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CUNY profs quit union over anti-Israel resolution • Brad Lander backs Ben & Jerry’s • Brooklyn native is last victim of condo collapse

34 min 34 sec ago

Good morning, New York. Mazel tov to Bette Midler, the latest Kennedy Center honoree, who once said, “I’m working my way toward divinity.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

At least 50 professors at the City University of New York have quit their union following passage of a resolution condemning Israel.

  • The one-sided June 10 resolution, introduced in the wake of the Israel-Gaza conflict, condemned Israel as “settler-colonial state” with no reference to Hamas rocket fire on Israeli civilians.
  • Quotable: “By endorsing this resolution you have made many Jewish faculty and students uncomfortable with being associated with Brooklyn College and CUNY to the point of fearing for our safety,” said Yedidyah Langsam, chair of Brooklyn’s College’s Computer and Information Science Department. He urged other faculty to resign from the union.

The final victim of the condo building collapse in Florida has been identified: Estelle Hedaya, 54, a native of Brooklyn’s Syrian-Jewish community and jewelry executive who had recently moved to Florida from New York.

  • An obituary described her as a “passionate traveler and foodie who loved to try new things and just have fun.” She ran a blog chronicling her love of salons, spas and food.
  • The news comes just days after rescuers officially concluded the recovery operation at the site, where 98 people lost their lives.

The Jewish Center in Manhattan will offer three options on the High Holy Days.

  • The Orthodox synagogue will offer mask-optional sections for vaccinated people, mask-required and socially distanced sections for the unvaccinated and a service on the roof for those who feel more comfortable outdoors.
  • The synagogue is featured in a roundup from our colleague Shira Hanau, asking how shuls are planning for the holidays  given the ever-changing guidelines for COVID-19 safety.
  • Rosh Hashanah begins Monday night, Sept. 6.

THE ICE CREAM CRISIS, DAY 9

Brad Lander, the Democratic nominee for New York City comptroller, defended the Ben & Jerry’s ban on sales of its ice cream in the occupied West Bank.

  • The progressive Jewish candidate was responding to a warning from New York State’s main pension fund that it might restrict its investments in the company.
  • “Companies that decide not to operate in settlements do not pose a risk to New York’s pension funds,” tweeted Lander, who also released a statement. “If anything, continuation of the occupation poses grave ongoing risks to Israelis, to Palestinians, & to those who care about them.”
  • Related: Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and several colleagues sent a letter to Ben & Jerry’s condemning “its clear attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel.” Levine is president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Jewish Legislators.

A Ben & Jerry’s franchise at 104th and Broadway will donate 10% of its profits to educational causes in Israel.

  • Corporate office decisions on Israel “do not reflect our personal views, and we’re saddened by the impact that this has had on our business and the Jewish community,” wrote owner Joel Gasman.

New Jersey-Based KOF-K will continue to certify Ben & Jerry’s ice cream outside Israel as kosher, despite calls for it to withdraw its approval.

THE ARTS

Bette Midler and Lorne Michaels are among the five honorees who will receive the 44th Kennedy Center Honors for their lifetime artistic achievements.

  • Midler, who was a cult favorite of New York City’s gay community and appeared on Broadway in “Fiddler on the Roof” before achieving stardom as a singer and an actress, is the founder of the New York Restoration Project, which revitalizes neglected neighborhood parks.
  • Michaels (born Lorne David Lipowitz) turned “Live from New York!” into a catchphrase when he co-created what became “Saturday Night Live” in 1977.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA

Where you stand on the Ben & Jerry’s boycott brouhaha is a good reflection of your Mideast politics. Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, explains the range of Jewish opinion — with ice cream flavors.

PEOPLE & PLACES

Six-year years ago, YAFFED filed a complaint on behalf of parents and students saying many haredi Orthodox yeshivas were not providing their students with an adequate secular education, as required by law. Today, its members will gather at the steps of the New York City Department of Education to demand that the DOE complete its investigation and enforce substantial equivalency standards. 52 Chambers Street, 11:30 am.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Disability rights activist Judy Heumann joins Bill Abrams, president of Trickle Up and former president of New York Times Television, for a virtual discussion about her family background in the Holocaust, her new memoir, and her remarkable career fighting to forge a society in which we all belong. Register for the Museum of Jewish Heritage event here. 2:00 pm.

Photo, top: Israeli tourists receive a rose and a welcome beverage upon arrival at Marrakech-Menara International Airport after taking the first commercial flight between Morocco and Israel, on July 25, 2021. The debut flights to Morocco are an outcome of the normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab states. (Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)

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At least 50 CUNY professors quit union over resolution calling Israel a ‘settler-colonial state’

Mon, 2021-07-26 20:54

(JTA) — At least 50 professors at the City University of New York have quit their union following passage of a resolution condemning Israel.

The New York Post on Sunday quoted James Davis, president of the Professional Staff Congress, as saying that the professors have quit in the wake of the resolution or signaled their intention to do so. The union represents academic staff at CUNY.

Davis suggested that there was an effort to bring back the disaffected professors.

“We are in active dialogue with members who have expressed concern over the resolution,” he told the Post.

The resolution, which was passed June 10, was introduced in the wake of the Israel-Gaza conflict the previous month and referred to Israel’s “establishment as a settler-colonial state in 1948″ — language often used to reject Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. The measure describes the events leading up to the renewed fighting in May and during the conflict only in terms of Israeli attacks without referencing Hamas attacks on Israel.

Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza strip, launched the Gaza portion of the conflict with a barrage of rocket attacks on May 9.

The resolution also calls on the union to consider joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Yedidyah Langsam, the chairman of Brooklyn’s College’s Computer and Information Science Department, launched the appeal to other faculty to resign from the union. He said the resolution made Jewish faculty feel unsafe.

“By endorsing this resolution you have made many Jewish faculty and students uncomfortable with being associated with Brooklyn College and CUNY to the point of fearing for our safety,” he said in a letter to Davis quoted by the Post. “Have you and your colleagues forgotten the exponential increase in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in the NY City area?”

The CUNY system has 25 colleges spread across New York City’s five boroughs.

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These 3 hockey-playing Jewish brothers just made NHL history

Mon, 2021-07-26 20:38

(JTA) — Talk about goals: Luke Hughes has become the third brother in his hockey-playing Jewish family to be drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft.

The New Jersey Devils picked the 17-year-old defenseman fourth overall in Friday’s selections, making the Hughes brothers of Orlando, Florida, the first American family to have three siblings drafted in the National Hockey League’s first round.

Jack, a center, was chosen first overall by the Devils in 2019 — earning the distinction as the first Jewish player ever taken No. 1. A year earlier, oldest brother Quinn had gone to the Vancouver Canucks with the seventh pick.

Certainly the brothers were revved up over the news — you can watch their reaction to Luke being drafted here:

Their athletic prowess isn’t so surprising considering their genes: Their mother, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, played ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse at the University of New Hampshire. Later she was a member of the U.S. women’s hockey team at the 1992 Women’s World Championships, where she was named a tournament all-star and helped Team USA take home the silver medal. Their father, Jim, is a former ice hockey player for Providence College and has worked for the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL.

Mom is Jewish, dad is not.

“We did Passover when we were younger,” Jack Hughes told “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio in 2019. Jack also had a bar mitzvah.

Along with brother Quinn, Luke Hughes has another Jewish defenseman to emulate: Adam Fox of the New York Rangers, who this season was named the winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy signifying the NHL’s top defenseman. Other Jewish players in the league include Zach Hyman and Jason Zucker.

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Retaliating against boycott decision, NYC grocery chain to reduce Ben & Jerry’s sales

Mon, 2021-07-26 17:47

(JTA) — A New York City-based grocery store chain will reduce the amount of shelf space it dedicates to Ben & Jerry’s products following the ice cream company’s boycott of Israeli settlements.

John Catsimatidis, CEO of Gristede’s Supermarkets and a 2013 Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, announced the decision in a tweet Friday.

“I authorized our stores to cut Ben & Jerry’s space by 30% & not advertise until further notice. It’s a tragedy that Ben & Jerry’s has politicized ice cream,” Catsimatidis wrote.

I authorized our stores to cut Ben & Jerry’s space by 30% & not
advertise until further notice. It's a tragedy that Ben & Jerry’s has politicized ice cream. I like Haagen Dazs better created by a South Bronx family who is pro-Israel. John Catsimatidis CEO @JoePotasnik @The_Appeal

— John Catsimatidis (@JCats2013) July 23, 2021

The decision to stop sales of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in what the company called the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” has led some grocery stores, including Morton Williams, another New York City chain, to limit or stop selling the product. Videos of store owners throwing the ice cream in the trash circulated widely on social media in the days after the decision, with some former fans professing their newfound love of Haagen Dasz and Baskin Robbins, two other ice cream brands with Jewish roots.

The decision to halt sales of Ben & Jerry’s in the West Bank has triggered a review by five states of whether or not they will have to divest from Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company. Several states have enacted laws in recent years that would bar the state from doing business with companies engaged in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

The main pension fund for New York’s state government workers and retirees warned Unilever on Friday that it might restrict its investments in the company, the New York Post reported.

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First commercial direct flights from Israel land in Morocco

Mon, 2021-07-26 17:10

(JTA) — Two Israeli airlines have started what looks like a beautiful friendship with Morocco.

Israir and El Al flights from Tel Aviv landed in Marrakesh on Sunday, Agence France Presse reported. The debut flights to Morocco are an outcome of the normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab states.

Israir is planning three flights a week to Marrakesh, the agency quoted the airline’s officials as saying, and El Al five flights a week, to Marrakesh and Casablanca.

Israelis, many of Moroccan descent, have routinely traveled to Morocco since the relaxation of restrictions in the 1990s, but via third countries. There have been a handful of direct flights having to do with affairs of state.

The direct flights are a result of the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements brokered last year by the Trump administration between Israel and Morocco as well as Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Sustaining and expanding the accords is one of the few areas of foreign policy agreement between the Trump and Biden administrations.

Pinhas Moyal, who arrived on the Israir flight, descended wearing a mask and carrying a bag in the Moroccan colors.

“I am originally from Marrakesh,” he said. “I’ve come back here around 30 times, but this time, the trip has a special flavor. It’s as if it were the first time!”

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3 Jewish fencers fail to medal in individual events at Tokyo Olympics

Mon, 2021-07-26 15:08

(JTA) — Eli Dershwitz returned to the Olympics for redemption after losing in the opening round of the 2016 Rio Games.

It didn’t work out that way for the American Jewish fencer.

On Saturday, he lost in the second round of the individual saber competition at the Tokyo Games to South Korea’s Kim Jung-Hwan. Dershwitz, who was considered a medal favorite, aimed to be the first American man to win gold in saber fencing.

He does have a second chance at medaling, however: This year’s Olympics feature a team competition. He will compete on Wednesday with Team USA fencers Daryl Homer and Andrew Mackiewicz, both of whom also lost in the individual event. The trio is ranked eighth in the team competition.

Dershwitz’s teammate Jake Hoyle, also Jewish, failed to advance past the first round on Sunday in epee. Hoyle, too, will have a second chance in the team epee on Friday.

“Many of the teammates and coaches that I’ve worked with over the years have been Jewish. To me, the world of Team USA fencing feels like one filled with support for Jewish athletes,” Hoyle told Alma ahead of the Olympics. “I’m proud to be a Jewish fencer, and to be part of a community that prioritizes sportsmanship and camaraderie.”

Another Jewish fencer, Eli Schenkel of Canada, also failed to advance past the first round in the men’s individual foil competition. Yet he took it in stride, posting to his Instagram story after the event, “Dream of rocking a Jewfro at the Olympics? [Check emoji].”

Schenkel, too, will compete in the team competition on Sunday.

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Synagogues made COVID-safe High Holiday plans. Then came Delta.

Mon, 2021-07-26 14:30

(JTA) — The leadership team at Ikar, a synagogue in Los Angeles, had just begun planning to move their services indoors. They had gone through a year of virtual services followed by several months of outdoor services for members vaccinated against COVID-19.

Then the Delta variant hit.

Now the synagogue, like many across the country, is reevaluating how to organize its High Holiday services, balancing the high rate of vaccination within the community with the threat from the Delta variant. The community’s medical advisory task force is setting a meeting for early August to decide what it can safely offer when Rosh Hashanah begins on the night of Sept. 6.

“You want to make decisions way in advance, but the ball keeps moving and changing,” said Melissa Balaban, Ikar’s executive director. “And so in some ways, you know, giving it a couple more weeks and seeing what happens is going to be more helpful to us than making a decision right now.”

Decisions about how to plan for yet another holiday season in the shadow of COVID are keeping synagogue leaders up at night. Those decisions range from whether or not to hold services indoors or outdoors, on Zoom or in-person or both, with masks or without, with social distancing or without, and with options available only to the vaccinated or without regard for vaccination status.

For those attending services on the High Holidays, traditionally the most well-attended synagogue services of the year, that means yet another year of not quite “back to normal.”

“Last year, even though we were in the thick of it, I think a lot of folks sort of went with, what are we going to learn from this, what are we going to take from it?” said Rabbi Sari Laufer of Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles. “Now we’re a year later and I think we’re not where we even thought we’d be this year.”

For many synagogues, the assumption until just a few weeks ago was that the vaccines had made it safe to come back together in person. Many who observed the High Holidays last year over Zoom longed to gather as they always did.

But the rapid spread of the Delta variant has thrown a wrench in those plans.

The risks Delta poses to vaccinated people appear to be low — most of the coronavirus vaccines have remained effective at preventing serious illness and death from the Delta variant, and the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from Delta have been among the unvaccinated. 

Still, even vaccinated people who have been comfortable socializing with other vaccinated people in small groups may not be comfortable attending Rosh Hashanah services with hundreds of people. And for vaccinated parents of children who are not eligible for the vaccine, the calculations may be different.

Several synagogue leaders said they would be planning multiple options for services with the understanding that some of those plans would be scrapped at the last possible moment.

A rabbi blows a shofar during an outdoor Rosh Hashanah service in New York City, Sept. 20, 2020. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

At Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield, Michigan, the family service will be held at a local football field, with the rabbi and high school students who help lead the service stationed on the track.

“That way everybody can physically distance in the stands, and we can spread out and use the sound systems to be able to project,” Rabbi Daniel Schwartz said. “For those families that aren’t comfortable being in person just yet, we’ll also have a livestream of the service, too.”

Ikar will offer tickets to members only, who will be guaranteed a ticket to only one in-person service on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. There will also be a livestreaming option for each service.

For those who feel more comfortable gathering indoors in small groups, Ikar will encourage “watch parties” at private homes, where smaller groups of vaccinated members can gather to watch the livestream of services together.

Balaban said the gatherings would “encourage people to be in community with one another, but maybe not in a big crowd, as people might not be comfortable with that yet.”

At Stephen Wise Temple, masks will be required for vaccinated members in the main sanctuary. There will be a livestreaming option as well. And families with unvaccinated children can attend an outdoor service, also with masks. 

The Reform synagogue will also offer multiple Zoom discussion groups for those who wish to mimic the experience of being in services for most of the day or for whom Zoom may be the only way they feel comfortable interacting with others.

“We are planning a really multi-access experience,” Laufer said.

At The Jewish Center in Manhattan, Shabbat services are held in the sanctuary with two options: mask-optional sections for vaccinated people as well as mask-required and socially distanced sections for the unvaccinated. (As an Orthodox synagogue, the congregation doesn’t do Zoom or other livestreaming options on Shabbat and holy days.) It also hosts a service on the roof for those who feel more comfortable in an outdoor setting. Rabbi Yosie Levine said the plan is to keep these options throughout the holidays.

“We actually just had a meeting about it this week with our advisory committee. And the conclusion of the meeting was that we’re not changing any of the guidelines,” Levine said, though he noted the committee would recommend that high-risk people should wear a mask to services.

For many worshippers at this year’s High Holiday services, there will be some disappointment that services aren’t entirely “back to normal” yet. For others, the return to in-person services may be more than they are comfortable with.

“I think there are some people who are going to be like, I can’t believe you’re making me be masked at an outdoor service, or I can’t believe you’re making me be masked at an indoor service when I showed you that I was vaccinated,” Laufer said. On the other hand, she said, “We definitely have people saying I just want to confirm that we’ll be able to stream services.”

Laufer said the goal this year was to be safe, to gather in-person as much as possible and to upset as few people as possible.

“Last year was easier, [though] emotionally much harder. The feeling of a sense of loss last year was really palpable for all of us,” Laufer said. “I think now it’s harder logistically, the flow charts we had to make — it made my brain hurt.”

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Anti-Defamation League partners with PayPal to research how extremists share money online

Mon, 2021-07-26 13:30

(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League has joined with PayPal to research how extremists use financial platforms to fund criminal activity.

The partnership will focus on “uncovering and disrupting the financial pipelines that support extremist and hate movements” by targeting “actors and networks spreading and profiting from all forms of hate and bigotry,” according to an ADL news release published Monday morning.

Their findings will be “shared broadly across the financial industry and with policymakers and law enforcement,” according to the release.

The ADL’s Center on Extremism will be one of multiple partner organizations in the effort for PayPal, a San Jose company that has become one of the world’s largest online payment platforms. The news release also mentions the League of United Latin American Citizens.

The ADL, a nonprofit headquartered in New York City, specializes in combating antisemitism and other forms of hate. The PayPal partnership is the second it has announced in the last week: It also announced a new relationship with the Union of Reform Judaism to launch an antisemitism reporting tool that both the ADL and URJ will monitor. That announcement comes amid criticism from the left that the group too freely identifies criticism of Israel as antisemitism.

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What made Jackie Mason great — and controversial • Gristedes sanctions Ben & Jerry’s • Anti-Israel protest fizzles

Mon, 2021-07-26 12:33

Good morning, New York! Today we remember a comic legend who, for better and worse, represented an iconic New York Jewish life.

JACKIE MASON DIES

Jackie Mason, who died here Saturday at 93, was one of the last survivors of the Borscht Belt comedy circuit.

  • Mason, born Yacov Moshe Maza to Orthodox immigrant parents and raised mostly on the Lower East side, offered a window into the American Jewish psyche for non-Jews. For Jews, he reflected their complicated relationship with their Americanness. (Watch career highlights here.)
  • Before becoming a regular in the Catskills, clubs and on TV variety shows, he earned a degree from City College and was ordained a rabbi at Yeshiva University.
  • In a career that waxed and waned, his biggest triumph was “The World According to Me!,” a one-man Broadway comeback that opened in 1986 and ran for two years. It earned him a Tony and an Emmy, a vast new audience, and a recurring role — as a rabbi — on “The Simpsons.”
  • Not every one got the joke. His act played on ethnic and gender stereotypes that ultimately went out of favor, as he complained. Campaigning for Rudy Giuliani in 1989, he referred to David N. Dinkins, the Black mayoral candidate, with a Yiddish word considered to be a racial slur. Giuliani fired him.
  • Fair enough: “A comic genius and a pain in the ass. This man could get a laugh reading the weather. His rhythms and delivery were master classes in comedy. Farewell, Jackie. Farewell.” — Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein
  • The last laugh: “The only persecution that I ever suffered from in my career was from Jews that are embarrassed that I am so Jewish,” he said in one routine.

THE BEN & JERRY’S BROUHAHA

Gristedes became the latest local grocery store chain to punish Ben & Jerry’s for boycotting West Bank settlements.

  • “I authorized our stores to cut Ben & Jerry’s space by 30% & not advertise until further notice,” owner and CEO John A. Catsimatidis tweeted Sunday.
  • Related: New York and four other states are considering sanctions agains the ice cream company, our partners at JTA report. An executive order signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2016 bans the state from doing business with companies observing the Israel boycott, although it’s not clear if settlement boycotts are included.
  • The main pension fund for New York’s state government workers and retirees warned Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, on Friday that it might restrict its investments in the company, The New York Post reports.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

The death of a 13-year-old girl who attended a Jewish summer camp upstate has “stunned members of Brooklyn’s tight-knit Hasidic community,” WNYC/Gothamist reports. 

  • The cause of Chaya Sury Gold’s death is officially “undetermined,” but health officials and some campers’ families are critical of Camp Rav Tov’s COVID-19 protocols.
  • Two people with connections to Rav Tov told WNYC/Gothamist that the camp was not performing regular screenings, despite assurances from staff otherwise. Ulster County officials say health information at Rav Tov has not been forthcoming, and worry about the possibility of an undisclosed outbreak.
  • The upshot: Severe COVID cases among children are rare, but as the delta variant spreads, officials want to keep it that way.

A few dozen pro-Palestinian activists gathered at the port in Elizabeth, N.J. to protest an Israeli-operated cargo ship.

  • The ZIM Qingdao, operated by the Israeli shipping company ZIM, is docked at the Maher Terminal. Similar calls to block Israeli-operated ships in California have drawn thousands.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA

Born in seaside Odessa, novelist Alina Adams bonds with her parents — and now her daughter — during long walks on Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. “When it comes to tying together generations — in a novel or in real life — there is nothing more unifying, more constant, or more primal than the beach,” she writes in Kveller.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene presents “A Yiddish Renaissance,” a virtual celebration of the revival in Yiddish in art, culture and learning. Featuring a global cast of over 140 performers, including casts of NYTF productions such as “Fiddler Afn Dakh” (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish). Registration required at www.nytf.org/renaissance. The program will be viewable from July 26 at 2:00 pm until July 30 at 2:00 pm.

Dr. Edna Nahshon discusses S. Anski’s play “The Dybbuk” and its various interpretations, focusing on its two foundational productions and the 1936 Polish Yiddish film. Register for this Jewish Theological Seminary event here. 2:00 pm.

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19-year-old taekwando fighter wins Israel’s first Olympic medal in Tokyo

Mon, 2021-07-26 03:02

(JTA) — Avishag Semberg, a 19-year-old taekwando fighter, won bronze in the women’s under 49 kg category on Saturday, giving Israel its first medal of the Tokyo Olympics and its first ever in the sport.

Semberg was not predicted to medal, but she earned the bronze after defeating Turkey’s Rukiye Yldrm. After the match, she embraced Yael Arad, a former judoka who was Israel’s first Olympic medalist in 1992, in the stands, The Times of Israel reported.

“I said to myself, ‘I want this medal more than she does,’ and I did it… I have an Olympic medal at 19, it’s a dream come true,” Semberg said after her win.

Semberg’s first win earlier in the day was Israel’s first ever Olympic win in any taekwando category. She had won gold in the European championships earlier this year.

Taekwando is a Korean martial art that involves punching and kicking, often at head height, and sometimes in spinning fashion. Israel is expected to win at least one medal in judo, a Japanese martial art that features wrestling techniques.

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A 76-year-old Jewish philanthropist from Los Angeles is one of the world’s most prolific Olympic pin traders

Sun, 2021-07-25 16:25

(JTA) — Sid Marantz loves tradition so much that he spent 20 years as a board member of his family’s Los Angeles synagogue. 

So it’s a big deal that he isn’t in Tokyo this week for the start of the Olympics, the first Summer Games he’s missed since 1984. Marantz usually attends for three weeks: the 16 days of the games — with a few more days tacked onto the beginning and end to trade Olympic pins.

The 76-year-old retired businessman and Jewish philanthropist is one of the world’s most committed pin traders, structuring his life around a subculture immortalized in “Boy Meets Curl,” a 2010 episode of “The Simpsons” in which Lisa Simpson becomes obsessed with collecting the year’s commemorative tchotkes.

“I’m in it basically just for the fun,” said Marantz, who is vice president of the board of directors of Olympin, which bills itself as “the world’s largest Olympic collectors club.” 

A Los Angeles native, Marantz became an Olympics enthusiast — with a special interest in Jewish and Israeli athletes — at an early age. He was a teen when his family traveled to Europe for a vacation that ended at the 1960 Rome Olympics. “I just got blown away by the whole thing,” he said. “I loved it.” 

The next time Marantz attended an Olympics was in 1976, when he traveled with his family — his wife, his parents and his toddler daughter — to the Montreal Games. It was there, he said, that pin trading first caught his attention. 

“We bought a few and we traded and they were gone and we bought more and we bought more,” he said. “That was my introduction to Olympic pin trading and collecting.” 

Olympic pins are the small commemorative lapel pins, made and distributed at each Games, by national Olympic committees, host countries, and sponsors, which are meant to be traded among spectators from different countries. At about $7 a pop, the tiny, colorful artifacts make ideal souvenirs, meaning that aficionados like Marantz and rank-and-file attendees tend to engage with each other, often in the official pin trading facilities that Coca-Cola has operated at each Olympics since 1988.

Marantz said that he “forgot about” the habit for a time, but the Olympics came back into his life in a big way in 1984, when the Games were held in his hometown. His wife, who worked at the time for the U.S. Olympic Committee, wrote to all of the games’ sponsors asking for pins as a birthday present for her husband. 

The resulting haul brought him into contact with the founders of the Olympin club, launched around the 1980 Lake Placid, New York, Winter Olympics. His decades-long involvement has included an appearance in a 2008 documentary called “Pindemonium” about the pin-trading subculture. Attendees of the 2010 Vancouver Games frequently recognized him because Air Canada showed the movie on flights to the Games.

Pins from the 2008 Beijing Games. (Courtesy of Sidney Marantz)

Marantz said he’s traded pins with everyone from Olympians themselves to heads of state to celebrities. The biggest names among his trading partners include Prince Albert of Monaco, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and gymnast Mary Lou Retton — but he said the vast majority have been locals who have dabbled in the hobby when their hometowns have hosted the global sports gathering. 

“It’s an activity without class distinction,” Marantz said. “For me, it’s not a money-making thing. Some people, they actually do generate money from it. Whether or not they net out a profit, I don’t know.”

Marantz estimates that he’s spent more than $10,000 amassing a collection of more than 12,000 pins. (That doesn’t include the considerate costs of Olympics attendance.) In one notable acquisition, he told the New York Times last year, he and some pin friends paid $35,000 for 750,000 unsold pins after the 1996 Atlanta games. They each kept 40,000 pins and sold the rest to collectors.

Pins from the Torino Olympics in 2006. (Courtesy of Sidney Marantz)

Marantz specializes in collecting pins produced by countries seeking to host the Olympics, pins made by official host committees and pins made by media organizations covering the games. But he tries to cast a wide net, even engaging in what’s called “churning” by trading for pins he already has.

“The interaction with the people, the chasing of that next pin you want to get… I enjoy the hunt as much as I do having the collection,” he said. “It’s more about the people and the experiences.”

Among Marantz’s favorite pins is one he got in a trade with Gal Fridman, the first Israeli to win an Olympic gold medal (in windsurfing in 2004). 

“I love to see Israeli athletes win,” Marantz said. “I got to trade an Israeli team pin with him. It’s in my collection, and it’s meaningful to me.”

Marantz was not at the Olympics in Munich in 1972, the year the Israeli Olympic team was massacred by the terrorist group Black September. But he boasts a connection to that year’s games: Mark Spitz, the Jewish American swimmer who won seven gold medals and set seven world records at that Games, is a member of Marantz’s synagogue, the Reform Stephen Wise Temple.

Marantz recounted other Jewish Olympics moments that he did witness in person. He was in the arena ahen Lenny Krayzelburg, a Jewish American swimmer, medaled in 2000 and 2004. When American gymnast Ali Raisman won the floor exercise to “Hava Nagila,” Marantz was watching. 

This year, Jewish and Israeli athletes could again make history, as Team Israel’s baseball team is considered a medal contender in its first Olympics outing. Marantz is paying close attention to the team, which he notes has “a couple of sabras,” or native Israelis, rather than just Jewish American ballplayers. 

But he won’t be in Tokyo to see their games. That’s because fans are banned from attending because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed competition from last year and has threatened to derail this year’s contest.

(Courtesy of Sidney Marantz)

Marantz said he’ll be tuning in from home — and looking for ways to collect pins without being on site. Because some of the roughly 200 “hard core of international collectors and traders … who go from Games to Games” work for the Olympics or for individual teams, including as doctors, they’ll be able to purchase pins in person. Marantz expects to be able to trade for them or buy them on eBay.

The next Olympics is the Winter Games in Beijing in early 2022, and Marantz said he’s hoping to go if he’s allowed. (He’s also been to every Winter Games since Nagano in 1998, the last time the Olympics were held in Japan.) But he’s really looking ahead to 2028, when the Games will once again be held in Los Angeles. 

“Hopefully I’m alive and well and able to attend that one as well,” he said.

Marantz’s Olympics enthusiasm has not gone unnoticed. When the Olympics were held in Atlanta in 1996, Marantz’s daughter had a job with the Olympic Committee, working on the opening and closing ceremonies. Marantz was tapped to serve, during a dress rehearsal, as a stand-in first for President Bill Clinton, and later for Juan Antonio Samaranch, then the International Olympic Committee head. 

But even as his profile in the Olympics community has grown, Marantz said one of his favorite Olympic memories took place back in 1984 in Los Angeles, when he donned the suit of the Games’ mascot, Sam the Olympic Eagle. 

“Here’s the thing: I wasn’t blessed with athletic ability,” Marantz said of his time in costume. “Certainly not enough to be an Olympian. So if you’re going to be more than just a spectator, you’ve got to jump in with both feet, doing as much as you can to wring out from your experience as much as you can.” 

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Jackie Mason was a Jewish American comedy icon. These videos show why.

Sun, 2021-07-25 15:57

(JTA) — Jackie Mason, who died Saturday at 93, didn’t always set out to be a comedian. In fact, it wasn’t until he was 30 that he left behind the Orthodox rabbinate for irreverent open-mic nights.

Mason, born Yacov Moshe Maza to Orthodox parents, was one of the last survivors of the Borscht Belt comedy circuit that propelled a host of Jewish funnymen, including Jerry Stiller and Rodney Dangerfield, from the Catskills resorts that catered to Jewish vacationers into the American popular imagination.

His comedy, delivered in a distinctive cadence inflected with the Yiddish of his childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, offered a window into the American Jewish psyche for non-Jews and, for Jews, held up a mirror that reflected their complicated relationship with their Americanness.

“The only persecution that I ever suffered from in my career was from Jews that are embarrassed that I am so Jewish,” he said in one routine in which he lamented that American Jews say they are proud to be Jewish but also change their names and noses to obscure their Jewishness.

Mason was a complicated figure. Many of his jokes treated women crudely, and he characterized himself as a womanizer; he refused to acknowledge a child born from one of his relationships. He also spoke derogatorily on multiple occasions over the years about Black politicians, including by using a Yiddish epithet to describe President Barack Obama in 2009. “I’m an old Jew. I was raised in a Jewish family” where that epithet was used, he said in his defense at the time. For many years, he supported Meir Kahane, who as the founder of the Jewish Defense League organized violent efforts to combat antisemitism and lobbied to expel Arabs from Israel.

Mason also supported Donald Trump during his first presidential run.

Here are four videos that showcase Mason’s wit turned on his own people.

Mocking American Jews to an Israeli audience

In this clip from a performance in Israel, Mason makes fun of American Jews who he says desperately seek to assimilate despite proclaiming pride in their heritage. “Jews in the United States move into neighborhoods where there are no Jews allowed,” he jokes. “There’s nothing but Jews there. Each one thinks he’s the only one.”

Jews at restaurants

The joke about Jewish diners complaining about the food and also the portion sizes wasn’t Mason’s, but it might as well have been. In this skit, he characterizes Jewish diners as domineering and picky, contrasting them with non-Jews who he said accepted whatever seats and food they were given.

“Jackie Mason: The World According to Me” (1988)

One of Mason’s most memorable acts was a standup routine based on his own life called “The World According to Me.” Within the first minute, he references his Jewishness in the context of the performance being a one-man show. “It disturbs a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of people say, who is a Jew to be making such a comfortable living?”

Rabbi Krustofski on “The Simpsons”

Mason was a regular on “The Simpsons” as the voice of Rabbi Krustofski, Krusty the Klown’s father. In this scene, he voices the character telling his son that comedy is an inappropriate career for someone in an observant Jewish community who comes from a distinguished line of rabbis — someone much like Mason himself.

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US authorities seize Judaica from Brooklyn auction house in probe of Holocaust loot

Sun, 2021-07-25 15:57

(JTA) — Federal authorities in New York seized 17 items from a Brooklyn auction house that they suspect were looted from their rightful owners during the Holocaust.

The scrolls and manuscripts include community ledgers, memorial books and records from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia. Among the items is a valuable record of Jewish burials from the community of Cluj in Romania.

The Justice Department began investigating Kestenbaum and Company, the auction house selling the artifacts, in February after allegations that 21 items were being sold without permission or documentation from their rightful owners. Four have already been sold.

“The Scrolls and Manuscripts that were illegally confiscated during the Holocaust contain priceless historical information that belongs to the descendants of families that lived and flourished in Jewish communities before the Holocaust. This Office hopes that today’s seizure will contribute to the restoration of pre-Holocaust history in Eastern Europe,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said in a statement.

At least one of those items was sold after the auction house was contacted by law enforcement officials.

No one has been criminally charged in the case, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York told The Washington Post. The Department of Justice statement does not say who confiscated the scrolls nor name the seller.

Daniel Kestenbaum, chairman of the auction house which specializes in Judaica, said the seller “rescued” the artifacts after they were “tragically” abandoned in Soviet-bloc countries. He said in a statement that the auction house supports federal authorities’ efforts to resolve “this meta-historical problem.”

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5 states are considering sanctions on Ben & Jerry’s after West Bank pullout

Fri, 2021-07-23 22:17

(JTA) — It has been a question insiders have posed all week: Could Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank trigger many or all of the laws that U.S. states have passed in recent years to hurt the Israel boycott movement?

Well, five states are already looking into it.

Officials in Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Illinois are reviewing whether the move will require divestment from Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever under their various state laws.

There are 34 states in total that require their governments to stop doing business with companies that boycott Israel — and 21 of those explicitly include West Bank settlement boycotts in their definitions.

Of those states, 12 are required to remove companies that engage in boycotts from state employee retirement investment funds — an action that experts say is far more damaging than simply ending contracts with a company for its goods and services.

Here’s a look at the five states that have launched actions so far:

Florida:

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, on Thursday wrote to the State Board of Administration, which manages the state’s retirement and other funds, asking that it place Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on the “Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List.”

“Continued Examination,” under Florida law, means that at least one piece of evidence has come to light that a company is taking an action that would according to Florida law cut it off from state business. Should it determine that the company is indeed in conflict with Florida requirements, it would go on the Scrutinize Company List, which would mandate that Florida divest its funds from the company.

Florida law explicitly extends to companies that boycott, divest or sanction West Bank settlements, and it extends its purview to the state retirement funds.

Texas

Glenn Hegar, the state comptroller, told CNBC that he has launched an inquiry to determine if Unilever meets the standard to be delisted from companies with which the state does business.

“I’ve directed my staff to determine whether any specific action has been taken by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever would trigger a listing under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code,” he said.

Texas law also includes West Bank settlements in its Israel boycott definition, and also applies its law to the restriction of state retirement funds.

New York

Liz Gordon, the executive director of Corporate Governance for the New York State Common Retirement Fund, on Friday wrote to Unilever saying that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is “troubled and concerned about reports suggesting that Ben & Jerry’s, a Unilever wholly-owned subsidiary, is involved in BDS activities.” BDS refers to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement targeting Israel.

“This letter serves as notice that the Fund intends to include Unilever on our list of companies participating in BDS activity if these reports are correct,” the letter says.

New York has yet to pass any BDS-related laws, although some are under consideration. However, in 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order still in effect that bans doing state business with companies observing BDS, and extended it to investment funds. The executive order does not explicitly address whether settlement boycotts are included.

Illinois

Illinois law requires that state employee retirement funds divest from companies that promote BDS, including those who restrict their actions to Israel’s settlements.

Daniel Goldwin, the executive director of public affairs at Chicago’s Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the process of review by the independent Illinois Investment Policy Board was underway. The board wrote to Unilever, giving them 90 days to “explain why their reported actions are not a violation of Illinois law.”

“At the next quarterly meeting, the board will review the company’s response and/or invite them to testify and answer questions. Then, if it’s determined that state pension divestment is warranted, the actual divestment will occur in a ‘timely way that does not lead to a material loss of value,'” Goldwin said.

New Jersey

New Jersey law also requires state employee retirement funds divest from companies observing BDS, also including companies who only boycott Israel’s settlements.

Jewish Insider on Friday quoted an official in the State Treasurer’s office as saying that “the Division of Investment is aware of the situation and is working to determine whether any actions must be taken to ensure continued compliance with the State’s anti-BDS law.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, was “disappointed” in the decision, a spokeswoman said.

“The governor believes we must continue working toward the shared goal of peace and mutual respect,” the spokeswoman told USA Today.

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Algerian judoka quits Olympics to avoid Israeli opponent

Fri, 2021-07-23 21:41

(JTA) — An Algerian judoka reportedly pulled out of the Olympics on Thursday after seeing his tournament draw, which would have pitted him against an Israeli opponent in the second round.

“We were not lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision,” Fethi Nourine’s coach told Algerian media.

Nourine would have had to face Tohar Butbul in the under 73 kg division. He similarly pulled out of the 2019 World Championships in order to avoid Butbul, according to The Times of Israel.

Nourine is not the first athlete to intentionally evade an Israeli judoka. Iran’s judo federation has long forced its athletes to throw matches to avoid competing against Israelis. The International Judo Federation banned the Iranian team from international competition for a few days this spring over the policy but reinstated them on March 2.

At the 2016 Games in Rio, an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with Israeli Ori Sasson after losing to him. Sasson would go on to win a bronze medal in the over 100 kg group.

Butbul is one of several judokas on the impressive Israeli squad, which has a chance of taking home some medals in the sport during the Tokyo Games.

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Meet the Jewish dancer choreographing Simone Biles’ Olympic floor routine

Fri, 2021-07-23 19:48

This article originally appeared on Alma.

There are quite a few athletes who have been called the G.O.A.T., or greatest of all time: quarterback Tom Brady, basketball player Michael Jordan and swimmer Michael Phelps, just to name a few.

But gymnast Simone Biles? She might just be the best of the bunch. I mean, come on, when was the last time any of them flew through the air, doing a double backflip with three twists?

This level of athletic skill and magnificence is what has made her a mind-blowing seven-time all-around U.S. National Champion, five-time all-around World Champion and five-time Olympic medalist. It’s also what’s making her return to the Olympic stage this year for one of the most highly anticipated athletic competitions of the year.

To make her return even more special, Simone tapped a new choreographer for her Olympic floor exercise routine: Jewish dancer and choreographer Sasha Farber.

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A post shared by Sasha Farber (@sashafarber1)

Farber was born to a Soviet Jewish family in a town near Belarus in 1984. The town also happened to be near Chernobyl. After the 1986 nuclear disaster, and due to the fact that, as Sasha told the Arizona Jewish Post, “we had to keep it quiet that we were Jewish,” the Farbers emigrated to Australia. There, Sasha started dancing. Two weeks before his bar mitzvah, he put together a show and later started training in ballroom dance under teacher Marta Kan.

By 17, Farber had won the Australian Youth Latin Championships twice, represented Australia at the Latin World Championships and been a featured dancer at the closing ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. A little while later, he became an original cast member for the Broadway production of “Burn the Floor,” a show about ballroom.

In 2013 Farber attained the role of professional dancer on the 17th season of “Dancing with the Stars.” Throughout his run on the show, Farber has been paired with celebrities like Snooki, Tonya Harding, Mary Lou Retton, and yes, Simone Biles.

Though Biles and Farber placed fourth on “DWTS,” the pair are aiming higher this time around; with the routine the hope is not only to defend Simone’s gold medal on floor exercise, but her all-around and team titles as well. For the G.O.A.T., choosing Farber to accomplish this monumental task was years in the making.

“Usually, I have a different choreographer, but this year I feel like we needed to be a little bit different — spice it up,” Biles said. “Even whenever I worked with Sasha on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ we always said, ‘Oh my gosh, if we could do a floor routine, how cool would that be?'”

The selection of Farber and their collaborative back-and-forth is all part of the autonomy Simone has over her routines. “You know, you know yourself better than anybody at this point,” she explained.

For Farber’s part, he comes with an expertise, respect and freshness which will hopefully bring out a previously unseen side of Simone. “She moves like a dancer, no one’s just seen that yet,” Farber revealed.

You can watch Simone and Sasha collaborate on her new floor routine in the fifth episode of the Facebook Watch docuseries “Simone vs Herself” — and you can witness the G.O.A.T. in Olympic action beginning on July 24 on NBC.

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Rush rocker Geddy Lee’s Jewish mom, a Holocaust survivor, was his biggest fan

Fri, 2021-07-23 19:42

This originally appeared on Kveller.

Our deepest condolences go out to Rush lead singer and legendary bassist Geddy Lee, whose Jewish mom, Mary Weinrib, passed away on July 2, 2021. Weinrib, who was set to turn 96 on July 16, was not only a massive supporter of her son’s music career but she was also a Holocaust survivor

In a moving tribute on Instagram, Lee shared a brief synopsis of his mother’s incredible life — including how she survived Auschwitz and loved to cook for family on the Jewish holidays — as well as a lovely snapshot of the pair outside together on a sunny day. 

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A post shared by Geddy Lee (@geddyimages)

According to her obituary, Weinrib was born Manya (Malka) Rubinstein in Warsaw in 1925 and grew up in a nearby Jewish shtetl. Once Germany occupied her home country in 1939, she was eventually sent to a labor camp in Starachowice, and then later, Auschwitz. It was there she met Morris Weinrib, her future husband, whom she reunited with after being liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945. In 1946, the couple emigrated to Canada, where they started their new life. 

When Weinrib’s husband (and Lee’s father) died suddenly in 1965, she was tasked with raising three young children all by herself. Weinrib eventually took over Times Square Discount, the store her husband owned and managed outside Toronto. Weinrib worked there until she retired — but not without actively supporting her rockstar son.

In the recent Paramount+ series “From Cradle to Stage” — an incredibly moving show led by fellow rockstar Dave Grohl, about musicians and the impact their moms had on their lives — Lee describes what an inspiration his mother was to him while growing up: “I saw how hard my mother worked to keep my family together.” 

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A post shared by Geddy Lee (@geddyimages)

In a clip of the episode — the final episode of the season — Lee shares what it was like growing up the child of Holocaust survivors. Virginia Hanlon Grohl (that’s right, Dave Grohl’s mom) then asks Weinrib if she ever expected any of the fame that Lee and Rush achieved over the past 50 years. Weinrib responds, “Are you kidding? No! No.” 

Touchingly, Weinrib promoted her son as best as possible in his early days in Rush. As stated in her obituary: “Mary was an early supporter and a fixture at Rush concerts. When the first Rush album was released, Mary plastered the windows of her store with Rush posters and gave albums away to any kids who wanted them but didn’t have the money to buy them.” 

As for Lee, he was born Gary Lee Weinrib in 1953 in Toronto. According to J. the Jewish News of Northern California, Geddy took on his stage (and later, legal) name as an homage to his mother: her strong accent made “Gary” sound like “Geddy,” and the name stuck. Lee was raised Jewish and even had a bar mitzvah — before he dropped out of high school to focus on making music.

Rush first formed in 1968, with Lee playing bass and singing lead vocals. In 1974, the power trio — which included Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart — debuted their first, self-titled album and, well, the rest is rock n’ roll history. 

In a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, Lee shared an anecdote about seeing his mother up front and center while at a show. As a Yiddish-speaking suburban mother of three sitting in the front row, she was, as he says, “hard not to notice.” At one point, upon being passed a marijuana joint, she politely gave it to her daughter assuming it was for her. 

“Cherishing her family above all,” is how Weinrib is described in her obituary. “Preparing family meals at Rosh Hashanah and Passover was a large-scale labor of love,” it notes, adding: “After full days running the store, Mary would cook and bake over several nights, making everybody’s favorite dishes and desserts.”

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A post shared by Geddy Lee (@geddyimages)

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Schmaltz is the secret ingredient you need for your salad

Fri, 2021-07-23 19:25

This article originally appeared on The Nosher.

If you, like me, are a regular chicken roaster, you’re halfway to one of the best salad dressings out there: schmaltz vinaigrette, a tangy, savory top coat for a simple salad of mixed greens and whatever you’ve picked up at the farmers market. 

Using a warm fat, like bacon or duck fat, in a vinaigrette is a time-honored practice that works extremely well thanks to the ability of fat to emulsify with the other ingredients, creating a silky, rich dressing. Warm bacon dressing over a spinach salad is a classic for a reason, but I would argue that a good schmaltz vinaigrette is even better.

While my chicken is resting post-roast, I tip the pan, letting the schmaltz and pan juices run into a spouted measuring cup, which I keep by the stove until I’m ready to use it. To make this dressing without roasting a chicken first, take ¼ cup schmaltz (I keep a stash in the fridge) and bring it up to temperature in a sauté pan before drizzling it into the other ingredients.

This dressing is versatile. I usually use apple cider vinegar, but another vinegar or even lemon juice would work beautifully. To add brightness, I throw in chopped herbs from the garden, usually chives and basil, but parsley, tarragon, or oregano are all welcome to join the party. A warm schmaltz vinaigrette can stand up to hearty greens like escarole or even kale, but there’s no need to shy away from the heat when you’re working with lettuces like romaine or arugula. All benefit from a light toss in the good stuff.

Ingredients

  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp chives, minced
  • 1 tbsp basil, chiffonade
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup schmaltz, warm
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small metal mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. While whisking, pour in the schmaltz in a thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Use promptly.

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For first time, Olympics opening ceremony honors Israeli athletes murdered in Munich

Fri, 2021-07-23 13:14

(JTA) — For the first time ever, the Olympic Games held a moment of silence during the opening ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered during the Munich Olympics in 1972.

There, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September attacked members of the Israeli Olympic team, ultimately killing six coaches and five athletes, as well as a West German police officer who participated in an unsuccessful raid to free the hostage athletes.

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the murdered athletes, have long advocated for the International Olympic Committee to acknowledge the massacre in the opening or closing ceremony. But the IOC has never before heeded the call, at times suggesting that honoring the Israeli athletes could be divisive.

“We must consider what this could do to other members of the delegations that are hostile to Israel,” an Israeli committee member told the BBC in 2004, when a small memorial was held at the Israeli ambassador’s house in Athens before the Olympics there.

In 2012, ahead of the London Olympics, the IOC rejected an international campaign for a moment of silence. “The opening ceremony is an atmosphere that isn’t fit to remember such tragic events,” Jacques Rogge, then the leader of the IOC, said at the time.

Ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first official Olympic ceremony was held to honor the victims — but not during the opening ceremony; instead, it was held two days before.

Now, a year away from the 50th anniversary of the terror attack, the Olympics held a moment of silence. The event, which had not been previously announced, came a day after the opening ceremony’s creative director, a Japanese actor and comedian, was fired over a Holocaust joke he made in the 1990s.

Footage from the first ever moment of silence for the victims of the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes. May their memories be blessed.

pic.twitter.com/ewty5J6YJm

— Emily Schrader – ????? ?????? (@emilykschrader) July 23, 2021

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Feds seize Jewish artifacts from Brooklyn auction house • Bernie Madoff’s prison wages • Jewish camps beef up security

Fri, 2021-07-23 12:53

Shabbat shalom, New York! Tonight is Tu B’Av, the Jewish day of love and courtship. Our friends at My Jewish Learning have the scoop on this ancient and modern holiday.

Every Friday, The Jewish Week emails a digest of the week’s best stories, which you can print out for offline reading. Sign up for “The Jewish Week/end” here. Get today’s edition here.

TOP STORY

Federal agents seized 17 items from a Brooklyn auction house specializing in Judaica, saying they were looted in the Holocaust.

  • The Justice Department began investigating Kestenbaum and Company in February, after allegations that 21 manuscripts and scrolls up for sale were looted from their rightful owners before and after the Holocaust.
  • Kestenbaum already sold four of the 21 items, including a memorial book from a synagogue in Bucharest, Romania.
  • No one has been criminally charged in the case, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York told The Washington Post.
  • Daniel Kestenbaum, chairman of the auction house, said the seller “rescued” the artifacts after they were “tragically” abandoned in Soviet-bloc countries. He said the auction house supports federal authorities’ efforts to resolve “this meta-historical problem.”

THE WAGES OF SIN

Bernie Madoff, who got rich scamming investors in his Ponzi scheme, earned 24 cents an hour working behind bars.

  • The City obtained the late inmate’s Federal Bureau of Prisons file, which shows that he worked nearly 3,000 hours as an orderly, earning $710.
  • Why it matters: Prison advocates say criminals, even ones like Madoff who left a trail of victims, shouldn’t be subjected to “slave labor” behind bars.
  • Madoff, raised in Queens, “died from kidney failure in a prison hospital in Butner, N.C., on April 14 after serving nine years of a 150-year sentence.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

Meet Shlomo Lipetz, a pitcher for the Israeli Olympic baseball team who also happens to book music acts at Manhattan’s City Winery, the concert venue and wine bar. 

  • Lipetz, 42, who grew up in Tel Aviv, played college ball in San Diego. He later pitched in semi-professional leagues, our colleagues at JTA report.
  • Lipetz was the third employee of City Winery, which now has venues in Chicago, Boston, Nashville, Atlanta and more.
  • Israel Baseball’s first game at the Tokyo Olympics is Thursday, July 29, vs. South Korea.

Read how Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake is preparing for the possibility of antisemitic threats.

  • The camp in upstate Dutchess County is one of 37 camps, with a total of 80,000 campers, participating in a new security training program focused on Jewish summer camps, JTA reports.
  • Quotable: “We needed to do a switch in the way we were thinking. At camp you need chalk and lanyard and a swimming pool and security. It’s all in the same breath.” — Helene Drobenare, executive director

Dani Dayan, Israel’s former consul general to New York, was tapped as the next chair of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum.

  • Background: Critics opposed a previous choice, a far-right politician accused of racism, JTA reports.
  • Dayan, who completed his four-year term in New York last July, is the former chair of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization for Israeli West Bank settlements.

THE BEN & JERRY’S BROUHAHA

Officials in Oyster Bay, Long Island, said they won’t do any business with Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever after the ice cream maker said it will cease operations in “occupied Palestinian territory.”

  • Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in a statement Thursday that the boycott Israel movement “is nothing short of smokescreen for anti-Semitism!”
  • The ice cream brand said it will sell ice cream within Israel proper but that it was “inconsistent with our values” for its products to be sold in disputed areas.
  • Related: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) wants New York State to punish Ben & Jerry’s by enforcing an executive order that prohibits the state from doing businesses with companies that promote the boycott movement.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA

Julia Haart’s reality show dramatizes her “escape” from Orthodoxy, but what kind of Orthodoxy? Jewish Week Editor in Chief Andrew Silow-Carroll explains.

SHABBAT SHALOM

(Katharina Arrigoni)

The period between now and the High Holy Days is a time of rejuvenation, redirection and rebirth, writes Rabbi Shmuel Reichman in our weekly Torah column.

PEOPLE & PLACES

Sarah Breger has been named editor of Moment Magazine, as longtime editor in chief and CEO Nadine Epstein turns to focus on long-term creative and strategic initiatives. Breger, a graduate of Columbia University Journalism School, has served as deputy editor of the Jewish magazine since 2014.

WHAT’S ON

Join The Workers Circle today for an “Immigrants Are Essential” rally, as part of a nationwide day of action to demand a pathway to citizenship be included in the infrastructure package. Participants can meet at the Workers Circle office, 247 W. 37th St, 5th floor, at 10:00 am for sign-making or can join the rally at Columbus Park at Mulberry Street and Baxter Street at noon. More info here.

Celebrate Tu B’Av, the Jewish Day of Love, with an outdoor, in-person, interfaith  Shabbat on the rooftop of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. A creative Shabbat ritual will be followed by a comedy performance by The El-Salomons, a married Jewish-Palestinian lesbian comedy couple. Drinks and a picnic-style dinner will be served. Co-sponsored by Out at the J.  $30; register here. Tonight, 7:00 pm.

Photo, top: In February 2021, Kestenbaum & Company, a Brooklyn firm that has specialized in Judaica, pulled off its catalogue what the Jewish Community of Cluj says is a 19th-century ledger from its Jewish burial society. (Kestenbaum & Company)

 

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