Join the Jewish Week, UJA-Federation and Central Synagogue today, Feb. 9 at 1:00 pm, as we present Rabbi Steve Leder, the senior rabbi of L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard Temple, discussing his new book, “The Beauty of What Remains: How Our Greatest Fear Becomes Our Greatest Gift.” He’ll talk to Abigail Pogrebin about how to think about loss, and what we can learn from it. Register here.
Donald Trump’s Jewish lawyer withdrew his request to suspend the impeachment trial over Shabbat.
In a letter to Senate leadership, David Schoen said he will not participate during the Sabbath, but members of his team will fill his role. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office had said over the weekend the Senate would accommodate the request from Schoen.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) led 120 Republican members of the House in urging President Biden not to reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal without major changes.
“For reasons that include expiring sunset clauses, flaws with the verification arrangement, and many other dynamics, attempting to reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal as is would be a strategic U.S. foreign policy blunder,” said the Long Island congressman, one of two Jewish Republicans in the House, in a statement.
Two freshman Republicans whose comments and actions offended Jews met separately with Jewish constituents.
Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois, who said “Hitler was right on one thing” during a speech just before the Capitol insurrection, met Monday with a right-wing rabbinical group that defended her from calls to resign.
In his first meeting with Jewish leaders in his district, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina expressed regret over a tweet that appropriated a poem about the Holocaust, and pledged to push for more security funding for local Jewish institutions.
Last August, Cawthorn drew criticism for posting photos from a past trip to Hitler’s vacation home. He later told Jewish Insider that he has attempted to convert Jews to Christianity. And on Jan. 6, he gave a speech to pro-Donald Trump protesters shortly before the mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.
Lawyer Alan Dershowitz played a role in at least 12 clemency grants by former President Trump, including three people he represented on behalf of Jewish prisoners’ rights groups.
According to The New York Times, Dershowitz lobbied successfully on behalf of Mark A. Shapiro and Irving Stitsky, New York real estate investors convicted in a $23 million fraud, and Eliyahu Weinstein, a Lakewood, NJ man sentenced for a $200 million Ponzi scheme.
In addition, Dershowitz helped win a temporary reprieve from sanctions for Israeli mining billionaire Dan Gertler; urged clemency for Sholom Rubashkin, the kosher meatpacking executive convicted in 2009; and was paid by the family of Jonathan Braun, a drug smuggler from Staten Island whose sentence was commuted by Trump. (After The Times reported that Braun had a history of violence and threatening people, Dershowitz said he donated the fees to charity.)
Why it matters: “His role highlighted how Mr. Trump’s transactional approach to governing created opportunities for allies like Mr. Dershowitz — an 82-year-old self-described ‘liberal Democrat’ who defended the president on television and in his first impeachment trial — to use the perception that they were gatekeepers to cash in, raise their profiles, help their clients or pursue their own agendas,” The Times asserts.
In the 1930s, a Jewish librarian from the Bronx spied on meetings of German-American Nazis.
A panel discussion today remembers Florence Mendheim, who helped fight pro-Nazi sentiment in New York City at a time when few others were taking it seriously. The Jewish Week speaks to an archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute, one of the few places that remembers her risky business.
Related: Meet Andie Bond, one of just two Jews living in a remote Idaho town where white supremacists preached their ideology for three decades.
The death of singer and folklorist Flory Jagoda, a champion of Ladino, demonstrates the precarious future for endangered Jewish languages. “Whenever a speaker dies, we lose an opportunity to learn and teach more about the nuances” of these rich languages and cultures, writes Sarah Bunin Benor, a professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and Linguistics at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.
Around the Agencies
Hadassah’s chief executive officer/executive director, Janice Weinman, is stepping down after nine years as the organization’s leader, effective July 1, 2021. The women’s Zionist organization did not announce a successor. “Under Janice’s leadership, Hadassah has become a much stronger and more effective organization,” said Rhoda Smolow, president of Hadassah, in a statement. “We will miss her stewardship and the commitment, intelligence and collaborative spirit with which she approaches everything. We wish her well as she moves on to the next exciting phase of her career.”
The Israel Cancer Research Fund appointed Beryl Chernov as National Executive Director, effective July 1, 2021. He will succeed Mark Israel, who will be retiring after three years with the organization. Chernov is the executive director of Park Avenue Synagogue. Prior to his 19-year tenure at the Manhattan synagogue, Chernov was executive director of North Shore Synagogue and director of the Weinberger Jewish Family Center at the Sid Jacobson JCC in Roslyn.
Black History Month
Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan presents a discussion on the reality of the relationship between the Jewish and Black communities, led by Billy Planer, director and founder of Etgar 36, a Jewish educational organization that uses the civil rights narrative as a way to provide participants with the tools and inspiration to do social activism. Register here. 7:00 pm.
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, presents a conversation with Martine Aliana Rothblatt, an entrepreneur responsible for major breakthroughs in the fields of satellite communications, biotechnology, aviation, and more. Register here. 1:00 pm.
Israel Policy Forum presents analysis of Israel’s election campaign by Amir Tibon, Haaretz senior correspondent. To register, click here. 2:00 pm.
Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and Leo Baeck Institute-New York present a discussion of Florence Mendheim, a Jewish librarian who went undercover in the 1930s to spy on Nazis around New York City. Featuring Marshall Curry, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker who directed the short film “A Night at the Garden”; Dr. Daniel Greene, president and librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago and curator of “Americans and the Holocaust”: and Michael Simonson, head of public outreach and archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute. Register here. 2:00 pm.
Rabbi Sharon Brous of Ikar will engage in a virtual conversation with physicians/researchers Jessica Beckerman and Ari Johnson (husband and wife), who have designed health systems to “cure” the delay in COVID-19 diagnosis, care and tracing, and are the 2021 recipients of The Charles Bronfman Prize. RSVP here to receive the zoom link. 5:00 pm.
Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies presents a panel exploring lesser-known musical styles of Jewish America, including Yiddish opera, Persian Jewish music and Orthodox bluegrass. Musicians and scholars will discuss Jewish cultural encounters and adaptation to the American context over the past century, looking beyond the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi divide. Register here. 7:30 pm.