Yeshivas in Crown Heights, mostly affiliated with the Chabad chasidic movement, are requiring parents to sign a waiver allowing their children to be tested for Covid-19.
The waiver sent shock waves through the community of Crown Heights parents, many of whom felt the requirement was infringing upon their civil liberties, The Jewish Week’s Hannah Dreyfus reports.
According to the statement, signed by the administration of Oholei Torah, the largest all boys Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva in the neighborhood, testing children for Covid “as needed” is the only way to keep the schools open. “Testing as many healthy individuals as possible,” the statement reads, “will help bring down the average of positive tests and give the schools a fighting chance to remain open.”
Related: Orthodox schools in areas identified by New York State as Covid hotspots are remaining open in defiance of state and city closures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, JTA reports. In addition to operating under the radar, some schools are claiming to be child care centers, which reopened with restrictions in New York in July and were not affected by last week’s closure order.
In a town hall-style event, President Trump denounced white supremacy but claimed to be ignorant of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“I denounce white supremacy,” Trump told NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie, showing exasperation at the question. “What’s your next question?”
Trump declined to denounce QAnon, a pro-Trump movement that peddles a baseless theory that Democrats are running pedophile rings, and which often devolves into anti-Semitic slanders. “I know nothing about it,” Trump said. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia.”
Background: “The president is asked to condemn violence so often because violence is so often committed in his name,” writes Jesse Wegman, a member of the New York Times editorial board.
More on QAnon: Germany’s far-right is embracing QAnon because its mythology and language, “from claims of ritual child murder to revenge fantasies against liberal elites — conjure ancient anti-Semitic tropes and putsch fantasies that have long animated Germany’s far-right fringe.”
In his own town hall-style event on ABC, Joe Biden praised Trump for brokering normalization deals between Israel and two Gulf states, but said Trump’s foreign policy on the whole was diminishing America’s profile.
“We’re more isolated in the world than we have ever been,” Biden, the Democratic nominee, told a member of the audience, but added: “I do compliment the President on the deal with Israel recently. But, you know, if you take a look, we’re not very well trusted around the world.”
Trump was to have debated Biden on Thursday but pulled out when the debate commission changed the format to a virtual debate after Trump contracted the coronavirus.
A new poll shows overwhelming support for President Trump among Orthodox Jews.
The poll, published Wednesday by Ami Magazine, found that 83% of Orthodox respondents plan to vote for Trump in the upcoming election, while just 13% plan to vote for Joe Biden. Those numbers represent a dramatic increase from a 2017 poll by the American Jewish Committee which found that 54% of Orthodox Jews had voted for Trump in 2016.
Background: In a story on Orthodox protests against the coronavirus restrictions, The New York Times reports that “a growing, raucous faction of young men in the community, tired of pandemic guidelines and resentful of the secular authorities…are taking their cues from the broader right-wing movement in society, including from President Trump.”
FBI officials and security experts told Jewish organizations to prepare for the possibility of violence on Election Day.
At a webinar hosted Thursday by the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions, officials said there are no known threats to Jewish institutions on Election Day, but hundreds of Jewish institutions serve as polling places or are located near them. Federal and state officials have been warning of a rising tide of extremism that could crest into a wave of violence, especially if there’s an ambiguous result or if the preferred candidate of right-wing extremist groups, President Trump, appears to be losing.
“Treat this election season like the High Holidays,” said Brad Orsini, who served as the Pittsburgh Jewish community’s director of security during and after the 2018 synagogue shooting there. “Although we have no credible threats, we know the temperature of the country right now. We need to prepare as if something bad could occur.”
Related: A white supremacist who plotted to blow up a synagogue in Colorado has pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes and explosives charges.
Responding to a suit by the Texas office of the Anti-Defamation League, a Travis County judge on Thursday ruled that Texas counties can have multiple drop-off locations for hand delivery of absentee ballots.
The ruling overrides Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent directive limiting counties to one drop-off location, which the ADL and other groups said would expose voters to Covid-19 and impede citizens’ right to vote, The Texas Tribune reports.
It is unclear if state District Judge Tim Sulak’s decision will lead to the reopening of ballot drop-off locations that were shut down in Harris and Travis counties after Abbott’s order.
At least a dozen campaign signs supporting a Jewish congressional candidate in Westchester County were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.
At least one sign supporting Josh Eisen’s campaign was tagged with the words “Nazi lover,” according to News12. Eisen is running as an independent to represent New York’s 17th congressional district, covering Rockland County and parts of Westchester. The solidly Democratic district is currently represented by retiring Democrat Nita Lowey, who is Jewish. Democratic nominee Mondaire Jones is the frontrunner.
Eisen originally ran as a Republican but withdrew from the primary after facing allegations of racism and inappropriate conduct, according to City & State New York.
Former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks announced he has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment.
In a statement posted to his Twitter feed Thursday, Sacks’ office said he had been “recently diagnosed” with an unspecified cancer and hoped to return to work “as soon as possible.”
Sacks, 72, has been treated for cancer twice before, in his 30s and again in his 50s, a fact that wasn’t widely known until it was disclosed in a 2012 book.
Protests against Covid restrictions, in Brooklyn and around the country, have become pro-Trump rallies, reflecting “a tragic political and public health failing,” writes Andrew Silow-Carroll, the editor in chief of The Jewish Week. “From the beginning [of the pandemic], politicians – starting with the president – insisted on the false choice between taking precautions and opening up the economy, when the two actually went hand in hand,” he writes.
Starting with Genesis, the Torah emphasizes that victory and defeat are essential to God’s plan for humanity, writes Rabbi Daniel Nevins. “Victory without the likelihood of failure feels inevitable and thus cheap,” he writes in a Jewish Week essay. “Life without death would lack limits and humility. The fleeting nature of triumph makes it more precious.”
More wisdom: The world is imperfect, writes Rabbi David Wolpe, obligating us “to make things better, to take care of one another, to improve the world.”
Jewish Book Council, Natan Fund and Jewish Food Society present a lunchtime conversation on the distinct qualities and influences that make up Latin American Jewish cuisine. With Spring 2020 Natan Notable Book winner, Ilan Stavans (“The Seventh Heaven: Travels Through Jewish Latin America,” University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019) and Mexican chef, TV personality, cookbook author, educator and food writer Pati Jinich. Today, 12:30 pm.
National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International and Hadassah join together for a Jewish Women Vote event to welcome Shabbat through a celebration of voting. Featuring actress Debra Messing, journalist Jaclyn Friedman, and other guests. Today, 3:30 pm.
The Defiant Requiem Foundation presents a concert and interactive talk-back about the musicians who had played a prominent role in the artistic life of the Terezín camp. Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composers introduces these composers, and their music, which was often the last that was composed by these gifted artists – many of whom were in their 20s and 30s when they were murdered. Foundation President and Artistic Director Murry Sidlin will appear live to introduce each work and share more about the remarkable prisoner-composer who wrote it. Advance registration is required. Suggested $20 donation. Saturday, 7:00 pm.
Hidden Light Institute & StandWithUs present four students from around the world sharing their experiences fighting anti-Semitism in the spirit of Menachem Begin. Sunday, 1:00 pm.
The Women’s Initiative for Jewish Studies @ YINR presents Dr. Erica Brown discussing Noah’s Vineyard and the Parent/Child Relationship. This free Zoom lecture will address classic and modern interpretations of the Biblical story of Noah and its implications for the forming of a new society and stronger family. Dr. Brown is the director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership and an associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy at The George Washington University. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom details. Sunday, 8:00 pm.
Congregation Beth Sholom Adult Education Committee (Teaneck) in partnership with The Dvar Institute and Temple Emeth presents a panel discussion on the Jewish influence in this year’s elections. Is unity in Jewish voting behavior by party still holding or is it fragmenting along generational and denominational lines? How decisive is Israel and the Middle East today in determining the Jewish vote? Do Jews vote as Jews? Featuring Loretta Weinberg, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader; Arielle Angel, Editor in Chief, Jewish Currents; and Leonard Saxe, Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and Social Policy, Brandeis University. Sunday, 8:00 pm.