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Sheldon Silver furloughed from prison • Rep. Bowman seeks ‘transparency’ on aid to Israel • Martin Bookspan dies
Daily Update

Sheldon Silver furloughed from prison • Rep. Bowman seeks ‘transparency’ on aid to Israel • Martin Bookspan dies

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)
Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)


Join UJA-Federation and The Jewish Week today for a conversation with award-winning authors Roya Hakakian and Ruby Namdar about their experiences immigrating to America. Hakakian, born in Iran, is the author most recently of “A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious.” Namdar, born and raised in Jerusalem and now living in New York City, is the author of “The Ruined House,” which won the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award. Moderated by Sandee Brawarsky. Register here. 11:30 am.

Sheldon Silver was released early from federal prison, where the former State Assembly Speaker was serving a six-and-a-half year sentence on federal corruption charges.

Silver, 77, was furloughed under a measure meant to control the spread of coronavirus in prison. An Orthodox Jew who for two decades was among the most powerful men in the state, he is expected to serve the remainder of the sentence under confinement in his home on the Lower East Side, NY1 reports.

Silver was convicted in 2018 of using his office for personal gain. He’s been in a federal prison in upstate Otisville since August.

The Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office vigorously opposed Silver’s release.

Reactions: Some lawmakers objected to his release; others called for compassion. The New York Post called his release “an obscenity.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Bronx/Westchester) defended his support for a bill that would restrict how Israel spends U.S. aid.

In a streamed conversation with Michael Miller, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the progressive lawmaker said the bill does not “condition” U.S. aid to Israel. Rather, he said, “the bill calls for more transparency in terms of how the aid is being used, particularly with regard to the detaining of Palestinian children… Transparency around how our aid is being used will take us one step closer, one big step closer to a true two-state solution.”

Background: The bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) would restrict Israel from using U.S. funds to detain Palestinian minors, appropriate or destroy Palestinian property, forcibly move Palestinians, or annex Palestinian areas. Miller said limits on U.S. aid would leave Israel in “a weaker position to achieve real peace.”

What else Bowman said: Asked if he would visit Israel, Bowman said, “Oh, absolutely. I mean, how can we have real conversations if I’ve never been there, right? So I’m looking forward to going. I’m hoping that as soon as COVID is lifting, I’m able to go, and I encourage other people to go.”

Outgoing City Council member Mark Treyger said a Coney Island political club smeared the Russian Jewish background of the candidate he has endorsed to replace him.

Candidate Ari Kagan immigrated to New York from Belarus with his family in 1993. After Kagan refused to participate in an April 29 debate hosted by the Seaside Independent Democrats, Treyger explained why in a social media post: Treyger said a member of the club’s board told him that Kagan lacked the English skills to write his own Facebook posts. They “smeared his name and his identity as a Russian speaking Jew,” claimed Treyger.

The Seaside Independent Democrats denied the allegation, Brooklyn Paper reports. “Treyger’s claim that our club has smeared Ari and his identity as a Russian Speaking Jew was abhorrent as it was deeply divisive. As immigrants and children of immigrants, we ourselves have accents and grew up in homes where our parents had accents and did not speak English.”

What’s going on here: The four candidates in the race are vying for endorsements from rival Democratic clubs in Coney Island: The Seaside Independent Democrats and the Treyger-aligned Southern Brooklyn Democrats.

Delta Air Lines says it will increase daily flights from Tel Aviv to New York starting next month.

Daily nonstop flights between Ben Gurion Airport and JFK International Airport will increase to 14 a week from the current 10 starting on June 1. A third daily flight will start Sept. 2 in time for the High Holidays.

What Else

The Intercept says it has found evidence contradicting some of the claims by Jean Kim, who has accused City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer of sexual abuse and harassment.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government by the deadline imposed by Israeli law. Here’s what happens next.

The white supremacist who murdered three people outside Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kansas, in 2014, died Monday. The same day, the daughter and mother of two of his victims published a book about their loved ones.

Sapir Berman made history as Israel’s first transgender soccer referee.


Radio and television announcer Martin Bookspan, known as the voice of the New York Philharmonic and the PBS series “Live From Lincoln Center,” died April 29 at his home in Aventura, Fla. He was 94. Bookspan was program director of WQXR, NYC’s classical station, for more than a decade in the 1950s and 1960s.

Mental Health Awareness Month

The Jewish Educator Portal has a collection of resources for May Mental Health Awareness Month. Areas of focus include Ending & Addressing Stigma; Recognizing Signs and Symptoms; Tips and Strategies for Supporting Yourself and Others; and Promoting Resiliency and Recovery.

Streaming Today

Liberation75, marking the 75th anniversary of liberation from the Holocaust, presents “Love & Sex Across Holocaust Generations.”
Holocaust scholar Dr. Eva Fogelman and sex therapist Esther Perel discuss how survivors began new intimate relationships and marriages after the Holocaust, and the impact their experiences on the intimate relations of their children and grandchildren. Register at 1:00 pm.

The Washington Institute hosts a panel of experts, including Henry “Trey” Obering III, Samantha Ravich, Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock, exploring how the U.S. and Israel — and their emerging Arab partners — can address growing mutual challenges, based on the recent paper Asset Test 2021: How the U.S. Can Keep Benefiting from Its Alliance with Israel. Register here. 2:00 pm.

Samantha M. Cooper of the Center for Jewish History investigates the careers of Jewish opera singers in New York between 1880 and 1940. Drawing on a wealth of archival resources, she unearths over 50 European- and American-born singers from Jewish families. Pay what you wish; registration. 4:00 pm.

The Tenement Museum explores the flu pandemic of 1918, focusing on how the pandemic is remembered by the Burinescus, a Jewish immigrant family from Romania who lived in the museum’s historic tenement building. Register here for this virtual tour; $10, free for museum members, 4:00 pm.

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