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Raphael Warnock wins Ga. race • Bomb hoax suspect was Jewish youth group leader • Covid cases surge in Israel
Daily Update

Raphael Warnock wins Ga. race • Bomb hoax suspect was Jewish youth group leader • Covid cases surge in Israel

A healthcare worker prepares a vaccine at a facility operated by the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Rabin Square, Dec. 31, 2020. (Miriam Aster/Flash90)
A healthcare worker prepares a vaccine at a facility operated by the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Rabin Square, Dec. 31, 2020. (Miriam Aster/Flash90)

The Rev. Raphael Warnock gave Democrats a key win in the Georgia Senate runoff, while the race between Jon Ossoff and Republican incumbent David Perdue remained too close to call. 

Warnock became the first Black Democrat to be elected to the Senate in the South, narrowly beating incumbent Kelly Loeffler and inching the Democrats closer to control of the Senate.

Warnock and Ossoff, who is Jewish, have campaigned together and have often invoked, in ads and in stump speeches, the Black-Jewish alliance that characterized Atlanta’s civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Warnock has in the past been deeply critical of Israel although he more recently has said he will be a stalwart supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Reaction: Democratic Majority for Israel, the centrist pro-Israel group, congratulated Warnock, tweeting,We look forward to working with you to enact Democratic priorities, including a strong US-Israel relationship.”

Related: Perdue and Loeffler appeared to have been damaged by their close embrace of President Trump, who has refused to accept his loss to Biden and who has repeatedly called into question the integrity of the U.S. elections system, without citing evidence. Eleven GOP senators have threatened to obstruct today’s otherwise pro forma process to ratify Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral college win. Overnight, in a disputed tweet, Trump urged Vice President Mike Pence to use his power to subvert the election when he presides over a roll call of the states.

The chief suspect in a New York City bomb hoax is a 22-year-old far-right activist who once served as a leader of a Jewish youth group.

Louis Shenker, who surrendered to police on Tuesday, according to NBC News, was a BBYO regional vice president five years ago while in high school in Longmeadow, Mass.

Campus provocations in recent years have made Shenker a cause celebre of right-wing media sites. Now he stands accused of committing arson and causing a fake bomb scare that cleared the Queens Place Mall in Elmhurst on Monday. He allegedly placed wiring, a can and a roll of duct tape on a stolen Tesla in an attempt to mimic a bomb. Police discovered the car, which had no actual explosives but did have a dog inside.

In a video posted last year Shenker, wearing a yarmulke, praises Israel as an “ethno-state” and says America should adopt its restrictive immigration policies.

A white supremacist group from New Jersey posted more than a dozen anti-Semitic flyers on Staten Island.

The flyers, found over the weekend, are emblazoned with a Jewish star and falsely claim that Antifa, the loose anti-fascist network, is a Jewish organization that is anti-white, according to the New York Post.

They were posted by the New Jersey European Heritage Association, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as a white supremacist group that “espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance.”

Daily coronavirus cases in Israel have topped 8,000 for the second day in a row.

Despite the vaccines administered to about 1.5 million Israelis, government ministers voted Tuesday night to tighten the current nationwide lockdown by shuttering schools and nonessential businesses for two weeks, Times of Israel reports.

Related: Mass indoor weddings were held in the charedi Orthodox community of Israel in at least two locations Tuesday night in violation of Covid restrictions.

Background: JTA has a backgrounder about Israel’s vaccine drive, from what’s making it work to how it relates to the looming elections to why the country isn’t anywhere close to ending its outbreak.

The pandemic has caused Jewish charities to increase their focus on social services and poverty within the Jewish community.

According to a recent report by the Jewish Funders Network, a majority of Jewish donors are rethinking their strategies in response to the pandemic. They are loosening application requirements for grants and increasingly giving unrestricted gifts that can be used for any purpose rather than for specific projects or new programs.

“Philanthropic people often pursue the shiny object, the new thing,” Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, told JTA. The pandemic is “a critical reminder of how urgent the less glamorous social service needs are.”

Holocaust survivors Joseph and Olga Garay celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on Jan. 6.

The New Yorkers met in the spring of 1945 in Budapest, and following their marriage in 1946 immigrated to the United States and settled on Clinton Street. Olga and Joseph, a former fashion manufacturer and real estate investor, are founding members of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C

Their grandson, Joshua Garay, has started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money toward a documentary chronicling their lives.

Around the Agencies

The Jews of Color Initiative is launching what it calls the first-ever study to understand the lived experiences and perspectives of Jews of Color in the United States. The “Count Me In” survey is being led by a multi-racial research team at Stanford University. Those who identify as a Jew of Color are asked to fill out the survey at

Streaming Today

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and American Friends of Soroka Medical Center present a webinar about recent developments in chemotherapy and immunotherapy with Itzhak Avital, M.D., MBA.
Avital is director of the Legacy-Heritage Oncology Center, Soroka University Medical Center, and director of the Cancer Stem Cells Laboratory, National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. Moderated by Doug Seserman, AABGU CEO. Register here. Noon.

The America-Israel Friendship League presents a webinar on the emergence of a globally competitive Palestinian high-tech industry. A panel of Israelis and Palestinians in tech will discuss the potential to connect the Palestinian economy with the surrounding region and build new bridges for future cooperation with the international community. Register here. Noon.

Shalom Hartman Institute presents Yehuda Kurtzer in conversation with Nancy Sinkoff, author of “From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History,” which explores how making room for differing opinions is essential for an open, healthy society. Click here to register. Co-sponsored by the Natan Fund and the Jewish Book Council. 12:30 pm.

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