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UJA funds COVID relief in India • Nadler weighs in on next US envoy to Israel • Manhattan D.A. race heats up
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Daily Update

UJA funds COVID relief in India • Nadler weighs in on next US envoy to Israel • Manhattan D.A. race heats up

Israel is sending medical equipment to India, including oxygen generators & respirators, to address the needs of hospitals in the country and help save lives during the latest wave of the COVID crisis. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Israel)
Israel is sending medical equipment to India, including oxygen generators & respirators, to address the needs of hospitals in the country and help save lives during the latest wave of the COVID crisis. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Israel)

When a suspect in a series of synagogue attacks in Riverdale was released by a judge without bail Sunday evening, it revived a debate among Jews over New York State’s elimination of cash bail in most arrests.

“There’s some very unhappy people in Riverdale right now,” Evan Bernstein, CEO and national director of Community Security Service, told The Jewish Week.

But a Riverdale rabbi, Linda Shriner-Cahn of Congregation Tehillah, said the bail reform issue is “not germane to this case.” “The police caught him, he’s going through the legal system and our job is to be as calm as possible,” she said.

UJA-Federation of New York announced $200,000 in grants to four organizations working on COVID relief efforts in India, where a second wave of infections has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoria.

The funding includes a $60,000 grant to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for a partnership with the Israeli government to provide Israeli-made ventilators to hospitals, UJA said in a statement.

The remainder will enable NGOs Afya, IsraAID and Gabriel Project Mumbai procure medical equipment and food packages and help establish a new vaccination center in Mumbai’s Kalwa slum.

Quotable: “It’s heartbreaking to see the scenes from India today, and we hope our aid will spur others to join the relief effort,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA, in a statement.

Fellow Democratic candidates for Manhattan district attorney took aim at Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who has faced criticism over accepting large donations from Wall Street.

Defending her fundraising in response to Assemblyman Dan Quart, Farhadian Weinstein said, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Twenty-five percent to 50% of the funding in everyone’s coffers have come from a small number of industries.”

The race so far: The June 22 Democratic primary is likely to decide who will ultimately succeed Cyrus Vance Jr. Farhadian Weinstein and former prosecutor Alvin Bragg are leading the field of eight candidates. Farhadian Weinstein came to the United States as a child from Iran, via Israel, after the Iranian revolution and now lives on the Upper East Side.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) is among three lawmakers urging the White House to name Robert Wexler, a former Florida congressman, as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

Why it matters: Traditionally pro-Israel Democrats like Nadler prefer an ambassador with longstanding and deep ties to Israel and the pro-Israel community, like Wexler, over the reported frontrunner for the job: Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state who is Jewish but whose Israel record is a relative blank slate.

Cemetery workers in New Jersey dug a large grave for old holy books belonging to Manhattan’s Ansche Chesed congregation.

In a Jewish Week essay, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky describes the bittersweet process of interring discarded prayer books, haggadahs and other crumbling holy writ, which cannot simply be tossed in the trash.

“I sense that these books have a spirit,” he writes. “I sense that over these many years these pages absorbed the prayers, tears, fears, sorrows and joys of the Jews who used them.”

A star of “The Real Housewives of New York” is converting to Judaism.

Leah McSweeney, born and raised Catholic, revealed her plans during Tuesday’s Season 13 premiere of the reality series, Page Six reports. The fashion designer told her sister that an Orthodox rabbi was helping her convert.

Deaths

JTA remembers Milton Steinberg, a founder and elder statesman of the Riverdale Jewish Center, who died on Jan. 14 from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 96. A Holocaust survivor with a resonant voice and a lifelong passion for cantorial music, he often led daily prayers at the synagogue.

Streaming Today

David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, examines the dangers of what he has called “the growing normalization of antisemitism.” Register here. Noon.

UJA-Federation presents a panel during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month focusing on the personal stories of Asian Americans, the historical and contemporary context of the Asian-American experience, and how the Jewish community can best lend support to its neighbors. With ABC News anchor Juju Chang; Wayne Ho of the Chinese-American Planning Council; Rabbi Bob Kaplan of The Center for Community Leadership at JCRC-NY; Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens); and Rabbi Joanna Samuels, founding executive director of The Manny Cantor Center. Register here. 4:00 pm.

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