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Satmar rabbi decries protests, Labour guilty of anti-Semitism, Trump plans ‘October surprise’ on Jerusalem
Daily Update

Satmar rabbi decries protests, Labour guilty of anti-Semitism, Trump plans ‘October surprise’ on Jerusalem

The front and back of a silver Torah shield by the 18th-century artisan Elimelekh Tzoref of Stanislav that could fetch $1 million at an upcoming Judaica auction at Sotheby's. (Sotheby's)
The front and back of a silver Torah shield by the 18th-century artisan Elimelekh Tzoref of Stanislav that could fetch $1 million at an upcoming Judaica auction at Sotheby's. (Sotheby's)

A leader of a major Satmar chasidic faction denounced protests earlier this month by Orthodox Jews who opposed Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, whose faction is based in Kiryas Joel in Orange County, denounced the protests Tuesday at an event in Borough Park, the Brooklyn neighborhood where the protests took place.

“None of you should be seen at these protests,” Teitelbaum told the crowd, according to BoroPark24. “Praise unto the person who doesn’t follow in the ways of the evil.”

Related: Alan Dershowitz also weighed in against the protests, writing that he is “embarrassed, as a loyal son of Borough Park, by the burning of masks and spitting at journalists on the very avenue on which I attended yeshiva and shopped for Shabbos and Yom Tov food.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was able to identify 10 Orthodox-ordained rabbis who have performed or said they were open to officiating religious wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

“Though small, that number represents a remarkable change in the Orthodox community, which is defined by its strict adherence to religious law and in which a decade ago it was impossible to find a single rabbi willing to do so,” writes JTA.

One of those rabbis, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, who leads a Modern Orthodox synagogue outside Detroit, says: “The Judaism that I believe in, that I think God gave us, is one that cares for people and addresses their needs and is meaningful for them, so Jewish law and Jewish tradition needs to address this,”

Related: A rabbi writes that performing same-sex weddings is a good start, but that rabbis must also fight for LGBT rights, “from healthcare to adoption to legal gender affirmation to partner recognition.”

The Trump administration is set to allow U.S. citizens who were born in Jerusalem to add “Israel” to their passports.

The change would reverse decades of policy under Republican and Democratic presidents, who held that Jerusalem’s status was unsettled until final negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Politico, which broke the news, noted that the change could be announced as early as today, just days before the election, and “it could help Trump as he seeks to turn out evangelical Christians and other voters in his base who strongly support Israel.”

The Jewish Week asked 60 Jewish leaders and entrepreneurs if our post-pandemic communal future will be better or worse than before. A whopping 76 percent answered “better.

Gary Rosenblatt reports on our most recent “Conversation,” a virtual gathering of influential Jewish men and women. “There was also a general consensus that the pandemic has served as a wake-up call, however harsh,” he writes. “We’re turning increasingly inward, devoting more energy to family, friendship, spiritual health and doing our share to make the world a better place.”

A new book recalls the heroic, shameful story of World War II’s displaced persons, with parallels to today that are hard to ignore.

The Jewish Week talks with CUNY historian David Nasaw, author of “The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War II to Cold War” (Penguin Press). In it he tells familiar stories – like the illegal immigration of Jews to British-controlled Palestine – and forgotten stories like America’s dishonorable refusal to open its gates to Holocaust survivors while welcoming war criminals.

“From 1945 onward American immigration policy was based not on reality but on lies and falsehoods,” says Nasaw.

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene joined forces with eight other companies to put on a production of the anti-fascist Sinclar Lewis play, “It Can’t Happen Here.”

The controversial 1936 play tells the story of a populist president who leads the United States into authoritarianism.

Motl Didner, Folksbiene’s associate director, said the staging of the play on the eve of the election is “a call to action. We want people to participate in democracy. That’s how we prevent dictatorship from taking hold.”

Two weeks after Twitter said it banned Holocaust denial, its CEO testified that it had no such policy.

Jack Dorsey, in a Senate hearing Wednesday, was asked if Holocaust denial is included among the types of misinformation Twitter bans. “It’s misleading information,” Dorsey conceded. “But we don’t have a policy against that type of misleading information.”

Dorsey has yet to publicly clarify his comments, but a Twitter spokesperson told JTA that its Hateful Conduct policy “prohibits attempts to deny or diminish violent events, and our glorification of violence policy prohibit [sic] glorification of genocide including the Holocaust.”

Britain’s Labour Party was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination,” according to a government probe of anti-Semitism charges.

The year-long Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation found there were “serious failings” by the party’s leadership when it came to anti-Semitism, and that Labour had “inadequate processes” for handling complaints. The Times of Israel has details.

Women in Syracuse and Long Island are among the 11 Jewish Democratic newcomers hoping to unseat incumbent House Republicans next week.

Dana Balter, a former Syracuse University professor, is challenging John Katko in New York’s 24th District. The race is a tossup. Out on eastern Long Island, another former academic, Nancy Goroff, is neck and neck with Rep. Lee Zeldin in the polls.

Background: JTA has a guide to all 11 races. Read here about the 10 Jewish Republicans running for Congress in 2020.

Sotheby’s will auction two Torah shields that could sell for close to $1 million each.

The items are part of a trove from the Sassoon family, a wealthy dynasty originally from Iraq who made their mark in Bombay, Shanghai and Great Britain.

The two shields are made of silver and attributed to an artisan named Elimelekh Tzoref of Stanislav who worked in the late 18th century in a city that is now part of Ukraine. The auction is Dec. 17 in New York.

Context: Jonathan Kaufman’s 2020 book, “The Last Kings of Shanghai” (Viking), describes how the Sassoons and a rival dynasty shaped China’s economy for over 100 years.


In the latest in The Jewish Week’s series of perspectives on the 2020 election, writer and film producer Marra B. Gad writes that Joe Biden makes her feel safe as a biracial Jew. Biden and Kamala Harris, she writes, know that “America is built out of individuals and families who are, each in their own way, uniquely American.”

Streaming Today

The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University presents “Affirmative Squatting: Mizrahi Women in Israel Correcting Past Injustices,” with Dr. Claris Harbon, a scholar of law, socio-legal studies, race/ethnicity studies, and gender studies. Her work examines the home, especially public housing in Israel, as a site of both oppression and resistance. Registration required. 12:00 pm.

Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents “You Will Not Play Wagner,” a reading and discussion
about the play by South African playwright Victor Gordon about a young Israeli conductor who chooses to perform the music of Richard Wagner. A pre-recorded reading of an excerpt from the play will be followed by a scholarly talk with Gordon, director Roy Horovitz, and Tel Aviv University professor Moshe Zuckermann on Wagner’s influence after the Holocaust and the broader implications of censorship in Israel. 2:00 pm.

The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center presents satirist Fran Lebowitz and New York writer-at-large Frank Rich in a discussion of politics, the president, money, the suburbanization of New York, the rich, the young, the freedom to not listen, the civil rights of smokers and anything else that piques their rage. Buy tickets here. 7:00 pm.

The JCC of Manhattan presents a panel conversation about recent challenges in managing the Covid-19 pandemic within the Orthodox Jewish community. The event will feature AJWS Global Ambassador Ruth Messinger, City Councilman Brad Lander, and journalist Jacob Kornbluh. Co-sponsors: New York Jewish Agenda, Romemu, Central Synagogue, B’nai Jeshurun, Avodah, Jewish Theological Seminary, National Council of Jewish Women New York, CBST, SAJ, and Repair the World Harlem and Brooklyn. 7:30 pm.

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