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Ocasio-Cortez talks with top Jewish group • Museum chef feeds Holocaust survivors • Remembering East Tremont
Daily Update

Ocasio-Cortez talks with top Jewish group • Museum chef feeds Holocaust survivors • Remembering East Tremont

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is interviewed by Michael Miller, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Thursday, April 1, 2021. (YouTube)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is interviewed by Michael Miller, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Thursday, April 1, 2021. (YouTube)


Today at 4:00 pm, The Jewish Week and JTA present the North American launch of “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” by Israeli actress, producer and writer Noa Tishby. Join us for a conversation with Tishby and Gideon Raff, the creator of the Israeli series that was adapted as the hit Showtime series “Homeland.” Moderated by Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of The Jewish Week. Register here.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) sat down for a public chat with the head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY.

Last Thursday’s talk with Michael Miller — released on video Monday — ended what some had considered a snub of Jewish leadership since the progressive lawmaker’s election in 2019.

Close to home: Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged that she hadn’t engaged with national and citywide Jewish groups, saying “I was really focused on our backyard.” But she did say she worked on projects with local Jewish groups, including the Bronx House, the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights and the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway, as well as J Street, the liberal Mideast policy group.

Foreign affairs: Discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the lawmaker said “we value the safety and the human rights of Israelis, we value the safety and human rights of Palestinians in that process,” and suggested the settlements are an obstacle to the two-state solution. She also said she objected to the detention of minors; in the past, she has praised Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) for legislation that would withhold funding from Israel over its detention of Palestinian children.

Quotable: The lawmaker called public service a “deeply moral calling, a spiritually felt calling.”

Jewish Insider and the Forward have details of the conversation. You can watch the video here.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) encouraged houses of worship and nonprofit organizations in Queens to apply for security funding.

Meng recently held a virtual workshop that included a presentation by the Community Security Initiative, a joint program of the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY).

The workshop provided information and assistance on applying for federal funds under the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s initiative provides facilities with funds to protect their properties against threats and attacks.

The deadline to apply for the grants is April 15.

Rep. Ritchie Torres says the Biden infrastructure package should focus on communities that never recovered from the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway.

“The Cross Bronx Expressway has left in its wake decades of displacement and disinvestment, as well as environmental degradation,” Torres told the Daily News.

The Jewish angle: Robert Caro, the biographer of city planning czar Robert Moses, famously documented how in 1953 Moses gouged the highway through East Tremont, a vibrant, lower-middle class Jewish community. “Before the families were evicted, East Tremont had been a low-income but stable community of 60,000,” wrote Caro. “Afterwards, East Tremont became a vast slum.”

Fast forward: Biden has said his plan to rebuild America’s “crumbling” roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure will reverse longstanding racial disparities exacerbated by past national mobilizations.

David Teyf, the chef at the cafe at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, has been cooking and delivering meals to Holocaust survivors.

Sidelined by the pandemic, Teyf and museum head Jack Kliger opened the kitchen for the project soon after the pandemic closed the building to visitors.

Growing up in a Jewish family in Belarus, Teyf would hear how his grandparents had starved during the war. That inspired a slogan for his current project: “No survivor should ever go hungry again.”

Met Council completed the largest free Passover food distribution in the country.

In partnership with UJA-Federation of New York, Met Council mobilized over 1,017 volunteers and staff to distribute over 2 million pounds of food to over 203,000 Jewish New Yorkers in 141 locations throughout the five boroughs.


The recent death of Morris Dickstein, an honorary younger member of the “New York Intellectuals,” focused renewed attention on the influential literary circle of the mid-20th century. In a Jewish Week essay, Rutgers prof Nancy Sinkoff remembers the women and other overlooked figures in the movement, including historian Lucy Dawidowicz, the subject of Sinkoff’s recent award-winning biography, “From Left to Right.”

Streaming Today

Penn State Alumni Association presents Boaz Dvir, author of “Saving Israel” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020), about World War II aviators—mostly Americans, Jews and non-Jews—who carried out a secret, illegal operation to assist the young Jewish state and prevent what they viewed as an imminent second Holocaust. Register here. Noon.

Arab/Jewish political integration in the wake of Israel’s March 23 election will be analyzed by Maisam Jaljuli, co-chair of the board of directors of Sikkuy, the organization for the advancement of civic equality in Israel and a member of the secretariat of Standing Together, during an Israel Policy Forum briefing. Register here. 2:00 pm.

Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust remembers Olga Lengyel, a Hungarian physician’s assistant and Auschwitz prisoner whose vivid exposé of the death camps inspired William Styron’s novel “Sophie’s Choice.” Moderated by Dr. Sara R. Horowitz, professor of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies at York University and featuring David A. Field, chairman of the Olga Lengyel Institute’s board of directors; Nancy Fisher, museum trustee who conducted a four-hour interview with Lengyel in 1998 for the USC Shoah Foundation; and Robert Jan van Pelt, world-renowned scholar and Chief Curator of “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” Register here. 4:00 pm.

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