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Meet the MTA’s Jewish chief exec • Man grants disabled wife divorce after 16 years • The Times endorses Lander for comptroller
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Daily Update

Meet the MTA’s Jewish chief exec • Man grants disabled wife divorce after 16 years • The Times endorses Lander for comptroller

UNITED AGAINST HATE: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a rally against antisemitism and hate at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, June 7, 2021. Hundreds attended the rally. (Facebook)
UNITED AGAINST HATE: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a rally against antisemitism and hate at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, June 7, 2021. Hundreds attended the rally. (Facebook)

 

Good morning, New York! Here’s what’s happening, in a quick 800 words:

TOP STORY

The new CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the son of a Hebrew book publisher.

  • John Nathan Lieber, who goes by “Janno” and currently serves as the MTA’s chief development officer, is the son of the late Charles Lieber, who served as president of the Hebrew Publishing Company and as chairman of the Reconstructionist Foundation, a founding organization of what today is Reconstructing Judaism.
  • Lieber is married to Amy Glosser, who is a past president and current board member of the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn.
  • Gov. Cuomo also announced that Sarah Feinberg, interim head of the MTA’s subway and bus operations, will serve as chair of the MTA. Feinberg would be the first woman to head the organization if confirmed by the state Senate.
  • The road ahead: The two take over the MTA as the system attempts to crawl out of a slump in daily riders during the pandemic. “I have no prediction on when ridership comes back to pre-pandemic levels of moving millions of people every single day,” Feinberg told Jewish Insider in March. “But it will come back in ways that people probably can’t fathom right now because that’s who we are.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

A new book digs behind the myths of Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

  • “A Fortress in Brooklyn” shows how haredi Orthodox Jews have created a counterculture in gentrified Brooklyn: While some community members have grown wealthy in real estate, many others depend on government assistance and feel greater affinity for their Latino and African-American neighbors than for non-haredi Jews.
  • Shira Hanau talks to the authors, Nathaniel Deutsch and Michael Casper.

The Jewish Communal Fund of New York approved nearly $700,000 in charitable grants.

  • The funding will target food needs for low-income New Yorkers; Jewish summer camp scholarships for families impacted by COVID-19; a therapy center for preschoolers with special needs; and capital improvements for local day camps.
  • How it works: JCF is the largest Jewish donor advised fund in the country; grantees are selected with the assistance of UJA-Federation of New York.

Sixteen years after he abandoned his disabled wife, a Hasidic man consented to give her a divorce through a New York rabbinic court.

  • The case wound through New York and Israeli rabbinic and civil courts for years, eventually ending up in the Israeli Supreme Court.
  • The unnamed wife, on a visit to Israel, suffered a debilitating stroke in 2005. Court rulings determined that the “multi-millionaire father of the husband [w]as the key obstacle to a divorce,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
  • Background: Learn more about “agunot,” and how Jewish law can keep a women “chained” to a man who refuses to grant her a divorce.

ELECTION NEWS

The New York Times endorsed Brad Lander for city comptroller.

  • The editorial called the veteran councilman from Brooklyn “among the hardest-working and most effective public servants in the city.”
  • The St. Louis native grew up idolizing Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for his civil rights work and as a teen helped organize a march for Soviet Jewry. He served on the board of directors of the Jewish Funds for Justice, now part of the organization Bend the Arc.
  • Lander’s endorsers range from veteran moderates like Rep. Jerry Nadler and State Sen. Liz Krueger of Manhattan to progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Brooklyn/Queens and Jamaal Bowman of the Bronx/Westchester.
  • Quotable: When then President Trump attacked members of “The Squad” as anti-Semitic, Lander tweeted: “As an American Jew, it is infuriating to see this weaponization of anti-Semitism in the service of white nationalism. We won’t stand for this.”

Liz Abzug, founder and director of the Bella Abzug Institute and daughter of the late Congresswoman Bella Abzug, endorsed Kathryn Garcia for mayor.

  • Awkward: Bella Abzug, a feminist icon, was mayoral candidate Scott Stringer’s mother’s cousin.

Businessman Ray McGuire, trailing in the crowded mayoral race, spoke to the Orthodox news site Hamodia.

  • The Jewish stuff: McGuire condemned the Israel boycott, said he supported the current city policy on the controversial circumcision ritual known as metzitzah b’peh, and waffled a bit on supervising yeshiva education — perhaps the primary issue for the haredi Orthodox community.
  • Quotable but inscrutable: “I think we need to continue to work with the leadership of the yeshivas to get to a place that is one that can accommodate what’s necessary on behalf of our children,” he said.

A VIEW FROM CAMPUS

Students sitting on the shelter floor in their dorm at Tel Aviv University. May 2021. (Batya Goldberg)

Batya Goldberg is attending college in Israel, but didn’t expect that she’d learn her most important lessons in a bomb shelter. Read the Brooklyn student’s essay, part of The Jewish Week’s “A View From Campus” series.

PEOPLE AND PLACES

JASA’s 15th Annual NYC Elder Justice Conference begins today. During the two-day (virtual) meeting, 350+ professionals in the field of aging will learn about elder abuse prevention and intervention while networking with experts and peers.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Leonard J. Greenspoon will discuss his book, “Jewish Bible Translations: Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress,” in which he highlights distinctive features of Jewish Bible translations and offers new insights regarding their shared characteristics and their limits. Register here. 1:00 pm.

Guy Ben-Porat, chair of Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government, discusses the political implications of Israel’s new diverse coalition of political parties. Register here. 1:30 pm.

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