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Trump pardons Charles Kushner • House Dems back Biden on Iran • Israeli impresses in NBA debut
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Daily Update

Trump pardons Charles Kushner • House Dems back Biden on Iran • Israeli impresses in NBA debut

Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards plays in a preseason game against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 19, 2020 at Capital One Arena in Washington. He scored seven points in his NBA debut Wednesday night. (Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards plays in a preseason game against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 19, 2020 at Capital One Arena in Washington. He scored seven points in his NBA debut Wednesday night. (Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Daily Update will not be published on Friday. Shabbat Shalom, and see you on Monday.

President Donald Trump pardoned Charles Kushner, his son-in-law’s father, as part of a spree of pardons — mostly to personal associates — in the final weeks of his presidency.

Charles Kushner, whose son Jared is married to Ivanka Trump, went to jail in 2005 for fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. His crime generated national headlines long before his Trump connection because it included paying a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law.

A one-time major Democratic donor in New Jersey and philanthropist in Orthodox Jewish and federation fundraising circles, Charles Kushner was pardoned in a batch that also included Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, Trump associates who declined to participate in federal inquiries into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russian officials.

150 House Democrats signed a letter backing President-elect Biden’s plan to reenter the Iran nuclear deal without any new conditions.

Why it matters: That’s enough signers to block any congressional bid to block the move, JTA reports.

The letter contradicts the urgings of the Israel lobby group AIPAC, others in the center-right pro-Israel community and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those groups want Biden to at least renegotiate components of the deal, if not forge a new one, before rejoining the 2015 pact.

Notably, New York’s outgoing pro-Israel stalwarts Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey did not to sign on to the letter.

Argentine Jewish groups are outraged that a federal court there acquitted the defendant in the latest trial in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center terrorist bombing.

Carlos Telleldin, a car mechanic, was accused of preparing the deadly car bomb that killed 85 and injured 300. The court would not detail its decision until March 26, but an AMIA attorney insisted that “the evidence collected is more than enough to achieve the degree of certainty and to convict the accused.”

While you were baking sourdough bread and doomscrolling, David Hertz was feeding 450,000 vulnerable people.

Hertz is the co-founder of the Brazil-based Gastromotiva, a “social gastronomy” group that fights hunger and food waste by training cooks from poor neighborhoods in three countries. A recipient of the Charles Bronfman Prize for Jewish world-changers, Hertz talks to The Jewish Week about using food as a tool for social change.

Israeli teen Deni Avdija scored seven points in his NBA debut.

The basketball prodigy started in the Washington Wizards’ season-opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, played 28 minutes and earned praise from his coach for poise and defensive presence.

“Avdija’s professionalism and maturity, resulting from his years with Maccabi Tel Aviv, shone through immediately. This wasn’t a guy who looked like a rookie,” says the Wiz of Awes blog.

Related: Amar’e Stoudemire, the former NBA star who helped Maccabi Tel Aviv win a 54th league championship in Israel, talks to The New York Times about joining the Brooklyn Nets’ coaching staff. Israel had “absolutely” become a second home, Stoudemire says.

A Yeshiva University grad is vying for the champion’s bracelet at the World Series of Poker starting Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.

Gershon Distenfeld, an investment strategist from Bergenfield, New Jersey, sits in sixth place among the nine challengers in the no-limit Texas hold ‘em tournament, following two days of online play earlier this month.

They’re vying for a top prize of a $1,553,256. Distenfeld plans to donate all of his winnings from the tournament to charity.

Shabbat Shalom

Every sibling tells their own family story. In this week’s Torah portion, writes Freema Gottlieb, Joseph and his brothers are demanding of each other’s emotional validation of the separate ways they experienced childhood.

More wisdom: What we do is far more important than what we say, writes Rabbi David Wolpe.

Streaming

City Winery presents the 8th annual “Christmas Eve for the Jews” with Joel Chasnoff, a virtual comedy show featuring Mark Normand, Jess Kirson, Ophira Eisenberg and Toronto sketch comedy group Comedies Never Win. Tickets are $20. A portion of all sales will be donated to Jewish nonprofits, including Leket Israel Food Bank and United Synagogue Youth. Tonight, 8:00 pm.

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy™ — an annual tradition in San Francisco — will take place virtually this year, on Zoom and YouTube Live, and will feature Jewish comedians Judy Gold, Alex Edelman and Lisa Geduldig. Tickets are $25-$50 (pay what you want). A portion of proceeds goes to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Tolerance” and The Helen and Joe Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust. For more info, go to www.koshercomedy.com. Friday, 8:00 pm.

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah presents a Zoom panel about the climate crisis and Jewish law, featuring Rabba Amalia Haas (Bee Awesome), Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse (Stanford University), and Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah). Moderated by Rabba Yaffa Epstein.
Register online. Sunday, 8:00 pm.

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