President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to reverse policies put in place by President Donald Trump, but on many issues important to American Jews, change may come slower, or not at all.
JTA takes a look at what might happen after Biden becomes president on Jan. 20, 2021 — on Iran, on Israel, on immigration, and on combatting anti-Semitism. Writes Ron Kampeas: “Biden will reinstitute the emphasis on the two-state outcome as an endgame, but don’t expect a major push for peace from his White House.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated President-elect Biden, hailing their relationship in a tweet Sunday.
“Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris,” Netanyahu tweeted. “Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.”
Netanyahu also thanked Trump “for the friendship you have shown the state of Israel and me personally, for recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan, for standing up to Iran, for the historic peace accords and for bringing the American-Israeli alliance to unprecedented heights.”
Related: Israel’s wish list for the last days of Trump’s presidency could include “explicit support for the annexation of parts of the West Bank, upgraded defense aid, including advanced weaponry, more tough sanctions on Iran, and intensified pressure on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel.” The Times of Israel reports.
Reaction: Other Israeli leaders and top American Jewish organizations have congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election victory, despite President Trump’s refusal to accept the result.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom whose extensive writings and frequent media appearances commanded a global following among Jews and non-Jews alike, has died.
Sacks was among the world’s leading exponents of Orthodox Judaism for a global audience. In his 22 years as chief rabbi and after, in numerous books, columns and a regular segment produced for the BBC, he offered Jewish wisdom to the masses.
Reaction: UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric S. Goldstein said the philanthropy was “broken-hearted.” “The world has lost one of the great Jewish leaders of our time — and a truly kind and gentle soul,” said Goldstein in a statement. “Rabbi Sacks was a good friend to UJA and we were honored to welcome him many times. On every occasion he showed us a better way to navigate the complexities of our world and pathways to deeper insight.”
Flashback: Jewish Week editor at large Gary Rosenblatt wrote about Rabbi Sacks’ visit to Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan in 2010.
Thousands gathered on the Lower East Side Sunday morning to mourn Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, the head of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem yeshiva on East Broadway and one of the most respected religious decisors of his generation.
Rabbi Feinstein, who led the yeshiva since the death of his father, the iconic Torah authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in 1986, died Friday at 91. Born in Luban, in present-day Belarus, he wrote at least nine books on halachah, Torah and the Jewish calendar, as well as the popular Kol Dodi Haggadah. He will be buried in Jerusalem.
Reaction: The Orthodox Union released a statement that read, in part, “The world has lost a gadol beTorah [giant of Torah]. We will miss his Torah leadership, his astounding and deeply insightful wisdom, as well as his warmth and accessibility.”
“There are no words. We are reeling,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America. “Rabbi Feinstein was a true manhig hador, leader of our generation, and posek hador, halachic authority for the generation. The entire Jewish world has suffered a terrible blow with his death.”
The NYPD official charged with combating discrimination in the department posted hundreds of racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist and homophobic slurs on a message board.
The New York City Council oversight division identified Deputy Inspector James Kobel, who is the commander of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division, as the pseudonymous poster of comments accusing Orthodox Jews of “inbreeding,” among many other slurs.
Kobel denied the accusations to the New York Times but has been relieved of his job pending the completion of an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Alex Trebek, the beloved host of “Jeopardy!”, died of pancreatic cancer Sunday at 80.
Read a list of seven especially Jewish moments during his 36 years as host, including the time Westchester’s Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman held an interfaith service of healing in honor of Trebek, who attended Jesuit schools in his youth. Mitelman was a contestant on the show in 2016.
Earlier this year, Meggie Kwait, who teaches at Beit Rabban Day School, the Jewish school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, wagered $18 while competing on the show on the way to a $50,000 payday.
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World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder will present António Guterres, the ninth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, with WJC’s highest honor, the World Jewish Congress Theodor Herzl Award. Guterres will receive the award, which recognizes outstanding individuals who work to promote “Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world for the Jewish people,” tonight, Nov. 9, following a tribute paid by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Zubin Mehta, music director emeritus of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, will be presented with the WJC’s fifth Teddy Kollek Award for the Advancement of Jewish Culture.
Lab/Shul presents Alef/Bet: Basic Building Blocks of Jewish Life, an 18-session journey that will “help us heal our relationships with ourselves and others, connect us more deeply to the meaningful aspects of our inherited Jewish traditions, and increase our commitment to social justice and change.” Each session will focus on one key concept, led by Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie and discussed through interactive teaching, multiple historical voices, study of classical texts, encounters with guest speakers, shared dining and rituals. Alef/Bet begins tonight at 6:30 pm; for costs and registration, go here.
The Shorefront Jewish Community Council appointed Elise Slobodin as Interim Executive Director. She succeeds Rachel Krich, who left SJCC after 10 years to lead a New Jersey nonprofit. Slobodin comes to SJCC after 20 years at UJA-Federation of New York’s Caring Department, most recently as Director of Strategy and Operations. SJCC provides services to immigrants, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged in Brighton Beach and neighboring communities.
The Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre appointed Rabbi Paul Resnick as its interim rabbi. Rabbi Resnick led Camp Ramah in the Berkshires for 32 years, first as director and most recently as senior director of Engagement and Planning. Last year, Rabbi Resnick served as interim rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn, NJ.
NCJW-NY presents a Zoom webinar on Covid-19 safety, with tips on how to assess your own risk level, choose an effective mask, stay safe at the grocery store and when you bring groceries into your home, make decisions about contact with friends and family, keep up with essential medical appointments and use the New York State Covid Alert App. Presenters: Dr. Caitlyn Kuwata, Chief Fellow in the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Kevin Sheldon, NYSDOH Project Manager for the Covid Alert NY rollout. Register here. 12:00 pm.
Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and Fish Interfaith Center present Timothy Boyce, editor of “From Day to Day: One Man’s Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps,” the 600-page concentration camp diary of Norwegian political prisoner Odd Nansen. In 2010 Boyce tracked down one of the few remaining copies of the work and made it his mission to make the book available once again. 6:00 pm.
The Cantors Assembly in partnership with Milken Archive of Jewish Music and the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music presents Cantors on Record. The nine-part program will feature weekly live interviews with the artists and the music they recorded along with archival photos. It will be hosted by Hazzan Elizabeth Shammash and Dr. Mark Kligman, director of The Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music and Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. 8:00 pm.
The Hampton Synagogue presents Rabbi Marc Schneier and H.E. Shaikh Abdulla Bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Ambassador to the United States, for an historic virtual Kristallnacht commemoration. This is the first time that a Gulf leader will participate in a Kristallnacht commemoration. Ebrahim Nonoo, head of Bahrain’s Jewish community, and Dr. Shmuel Rosenmen, chairman of the International March of the Living, Click here to register. 8:00 pm.