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Senate passes anti-Semitism bill • France convicts kosher mart terrorists • Beloved NY comic dies of cancer
Daily Update

Senate passes anti-Semitism bill • France convicts kosher mart terrorists • Beloved NY comic dies of cancer

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the Greek son of Holocaust survivors,  lights the Chanukah candles at a virtual ceremony organized by the Isaeli embassy in Washington, on December 16, 2020. (Screen capture/Israeli Embassy in DC)
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the Greek son of Holocaust survivors, lights the Chanukah candles at a virtual ceremony organized by the Isaeli embassy in Washington, on December 16, 2020. (Screen capture/Israeli Embassy in DC)

President Trump named three White House aides to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, including the son of his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Andrew Giuliani, among the few aides who have lasted throughout the presidency, doesn’t appear to have any skills as a fundraiser or obvious interest in Jewish affairs or human rights, the usual prerequisites for the appointment to the 55-person council.

The other appointees are Mitchell Webber, a lawyer in the Office of the White House Counsel, and Nick Luna, a one-time actor who serves as Trump’s “body man,” or personal attendant.

Reaction: Appointments to the council are “abused politically,” Abraham Foxman, national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, told Jewish Insider. “The Holocaust is neither Democratic nor Republican.”

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would elevate the position of the State Department’s anti-Semitism monitor to ambassador, adding punch to the envoy’s mission of pressing other governments to confront anti-Jewish bigotry.

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., led sponsorship of the bipartisan bill, with the backing of a broad array of Jewish groups.

Why it matters: “This legislation provides the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism with the tools, resources and gravitas necessary to apply much-needed pressure on foreign governments to create more tolerant societies as part of their relationships with the United States,” Hadassah said in a statement.

Only around 40% of Israelis said they would agree to participate in the first round of Covid-19 vaccinations while more than half would not.

Israel is planning for the rollout of its national vaccination campaign next week.

Polling by the Israel Democracy Institute found that “7.7 percent of Jewish men, 29.4 percent of Arab men, 17.2 percent of Jewish women, and 41.2 percent of Arab women would refuse the vaccine under any circumstances.”

A court in Paris convicted four people on terrorism charges in the 2015 jihadist terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher store.

The four men were among 14 people on trial in connection with the terrorist assaults in January 2015, whose actual perpetrators were killed after jointly planning the attacks, Le Monde reported.

Other defendants were convicted of belonging to a criminal enterprise without the aggravated element of terrorism.

Related: French President Emmanuel Macron’s planned law to curb radical Islamism and strengthen the powers of the secular state “have underlined the political minefield faced by governments tackling religious extremism.”

The Jewish Community Center of Harrison, N.Y., donated 70,000 diapers to needy families in honor of its rabbi’s 44th birthday.

“When I realized that my birthday would coincide with Thanksgiving, I wanted to celebrate it with a special gift to the community,” Rabbi Eytan Hammerman said in a statement. The diapers were delivered Saturday to a Westchester charity, 914Cares, and its affiliate, the Westchester Baby Bank.


Growing up in an interfaith family, Pomona College senior Lucy Geller felt “anxiety about not being Jewish enough.” But then she discovered her campus Hillel — and perhaps more powerfully, Yiddish theater — which have “inspired me to not only forge a deeper connection with Judaism, but connect my identity to other passions.”


Catie Lazarus, a comedian, writer and producer, died Dec. 13 at 44 of cancer. The recurring live show she created, “Employee of the Month,” brought A-list stars on stage at Manhattan’s Joe’s Pub to talk about what they did everyday for work as a way of life. She was also a noted interviewer and writer outside of her lauded show and published a series in The Atlantic on life after losing a job.


Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the Greek son of Holocaust survivors, lit the Chanukah candles at a virtual ceremony organized by the Israeli embassy in Washington on Wednesday evening.

Participating in a ceremony at Jerusalem’s David’s Tower to sign and celebrate the Declaration of Our Common Destiny were, from left to right: Our Common Destiny Project Director Sivan Aloni; Israeli Knesset Member Naftali Bennett; Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz; Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich; and Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director General Dvir Kahana, Dec. 13, 2020. (Courtesy)

Our Common Destiny presents a global event to “shine a light onto the power of Jewish unity,” today at 2:30 pm. and 8:00 pm. A project of the Genesis Philanthropy Group in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Office of the President of Israel, the group has been gathering signatures on a Declaration of Our Common Destiny that focuses on five deeply held values shared by all Jews. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed the document this week at a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Tower of David.

Ahava Theatre has created a Chanukah video in collaboration with The Broadway Boys, highlighting the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) Jewish experience and celebrating a multitude of traditions within the artistic community.

Jewish Theological Seminary offers Jewish learning all day long today, with five sessions on Chanukah with JTS professors. Registration is free, although donations are encouraged. Come to as many sessions as you’d like. Zoom links for each session will be emailed to you throughout the day beginning at 10:00 am with Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz on the origins of the menorah and concluding at 6:30 pm with Rabbi Gordon Tucker on Talmud Yevamot 97a.

Conservative congregations from across the nation will take part in “IllumiNation,” simultaneously lighting menorahs, sharing holiday music, and connecting with friends. Organized by Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, California, the event will feature singer/songwriter Neshama Carlebach and author AJ Jacobs. All proceeds from IllumiNation will benefit Masorti Olami. Tonight, 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Check your local synagogue for the link.

Israel Tennis & Education Centers presents a 30-minute worldwide candle-lighting celebration and appreciation event. Today, 12:30 pm. Register here.

Kulanu will host its first “Zoom-A-Thon,” a Kulanu in Song Chanukah Benefit sharing songs and prayers by people from Guatemala, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Indonesia and more, singing their own Jewish music unique to their culture. Today, 1:00 pm. Learn more about the event here.

Bend the Arc and over two dozen partners present a last night of Chanukah party, led by leaders of the Jewish resistance and their partners, plus music, learning, and community. Tonight, 8:00 pm.
Jewish Federations of North America presents a Chanukah celebration with global superstar Matisyahu, to bring attention to securing Jewish communities worldwide. Co-sponsored by JFNA and Secure Community Network. Get tickets here. 9:00 pm.

Streaming Today

Z3 Project presents a conversation with Donniel Hartman, Yossi Klein Halevi and Elana Stein Hain on “Zionism and the Return of the Crisis Narrative.” Over the last two generations, as American Jews increasingly celebrated their at-homeness in America, the “crisis narrative” of Jewish history seemed on its way to becoming irrelevant for most of the Jewish community. At the same time, Jews in Europe and in Israel were experiencing an intensification of threat. Now though, American Jews too are feeling a growing anxiety. Can we as a people maintain our optimism even as we face the return of our fears? $36 donation for all Z3 events. 11:00 am.

The Jewish Community Relations Council-NY presents experts as they discuss some best practices in cybersecurity, including protecting an organization’s webpage and computer network; the questions that organizational leaders should be asking to make sure that their technical staff and consultants are properly protecting their systems and information, and the free tools available to test the security of your systems and to train your people. Reservations required. Click here to reserve. 1:30 pm.

American Jewish Committee presents Sarah Idan, Miss Iraq 2017, for a wide-ranging conversation on the changing Middle East, her passion and commitment to building bridges among Muslims and Jews, and much more. At the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant, Iran took an innocent selfie with Miss Israel. Shortly thereafter, her family was forced to flee their country. 2:00 pm.

The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center presents the world premiere of Episode 1 of season three of “Shtisel,” the award-winning Israeli show about charedi Orthodox Jews in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. Join for a live discussion and Chanukah candle-lighting with cast members Michael Aloni, Doval’e Glickman, Shira Haas and Neta Riskin. Tickets: $36 nonmembers, $18 members. Register here. 5:00 pm.

The Jewish Labor Committee’s 2020 Human Rights Awards Gala honors IBEW President Lonnie R. Stephenson, UFCW Vice President David T. Young, and National Nurses United. Guests include AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFT President Randi Weingarten. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will be sharing greetings. Click here to RSVP. 6:00 pm.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project presents a virtual tour of NYC sites that connect with those who have made a profound impact on the American arts scene, LGBT activism and Jewish life. From the family residence of PFLAG co-founder Jeanne Manford in Queens, to international figure Magnus Hirschfeld’s stay at Manhattan’s Hotel New Yorker, the tour will visit hotels, private homes, houses of worship, and other locations that provide a visceral connection to LGBT Jewish history. Register here. 6:30 pm.

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