The Jewish Week is always here for you.
We need your support now.
Your contribution will help us bring you vital news
and frequent updates about the impact of COVID-19.
Morocco, Israel normalize ties • Pantries fear ‘Covid fatigue’ • The easiest Chanukah donut recipe
Daily Update

Morocco, Israel normalize ties • Pantries fear ‘Covid fatigue’ • The easiest Chanukah donut recipe

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discusses the historic normalization deal with Morocco at a Western Wall ceremony to light the first Chanukah candle, as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on, Dec. 10, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discusses the historic normalization deal with Morocco at a Western Wall ceremony to light the first Chanukah candle, as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on, Dec. 10, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel will establish diplomatic relations with Morocco, which becomes the fourth Arab country to announce it will recognize Israel in the last year.

President Trump announced the development Thursday on Twitter. He also said the United States would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a territory to Morocco’s south that the northwest African kingdom has controlled since the 1970s.

Like the rest of the Arab world, Morocco opposed Israel’s creation in 1948 and did not recognize it thereafter — though like several Arab states, the kingdom maintained a clandestine relationship with Israeli intelligence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to hold a phone call with Moroccan King Mohammed VI today, Times of Israel reports.

Analysis: “Morocco and Israel have a profound and ancient Jewish connection, and the Moroccan Jewish community, though small, still thrives today,” writes Raphael Ahren.

Engel’s reaction: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the outgoing chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the move but warned against “casting aside legitimate multilateral avenues of conflict resolution,” referring to the territorial dispute over Western Sahara.

Carrot and stick: Read a backgrounder on the Western Sahara dispute. “President Trump’s decision to endorse Moroccan control of Western Sahara puts the United States once again at odds with world opinion, as it takes sides for the first time in a decades-long struggle at a moment when that conflict threatens to return to open warfare,” writes Richard Pérez-Peña.

Palestinian reaction: Senior PLO official Bassam as-Salhi tells Reuters that the deal “is unacceptable and increases Israel’s belligerence and its denial of the Palestinian people’s rights.”

With federal aid packages set to expire and private donors and government partners feeling “Covid fatigue,” Jewish social service agencies worry they won’t be able to meet the exponentially increased needs in the months ahead.

Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the largest distributor of free kosher food in America, said that the agency is currently distributing 350 percent more food each month compared to corresponding months last year, The Jewish Week’s Hannah Dreyfus reports.

To meet the needs, Selfhelp Community Services, Met Council and UJA-Federation are working together to expand opportunities for seniors and low-income New Yorkers (with a significant overlap between the two categories) to have access to kosher food and opportunities to remain virtually engaged in Jewish community.

The Israeli government dropped its plan to impose additional pandemic restrictions over Chanukah.

The so-called coronavirus cabinet protested the plan to ban Israelis from visiting other people’s homes during the evening hours of the eight-day holiday, which began last night.

Israel will begin vaccinating its citizenry against coronavirus on Dec.27 and will be able to inoculate 60,000 people a day, Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, a longtime judge in Orthodox rabbinical courts and a leading authority in Jewish law, died Thursday. He was 95.

The Newark-born Schwartz served as the lead judge for the Beth Din of America, one of the major Jewish courts in the United States, for nearly 30 years. He also led the court of the Chicago Rabbinical Council since moving there from Brooklyn in 1987.

“Rav Schwartz had a breadth and depth of knowledge that spanned centuries of Jewish law, allowing him to draw upon a reservoir of understanding in issuing halachic guidance to tens of thousands and in authoring his three sefarim,” the Orthodox Union said in a statement.

Sapir Basal, a shaliach (Israeli emissary) from The Jewish Agency for Israel who serves the New York community, lit Chanukah candles in Times Square as part of a worldwide campaign meant to counter the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic, Dec. 10, 2020. (Jewish Agency for Israel)

Happy Chanukah

President Trump, his successor Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wished Jewish Americans a happy Chanukah.

Find their messages here.

Make your holiday sufganiyot with what a food writer calls “the easiest Chanukah jelly doughnut recipe ever.”

The trick is starting with packaged, refrigerated biscuit dough. Read Shannon Sarna’s recipe here. Too lazy to bake? Read an Upper West Side blogger’s guide to “The Best Jelly Donuts” for Chanukah.

Be’chol Lashon suggests this recipe for Japanese tempura latkes (caviar optional).

The news site 6sqft has a list of “15 places in NYC to get latkes and takeout” for Chanukah.

The Daily News reports that the Upper West Side Zabar’s is “selling latkes like hot cakes.”

USA Today discusses the perennial question, “Is it Hanukkah or Chanukah? Why the Jewish holiday has multiple spellings.”

Lab/Shul‘s Rabbinic Fellow Rami Avraham Efal and administrative coordinator Luis Burgos hold a virtual candle-lighting for people who experience disability. Tonight at 6:00 pm.

Retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) will light the menorah at the Israeli Embassy in Washington for the second night of Chanukah, 3:30 p.m.

Shabbat Shalom

Judah and Tamar, two transgressors in the Bible, found redemption when they confessed to their wrongdoing. “There are no saints in Judaism,” writes Rabbi Jill Hausman, “only flawed human beings like ourselves who can grow in goodness and selflessness if they own up to their sins.”

More wisdom: “Children whose parents are at the end of life blame themselves for not being there for aging parents at every minute,” writes Rabbi David Wolpe. But they need to give themselves some slack, and realize that sometimes good is good enough.


Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America presents a Learn Yiddish through Song Workshop Package that includes four workshops, each by a different teacher, and a session of Yiddish yoga. Sign up here for the whole package or for individual workshops. This event is part of Not Your Usual Winter Intensive Winter Yiddish Language and Culture. $60. Today, 2:00 pm.

Temple Emanu-El is hosting a family-friendly Chanukah and Shabbat service featuring the premiere of the temple’s Koolulam video, a story told by Rabbi Joshua Davidson and a member Zoom candle lighting. The service will broadcast on the temple website and on Facebook. Today, 6:00 pm.

Town and Village Synagogue celebrates the third night of Chanukah with a community lighting and community sing to help create light in these dark times. Enjoy an evening of Jewish music and songs featuring Yiddish vocalist Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, Town & Village’s Cantor Shayna Postman along with T&V’s Choir and Junior Singers. Registration required. Cost: $28 early bird tickets (by 12/11); $36 general admission; $10 Students; free under 18. Saturday, 7:30 pm.

The Workers Circle presents a Yiddish Khanike Party, with Khanike likhtlekh (candles) and warm greetings from its teachers and students from all over the world. All participants will be entered in the Annual Khanike Raffle for a chance to win free registration to any of the organization’s winter 2021 semester Yiddish classes! Register here. Sunday, 1:00 pm.

The Ariel Quartet presents violinist Alexandra “Sasha” Kazovsky; violinist Gershon Gerchikov; cellist Amit Even-Tov, and violist Jan Grüning in an afternoon of music and holiday baking. The quarter will perform Schulhoff: String Quartet No. 1; Beethoven: Quartet in G major, Op. 18, No. 2, and Steve Cohen: A Klezmer Nutcracker live from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. They’ll share their family recipes for making Viennese Apple Strudel and Chocolate Babka, and there will even be a bake-off matching up Lebkuchen and Chanukah doughnuts. Free sign up here. Sunday, 4:00 pm.

Candle-Lighting, Readings:

Friday, Dec. 11, 2020
Kislev 25, 5781

Light Shabbat Candles at 4:10 pm (Light Chanukah menorah first)

Saturday, Dec. 12
Kislev 26, 5781

First Torah: Vayeshev: Genesis 37:1 – 40:23
Second Torah: Numbers 7:18-23
Haftarah: Zachariah 2:14 – 4:7

Shabbat Ends 5:14 pm

read more: