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Politics hobbles Israel’s Covid response, Wexner alumni sue Bibi’s son, Westchester Jews aid immigrants

Politics hobbles Israel’s Covid response, Wexner alumni sue Bibi’s son, Westchester Jews aid immigrants

Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem has admitted its first 60 Covid patients into its Sheltered Underground Covid Isolation Unit. Built in the newly constructed Hospital Pavilion, the unit can accommodate up to 160 Covid patients. (Courtesy)
Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem has admitted its first 60 Covid patients into its Sheltered Underground Covid Isolation Unit. Built in the newly constructed Hospital Pavilion, the unit can accommodate up to 160 Covid patients. (Courtesy)

In Riverdale, Rabbi Barry Dov Katz is using his (masked) shofar to spread love ahead of the High Holidays.

The rabbi of the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale has been visiting street corners in his Bronx neighborhood to sound the ram’s horn each day (except Shabbat) leading up to the High Holidays.

“What’s exciting about this year,” Rabbi Katz told the Jewish Week’s Gary Rosenblatt, “is that we are using familiar rituals to push out the walls and make Judaism expansive” – a most welcome effort to counter what he describes as “all that’s keeping us apart.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said the US should not sell advanced F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates because it puts Israel’s security in danger.

Her weekend op-ed in the Miami Herald reflects the Democratic Party’s Jewish campaign strategy ahead of November elections: demonstrating a solid commitment to Israeli security despite a drift among progressives.

The sale was announced together with last month’s normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE.

According to Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, “a more militarized region is not safer for Israel or for U.S. interests.”

Related: Prime Minister Netanyahu will travel to Washington, D.C., next week for a signing ceremony of the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli Health Ministry officials may recommend a full national lockdown for more than a month amid skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates.

The development came as 40 towns and neighborhoods across the country awoke after their first overnight curfew, ordered by the government in an effort to slow the virus spread in areas with high infection rates. However, those measures largely went unenforced and are seen by many as ineffective.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that there were at least 3,506 new coronavirus infections diagnosed on Tuesday, in one of the highest figures for fresh cases detected in Israel in a 24-hour period.

Background: The New York Times reports that Israel’s Covid response has been hobbled by politics, with the government accused of bowing to pressure from charedi Orthodox leaders to ease restrictions.

Another view: Haviv Rettig Gur, in the Times of Israel, writes that Netanyahu’s “obsessive political brinkmanship has interfered with his ability to rescue his country from a dire emergency.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James said she was “offended” by a recent Democratic Socialists of America questionnaire asking New York City Council candidates to skip trips to Israel.

James took part in a webcast with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York on Tuesday. “I was offended by the question,” said James, and said that if it had been on the questionnaire when she was a candidate for City Council, “I would not have sought their support,” according to Jewish Insider.

James visited Israel on a JCRC-led trip in 2015.

Wexner Foundation fellows in Israel are suing Benjamin Netanyahu’s son for calling them a “cult of pedophiles.”

Yair Netanyahu, a frequent Internet troll, leveled his unfounded accusation amidst news that fashion mogul Leslie Wexner, the founder of the leadership program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, had a business association with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender accused of sex-trafficking female minors. Epstein served on the foundation’s board.

In a tweet, Netanyahu said the nearly 500 graduates of the program should be banned from Israel’s civil service.

The nearly $300,000 lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Herzliya Magistrate’s Court by 75 graduates of the Wexner Israel Fellowship, calls his tweets “false, venomous and baseless,” according to Israel’s Channel 12 News.

The Jewish Education Project launched an initiative to lower the cost of teen travel to Israel.

Known as RootOne (, the initiative received a $20 million seed gift from The Marcus Foundation. “RootOne vouchers” will allow trip sponsors to lower their price point by $3,000 per participant on their trips. The initiative will also invest in trip curricula, experiences, and pre- and post-trip engagement before participants begin college. Five youth serving organizations —BBYO, USY, Ramah, Union for Reform Judaism and NCSY—are working with RootOne.

RootOne aims to increase teens traveling to Israel on these trips by nearly 40% year over year, according to a statement. “We want young people stepping onto their college campuses with deep connections to Israel and strong Jewish identities,” said Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation.

A new activist network has been launched to mobilize the Westchester Jewish community to advocate on behalf of immigrant communities. 

The Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration will connect and support the work of local organizations in the immigration and refugee space and will advocate for  changes to current immigration policy, according to a release. Leaders and organizers of WJCI are members of synagogues and temples throughout Westchester.

“Westchester County is a diverse community,” said Holly Rosen Fink, co-founder and member of the WJCI Board of Directors. “Approximately 25% of our population derives from other countries.” More info about the organization is available at

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announced he’s running for mayor.

The city’s top fiscal watchdog, who joined a crowded field Tuesday, previously served as Manhattan borough president and as a state assemblyman. In a launch event in Inwood, he vowed to eliminate waste in city agencies, offer cash assistance to small businesses that have been hurt by Covid-19 and triple permanent housing for the homeless, the Daily News reported.

Other declared hopefuls include Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Loree Sutton, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former veterans services commissioner.

Jewish conservatives have joined the right’s criticism of progressive philanthropist George Soros, despite the fact that the Jewish financier is a frequent target of anti-Semitism.

JTA talks to Soros’ critics, who say he should not be immune from criticism, but that they are also wary of giving ammunition to anti-Semites who craft conspiracy theories about the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor.

A Swiss rider for the Israeli Tour de France team was banned from cycling for four months after failing a drug test.

Patrick Schelling, part of the Israel Start-Up Nation squad, tested positive on Feb. 24 for terbutaline, a banned substance found in asthma inhalers, Cycling News reportedThe Israeli team said that Schelling had not told them he was taking asthma medication. The International Cycling Union called the offense “non-intentional.”

The annual bicycle race is in its 11th stage, or day of racing. Guy Niv, 26, a member of Team Start-Up Israel, is the first Israeli to compete in the Tour de France.


Three television shows about Israeli spies carry an unconscious message: Undercover agents easily “pass” among their Arab neighbors, fulfilling Israelis’ yearning for acceptance in an unwelcoming neighborhood. The shows suggest, writes Jewish Week editor in chief Andrew Silow-Carroll, that if “the Arabs and Iranians ever stopped hating us (and vice versa), both sides might see that other boundaries are easily crossed.”

Streaming Today

American Friends of Museums in Israel presents an on-line auction of 60 works, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photographs and works on paper by artists including Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Janet Taylor Pickett, Christo, Robert Motherwell, Alison Rossiter, Alex Katz, ​Lavrenty Bruni, ​Laurie Simmons, and many others. The auction runs from Sept. 9-23. For more information call (917) 970-8846 or visit ​​ to preview auction works.

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance presents a discussion about apologizing as it relates to the Days of Awe and how to apologize in the most effective way. Featuring Elisheva Adler, a crisis counselor who works in a women’s shelter and has completed her most recent clinical work at a school for twice exceptional children. Complete the registration in order to receive the Zoom log-in information. 12:00 pm.

The Jewish Education Project presents a webinar addressing the following ideas: What is the conversation around race and identity that is currently taking place in our society? As an educator, what do you need to know? What is the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism? How do we make sense of the silence in the face of anti-Semitic statements and acts? Featuring Shahanna Mckinney-Baldon, Director of Edot Midwest Regional Jewish Diversity Collective, and Kendell Pinkney, Jewish-Life Consultant and rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. 1:00 pm.

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