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Trump lawyer: unorthodox or strictly kosher? • Netanyahu’s trial begins • Bruce Springsteen invites us to church
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Trump lawyer: unorthodox or strictly kosher? • Netanyahu’s trial begins • Bruce Springsteen invites us to church

FINDING THE SPARK: Jewish educators from nine states – including educators from 25 New York Jewish day schools --
came together virtually Feb. 8 to learn ways to support struggling students in mainstream Jewish day schools during the pandemic. The seminar was led by Hidden Sparks, a nonprofit helping teachers and schools educate struggling learners. (hiddensparks.org)
FINDING THE SPARK: Jewish educators from nine states – including educators from 25 New York Jewish day schools -- came together virtually Feb. 8 to learn ways to support struggling students in mainstream Jewish day schools during the pandemic. The seminar was led by Hidden Sparks, a nonprofit helping teachers and schools educate struggling learners. (hiddensparks.org)

 

Why did Trump’s impeachment lawyer David Schoen keep putting his hand on his head? Let’s talk about it:

During the first day of the former president’s second impeachment trial, viewers were fascinated when the Orthodox Jewish attorney put his hand on his head whenever he sipped from a bottle of water.

The reason for the gesture? Schoen, who wasn’t wearing a yarmulke, used his hand as a head-covering while he recited a blessing before drinking.

Why it matters: It shouldn’t, but Schoen’s faith has been a subject of public discussion after he asked for the trial to recess over Shabbat (he’s withdrawn the request). “I just wasn’t sure if it was appropriate, frankly,” Schoen said after the hearing to a CNN reporter who asked him why did not wear a kippah. “I didn’t want to offend anyone…It’s just an awkward thing and people stare at it.”

Senators were rapt as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a House impeachment manager, recounted his family’s experience during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Raskin’s daughter and son-in-law were in the Capitol when the mob broke in, and barricaded themselves in an office and hid under a desk, he recounted. “They thought they were gonna die,” he said.

After the riot, Raskin said he promised his daughter “that it would not be like this again, the next time she came back to the Capitol with me. And you know what she said? She said ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol.'”

Volunteers are helping fatootzed Jewish elders make vaccine appointments.

With the vaccine supply so limited and the red tape daunting, grassroots initiatives in New York and New Jersey have sprung up to guide seniors through the sign-up systems and get them to their appointments.

“There were so few spots, and they got taken so quickly. Chasing the vaccine became like chasing the holy grail,” said Ruthie Levi, who set up a volunteer network in Teaneck. Hannah Dreyfus reports.

It’s another setback for Gov. Cuomo’s orders to strictly limit synagogue and church attendance during the pandemic.

A federal judge struck down an executive order by Cuomo that set tight capacity limits on houses of worship in COVID cluster zones.

Tuesday morning’s decision by the Brooklyn District Court is a major victory for Orthodox groups, like the advocacy organization Agudath Israel, that challenged the executive order on religious discrimination grounds.

The upshot: Houses of worship are still subject to the 50% capacity limit that was in place before the cluster zones plan.

Related: A summer camp for Haredi Orthodox Jews that faced a large fine over the summer for violating coronavirus protocol is now suing upstate New York’s Schoharie County, claiming religious discrimination.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pleaded not guilty in his ongoing trial for corruption charges, then left the courtroom while the hearing was still underway.

Later on Monday he dismissed the charges, as he has in the past, as “fabricated.”

Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, bribery and breach of trust — the first time a sitting prime minister has stood trial in Israeli history. The investigations of allegedly illicit payments and favors stretch back years.

A Brooklyn family trapped by Covid-19 built an ark.

When the Landesbergs learned that the virus would keep them from holding daughter Talya’s bat mitzvah in the sanctuary of their synagogue, the Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill, they decided to build an ark to house the Torah they’d borrow for the service.

Did Bruce Springsteen have to make his plea for national unity … in a church?

A Jeep ad during the Super Bowl featured an emotional appeal for national healing by the rock star, who invited viewers into a Kansas church at the geographic center of the country.

“I found myself already excluded from the vision being offered,” writes Jeremy Burton, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston.

Deaths

Hershel Shanks, one-time owner/editor of Moment magazine and powerhouse in the popularization of biblical archaeology, has died at 90. An attorney by training, in 1975 he started Biblical Archaeology Review, a Washington-based magazine that reached more than 250,000 subscribers at its peak in the early 2000s. Shanks led efforts to “free the Dead Sea Scrolls” from a small circle of scholars, and ran Moment, a Jewish bi-monthly, for 15 years.

Streaming Today

Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County presents Thorin Tritter, HMTC’s museum and programming director, for a presentation about a child’s accordion that helped to save the life of Alex Rosner, a child survivor of the Holocaust whose family was rescued by Oskar Schindler. Register here. Noon.

American Sephardi Federation presents Sina Kahen for a discussion on his second, newly released book “Ideas: Shemot.” Kahen will be speaking about “Monotheism & Science: How the Exodus impacted our understanding of reality.” Register here. Noon.

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