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Schumer calls his vocation ‘beshert’ • UJA petition seeks state funds for survivors • Seder ideas for young hosts
Daily Update

Schumer calls his vocation ‘beshert’ • UJA petition seeks state funds for survivors • Seder ideas for young hosts

Brooklyn native Norton Juster, who wrote the classic children's novel "The Phantom Tollbooth," died Monday at 91. (Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Brooklyn native Norton Juster, who wrote the classic children's novel "The Phantom Tollbooth," died Monday at 91. (Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)


With New York State’s budget deadline less than three weeks away, UJA-Federation of New York is asking lawmakers and the governor to include an additional $2.5 million in case management services for Holocaust survivors.

The federation is circulating a petition urging funding for mental health services, legal services, emergency cash assistance, and COVID-compliant programming to alleviate the isolation of homebound survivors — 40% of whom live in or near poverty.

Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) signed a bipartisan House letter urging the Biden administration to go slow before lifting sanctions and returning to the Iran nuclear deal.

They were among 140 lawmakers from both parties urging a “comprehensive” deal with Iran that addresses not just its nuclear program, but a range of other national security issues, ABC News reported.

A middle ground? “This letter provides a real opportunity for the administration to see that there’s a significant number of members that would support a balanced approach — a bipartisan, balanced approach,” said Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), who helped organize Democratic signatures. In December, 150 House Democrats urged Biden to swiftly return to the nuclear deal. Last month, 120 House Republicans asked the administration to not rejoin the nuclear deal.

The head of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale will step down after a tumultuous tenure that included controversies over criticism of Israel by a teacher and a visiting lecturer.

In a note to parents Tuesday, Jessica Bagby said the “unique complexities of ECFS and the particular challenges that have consumed my focus and time during my tenure here have pulled me away” from vital connections to parents and students, the New York Post reports.

In 2020 the school fired a teacher who posted tweets opposing Zionism. In Nov. 2019, a guest lecturer from Columbia University Law School outraged parents by saying that Israel is an example of “victims becoming perpetrators.”

Chuck Schumer said it was “beshert” when the antiwar movement kept President Lyndon B. Johnson from seeking a second term and inspired Schumer to pursue a political career. 

The Senate Majority Leader used the Yiddish word for “fated” in an interview with The New York Times. “There’s a Yiddish word — beshert — God’s hand,” Mr. Schumer said. “I said to myself, ‘Holy moly! A ragtag group of students and other assorted nobodies toppled the most powerful man in the world? This is what I want to dedicate my life to.’”

Brooklyn writer Menachem Kaiser’s new memoir recounts his search for his family’s roots – and their lost property — in Poland.

“Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a tense, fraught examination of what the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are really after in these roots and restitution journeys. Kaiser talks to the Jewish Week about history, memory, Nazi gold and and family secrets.

Related: Israeli novelist Yaniv Iczkovits, whose award-winning new novel “The Slaughterman’s Daughter” is set in a shtetl, talked about the book’s reception in Israel in an event co-sponsored by the Jewish Week and UJA-Federation: “On the one hand they [Israelis] connected to the stories of their families, but what I think they really connected to was about bringing a lost world to Israel right now.” Watch the video here.

In Other News

A Dallas kosher grocery will continue to require customers to wear masks, after facing a backlash when it said it would follow the lead of the Texas governor in lifting the restriction.

Meyers Leonard of the NBA’s Miami Heat apologized to the team’s Jewish owner for using an anti-Jewish slur while playing a video game on the Twitch streaming platform.

Hebrew National “may soon answer to a different authority,” as Conagra Brands Inc. is in talks to sell the famous hot dog brand to Brazil’s JBS.


Brooklyn native Norton Juster, author of the classic children’s novel “The Phantom Tollbooth,” died Monday at his home in Northampton, Mass. He was 91. “The Phantom Tollbooth,” published in 1961 with illustrations by Jules Feiffer, follows a bored boy named Milo who drives a magical toy car through a fantasy land full of numbers, puns and life lessons. It draws on Juster’s day job as an architect and the translations of Yiddish literature he found in his childhood home.

People and Places

Jew in the City, a non-profit dedicated to promoting a nuanced understanding of Orthodox Jews, will host an in-person “Ask Us Anything” event (with livestream) at 30 Rockefeller Plaza today from 1-3 pm. JITC chose the NBC headquarters for the session following the recent airing of an episode of “Nurses” in which a Hasidic character was portrayed inaccurately. The team from JITC will be on-site to answer questions and engage with passersby. The “Ask Us Anything” event will be held in accordance COVID safety protocols.


The Orthodox Union has released its annual Guide to Passover, featuring close to 30,000 kosher-for-Passover products and charts on ingredient substitutions, a Passover calendar and Seder requirements.

OneTable has resources for young people interested in hosting or attending virtual, home or outdoor Passover gatherings. The Seder 2021 Guide includes guides to group, solo and Shabbat seders, Haggadot, recipes, playlists and “inspiration boards.” Its events site,, offers ways to connect with others interested in hosting or attending a seder.

Streaming Today

The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County presents a virtual “Curator’s Corner” with HMTC’s Museum and Programming Director, Dr. Thorin Tritter, talking about a pre-war photograph of Charlotte Gillman, who survived the Holocaust after being hidden in a series of Catholic convents and was able to reunite with her family. Register here. Noon.

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and The Forward present a conversation with leading NYC mayoral candidates. Confirmed participants include Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Carlos Menchaca, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Loree Sutton, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang. Register in advance and the program link and password will be included in your confirmation email. 7:00 pm.

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