14. I’ve done what I wanted to do to strengthen this community, and it is time for new leadership and new energy.”

The president of the Association of Jewish Studies resigned in response to criticism that he met with Steven M. Cohen, the Jewish sociologist who was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct in 2018.

Cohen’s recent meetings with Jewish studies scholars and communal leaders drew widespread condemnation from rabbis, academics and the AJS women’s caucus, who said he had not fully repented for his actions.

AJS President Noam Pianko, a professor of Jewish studies at the University of Washington, wrote in his letter of resignation, shared Tuesday morning: “Accepting this meeting invitation was a mistake.”

The Working Families Party endorsed Comptroller Scott Stringer for mayor.

Why it matters: The endorsement from the progressive group is a boost for Stringer, who has recently lagged in the polls, the Daily News reported. WFP picked Stringer, the only Jew in the race, over two progressive women of color, Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley.

Read Stringer’s views on six Jewish issues here.

Eric Dinowitz declared victory in the city council race for District 11, which includes Riverdale.

Dinowitz will take office immediately, serving out the remainder of the term for Andrew Cohen, who was elected to the Bronx Supreme Court last year, the Riverdale Press reports.

Dinowitz, a public school teacher, is the son of State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. He is also a member of Six13, a Jewish all-male a cappella choir.

A synagogue’s closet-sized food pantry is serving dozens of food-insecure people on Long Island.

Newsday reports on the Alix Rubinger kosher food pantry at Congregation Beth Ohr in Bellmore, which offers curbside pickup and deliveries throughout the Town of Hempstead.

Local food bank officials say the need for food skyrocketed across Long Island as a result of the pandemic.

Hofstra University students say there aren’t enough kosher food options on campus.

The pandemic forced cutbacks in dining services at the Long Island college, including the closure of Eli’s Kosher Kitchen, which used to serve hot, fresh kosher meals.

“There is very little kosher food. The joke I constantly make is that I survive [on] Chex Mix and Reese’s peanut butter cups,” Eliot Drazen, a sophomore film major, told The Hofstra Chronicle.

What Else

Labor MK Gilad Kariv, the first Reform rabbi to serve in the Knesset, brought a Torah scroll for women’s services at the Western Wall plaza, defying the site’s regulations.

Amid escalating tensions with Israel, Iran pledged on Tuesday to enrich uranium to 60% — closer than ever to the over 90% needed for weaponization.

Israel will reopen its gates to fully vaccinated tour groups on May 23.

Deaths

Isi Leibler, a former activist on behalf of Soviet Jews and a leader of Australian Jewry, has died in Israel. He was 86. A multimillionaire who founded and then sold a tourism firm, Leibler immigrated to Israel in 1999. Leibler had a key role in exposing a scandal within the World Jewish Congress, accusing its former secretary-general of misusing funds.

Yom Ha’atzmaut

The Jewish Federations of North America joins The Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod to present farewell remarks from Israeli President Rivlin, along with a look back on his career, at its Global Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. Join here. 7:00 pm.

Central Synagogue, Park Avenue Synagogue, Kehillath Jeshurun, 92Y, JAFI, UJA-Federation of NY, AIPAC and FIDF present Tekes Me’avar, a ceremony to include personal testimonies, words of inspiration from rabbis, and songs of remembrance and celebration from cantors. Register here. 7:30 pm.

Streaming Today

American Friends of Rabin Medical Center presents Robert Siegel, former host of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” leading a discussion on “People vs Technology: Who’s Winning?” Featuring Sherry Turkle of MIT, author Nicholas Carr and columnist Virginia Heffernan. Register here. 4:00 pm.

The BEACON programs at M.S. 216, 158 and 172 and Rep. Grace Meng take part in Stop AAPI Hate, a virtual event presented by Commonpoint Queens supporting the Asian American Pacific Islander community during the COVID-19 pandemic and a time of increased prejudice. RSVP here. 6:00 pm.

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