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Pompeo visits settlement • NYC Jewish schools staying open • Israeli is a top NBA pick
Daily Update

Pompeo visits settlement • NYC Jewish schools staying open • Israeli is a top NBA pick

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem, Nov. 19, 2020. 
(Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem, Nov. 19, 2020. (Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)

Jewish schools and other private schools in New York City will remain open even as the city shutters its public school buildings starting Thursday amid a rise in new Covid-19 cases in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the school closure Wednesday as the city’s seven-day test positivity rate reached 3%.

Private schools may write their own reopening plans, including their own thresholds for closure. Jewish day schools rushed to reassure families that they would remain open.

“We will continue to stay open as long as we can keep our numbers low, and our community safe,” one school emailed families moments after the official closure announcement came down. “Or unless the governor instructs independent schools to close.”

The Trump White House is throwing an in-person Chanukah party despite coronavirus concerns.

The reception will be held Dec. 9 in the afternoon, a day before the holiday’s first candle lighting, according to an invitation obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

President Donald Trump has come under fire for holding a number of crowded events at the White House, including several that are believed to have spread the coronavirus.

Related: The United States passed a grim milestone on Wednesday, hitting 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths, with infections surging nationwide.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited a West Bank winery, the first time a top American diplomat has visited an Israeli settlement.

Thursday’s stopover in Psagot came as Pompeo made his way to the Golan Heights, in what will be another first for a US secretary of state. Last year, the Trump administration recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan.

Earlier Thursday, in a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo announced that Washington would designate as “anti-Semitic” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel and cut off government support for any organizations taking part in it.

Pompeo did not provide additional details, and it was unclear what organizations would be at risk of losing funding.

The Palestinian Authority has resumed security and financial ties with Israel, in part because its leaders believe a Biden presidency will foster peacemaking.

Israel will now resume funneling taxes to the Palestinian Authority and security cooperation. According to reports, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resumed the ties because Palestinian areas were suffering a cash crunch.

Related: In an attempt to build new ties with the incoming administration, the Palestinian Authority is reportedly considering changing its policy of paying stipends to Palestinian security prisoners, including those convicted of terror attacks.

President Trump nominated a former White House speechwriter who took part in a white supremacist conference to a government commission that monitors Holocaust sites.

Darren Beattie, who identifies on Twitter as a “proud Jew,” was fired by Trump in 2018 for appearing as a panelist during a conference of the far-right H.L. Mencken Club in 2016. His fellow panelist was Peter Brimelow, a white nationalist who runs the anti-immigrant website VDare.

On Wednesday, Trump announced that he was appointing Beattie to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which works to secure Jewish sites in Europe, JTA reports.

The Anti-Defamation League called on Trump to rescind Beattie’s appointment to the commission, which CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called “downright shocking.”

A new book recalls two French artists who carried on a campaign of resistance against the Nazi occupation of Jersey, the largest of Great Britain’s Channel Islands.

In “Paper Bullets,” Jeffrey H. Jackson writes about Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, lovers and artistic collaborators who spread homemade propaganda to demoralize German troops. Their gripping tale, Jackson tells The Jewish Week, “highlights the variety of ways in which people fought the Nazi empire across Europe.”

Deni Avdija, the 19-year-old Israeli basketball phenom, was taken by the Washington Wizards with the ninth overall pick of the NBA Draft on Wednesday night – the earliest an Israeli has been picked in league history.

Avdija, a lanky 6-9 forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel’s top professional league, becomes the second player from the Jewish state to go in the first round. Omri Casspi, also a standout forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv, went 23rd to the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 draft and played 10 years in the NBA for several teams.

“Israel is a small country, to represent the country and be in the highest spot is amazing,” Avdija told ESPN. “I’m super excited to take my game to the next level.”


Linda Sher, a Chicago activist who founded the first political action committee run by Jewish women, has died at 73. Her group, JACPAC, or the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs, has become a force on Jewish political advocacy and focuses on a range of issues, including reproductive rights and Israel. Candidates — mostly Democrats, although it has endorsed moderate Republicans — continue to solicit its backing.

Streaming Today

The Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot and The Jewish Heritage Alliance present a Thanksgiving program exploring the lives and communities of the earliest American Jews. The program will feature: Andrée Aelion Brooks, journalist and biographer of Doña Gracia Nasi; Jane S. Gerber, the founder and director of the Institute for Sephardic Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Joseph Lovett, filmmaker and “Children of the Inquisition” director; and Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. 2:00 pm.

National Museum of American Jewish Military History presents a conversation with military law scholar Eugene Fidell of NYU Law School addressing the relationship between civilian government and military law. He’ll also discuss the Orders Project which provides volunteer lawyers to military personnel who question the legality of orders. Register here. 3:00 pm.

The Jewish Institute for National Security of America hosts a webinar to to discuss the 2020 election and its implications for Congressional foreign policy. The briefing will feature JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor and former Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker, JINSA Director of Government Affairs Joshua London and JINSA Vice President for Policy Blaise Misztal. RSVP at this link. 3:00 pm.

The Streicker Center presents Shannon Watts and John Feinblatt to discuss how Everytown for Gun Safety is taking on the NRA to reduce the epidemic of gun violence. Moderated by Richard Salomon, vice president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum‘s Board of Directors, and with an introduction by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Register here. 6:30 pm.

The University of Pennsylvania History Department and Jewish Studies Program present Dr. Alexandra Minna Stern, exploring the resurgence of anti-Semitism within a wider context of new white nationalism. Stern is Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies as well as the Associate Dean for the Humanities at the University of Michigan. She is the author of “Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate” (2019), where she applies the lenses of historical analysis, feminist studies and critical race studies to deconstructing the core ideas of the alt-right and white nationalism. Register here. 7:00 pm.

The Defiant Requiem Foundation presents the third installment in its new online series, Survivor Recollections, featuring a one-on-one discussion between the foundation’s president and artistic director, Murry Sidlin, and Terezín survivor Jan Rocek, an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The event will include works composed by Terezín prisoners. Suggested donation $10. 7:00 pm.

92nd St. Y presents Jewish memoirists Esther Amini (“Concealed: A Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America”), Angela Himsel (“A River Could be a Tree”), and Ilan Stavans (“The Seventh Heaven: Travels through Jewish Latin America”), who will sit down with Sandee Brawarsky, culture editor of The Jewish Week, to talk about how they use the memoir format to express their identity and history. $25. Purchase tickets here. 7:00 pm.

The Tenement Museum presents a virtual tour exploring the Rogarshevsky family, a Jewish American family from Lithuania who lived in 97 Orchard Street in the 1910s. A Tenement Museum educator will virtually guide visitors through their home, and discuss how the family balanced their traditions with working outside the home at garment factories across the city. $10/device; free with Tenement Museum membership. 7:00 pm.

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