President Trump touted his support for Israel in a speech closing the 2020 Republican National Convention.
“I withdrew from the terrible, one-sided Iran Nuclear Deal. Unlike many presidents before me, I kept my promise, recognized Israel’s true capital and moved our Embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump said, according to the official transcript. “But not only did we talk about it as a future site, we got it built. Rather than spending $1 billion on a new building as planned, we took an already owned existing building in a better location, and opened it at a cost of less than $500,000. We also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and this month we achieved the first Middle East peace deal in 25 years.”
The crowd Thursday night on the White House lawn also gave a standing ovation when adviser Ivanka Trump celebrated her father’s success in setting up the launch of a normalization process between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Convention wrap-up: The Republican convention sent mixed messages to Jews, writes JTA’s Ron Kampeas. On one hand, strong support for Israel; on the other, frequent attacks on “elites,” an “amorphous class of people who at best ignored the average American’s needs and at worst sought to control your thinking” — a trope that often implicates the Jews.
A warning: Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, warns that rabbis are “making a big, big, big mistake” by mixing politics and religion. Says Sacks: “I’m afraid I have absolutely not the slightest shred of sympathy for anyone who, as a rabbi, tells people how to vote.”
Jared Kushner mocked NBA players for boycotting their playoff games in response to the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of Jacob Blake, a Black man.
“Look, I think that the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially,” Kushner, a White House senior adviser and multimillionaire real estate developer, said Thursday morning in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So they have that luxury, which is great.” Thursday night’s playoff games also were canceled.
Kushner later told Politico that he would reach out to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, a leader of the protest, to discuss the issue.
Local reaction: The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York issued a statement on racial injustice in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake and to Black people killed by the police under questionable circumstances: “We must not be complacent in allowing hatred and racism to be or become the norm. As American Jews, we must take action to acknowledge and root out this scourge from our society.” The JCRC-NY said it would “[c]ommit to partnering with the Black community in ending the economic, educational, healthcare, and criminal justice disparities that have caused such pain and inequity.” Read the full statement here.
Related: JTA talks with the rabbi of Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, whose driveway was graffitied with the words “Free Palestine” during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Despite the graffiti and violence during recent protests, the synagogue supports the Black community’s efforts to fix “a broken societal system which disproportionately affects communities of color.”
Arson was the cause of a fire at the Chabad center at the University of Delaware, the state’s fire marshal has ruled.
The damage from Tuesday night’s blaze was initially estimated at $75,000, though new estimates put the figure at closer to $150,000-$200,000. It required 45 firefighters, including from neighboring fire companies, to bring the fire under control, according to local media reports.
Investigators have found “no indication of a hate crime,” and the fire marshal’s office is “exploring all avenues,” the Wilmington News Journal reported. A criminal investigation has been opened.
A group of students launched a GoFundMe campaign to help rebuild the campus Chabad.
Reaction: Joe Biden condemned the torching of the Chabad center. The incident “is deeply disturbing — as an alum of @UDelaware and as an American,” read a tweet Thursday from Biden’s Twitter account. “We need a full and swift investigation into what happened Tuesday night. With anti-Semitism on the rise across the country, we all have a moral obligation to speak out and give hate no safe harbor.”
An 11-year-old girl’s post for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance blog has drawn national attention to the subject of women’s equality in professional sports.
Adi Topolosky, a rising, basketball-loving 6th grader at Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Md., wrote about her search for a pair of Nike sneakers designed and endorsed by Elena Delle Donne, a star for the Washington Mystics WNBA team. Not only did a local Foot Locker store not carry the shoe, but the clerk told Topolosky and her father that he’d “rather watch paint dry” than watch WNBA basketball or other women’s sports.
Adi and her dad sought an apology from Foot Locker, but, more importantly, Adi wanted “to help bring awareness that women’s sports continue to be devalued in our society.” Among the many who responded was Delle Donne herself, who shared Adi’s essay and seconded her call for support for female athletes.
Last night, Foot Locker officials hosted Adi and her parents at a local store, where she was given a pair of Nike Delle Donne shoes and a Mystics Delle Donne jersey.
The JOFA blog is a partnership with The Jewish Week.
Unable to hire a mohel because of pandemic travel restrictions, a Jewish dad in New Zealand circumcised his own son.
Noam and Elisheva Fogel have been emissaries from the Jewish Agency and Bnei Akiva in New Zealand for the past two years. Their son, Eden, was born some five months ago, two days before the country closed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ynet reported.
There are no mohels in New Zealand, and Jewish families rely on one from Australia to travel to the country to perform brit milah. According to New Zealand law, mohels must be certified doctors. Last week, Noam performed the circumcision, supervised by a local doctor and a community rabbi, according to Ynet.
Rabbi Joseph Karasick, the former president and chairman of the Orthodox Union, died this week at age 98.
Rabbi Karasick, born in Minsk in 1922, briefly led Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal. He left the position to go into business. He joined the board of the OU in the late 1950s, and served as president of the OU from 1966 to 1972. He then served as chairman of the organization for another six years. The OU credits him with growing NCSY, the OU’s youth movement, into a continent-wide organization, and strengthening synagogues across the United States. As OU president, he created the World Conference of Synagogues in Jerusalem and supported Jewish communities in France.
“Joe Karasick was a giant; he was the OU,” said Rabbi Julius Berman, a former OU president. “Guided by the views of his rebbe, the Rav [Joseph Soloveitchik], on the role of Orthodoxy in the Jewish world, Rabbi Karasick brought the OU into the broader Jewish arena as the representatives of Orthodoxy. He successfully pushed for OU involvement in the World Jewish Congress—an achievement he was very proud of.”
Some mitzvot are not easily explained and require a leap of faith to be carried out, but what happens when pain or hardship cause people to lose their faith? In this week’s Torah column in The Jewish Week, Daphne Lazar Price recalls the stories about “Aher,” a Talmudic sage who becomes a heretic.
More wisdom: In his Jewish Week column, Rabbi David Wolpe writes that a game of chess inspires “self-examination, thoughtfulness, refutations and improvements, honesty, innovation, strategy, artistry and passion.”
American Sephardi Federation presents a new show that combines chef and scholar Hélène Jawhara-Piñer’s fascination with food studies and flair for creating delicious cuisine. Jawhara-Piñer, a Ph.D in History, Medieval History, and the History of Food from the University of Tours, France, is a member of the IEHCA (Institute of European History and Cultures of Food), the CESR (Centre for Advanced Studies in the Renaissance), and the CoReMa Project (Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages). Episode One: Eggplant Almodrote and Moroccan Flatbreads. August 30, 10:00 am.
Jewish Theological Seminary presents Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, JTS, in an exploration of attitudes toward prayer among thinkers including Rambam and Heschel. He’ll contrast assumptions about what makes for a genuine and meaningful prayer in Jewish tradition and in American culture. In particular, he’ll discuss our expectations of what happens when we pray and the possibilities that emerge when we don’t put ourselves at the center of the prayer experience. The Zoom link for this session will be in the confirmation email that you will receive after you register. August 31, 1:00 pm.