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Rep. Meeks is Foreign Affairs chair • Rabbi’s mourners defy Covid rules • U.K. soccer league fights anti-Semitism
Daily Update

Rep. Meeks is Foreign Affairs chair • Rabbi’s mourners defy Covid rules • U.K. soccer league fights anti-Semitism

The Duck Fettuccine at MEAT, a Brooklyn restaurant that is hoping kosher diners still want a little luxury despite the pandemic. (Courtesy Sam Reinstein)
The Duck Fettuccine at MEAT, a Brooklyn restaurant that is hoping kosher diners still want a little luxury despite the pandemic. (Courtesy Sam Reinstein)

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) will replace Elliot Engel, also of New York, as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, while Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut will succeed New York’s Nita Lowey as chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. 

The two new leaders, seen as Democratic Party centrists with solid Israel bona fides, defeated progressives. Meeks is the first Black chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Meeks has co-sponsored pro-Israel legislation, including a bill that would further enhance Israel-U.S. defense cooperation, and told a Jewish Democratic group that defense assistance to Israel was sacrosanct. He also said that under U.S. law, Israel is not allowed to use American defense assistance on West Bank spending.

ReactionsJeff Mendelsohn, executive director of Pro-Israel America: “A dedicated advocate of the U.S.-Israel relationship throughout his over two-decade tenure in the House, Congressman Meeks has co-sponsored legislation condemning the dangerous Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has consistently supported the absolute and unequivocal U.S. commitment to Israel aid.”

Mark Mellman, president and CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel: “Congressman Meeks brings to [this] role extensive experience, deep knowledge, and a longstanding commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

If Not Now: “We urge Rep. Meeks to heed [the] winds of change, embrace a new vision, and begin listening to Democratic voters, not @AIPAC‘s hawks and lobbyists…. Eliot Engel — the last Chair of the @HouseForeign — learned the hard way what happens when a politician holds tight to an outdated foreign policy agenda.”

Joe Biden said Thursday it was “hard to tell” how much the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist had complicated his hopes of reaching a detente with the Islamic Republic once he enters office.

“The bottom line is that we can’t allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday. “But I know one thing: We cannot do this alone. And that’s why we have to be part of a larger group, dealing not only with Iran, but with Russia, with China and a whole range of other issues.”

Biden has signaled he will return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, which offered Tehran relief from international sanctions in exchange for guarantees, verified by the United Nations, that its nuclear program has no military aims.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Hudson Institute yesterday that the JCPOA was a “flawed agreement” that paved the way for an Iranian nuke “literally with gold.”

Thousands of followers, including many defying Covid-19 rules, took part in a Jerusalem funeral procession Thursday for a revered charedi Orthodox rabbi who died from the coronavirus.

Rabbi Aharon David Hadash, spiritual leader of the prestigious Mir Yeshiva, died overnight Wednesday at the age of 93. Mourners appeared to disregard agreements reached with the police over social distancing, and there were isolated clashes.

Related: Israel’s Health Ministry on Thursday recorded over 1,500 new coronavirus cases a day earlier, the highest daily rate since Oct.15, when Israel was still under full nationwide lockdown, the Times of Israel reports.

The Premier League, representing the United Kingdom’s top soccer clubs, has endorsed the definition of anti-Semitism established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA.

The IHRA working definition describes various forms of anti-Semitism, including hatred and discrimination against Jews and Holocaust denial. It also includes examples of anti-Israel language it defines as anti-Semitic, including comparing the country’s policies to those of Nazi Germany.

Why it matters: The announcement is part of a larger campaign to fight discrimination and racism in English football, and follows in the footsteps of London-based Chelsea FC, whose owner is the Israeli-Russian Roman Abramovich.

Can a high-end kosher restaurant thrive during the pandemic? Brooklyn’s MEAT is going to find out.

The Jewish Week profiles Danny Branover, MEAT’s owner and the head of Basil Hospitality Group, which owns and operates two other artisanal kosher eateries in the Crown Heights neighborhood. Branover is looking to pull in patrons eager to return to “life in full color” after the bleak past few months.

The Marlene Myerson Jewish Community Center’s Other Israel film festival will present “Birth Right,” a 25-minute short about a Birthright-style trip to Israel by a group of Russian speakers.

The film presents an Israeli perspective on the popular program for Jewish young adults, and one that focuses on a Russian traveler rather than an American. Israeli filmmaker Inbar Horesh says the film isn’t particularly meant as a takedown of the program. “For me, my main interest is to look at the Israeli society and to examine how we define our identity. What does it mean to be Israeli?” she tells JTA.

Shabbat Shalom

Jacob’s journey in this week’s Torah portion reminds us to modulate our personal desires when serving the greater good, writes David Gottlieb. “Each of us is a human sine wave, moving back and forth along the spectrum between individual and communal identity.”

More wisdom: Like the Golem of legend, writes Rabbi David Wolpe, each of us is sustained so long as God’s name is in our mouths.

Around the Agencies

The Chain NYC Film Festival, now streaming online through Dec. 13, includes a block of “Jewish Voices” films. They include “The Last Cyclist,” a filmed theatrical presentation of a play originally performed in a Nazi concentration camp; “The One and Only Jewish Miss America,” a documentary about Bess Myerson; and “Wrong Rhythm,” about a new mother who puts aside emotion to celebrate her sister’s wedding. Tickets are $11 for each screening block and can be purchased online through


No Exit Theatre Collective and the Jewish Theatre Project at The Sandra Kahn Wasserman Center for Jewish Studies at CUNY Baruch College present a Zoom adaptation of “La Ronde” by Arthur Schnitzler. Translated by Reuven Glezer, the first play in No Exit’s “Born to Join in Love” micro-season focuses on the deep human connections we miss or attempt to make in interpersonal relationships and especially at a time of physical isolation. A Q&A with the artists to follow. All donations will be going directly to HIAS. Tonight, 7:00 pm.

Limmud eFestival will feature dozens of sessions with Jewish change makers, teachers and thought leaders, including Natan Sharansky, Elina Kaplan, Alex Goldstein, Linda Hirshman, Avram Mlotek, Hen Mazzig and many more. $36. Register here. Sunday, starting at 1:00 pm.

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