Just days into the new school year, students at two New York-area Jewish high schools tested positive for Covid-19.
Both schools, Ramaz Upper School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, NJ, informed parents that while there were only one or two cases, quarantines were necessary, The Jewish Week reported Monday. Ramaz will close the Upper School building for junior and senior grades for 14 days while students quarantine. At TABC, the “entire cohort” in contact with the infected eleventh grade student is “required to quarantine through September 24.”
Private and public schools across the country have reported Covid-19 cases after opening, often despite strict safety measures. The Jewish Week also reports on the extensive protocols at Jewish schools throughout the metropolitan area, and administrator’s acknowledgement that there are no guarantees.
Hundreds of guests are expected at the White House today for the signing ceremony marking Israel’s normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.
Guests will be encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distance, but face coverings will not be required, a senior Trump administration official said Monday. The Tuesday ceremony will take place on the White House South Lawn, the official said in a phone briefing with reporters, calling the setting a “vast space,” the Times of Israel reports.
The ceremony will start at 12 p.m. Netanyahu and Trump will hold a bilateral meeting at the White House, and a four-way meeting with the Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers. Trump will also meet separately with the two Gulf states’ foreign ministers.
The Trump campaign called former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg an “elitist globalist” after he pledged $100 million to help Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump in the key state of Florida.
“Accepting Mini Mike’s money means Biden and Harris will be indebted to an elitist, globalist billionaire who said Biden lacked ‘management experience’ and wouldn’t be an effective president,” the campaign said Sunday in a release.
Bloomberg is Jewish. Jewish groups have frequently pointed out that “globalist” and “elitist” are sometimes used to invoke anti-Semitic tropes. Bend the Arc-Jewish Action, a liberal Jewish political action committee that has endorsed Biden, accused the campaign of using “anti-Semitic dog whistles.”
Related: A survey of Jewish voters shows 67 percent plan to vote for Joe Biden in November and 30 percent plan to vote for Donald Trump. The survey suggested gains for Trump among Jewish voters since 2016, although approval ratings among those surveyed found support for Trump is relatively soft.
Anti-Semitic messages, often connected to the QAnon conspiracy theory, are spreading among Florida’s Latino communities ahead of the presidential election.
According to a report in Politico, much of the anti-Semitism stems from QAnon, the growing, false conspiracy theory that claims Democrats and the “deep state” run a pedophile ring and are working to take down President Trump. Purveyors of the theory often traffic in classic anti-Semitic tropes, claiming that powerful Jews control the anti-Trump cabal.
The messages are circulating in groups on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app, and on social media, and have been amplified by more respected outlets. On Friday, the Miami Herald’s Spanish partner, El Nuevo Herald, included an advertising insert called “Libre” that included anti-Semitic views and attacked Black Lives Matter. The paper apologized and ended its relationship with Libre.
Dina Siegel Vann, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, said the anti-Semitic conspiracies appear to be coming mostly from the right. She said she’s “very concerned” about them and that her office has been reaching out to media outlets to combat the stereotypes.
Jewish billionaire Steve Cohen is set to become the next owner of the New York Mets.
The deal, rumored to be around a record $2.4 billion, needs to be approved by Major League Baseball. Cohen, a hedge fund manager, grew up one of eight children; father worked in New York’s garment district. The current owners — the Wilpons and Saul Katz, both Jewish — have looked for potential buyers over the past year.
Cohen is a life-long Mets fan who has said he will spend more than his predecessors to construct a winning team.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations declined to render judgment in a complaint about the behavior of the Zionist Organization of America.
Left-leaning members of the umbrella organization had charged that the right-wing ZOA has disparaged other members in violation of Conference rules — in one example, saying HIAS, the Jewish immigration advocacy group, was no longer Jewish. Members also called the ZOA’s top leader, Morton Klein, racist for various tweets and policy positions. Klein denied the charges and made complaints of his own.
Conference leaders said its rules were unenforceable, and it would “explore other models to promote civil communal discourse over the months ahead,” JTA reported.
How risky are High Holidays activities in the time of Covid-19?
JTA talks to two epidemiologists about the safety of rituals like shofar-blowing, sukkah-hopping and fasting on Yom Kippur. Bottom line: You have to follow the guidelines. And when in doubt, sit it out.
Around the Community
Temple Emanu-El, the oldest Reform Jewish congregation in New York City, is launching a new custom-made virtual platform in time for the High Holy Days. Emanu-El expects to engage over 25,000 people over the course of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The services will be interactive, available worldwide, accessible for children and families, and free. They will include traditional prayers, the shofar blowing and special contributions from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Ambassador Ido Aharoni and The Carpenters, a trio of violinists. The virtual platform will stream a hybrid of pre-produced and live services, and include specialized break out rooms designed to help extended families connect privately, a chat module where attendees can converse, and special services meant for children and parents. The platform also includes a digital version of the prayer book, as well as video captioning. The schedule of services and highlighted features are online.
The Orthodox Union’s virtual Torah Yerushalayim event will feature three days of learning online from Sept. 22-24. The free virtual event will feature keynote addresses from Rabbi Hershel Schachter, OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer, OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph, Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, Charlie Harary and Jewish musician Rabbi Shlomo Katz, and a schedule of lectures and programs by rabbinic scholars, educators and Jewish communal leaders. For more information or to register, go here.
The Jewish Theological Seminary named Rabbi Gordon Tucker as Vice Chancellor for Religious Life and Engagement. In this newly created position, Rabbi Tucker will “work to further enhance Jewish life at JTS, enriching the institution’s study of Judaism with the joy and deep understanding that only lived experience can provide,” JTS said in a statement. Rabbi Tucker served as the dean of the Rabbinical School from 1984–1992. He was for 24 years senior rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY.
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces raised over $15 million at Sunday’s 2020 FIDF National Gala, held virtually. FIDF supports well-being and educational programs for Israeli soldiers.
The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy presents Barry Judelman as he guides participants on a walk by the former sites of Jewish religious life in Harlem, which from 1870-1930 was the third largest Jewish community in the world, after New York’s Lower East Side and Warsaw, Poland. Capacity will be limited to 15, and there will be a wireless audio system to be able to hear the guide and allow for social distancing. Proper mask-wearing is mandatory. Rain or shine. Meet at the Northeast corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and 125th St. in front of the statue of Adam Clayton Powell. Sept. 15, 10:00 am – 12:45 pm.
The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County presents journalist and author Dr. Linda Burghardt in a discussion of the Borscht Belt, which reshaped the Jewish American experience, helped Americanize Holocaust survivors and profoundly changed American culture. Register here. Sept. 15, 11:00 am.
Israel Policy Forum presents a video briefing examining American, Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on Israel-UAE and Israel-Bahrain normalization, and with three expert panelists: Yoel Guzansky (Senior Research Fellow, INSS), Daoud Kuttab (Journalist, Al-Monitor and Arab News), and Dana Stroul (Senior Fellow, Washington Institute). Sept. 15, 2:00 pm.
The Jewish Institute for National Security for America hosts a webinar to discuss its Homeland Security Program, why these programs are important to keeping America safe, and why the campaign to ban them must be countered, featuring former FBI Executive Assistant Director Michael Mason (ret.); Chief Kenneth Berkowitz of the Canton Police Department; Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Sheriff of Middlesex County MA and President of Major County Sheriffs of America; and Steven L. Pomerantz, Director of the Homeland Security Program at JINSA and former Assistant Director with the FBI. RSVP here. Sept. 15, 3:00 pm.
Zionist Organization of America presents Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, speaking on the Arab world’s perspective on the new peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. He will also give detailed background on the recent explosion in Beirut. Moderated by Kobi Erez, ZOA Michigan Executive Director. Sept. 15, 7:00 pm.
The Colburn School and The Royal Conservatory of Canada present an online conversation and performance of the chamber music of the Czech/American composer Walter Kaufmann (1907-1984), who trained in Prague and Berlin before fleeing the Nazis’ persecution of Jews. With James Conlon, conductor and music director of the Los Angeles Opera; Robert Elias, director of the Colburn School’s Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices, and Simon Wynberg, artistic director of The Royal Conservatory of Music’s ARC Ensemble. Featuring newly recorded performances by members of the ARC Ensemble and students from the Colburn Conservatory of Music. The event will be hosted on the Colburn School’s YouTube and Facebook accounts, and livestreamed on The Royal Conservatory’s website. Sept. 15, 8:00 pm.
YUConnects presents “Wedded Wisdom,” a video program for married couples and singles, featuring counsel from YU roshei yeshiva, rabbinic couples, matchmakers and young couples as they discuss what makes a happy and healthy relationship work. Topics include advice for a successful and enduring marriage, overcoming challenges and how to decide if someone is “the one.” Also featuring touching clips from the dating world and recent weddings that occurred during the pandemic. Register at www.yuconnects.com/wedded-wisdom. Sept. 15, 9:00 pm.