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State eases school restrictions, right-wing ad smears NY rabbi, Brooklyn temples to merge
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Daily Update

State eases school restrictions, right-wing ad smears NY rabbi, Brooklyn temples to merge

YOU FIRST: Menachem Zivotofsky, left, receives a U.S. passport from Ambassador David Friedman, right, at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2020. In a tweet, Friedman said Zivotofsky, 18, was the “very first” Jerusalem-born American citizen to get a passport reading “Israel” as place of birth, under a new policy announced last week. Zivotofsky’s parents led an 18-year legal fight to change U.S. policy that prevented “Israel” from being listed on the passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. (Twitter)
YOU FIRST: Menachem Zivotofsky, left, receives a U.S. passport from Ambassador David Friedman, right, at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2020. In a tweet, Friedman said Zivotofsky, 18, was the “very first” Jerusalem-born American citizen to get a passport reading “Israel” as place of birth, under a new policy announced last week. Zivotofsky’s parents led an 18-year legal fight to change U.S. policy that prevented “Israel” from being listed on the passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. (Twitter)

The Anti-Defamation League slammed a conservative political action committee for calling prominent New York Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum an “anti-Semite.”

The Facebook ad by the American Liberty Fund calls Rabbi Kleinbaum and Sen. Bernie Sanders “anti-Semites” and “anti-Israel” over footage of death camps and Holocaust survivors, JTA reports.

In a tweet on Friday, the ADL said: “The video distributed by Super PAC American Liberty Fund disrespects the memory of the Holocaust and smears a respected rabbi, @Skleinbaum. This is just another shameless attempt to use Jews as a political football.”

Kleinbaum is the rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York and is known for her advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ and human rights.

The American Liberty Fund’s website lists four board members, including its chairman, Bob Barr, a former Georgia congressman. None appears to be Jewish.

Schools in parts of New York with relatively high Covid-19 rates, including several in large Orthodox Jewish communities, will be allowed to reopen as part of a new testing plan announced by Gov. Cuomo Friday.

Cuomo closed schools earlier this month in “red” and “orange” zones because of their high test positivity rates. Under the new rules, they will be allowed to reopen if all students, faculty and staff are tested for Covid. Schools will also have to randomly test 25% of students on a weekly basis going forward.

In the Brooklyn red zone, 3.62% of Covid tests Thursday came back positive, more than twice the citywide rate.

Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization representing charedi Orthodox communities, cheered the decision about schools.

RelatedThe leader of a major chasidic sect in Israel denounced those who inform on other Jews for violating coronavirus restrictions. “Cry out bitterly and strongly protest against all those Jews who snitch and inform on other Jews who open schools or hold celebrations,” Rabbi Yisroel Hager, head of the Vizhnitz chasidic sect, said in a speech printed in two charedi Orthodox newspapers in Israel, according to the Times of Israel. “To interfere with another Jew holding a celebration is an offensive and fundamentally unacceptable thing.”

Context: Shmuel Rosner, writing in The New York Times, says that defiance is what has allowed charedi, or ultra-Orthodox, Jews, to flourish here and in Israel. But such defiance is now dangerous, and courts hostility from the American and Israeli publics.

More context: New York’s tough Covid-19 restrictions aren’t anti-Semitic, but officials are ignorant “of exactly what prayer and religious education mean to Orthodox Jews,” writes Agudah’s Avi Shafran. “Government officials are wrong to see synagogue attendance as some luxury and to treat religious services no differently than a gathering of guys at a local bar,” he writes.

Over 12,000 Muslim worshipers packed into the Temple Mount compound on Friday, as Israel seeks to exit from a second national lockdown.

Footage showed worshipers packed closely together, many of them not wearing masks, Times of Israel reports. The Jerusalem municipality issued a statement that appeared to blame police for failing to prevent the mass crowding.

Related: An Israeli military task force warned on Monday that a rise in positive test results could indicate that the downward trend in coronavirus infections had stopped. A month of national lockdown has succeeded in curbing high infection rates, but also paralyzed much of the economy and public life.

The government has struggled to agree on how to ease the restrictions.

Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim and Union Temple have agreed to merge.

The two historic Reform synagogues will be housed at Beth Elohim’s three-building campus in Park Slope, according to a Facebook post.

The merger “will grow our ability to serve Jews of all ages through lifelong learning, spiritual life, arts and culture, and engagement with the world around us, as well as to build upon the programs and services we currently provide,” according to the post.

Earlier this year, the congregations said that financial difficulties tied to the pandemic triggered the talks.

The West Side Rag published architectural plans for a 14-story condo building on West 93rd Street being built on the former home of Shaare Zedek Synagogue.

The plans include a three-story synagogue at the bottom of the building, the site reports. The Neoclassical building that housed the congregation was demolished in 2018.

Opinion

In the last eight months, we witnessed America at its worst, writes Joshua M. Davidson, the senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. Election Day is the opportunity “to lift ourselves above the dishonesty, the incivility, and the indecency.”

Streaming Today

Commonpoint Queens presents Suzanne Nossel on how we can maintain a democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of a rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions. Nossel is the CEO of PEN America. She has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; and held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. This virtual event is part of CQ’s Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Speaker Series. Cost is $8 member / $10 non-member. Visit commonpointqueens.org/register to register. 12:00 pm.

The Cantors Assembly in partnership with Milken Archive of Jewish Music and the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music presents Cantors on Record. The nine-part program will feature weekly live interviews with the artists and the music they recorded along with archival photos. It will be hosted by Hazzan Elizabeth Shammash and Dr. Mark Kligman, director of The Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music and Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. 8:00 pm.

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