Happy Sigd! Ethiopian Jews are celebrating the unique holiday marking the deep connection between the Ethiopian Jewish community and Jerusalem.
Many Jewish groups are warily watching the presidential transition and wondering how it could affect the issues they care about, ranging from terrorism prevention to keeping poor families fed.
JTA has a rundown of the top issues, including hopes on the right that Trump would make it harder for Biden to resurrect the Iran deal or undo elements of Trump’s Israel policies.
ICYMI: The head of a top democracy watchdog tells The Jewish Week that Trump’s refusal to accept a smooth transition of power is straight out of the authoritarians playbook.
Background reading: Jacob Magid of The Times of Israel asks, “Who are Biden’s potential senior appointees, and what are their views on Israel?”
A top adviser to President Trump’s new acting defense secretary routinely blames “the Israeli lobby” and “neocons” for pushing the United States into wars.
Douglas Macgregor is advising the new acting defense secretary, Christopher Hill. CNN’s KFile uncovered interviews in which Macgregor says “pro-Israel” donors and the pro-Israel lobby are behind efforts to drive the United States into war.
Macgregor was Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Germany, but his nomination was stalled in August after KFile uncovered other controversial commentaries, including a call for martial law on the U.S.-Mexico border, bigoted statements about Muslims, and saying Germany’s efforts to grapple with the Holocaust era reflected a “sick mentality.”
Reaction: Jewish groups in August called on Trump to withdraw the nomination. The American Jewish Committee repeated the call over the weekend. “We repeat that call now in light of Pentagon post and revelations about more vile comments,” AJC’s CEO said on Twitter.
Elissa Slotkin, the rare Democrat who won reelection in a district where Donald Trump got a majority, said it would be a “shanda” if her party split along ideological lines.
An internal war between moderates and progressives would be a “gift” to the Democrats’ political opponents, she told Politico. “And it would be what we call in Yiddish, a shanda, a shame, a deep shame, if internal politics led to a strategic opening for these completely anti-democratic forces. ”
Slotkin, a moderate who was elected after a long career in the national security sector, later told the Jewish Democratic Council of America that she was proud to use the Yiddishism as the representative of a district with fewer than 4,000 Jews. “I feel I’m doing my part to further the culture of the Jewish people!”
Bloomberg News welcomed Rep.-elect Ritchie Torres, a gay Afro-Latino Democrat from the Bronx, as a “Pro-Israel Progressive.”
“The progressive position is to promote a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, not to end the existence of Israel as a Jewish state,” Torres told Bloomberg’s Eli Lake.
“This is very good news for Democrats,” opines Lake. “The party’s left flank will likely continue to impose an anti-Israel purity test. But now there is a rising progressive star who has proudly resisted this pressure and thrived nonetheless.”
The two-year-old social media platform Parler has experienced a surge in popularity this month as other social media companies cracked down on election misinformation.
Why it matters: On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League said that while Parler is not an extremist platform, it’s home to a growing extremist base that spreads conspiracy theories (like QAnon) and other false, racist, and anti-Semitic content. (h/t The Morning Brew)
The rapper Ice Cube will be among the headliners at the virtual gala of the Zionist Organization of America in December.
Ice Cube struck up a friendship with ZOA president Morton Klein this summer after he tweeted images that many deemed anti-Semitic.
Israel gave the green light to construction of 1,257 housing units in a controversial planned neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Givat Hamatos would become the first new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem in two decades. Opponents say it would completely surround the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa, cutting it off from the rest of the largely Arab East Jerusalem, Times of Israel reports.
Peace Now warned that the plans were potentially “a fatal blow to the two-state solution.” The pro-settlement organization Regavim hailed the development, saying: “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and we’re in favor of the state exercising its sovereignty in its capital.”
A German businessman contacted a retired teacher in Israel to apologize for the actions of his grandfather, a Nazi who took over her grandfather’s store in 1938.
Thomas Edelmann, 49, who never knew his grandfather, called Hanna Ehrenreich, 83, after learning through a genealogical search that his family benefited from the forced sale of the store, CNN reports.
He wrote: “I believe that if my family supported the injustice your grandparents experienced, it is our duty to take this into account and take over responsibility at least in getting in touch with you to listen and learn. As I am part of the Edelmann family I want to take the first step and listen to you.”
Around the Agencies
The Jewish Agency has launched “JReady,” an emergency network meant to help Jewish communities around the world handle the continuing coronavirus crisis and increase overall emergency preparedness and rehabilitation. The program will provide a tool kit to help handle the experiences of the pandemic and address crises, including the uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes. The Jerusalem Post has details.
Commonpoint Queens presents Dr. Ayala Fader, professor of anthropology at Fordham University, telling the stories of married ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women in 21st century New York who lead “double lives” in order to protect those they love. While they no longer believe fully, these hidden heretics continue to live in their families and religious communities, even as they surreptitiously break Jewish commandments and explore forbidden secular worlds in person and online. Register here. Cost is $8 member/$10 non-member. 12:00 pm.
The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue presents a virtual event with Professor Azza Karam, secretary general of Religions for Peace International, the world’s largest multi-religious coalition working to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth. In the annual John Paul II Lecture on Interfaith Understanding, Karam will talk about the ways multifaith alliances can take concrete actions to further peace and well-being in a fractured world. Register here. 1:00 pm.
Kane Street Synagogue presents a free virtual book launch to celebrate publication of Julia Mayer’s “Painting Resilience: The Life and Art of Fred Terna.” Mayer’s book is the first full-length biography of the renowned 97-year-old Holocaust survivor and artist and includes reproductions of more than two dozen of his works, many of which are held by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Albertina, Yad Vashem, and others. RSVP here. 7:30 pm.
The Cantors Assembly in partnership with Milken Archive of Jewish Music and the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music presents Cantors on Record. The nine-part program will feature weekly live interviews with the artists and the music they recorded along with archival photos. It will be hosted by Hazzan Elizabeth Shammash and Dr. Mark Kligman, director of The Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music and Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. 8:00 pm.