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Trump hosts Chanukah party • House Dems back Biden on Iran • Israel weighs Chanukah curfew
Daily Update

Trump hosts Chanukah party • House Dems back Biden on Iran • Israel weighs Chanukah curfew

A giant dreidel on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue is part of the Fifth Avenue Association’s Make it Bright campaign, which features 10 larger-than-life toys on the Avenue, in addition to a decorated Pulitzer Fountain on 59th street. (Liz Ligon)
A giant dreidel on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue is part of the Fifth Avenue Association’s Make it Bright campaign, which features 10 larger-than-life toys on the Avenue, in addition to a decorated Pulitzer Fountain on 59th street. (Liz Ligon)

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. Here’s hoping the season increases the light during a time of darkness.

President Trump told guests at a White House Chanukah Party that he could stay in office “if certain people have wisdom and courage.”

Trump skipped the first White House Chanukah party Wednesday evening. But he made an appearance at the second, where he once again said, falsely, that he won the election. “We won it by more than the first one,” he said in a partisan speech that barely mentioned the holiday.

“All we ask for is people with wisdom and courage,” he said, on the same day that Republican attorneys general in 17 states joined a dubious lawsuit seeking to nullify the results in four swing states where President-Elect Joe Biden was victorious. “Because if certain people have wisdom and courage we’re going to win this election.”

Many in the crowd responded with chants of “four more years.”

Who showed: The only elected officials said to be in attendance at the afternoon event were New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) and New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein (D-Brooklyn), Jewish Insider reports.

A centrist pro-Israel PAC is endorsing Raphael Warnock in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia.

The endorsement by the Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee comes as Loeffler steps up her attacks on Warnock, a prominent Atlanta pastor, for past sermons in which he was sharply critical of Israel.

Key quote: “Rev. Warnock has committed to upholding the historic 10-year Memorandum of Understanding negotiated by the Obama-Biden Administration, which secured $38 billion in security aid for Israel, the largest such agreement between our two nations,” Mark Mellman, the PAC’s president, said in a statement first obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Reverend Warnock has rightfully condemned the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for its refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and its anti-Semitic overtones.”

Influential House Democrats are backing Biden’s plan to reenter the Iran nuclear deal — without any new conditions on the country.

“We strongly endorse your call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations,” says the letter, circulated by three Democrats who galvanized their colleagues to support the deal in 2015: Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, David Price of North Carolina and Barbara Lee of California. Among those circulating the letter are Gregory Meeks of New York, the incoming chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Why it matters: The lawmakers support Biden’s vision in direct contradiction to the urgings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, others in the center-right pro-Israel community and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s daily coronavirus infection rate surpassed 1,800 on Wednesday, as the cabinet convened to approve fresh restrictions for the eight-day Chanukah holiday.

That’s the second time this week the daily caseload has been over 1,800, the highest rate since October, after 1,854 new cases were confirmed on Monday, Times of Israel reports.

The cabinet will debate a proposal banning people from visiting others’ homes during the evening hours on Chanukah, with exceptions made for essential visits, such as providing care.

A new book remembers the forgotten upheaval of 1902, when women on the Lower East Side erupted to protest the high cost of kosher meat.

The inspiring and surprisingly violent boycott is recalled in Scott Seligman’s “The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots that Shook New York City.” The unrest pitted Jew against Jew, led to investigations of police brutality and formed a template for the social unrest in the decades that followed, the author tells The Jewish Week.


Chanukah is big business, in part thanks to entrepreneurs and online retailers who saw an opportunity to fill a growing niche.

Rabbi Yael Buechler writes about the history of Chanukah craft and kitsch, and why a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar became a big deal for sellers, from Bloomingdale’s to Etsy.

Daveed Diggs’ new rap, “Puppy for Hanukkah,” is blowing up the Internet. The song by the “Hamilton” star — about a kid hoping to receive a puppy as a present — is set against a klezmer-style clarinet melody and includes a recitation of the blessing over the menorah.

The World Zionist Organization is holding a candle-lighting ceremony with Jewish communities from around the world. Watch the live broadcast today at 11:00 am on WZO’s Facebook page.

Hillels from Rio de Janeiro to Kiev are hosting a Facebook Live Chanukah celebration sharing different Jewish holiday traditions.

The Embassy of Israel hosts A Very Virtual Hanukkah, featuring diplomats, executives, athletes and politicians.

Hadar has curated a special selection of holiday-related texts in Holding the Dark with the Light: A Hadar Hanukkah Companion, available for download. has a downloadable Chanukah How-To Guide.


Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated to lead the Department of Homeland Security, is the right person to help America “recover and rebuild from four years of vicious, xenophobic anti-immigrant policies,” writes Mark Hetfield, the president and CEO of HIAS. “As a Latino, the child of a Holocaust survivor, a refugee and immigrant himself, Ali is uniquely suited to restore respect for human rights.”

Streaming Today

The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University presents artist Vered Nissim in conversation with Dr. Sivan Rajuan Shtang. Nissim is an Israeli-based visual artist, mostly focused on photography and video installations that display an insider’s point of view on immigration, social mobility and capitalist myths. Rajuan Shtang is a visual culture scholar interested in the various modes of intersection between the axis of race, class, gender, and sexuality in Israeli and Zionist art and visual culture. Registration required. 9:00 am

American Friends of Rabin Medical Center presents Global Connections, a monthly leaders forum moderated by Robert Siegel, former host of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” December’s forum focuses on Challenges Facing Washington in 2021, and features former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg, and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. Register here. 5:30 pm.

Untitled Theater Company No. 61 presents a virtual, one-on-one storytelling experience via Skype for Chanukah, “How to Play Dreidel with Judah Maccabee,” written by playwright and children’s book author Edward Einhorn. It’s a 15-20 minute story about a kid who travels back in time to meet his hero, Judah Maccabee. Actors Yael Haskal, Alyssa Simon, or Maxwell Zener call each audience member individually. Performances Dec 10-17, with slots 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm every night of Chanukah and additional slots 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Sat. and Sun. Tickets $20. Reserve at

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