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Yeshiva girls sue city and state, PLO’s Saeb Erekat in critical condition, right and left battle at Zionist congress
Daily Update

Yeshiva girls sue city and state, PLO’s Saeb Erekat in critical condition, right and left battle at Zionist congress

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the first UAE delegation to Israel on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. The Etihad Airways flight was the first commercial shuttle from the United Arab Emirates to Israel, a fruit of the normalization agreement signed between the nations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the first UAE delegation to Israel on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. The Etihad Airways flight was the first commercial shuttle from the United Arab Emirates to Israel, a fruit of the normalization agreement signed between the nations. (AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

The parents of two girls attending a yeshiva in Far Rockaway are suing Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, alleging that Covid-19 restrictions amount to religious discrimination. 

Yitzchok and Chana Lebovits, Orthodox residents of Inwood, say their daughters’ school, Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam, was “unjustly targeted” for closure, despite the school’s careful adherence to “rigorous” protocols, resulting in “zero known cases to date in the school.”

The school, set to reopen on Oct. 27, announced plans to test all students and staff before classes return to session. The case argues that students of the school have a “fundamental right to continue their education in the proven safety of their school.”

The lawsuit follows a recent Federal Court ruling upholding Cuomo’s right to order closures after the charedi Orthodox umbrella group Agudath Israel of America claimed the restrictions constituted religious discrimination.

Related: Earlier this week, an Orthodox synagogue in Monsey filed a similar discrimination lawsuit against Cuomo over closures during the Sukkot holidays.

Perspective: State and city officials are vulnerable to charges of discrimination because their Covid-19 rules are unclear, argues a law professor. “The state has to do a better job explaining what those numbers are and how its ‘science-based’ decision-making works,” Michael A. Helfand, a visiting professor at Yale Law School, asserts in an op-ed.

Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat is in “critical” condition at an Israeli hospital after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Erekat, who has served as the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Liberation Organization for decades, was admitted to Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem on Sunday after a Palestinian Authority request. A Monday statement from the hospital said the 65-year-old was in “critical” condition and that he was on a ventilator, the BBC reported. On Sunday, the hospital said he had been in “serious but stable” condition, according to the Times of Israel.

Erekat is considered especially vulnerable because he received a lung transplant in 2017.

A judge said that more than 200 homeless men can stay at an Upper West Side hotel until mid-November, blocking plans by the de Blasio administration to move them to a hotel in the Financial District.

The city planned to move the men after residents of the Upper West Side complained that the temporary homeless shelter at the Lucerne Hotel was bringing crime and drug use to the relatively affluent community. On Monday, State Supreme Court Judge Debra James approved a temporary restraining order blocking the move. A lawyer for the men argued they wouldn’t have access to the same programs and jobs as on the Upper West Side, Gothamist reports.

De Blasio said the hotels were supposed to be a temporary solution, and that the city plans to turn the Radisson hotel in the Financial District into a permanent homeless shelter.

Bill Neidhardt, de Blasio’s press secretary, said the administration “is evaluating its options and will continue to pursue the move to the new location.”

In another major milestone for Israel-Gulf relations, a delegation of senior United Arab Emirates officials arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday for a series of meetings.

The UAE delegation signed four bilateral agreements with Israel, including a visa waiver agreement, the Times of Israel reported.

The United States, Israel and the UAE also announced the creation of a trilateral fund seeking to foster regional cooperation and prosperity. “Today we are making history,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the Etihad plane landed in Tel Aviv.

Related: A top Sudanese cleric told the Times of Israel that “there is not general Islamic opposition to salaam with Israel.”

A contentious World Zionist Congress begins today, with delegates from more than 30 countries participating in its first-ever on-line convening.

The delegates determine the leadership and influence the policies of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIsrael and Keren Hayesod – which together allocate nearly $1 billion annually in funding in support of Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

Jewish Insider reports that “members of right-wing and Orthodox Jewish parties — a narrow majority of the Congress’s delegates — jockeyed to form a coalition agreement that would give them control over the WZC’s key institutions, including KKL-JNF and the World Zionist Organization.” Non-Orthodox movements are concerned about being iced out of major decisions.

Perspective: Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women and a WZC delegate, has a Twitter thread explaining the liberal movements’ objections to the machinations of the right-wing voting blocs. “In a representative body, you can’t just take away power from others just because you have the numbers,” she writes. “We are supposed to disagree on things and work to compromise, not cut out entire segments of the Congress.”

Information on the congress, proposed resolutions and the American delegation are available on the American Zionist Movement website.

Around the Agencies

March of the Living will mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht with an international campaign, “Let There Be Light,” inviting individuals, institutions and houses of worship across the world to keep their lights on during the night of Nov. 9. In addition, individuals of all religions and backgrounds are invited to write personal messages of hope in their own words at the campaign website. Frankfurt, Germany’s main synagogue will be illuminated, and personal prayers and messages from the virtual campaign will be projected onto the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Jewish National Fund-USA is establishing real estate division chapters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami—with more regions to follow. A minimum annual contribution of $1,800 to JNF-USA’s campaign is required to join the members-only networking group. Members of JNF-USA’s Real Estate Division receive access to an exclusive Real Estate Referral Directory and other networking opportunities. For more information or to join, visit, or contact Sarah Azizi at, 212.879.9305 x505.

Streaming Today

T’ruah presents “Employer Responsibilities and Employee Rights During a Pandemic,” an exploration of Jewish law and lore with Ranana Dine and Rabbi Alana Suskin. Suskin is the co-founder and co-director of The Pomegranate Initiative, which fights anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and is the co-chair of the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign. Dine is a doctoral student in religious ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Register here. 12:00 pm.

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents BJ Jones, president and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority, and Mitchell Moss, the Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at New York University and Director of NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation, for a conversation about the history of Battery Park City and its role in transforming Lower Manhattan. 2:00 pm.

Israel Policy Forum presents a briefing with journalist Neri Zilber, asking what’s next for Israeli politics. Protests against Benjamin Netanyahu are continuing, public confidence in the prime minister’s handling of coronavirus remains low, and Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina is climbing in the polls. Register here. 2:00 pm.

National Council of Jewish Women New York presents a benefit for NCJW NY’s Hunger Program featuring a keynote speech by Maya Wiley, university professor and founder of the Digital Equity Laboratory at the New School, who has spent her career fighting to dismantle structural racism and win transformational change with low-income communities of color. Tickets start at $36. 5:15 pm. Limited number of VIP tickets include an intimate conversation with Maya Wiley at 4:30 pm.

3 Generations presents a livestream conversation to launch a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. The focus will be on the iconic film “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey” and its relevance today. It will be hosted by New York Times Columnist Roger Cohen, with a panel that includes Clara Citron, a junior at NYU and the granddaughter of three Holocaust survivors; Stephen Smith, UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education; Lina Srivastava, Founder, CIEL | Creative Impact & Experience Lab; and Jane Wells from 3 Generations. 5:00 pm.

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