Friday, December 18, 2020 3 Tevet 5781 Vol. 92 | No. 51 | Â©2020 $1.00 | jewishledger.com
THE MANY FACES
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The Mandell JCC is a part of our lives. And we want everyone to be a part of our future. Throughout our long history, we have never faced a time like this. The costs to provide our free virtual programs coupled with the expense of re-opening our JCC facilities safely have far outweighed our already declining sources of revenue. We are confronting a very different future of great uncertainty. However, we are anything but resigned to it. The Community Donor Circle Crisis Fund harnesses the generosity of our community â€“ and ensures that we can emerge from this period not the same, but stronger. We need you now more than ever as we head into the final stretch of meeting our fundraising goal of $1.5 million by year-end. Every gift matters. Every act of generosity counts.
TOGETHER, we can make the difference.
GIVE NOW www.MandellJCCCrisisFund.org 2
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CONNECTICUT JEWISH LEDGER | SINCE 1929 | DECEMBER 18, 2020 | 3 TEVET 5781
32 Around Connecticut
Jewish (Dis)unity............................ 5 One year ago, in the face of ongoing violent attacks against Orthodox Jews in N.Y., thousands of Jews – non-Orthodox and Orthodox – came together in a show of solidarity. Then the pandemic moved in… and Jewish unity moved out.
Conversation with…...................... 5 Amy Weiss, talks about her plans for the future of the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, of which she is now the head.
Act Now, Talk Later...................... 16 Top House Democrats – including one with close ties to the center-right pro-Israel community – throw their support behind President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to re-enter the Iran deal now, negotiate new conditions later.
SEE YOU IN
The Ledger will be on hiatus next week and will not publish a December 25th issue. Our endof-year issue — a review of this past year — will be online Dec. 31.
34 Bulletin Board
38 Torah Portion
Arts & Entertainment................. 21 Jewish Screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who penned the Academy Award winning film “Citizen Kane,” is now himself the subject of a much talked about new movie.
Preserving History.............................................................24 Before this summer 18-year-old Netanel Crispe was unaware that the oldest Jewish cemetery in America was right in his hometown. Now, the 10th generation Vermonter is leading an effort to restore and preserve the sacred site.
We will all our readers and friends a happy and healthy 2021.
40 Business and Professional Directory
ON THE COVER:
Charitable giving comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There’s cash, of course. But there’s also the giving of one’s time, energy, effort, and expertise. You could even give, say, a kidney. Jonathan Newman, pictured on our cover with his wife and son, is hoping some charitable, altruistic donor will do just that. PAGE 14
SHABBAT FRIDAY, DEC. 18 Hartford: 4:04 p.m. New Haven: 4:04 p.m. Bridgeport: 4:05 p.m. Stamford: 4:06 p.m. To determine the time for Havdalah, add one hour and 10 minutes (to be safe) to candle lighting time.
2471 Albany Ave., West Hartford 860.236.1965 • thecrownmarket.com
DECEMBER 18, 2020
IMAGINE... A WORLD WITH NO PERFORMING ARTS. NO MUSIC. NO DANCE. NO ENTERTAINMENT. NO JOY. For 65 years, UConnâ€™s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts has been among the premier college-based arts presenting venues in the country. You can help keep chamber music alive and vibrant at Jorgensen for generations to come. Give a gift to support the Lenard Chamber Series. For more information go to jorgensen.uconn.edu or text LENARD to 41444.
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CONNECTICUT JEWISH LEDGER | SINCE 1929 | DECEMBER 18, 2020 | 3 TEVET 5781
NY Jews began to unite against antisemitism after deadly attacks. Then COVID happened.
BY BEN SALES
EW YORK (JTA) – When 25,000 Jews marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Jan. 5, Evan Bernstein felt something he hadn’t experienced in weeks: optimism. Not even a month earlier, he had prayed with the small Orthodox community in Jersey City, New Jersey, next to the spot where shooters had just killed three people at a kosher supermarket after gunning down a police officer. Eighteen days later, when a man with a machete entered a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, and stabbed five people, Bernstein – then the New York-New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League – drove up immediately. After staying up half the night checking in on the community and talking to law enforcement and reporters, he slept in his car. Before and after the attacks, he’d been making trips to Brooklyn to respond to a string of antisemitic assaults on Orthodox Jews there. Organized with days’ notice in protest of rising antisemitism in the city, the march held the potential of a new era. The governor and mayor were there, pledging a series of initiatives to curb hatred and safeguard more than a million Jews in the
state and city. Beyond the photo ops, the march evoked a hope that New York’s mosaic of Jewish communities would transcend their divisions – of politics, class and religious observance – to unite against the antisemitism plaguing Orthodox Jews. The route of the demonstration was meant to convey support from the more liberal Jews of Manhattan toward Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhoods. The march across a bridge linking those two boroughs, UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein said at the rally, symbolized a pledge to “begin building better bridges between all denominations of Jews.” “When we had the march over the Brooklyn Bridge, we were making progress and antisemitism was becoming more of a mainstream topic,” Bernstein said. “We rarely ever saw the non-Orthodox community really seeing it as an issue or speaking out publicly about it.” Later that month, the United States recorded its first case of COVID-19. The disease would go on to ravage the same Orthodox communities that had been victims of antisemitism . Some of those communities would go on to become symbols of resistance to social distancing
DEBORAH LAUTER, DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK CITY OFFICE FOR THE PREVENTION OF HATE CRIMES, DENOUNCES THE DEADLY HATE CRIME SHOOTING IN JERSEY CITY, N.J. AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON DEC. 12, 2019. (ANDREW LICHTENSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES)
regulations, prompting a new wave of hate. And even as the number of antisemitic incidents decreased while the city shut down, the multiple upheavals of 2020 – from the pandemic to racial justice protests to the election – quashed any concerted effort at a united Jewish front against Jewhatred. Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews across the New York City area told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that a year after the Jersey City shooting, they feel neither more comfortable nor more united. People are off the streets, they said, but the danger is still there. And divisions within the Jewish community, they feel, have only widened over diverging experiences of, and reactions to, the pandemic and the way it has changed the city. “I feel like that progress has been lost,” Bernstein said. “There’s so much rhetoric around Jews and COVID. That, plus COVID itself, have put a stop to that progress.”
A wave of antisemitic violence prompts promises of action Even before the shooters entered the Jersey City market, haredi (or ultra-Orthodox) Jews in New York City were experiencing a string of harassment and assault. Hasidic Brooklynites suffered head injuries, had their religious garb pulled off and saw their institutions vandalized. At an October 2019 meeting with Jewish leaders, a New York police official reported that antisemitic hate crimes were spiking in the city. Officials were at a loss to explain the rise. “It’s difficult to make generalizations,” Deborah Lauter, who had just been appointed director of a new city hate crimes prevention effort, told JTA in September 2019. “When you look at escalation of swastikas on buildings, are these copycat attacks because they’re in the press a lot and perpetrators are inspired by that? Or are they being inspired by demonization of individuals and groups?” The Jersey City attack was a shocking escalation. After killing the officer, the two shooters entered a small kosher
The new director of the University of Hartford’s Greenberg Center aims to create programming on all facets of Jewish life and history BY STACEY DRESNER
EST HARTFORD – Amy Weiss, PhD has been named the new director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. Weiss, who will join the Greenberg Center in January, succeeds Avinoam Patt, who left the center to become the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut. She comes to the Greenberg Center after four years as director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at Saint Elizabeth University in Morris Township, New Jersey. Though Weiss, who grew up in a Reform home in New Jersey, says she didn’t set out to become a Jewish educator, her interest in becoming an active member of the Jewish community began when she was growing up. Her time spent attending Kutz
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supermarket and killed one of the owners, an employee and a customer. They reportedly had been hoping to strike the Jewish day school next door, and the attack shook the small and growing Hasidic community in a largely AfricanAmerican neighborhood. Jews in the neighborhood began to question whether they had a future there. It was the third fatal antisemitic attack in America in just over one year, coming after the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, California. It would not be the last. On Dec. 28, a man walked into a crowded party at a rabbi’s house in Monsey and stabbed five people with a machete. He was stopped only when someone threw a coffee table at his head. One of the victims entered a coma and, months later, died of his wounds. The attack shattered local Jews’ feelings of calm and safety. “People are scared, people are still reeling, people are afraid,” Rivkie Feiner, a nonprofit strategist and activist from the area, said recently at an ADL conference. “We were not used to having incidents like that here in Rockland [County] before, and it’s just very scary still.” Following the attacks, action appeared to be swift. The march against antisemitism , organized quickly and endorsed by The New York Times editorial board, drew tens of thousands of people and a who’s who of elected officials under the slogan “No hate, No fear.” Crossing over from Manhattan to Brooklyn, the march was meant to display unity between the non-Orthodox Jewish population and the haredi communities in Brooklyn. Relatively few haredi Jews attended, however, and one Orthodox speaker, Chaskel Bennett, said that “until today we really have not seen nearly enough sympathy or understanding for this sad reality, even from some of our own.” The demonstration came amid pledges and action by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to combat antisemitism. Cuomo promised more funding for security at Jewish institutions and supported a state domestic terrorism bill, while de Blasio vowed to continue to work to curb antisemitism in his city. In 2019, police officers had begun patrolling Hasidic neighborhoods in greater numbers, and the mayor also launched the city’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes – headed by Lauter, a former ADL executive. By February, it had a staff of seven and a budget of $1.7 million. Lauter began planning a curriculum for city schools; formed neighborhood safety coalitions composed of diverse activists in Williamsburg, Crown Heights and
Borough Park; and directed funding to 16 nonprofits dedicated to fighting bigotry across demographics. Shortly after the march, in February, Mitchell Silber, the NYPD’s former director of intelligence analysis, became head of the newly created Community Security Initiative, which was co-founded by the UJA-Federation and the local Jewish Community Relations Council. It was tasked with helping the area’s 2,000 synagogues, schools and the like invest in security and install safety features such as cameras and reinforced windows. The group also aimed to coordinate Jewish security across the city’s metro area and deepen ties to law enforcement. Referencing the Israeli missile defense system, Silber told JTA that he planned “to create an Iron Dome for the Jews of New York.” Lauter said she had been hopeful that change was afoot. “I felt the momentum was there,” she said.
COVID shut down attacks – and hindered the fight against them According to the NYPD, the number of hate crimes in New York City has dropped in 2020 to 105 from 208 in 2019 but, officials acknowledge, it’s probably not just because of all the initiatives. With the city in lockdown for much of the spring, fewer people were on the street, which led to a decline in street harassment. The economic crisis that accompanied the pandemic also led to budget cuts for some, but not all, of the efforts to fight hate crimes. Cuomo passed a law in April, named after Joseph Neumann, the Monsey victim, that defined hate crime murders as domestic terrorism, and the state budget boosted funding for combating hate crimes. But the city slashed Lauter’s funding for nonprofits fighting bigotry. And her neighborhood safety coalitions have yet to launch. As coronavirus case numbers rose, so did discrimination against Asian-Americans, who were attacked for allegedly spreading the virus. In light of that spike, Lauter’s team shifted its focus to combating hate directed at AsianAmericans. “This was such an extraordinary time, and I felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to do enough, ultimately, in bringing people together to talk about it. The communities were so focused on their own needs,” she told JTA. Brooklyn’s haredi Jews, meanwhile, were suffering from a severe COVID
Camp, the now-defunct summer camp of the Reform movement, which was well known for its teen leadership programming, played a role in her path toward Jewish studies. “After going to Kutz Camp – which I have to give a shout out to – I knew I wanted to learn Hebrew. So when I went to Rutgers for my undergrad [degree], one of the first classes I took was Hebrew…I loved it and because of that one Hebrew class, I took more Hebrew classes and then I thought, let me check out more of the classes in the Jewish studies department, and ended up double majoring in Jewish Studies and sociology.” Weiss went on to receive an MPhil from New York University and a masters degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She received her PhD from NYU’s departments of Hebrew & Judaic Studies and History. Her research and published work focuses on the intersections of American Jewish history, Israel studies, and Jewish-Christian relations, including her soon to be published book on American Jewishevangelical interfaith relations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before she arrives at the Greenberg Center, Weiss will finish up the Thomas and Elissa Ellant Katz Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, where she is working on a book on American Jewish-evangelical relations. Weiss, who will also serve as assistant professor of Judaic studies and history, and director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford, has also taught Judaic studies and American history at Rutgers University and City College of New York. Her additional fellowships and grants include a Special Initiatives Grant from the American Academy for Jewish Research to create the inaugural New Jersey Working Group on Holocaust Research. “We are very much looking forward to the next era of the Greenberg Center under Amy’s leadership,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Katherine Black. “She brings a wealth of administrative experience, scholarship, and teaching to the Greenberg Center.” Weiss recently spoke to the Jewish Ledger about her new position at the Greenberg Center and her goals as its director.
JEWISH LEDGER: Tell us about your role at the Holocaust Center at Saint Elizabeth University (formerly the College of Saint Elizabeth). AMY WEISS: I had been [at the College of Saint Elizabeth] since 2016 as director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, a program that has been in existence since the 1990s. It’s a Catholic University that takes the study of the Holocaust and genocide very seriously. Essentially, I work with students and colleagues on campus and with students on campuses close by – Fairleigh Dickinson and Drew University are literally down the road. We have programming for [public and private school] teachers and students about the Holocaust and genocide. I was also involved with teacher education, bringing in workshop leaders. In New Jersey, and I know in Connecticut, there is a mandate to teach about the Holocaust and genocide. Teachers, especially secondary school teachers, are overworked and underpaid, and we wanted to give them the best resources possible to help teachers follow that mandate, and really give them the resources and tools that they might not otherwise have. How do you envision your role as director of the Greenberg Center, a professor in Jewish studies, and director of the campus Jewish Museum? My background is research specializing in American Jewish history and I definitely see coming to the Greenberg Center as a way to use that knowledge and create programming, not just around American Jewish history, but on all facets of Jewish life and history. And so, I see this as a way to expand what I’ve already been doing. My position at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide education has given me a background in past and current genocides and I’ve been working already with the HERO Center, the Holocaust Center at Hartford. So, I see this as really just expanding what I’ve already been doing. I’m really looking forward to continuing the partnerships that the Center has already made and throughout Hartford and throughout Connecticut. I’m looking forward to growing the Jewish studies major – having programming specifically for the undergrad population. Right now, I’m just interested in taking it all in and getting a sense of it. I’m really looking forward to being part of the University of Hartford community.
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Connecticut stands with you. We are a broad-based network of community organizations, religious and business groups, legal service providers committed to protecting the rights of and economic development of refugee and immigrant communities in the state.
ADVOCATING FOR IMMIGRANT & REFUGEE COMMUNITIES IN CONNECTICUT Please call us or go online today to find out how you can get involved
Robert Fishman, Executive Director | Donations welcome at: Connecticut Immigrant & Refugee Coalition (CIRC), 40 Woodland St., Hartford, CT 06105 or online at www.coalitionct.org | RFishman325@gmail.com | 860.727.5731
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What does the Supreme Court decision actually change for synagogues in COVID hot spots? It’s complicated.
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BY MICHAEL HELFAND
(JTA) – The Supreme Court handed the country a Thanksgiving surprise just before midnight last Wednesday, vindicating the religious liberty claims advanced by both Agudath Israel and the Brooklyn Diocese against New York’s restrictions on houses of worship. Understanding the decision requires appreciating both the modesty of the high court’s order and the boldness of its logic. While the court struck down 10and 25-person occupancy maximums for religious congregations, it did not restrict the states from imposing other important restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. Rightly interpreted, the court’s decision ought to be read as a cautionary tale for governors who impose restrictions on religious institutions that both go far beyond those imposed on essential businesses – and do so under circumstances where less restrictive guidelines might meet the demands of public health. But importantly, such an approach, which aims to make room for religious liberty by relying on more tailored restrictions, only works if the public remains vigilant in its compliance to whatever public health guidelines remain in effect. The emergency relief granted by the Supreme Court last week was relatively modest. At issue was Governor Cuomo’s recent executive order that addressed pandemic “hot spots” by identifying areas for heightened restrictions where COVID19 cases were increasing – termed yellow, orange and red zones as the severity increased. The rules in New York state not only imposed capacity restrictions on houses of worship based on their size, but also additional attendance maximums – 10 people in red zones and 25 people in orange zones – regardless of the size of the house of worship. The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to enjoin these attendance maximums and allow large houses of worship – many of the plaintiff churches had capacity well over 1,000 – to host, for example, more than 10 people while in a red zone. The court’s decision last week ultimately did just that. It granted relief against the
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MEMBERS OF THE CHABAD-LUBAVITCH HASIDIC COMMUNITY IN CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN, PRAY OUTSIDE IN A MAKESHIFT SYNAGOGUE NEXT TO 770 EASTERN PARKWAY DURING THE FOURTH PHASE OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC REOPENING. (ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES)
Samuel Neusner, Founder (19291960) Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman, CoFounder and Editor (19291977) Berthold Gaster, Editor (19771992)
10- and 25-person attendance maximums. However, houses of worship remain subject to the overall capacity restrictions. Accordingly, churches and synagogues in red zones still can only admit a maximum of 25% of their capacity – and in orange zones, 33% of their capacity. It’s important to note that the emergency relief granted by the Supreme Court was also only temporary. The court’s order will be in place until the case is heard on the merits by a federal court of appeals in mid-December, and then will remain in place through any potential appeal and resolution of the case before the Supreme Court. Although the court expressed concern with some of the statements by Cuomo singling out the Jewish community, it focused most of its analysis on the manner in which New York’s rules treated religious worship worse than other types of nonreligious conduct. In contrast to houses of worship, essential businesses – such as groceries and pet stores – could open without any capacity restrictions in red and orange zones. This difference in treatment, the court said, constituted a form of prohibited discrimination under the First Amendment. This sort of religious liberty analysis
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– evaluating the constitutionality of restrictions on religious worship by comparing them to other restrictions – has been quite common throughout the pandemic. The key question is picking out the right apples-to-apples comparison. The plaintiffs were undoubtedly correct that New York imposed more restrictions on religious worship than it did on essential businesses. At the same time, houses of worship were treated better than many businesses deemed nonessential, which could not open in red zones at all. In orange zones, high-risk nonessential businesses – such as gyms – remained closed although low-risk nonessential businesses could open without capacity restrictions. All this given, how should we evaluate claims of religious discrimination? The court’s record in answering this sort of question during the pandemic has been uneven. Its first foray came in the form of a concurring opinion back in May by Chief Justice John Roberts addressing a challenge to California’s restrictions on houses of worship. In trying to figure out the right comparison, Roberts’ analysis began by identifying the government interest in regulating religious worship: the need to
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DECEMBER 18, 2020
The Multifaceted Act of Giving In this season of COVID, the act of giving tzedakah has taken on an elevated sense of urgency. Simply put, out of jobs and low on hope, many people are now relying on the help and good will of those more fortunate to survive. Literally. Everyone has something to give. Cash is good. But so is giving of oneself; giving of one’s time and energy, efforts and expertise like cooking a meal for an elderly neighbor, visiting someone who is ill, volunteering at a food bank or shelter…and so on. In the Jewish tradition we are taught that even a poor person who subsists on the charity of others is compelled to perform acts of charity. Because regardless of who we are, how we live or what we do, each of us has something to contribute to insure the welfare of others.
And so, this holiday season and all year round, give in any way you can. Give generously…give of yourself.
For one New Jersey man, charitable giving can be a life-saving experience BY STACEY DRESNER
iving can mean many things to many people. It can mean donor-advised funds or bequests made by the wealthy to organizations and institutions they support. Or taking part in Giving Tuesday, held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving when corporations and consumers give hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide to nonprofits like their local Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Family Services. Giving can also mean volunteering in person for local organizations or organizing local fundraisers. For Jonathan Newman of Wayne, New Jersey, giving – in the form of organ donation – could mean saving his life. Newman, 38, has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disorder that took the lives of both his grandmother and greatgrandmother. In brief, Newman needs a new kidney – and he and his family are working hard to find an altruistic donor who can help save his life. PKD, according to the Mayo Clinic, is “an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys, causing your kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. Cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing fluid. The cysts vary in size, and they can grow very large. Having many cysts or large cysts can damage your kidneys.” Since PKD is a genetic problem, and not an illness like diabetes, a donated kidney will not be attacked, and is expected to last many years, if not the patient’s full lifetime. Newman is currently on three waiting lists for a new kidney, at Penn Hospital, the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Yale-New Haven Hospital and Saint Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, New Jersey. He is also on matchingdonors.com., a non-profit website that links those seeking organs with potential donors. It is expected that once Jonathan receives a new kidney, he will be able to lead a normal life. Jonathan Newman and his wife Stacie spoke to the Jewish Ledger on Dec. 9, about Jonathan’s disease, their healthy 13-month old son, who is PKD-free, and their quest for a kidney donor. “What people don’t realize is that
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you are giving something that is going to help our young family,” Stacie explained. “Yes, it’s a lot of work to get tested and yes, obviously it’s a surgery, but it’s not as invasive of a surgery as it used to be… And you are giving somebody the chance of living a more healthy and fulfilling life that they would have otherwise…At the end of the day, you are helping a family – giving them a gift.”
A gift that lasts a lifetime Jonathan Newman’s mother, Lois Newman, received a kidney transplant from a live donor found on matchingdonors.com at Yale University Hospital six years ago. “Her mother and her grandmother both died of it. Who knows if anybody had it before that,” said Edward Newman, Jonathan’s father. “Lois has always had polycystic kidney disease since she was a kid. It didn’t manifest itself – the symptoms – until she was 60.” Forty years ago when Lois and Edward wanted to have children, they were told they should adopt to avoid having a child with PKD. “In our minds we figured, it’s been this way so long, by the time our child is old enough to have a problem there will be a cure for this,” Edward said. “But that didn’t happen.” Still, both Lois and her brother, who had a kidney transplant 25 years ago, now lead healthy, PKD-free lives with their new kidneys. “There’s no cure for it as we speak,” Edward explained. “This is a genetic disease, so the new kidney can’t be attacked by PKD. [And so], for Lois and her brother, this will last a lifetime.” While PKD is a genetic disease, it is not one that attacks Jews specifically. Potential donors to Lois and Edward’s son Jonathan do not have to be Jewish. “Anybody can be a donor, you just have to be a compatible blood type and tissue type,” Edward said. Like his mother, Jonathan said that he always knew he was likely to have PKD, but he had no symptoms until he was 18. “I had kidney stones, and they found out I had polycystic kidneys,” he recalled. For years Jonathan has seen a nephrologist at Yale every year – now every six months – to keep an eye on the disease’s
JONATHAN NEWMAN, WHO IS SEEKING A KIDNEY DONOR, WITH HIS WIFE STACIE AND THEIR SON MASON.
progression. But PKD hasn’t just affected Jonathan in terms of his own health. “We wanted to start a family and we didn’t want our baby to have my disease,” he said. The couple ended up not being able to get pregnant because PKD affected Jonathan’s sperm count. His nephrologist suggested the couple see a fertility specialist. While there is no real cure for PKD, as Jonathan’s parents had once hoped, there have been amazing advances in reproductive medicine and genetic testing, including the personalized test for the PKD gene Jonathan and Stacie underwent, created by Cooper Genomics. “The specific test we had was under the category of PGTM, pre-implantation genetic testing for monogenic/single gene defects,” Stacie explained. “The test took about eight weeks to create once we submitted blood work and DNA samples. Once ready, we began the IVF cycle.” Through this testing, an embryo without PKD was produced. “That embryo is now in the other room asleep in his crib,” Stacie joked. In the meantime, shortly after Mason’s birth, one of Jonathan’s test numbers came back low and the nephrologist suggested he get on some kidney donor lists. “Some lists take five days, some take 10 years,” Stacie said. “He’s hooked up with Matching Donors, which is how his mom got her transplant. I don’t know how many people even know organizations like Matching Donor’s exist, but maybe if they did they would be able to get more information about how organ donation works.” jewishledger.com
We need to step up our charitable giving during the pandemic – it’s the Jewish thing to do BY YVETTE ALT MILLER
(JTA/Kveller) It’s been decades since I ordered food at a McDonald’s. I’ve kept kosher since I was 18 and, outside of Israel, at least, Mickey D’s is decidedly treif. Except recently, I found myself entering and ordering a decidedly nonkosher cheeseburger and fries. To be clear, the food wasn’t for me. After months of sheltering in place in my suburban neighborhood, I could no longer put off a downtown appointment. So the other day I headed to Chicago’s central business district, making my first journey to the Loop since March. It felt like something out of a dystopian movie. The typical afternoon crowds had disappeared: There were no masses of people hurrying along the wide avenues; gone were the packs of tourists that stopped foot traffic as they
One of their goals is for Jonathan to have a transplant before he has to go through dialysis. “My grandmother was on dialysis for nine months; my grandmother died under dialysis. I want to avoid that,” he said. For now, he is taking Jynarque, a medication that slows down the kidney function in adults with PKD, and by doing that also slows down the progression of the disease. He says he is doing well on the medication, “Except for the fact that I’m peeing like a racehorse and drink a ton of water!” Every three months he must see the nephrologist at Yale and has blood tests monthly at all three of the hospitals in which he is on waiting lists. And now, Covid has thrown in a curveball. “Right now because of the virus, not a lot of people are donating, understandably so,” Stacie said. But Jonathan remains optimistic about his chances of finding a donor and living a long, healthy life. “I’m living a healthy lifestyle, exercising and eating the right foods. It is what it is…I’m scared, but I don’t tell people. I’m just happy that Mason is healthy. That is a huge relief,” said Jonathan. The couple was forward to celebrating Mason’s first real Chanukah on the following evening. “We’re excited to see him tomorrow with the menorah,” Stacie said. “We’re excited to see it through his eyes.” For further information, please contact Jonathan Newman’s father, Edward Newman at enewman591@ aol.com or (201) 265-2939. jewishledger.com
gaped at the city’s skyscrapers. There was also hardly any litter – even the alleyways, usually full of detritus, were eerily clean. Homeless people seemed to be the largest contingent I saw. On most corners I passed, there were several. “Can you help me out?” one implored. Another asked for money, saying he was cold and wet and needed help. The amount of need felt so overwhelming that at first I rushed past them all, ignoring their pleas. Then, just before I boarded a train that would take me back to the suburbs, I asked myself why I hadn’t helped anyone. After all, I had some cash on me: Why hadn’t I given any out? Just then, I was approached by a skinny man about my age who asked for help. “Sure, I can help you,” I said as I reached for my wallet. “I don’t want your money,” he responded. “Can you buy me a meal instead?” “Of course,” I replied, trying to mask my shock as it occurred to me that as I almost rushed by, there was a human standing here hungry. I’d given plenty of money to beggars in my life, but nobody had ever asked me to buy them food directly. I asked him where he wanted to go, and he led me to a nearby McDonald’s, one of the few restaurants that was still open – another shocking aspect of Chicago’s newly quiet downtown. My new acquaintance ordered a cheeseburger. Before I paid, I hesitated. “Why didn’t he order dinner, too, for later?” I asked. He ordered Chicken McNuggets and some sides. I swiped my credit card: a total of $16 for providing a day’s worth of food. “God bless you – you’re the only one who stopped,” he told me. In a time of such enormous need, his words broke my heart. After all, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the U.S. economy – as well as much of the world’s. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that about one-fourth of Americans have had trouble paying their bills over the past seven months. Demand at food banks has risen at an “extraordinary rate,” according to The New York Times, and up to 14% of American parents now say their children are not getting enough to eat. “The number of families having difficulty affording food has exploded during COVID-19,” the nonpartisan Center on Budget Policy and Priorities recently noted. Each week, a food pantry near my home offers drive-through food assistance. The line to receive these donated boxes of food is long and filled with later-model
minivans. Just a few months ago, many of these people would never have imagined being in this position. But jobs have been eliminated, salaries have been cut and workers have been furloughed. Poverty and food insecurity aren’t always easy to spot – your neighbor, your child’s teacher, the parent serving on the PTA with you can all be suffering from food insecurity now. I’d like to say that the American Jewish community has stepped up to help. And, in many ways, Jewish institutions have indeed pledged funds to alleviate the worst effects of the pandemic. In this unprecedented moment, it’s wonderful that many Jewish institutions are reimagining themselves and redoubling their efforts to help those in need. But are we, as Jewish individuals and families, doing the same? Judaism mandates giving charity: The Talmud goes into great detail about the many obligations we have to help others, declaring “Charity is equivalent to all the other mitzvot combined” (Talmud Bava Batra 9a). The Jewish mitzvah of “maaser kesafim” instructs us to donate a portion of our income to charity. Rabbis through the ages interpreted this to mean that we should donate at least a tenth of our income to charity. For too many of us, however, performing this mitzvah feels like an impossible ideal rather than a tangible rule for life. I once heard a Jewish children’s song that described the Jewish mitzvah of tzedakah as “coins clinking in a can,” and I was so surprised: Jewish views of tzedakah are traditionally much more substantial – not just pocket change but enough money to materially help other people. Perhaps now it’s finally time for us to have a difficult conversation about our attitudes to giving charity and to the poor. Over the years, I’ve heard some troubling comments reflecting a profound reluctance to help others. A friend once told me she didn’t donate her children’s castoffs to charity because she didn’t believe in helping people bear “children they can’t afford.” A 10-year-old student in one of my Sunday school classes was taken aback one day when we learned that the Jewish sage Maimonides taught that the highest form of charity was giving a poor person a job. “But poor people don’t want to work,” she said, no doubt echoing what she’d heard at home. “That’s why they’re poor!” Unsurprisingly, the reality is very different: A report in October from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the overwhelming majority of unemployed workers – 7.2 million – expressed hope of finding another job soon. That number
was substantially higher than before the pandemic hit. These attitudes have long been a problem, but today they’re a crisis in our country that we can’t ignore. In a world buffeted by recession and sudden destitution, we need to rediscover the central Jewish tenet of charity more than ever. When people can no longer feed themselves – when people are begging on street corners, wracked by hunger and asking for succor – we have no choice but to step up and help. It’s time for us as a community to step up to the plate and, if we are in a position to help, we must increase our charitable giving. Whatever your current level of giving is, consider giving more. Reach out to your local synagogue, JCC or Jewish federation and ask what they’re doing to help people in your community. If you feel they’re not doing enough, urge them to do more, and consider volunteering to help spearhead new programs. Contribute to the emergency relief funds. Donate to established charities. And remember, too, that tzedakah isn’t always made up of money – if funds are tight, we can also help by volunteering our time and expertise. A few weeks ago, if you had asked me whether there was more I could do to help, I might have said no. I already donate between 10% and 20% of our income to charity. Each week, before I light my Shabbat candles, I set aside money for tzedakah. I might have said I was maxed out – I certainly would never have thought I’d be paying an impromptu visit to McDonald’s. But there’s always more we can do, more we can give. Judaism teaches that we are each here to fulfill a specific set of tasks that only we can perform and for which we’re given the precise, individual tools we require. Let this be our moment to shine. Let this pandemic be our time to step up and start helping our fellow men and women in their hours of need. This article originally appeared in Kveller (kveller.com)
(CREDIT: NATTY BLISSFUL/GETTY IMAGES)
DECEMBER 18, 2020
POLITICS Top House Democrats urge Biden to go back into Iran deal without preconditions BY RON KAMPEAS
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA)
(ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES)
(JTA) – Influential U.S. House of Representatives Democrats, including one who has for years been close to the centerright pro-Israel community, are backing president-elect Joe Biden’s plan to reenter the Iran nuclear deal – without any new conditions on the country. In a letter obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that began circulating Wednesday afternoon, the lawmakers support Biden’s vision in direct contradiction to the urgings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, others in the center-right pro-Israel community and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those groups want Biden to at least renegotiate components of the deal, if not forge a new deal, before rejoining the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which relieved sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions, monitored by outside observers, on the country’s nuclear program. The intended effect of the letter, which the lawmakers hope will draw the support of most of the Democratic caucus, is to reassure Biden that he can leap back into the deal without fear of pushback, at least in the House.
Already signed on are several House members with pro-Israel records, including Brad Sherman of California, a Democrat who has longstanding ties to the centerright pro-Israel community and who helped found The Israel Project in the early 2000s. Also circulating the letter are Abigail Spanberger, a hawkish Democrat from Virginia; Gregory Meeks of New York, the incoming chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Joaquin Castro, a Texas progressive. Sherman and Castro vied with Meeks to chair the Foreign Affairs Committee. Having the three sign onto the letter signals that support for reentry traverses intraparty divisions. Biden announced last week that he was ready to enter the deal without preconditions as a means of containing Iran’s accelerated nuclear push, which was triggered by President Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the deal and the intensive sanctions that he imposed. Iran’s economy is in dire straits as a result, but the sanctions have not hindered Iran’s nuclear program. Neither Iran or the United States is now in compliance with the deal, and under Biden’s terms – welcomed by Iran’s government – both nations would have to return to compliance. Biden said he was ready, after reentering the deal, to negotiate elements missing from the deal that troubled Israel and Sunni Arab nations, including Iran’s missile program. The original deal did not address nonnuclear weaponry at all. The center-right pro-Israel community, particularly AIPAC, has clamored for Biden to amend the deal before reentering or replace it with another more comprehensive deal. “Use leverage achieved via sanctions to #FixTheFlaws and reach a broad deal with Iran,” AIPAC said Wednesday in a tweet.
GOP Congress members move to ensure US embassy in stays in Jerusalem (JNS) Ahead of the three-year anniversary of President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, more than three-dozen Republican members of Congress have called for language in an upcoming must-pass appropriations bill that would prohibit American funding from being used to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Jerusalem. In a Dec. 4 letter, a group of 43 Republicans in the U.S. House 16
of Representatives called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to ensure that the 2021 State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies bill, which oversees embassies, includes language that prohibits funding from “being used to move the United States’ embassy out of Jerusalem.” Trump recognized
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
Biden names Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a leader of Boston’s pandemic team, to head CDC WASHINGTON (JTA) – A Jewish doctor from Boston on the front line of that city’s coronavirus response is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to helm the Centers for Disease Control. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, was among the members of the new government health care team announced in a statement Monday. The Biden transition team said Walensky is a “leading expert on virus testing, prevention, and treatment.” Walensky, a member of Temple Emanuel in Newton, told Boston’s Jewish Journal in April that she was seeking solace in her Jewish community as she faced down the disease. DR. ROCHELLE “I said to WALENSKY them, the last (JIM WATSON/AFP time I spoke VIA GETTY IMAGES) with them, ‘I’m thinking I need you more than you need me,’” Walensky said. “I have a sense it’s getting emotionally pretty hard. I certainly have everybody’s cell phone number … I may need to use it in the weeks ahead.” Biden’s rollout was notable for the number of positions he is tying to battle the COVID. Biden campaigned on incumbent President Donald Trump’s failure to stem the pandemic’s spread. Also named as coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President is Jeff Zients, an economist who owns a chain of Jewish delis in Washington, D.C.
AIPAC does not oppose F-35 sales to the United Arab Emirates (JTA) – The preeminent Israel lobby AIPAC does not oppose the sale of F-35 stealth fighters to the United Arab Emirates – a sign that the Trump Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, 2017, and moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv five months later. “In a time when we are seeing the increasing normalization of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we must ensure that the United States does not
administration has sold the Israeli government and its U.S. supporters on a deal that not so long ago they vigorously opposed. “We do not oppose the proposed arms sale to the UAE, given the peace agreement reached between Israel and the UAE as well as the agreement reached between the U.S. and Israel to ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) will not be adversely impacted by the sale,” Marshall Wittmann, the spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, wrote in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Wittmann’s reply to a JTA query comes the same day that one of the most hawkish pro-Israel groups, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, endorsed the sale, and days after Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, appeared on MSNBC with his UAE counterpart and did the same. The Trump administration, and particularly President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, have been pushing hard for the sale in the administration’s waning days. President-elect Joe Biden has not said whether he would reverse the deal if it is not in place by Jan. 20, when he assumes office, and congressional Democrats have initiated legislation to thwart the deal. News of the sale leaked months ago following the August announcement of Israel and the Emirates normalizing ties, spurring Israeli leaders such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express their opposition. AIPAC backed at least one of the Democratic congressional bids that sought to limit the scope of arms sales to the UAE. Trump administration officials have sought to persuade Israel and other skeptics that the jets are needed to present a united front against Iran, and that Israel will be able to preserve its qualitative military edge in the region. Israel for decades has opposed advanced arms sales to even friendly Arab states because of the region’s instability and the fear that hostile actors could obtain control of the weapons. Democrats oppose the sale in part because of the UAE’s role in the civil war devastating Yemen.
take a step backward by moving the U.S. embassy out of Jerusalem, which is why we seek the prohibition of any FY21 funding in the State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies bill being used to move the United States’ embassy out of Jerusalem,” wrote the GOP congressional members. jewishledger.com
TRINIT Y COLLE G E
הלל @ טריניטי • Warm, welcoming, inclusive community • Shabbat and holidays on campus • Kosher eatery in main dining facility • Major and minor in Jewish studies • Birthright and Fresh Perspectives trips to Israel • Approved study-away programs in Israel • The Zachs Hillel House—an inviting home away from home • Trinity College—one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges
DECEMBER 18, 2020
Briefs Yo La Tengo condenses 8 nights of Chanukah concerts into 1 streaming show (JTA) – In a year when holiday customs have been upended and transformed, one indie band is refusing to let COVID-19 get in the way of its Chanukah tradition: This year, Yo La Tengo will once again be performing a concert on the festival of lights. Since 2001, Yo La Tengo has performed a separate concert on each of the holiday’s eight nights, often with guest appearances from celebrities. The concerts went on hiatus for four years after the New Jersey venue that hosted them closed, then returned at a different location in 2017. This year, the band plans to stream a single Chanukah show online on Dec. 18, with ticket sales to benefit small music venues, which have not been able to host any concerts since the pandemic descended earlier this year. This year’s show, which will also include a comedian among the warm-up acts, will be streamed from the Greene Space, a performance space at WNYC’s Manhattan offices. “We cannot come together in person this year, but for just one night, you’re invited to join us online for a lessfrills, stripped-down Chanukah concert streamed live,” the radio station said in its announcement. “We’ll be keeping two decades of tradition alive.” One of Yo La Tengo’s three members, frontman Ira Kaplan, is Jewish, and said the band launched the Chanukah show tradition as an “audacious and funny” response to the prevalence of Christmas parties in December. The eight-night stands have become popular as fans grew to expect appearances from other musicians and comedians. Kaplan told JTA in 2017 that he fondly remembered the comedian David Cross, who is Jewish, showing up on multiple occasions dressed as a rabbi and hosting an “Ask a Rabbi” segment. “Other comics have explained Hanukkah in ways that probably would have diverged from some of the teachings in Hebrew school,” Kaplan said.
Jersey City commemorates attack on kosher grocery on eve of Chanukah (JNS) New Jersey officials and residents took time on Dec. 10, the eve of Chanukah, to remember the lives lost as the state marked the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on a kosher grocery in Jersey City, N.J. “It’s been one year since our state was shattered by the gunfire of hate and 18
antisemitism. Four innocent New Jerseyans taken from us,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Twitter. “Today, we stand united as one New Jersey family, committed to driving out hate with love, and darkness with light.” On Dec. 10, 2019, two assailants stormed the JC Kosher Deli, unleashing carnage and killing store owner Mindy Ferencz, customer Moshe Deutsch and employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, who was credited with sacrificing his life to save another customer who escaped out a back door. Police detective Joseph Seals had been killed at a nearby cemetery a few hours earlier after confronting the two individuals prior to their killing spree. The assailants who held virulently antisemitic and anti-law-enforcement views were killed inside the kosher deli during a standoff with police. “Despite a tough year, Jersey City is as strong as ever, and we remain an amazingly diverse city with different communities working together to build a better future,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the grandson of Holocaust survivors. “The city rallied together, and in the days after it was clear that Jersey City wouldn’t let the actions of two people who were filled with hate define who we are.” Several New Jersey officials took part in a virtual town hall on Thursday morning led by the state’s attorney general, Gurbir Grewal. Also participating in “Reflections: Remembering the Lives Lost on 12/10/19 in Jersey City” was Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the AntiDefamation League. The officials discussed several initiatives aimed at driving down hate in the state, including a focus on programming and education for youngsters and the creation of a “rumor control portal” on the state’s website to counter disinformation and misinformation on the web. New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said the fact that the anniversary fell on the same day as the start of Chanukah “is not lost on me.” Noting that the holiday gets its name from the Hebrew word “rededication,” he said that the aftermath of the attacks is a story “of rededication, of light overcoming darkness” and of focusing on the things that hold people together.
Israel No. 1 on Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs By Abigail Klein Leichman(Israel21c via JNS) Israel took the No. 1 spot in Mastercard’s 2020 Index of Women Entrepreneurs, ahead of the United States, Switzerland and 55 other countries in terms of the progress made by female entrepreneurs and business owners. “Taking the lead for the first time, [Israeli] women are supported by the vast improvement in
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
physical infrastructure and SME support,” the report stated. Now in its fourth year, the index offers insights into the enablers and constraints of women’s progress as business owners across 58 world economies, representing nearly 80 percent of the world’s female labor force. This year’s report showed that 87 percent of female-led businesses were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Israel was specially cited for “a marked increase in the development of the digital skills needed to adapt to the crisis” by offering businesswomen “increased access to tertiary education.” The report included six case studies from Israel – more than from any other country. The case studies commended Israel for its “highly dynamic and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem,” as well as its governmental support for small and medium businesses in response to the pandemic. “The ongoing pursuit of innovation alongside strong backing by the government and institutions in the form of venture capital has spurred a strong trend in startups in Israel. Data from GEM [Global Entrepreneurship Monitor] (2018/19) pointed to a 31.9 percent increase in business start-up intention among the adult, non-entrepreneurial population within the next three years, the highest level observed in the GEM study in the past 11 years. This trend is especially prevalent in the minority cohort and among women,” noted the report.
JVP under fire for tweeting ‘L’Chaim Intifada’ poster (Jewish Journal via JNS) Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization that supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), has come under fire for a since-deleted tweet that appears to glorify the First Intifada. The Dec. 8 tweet featured a poster from a JVP member stating “where there is oppression, may there thrive resistance” and “L’Chaim Intifada.” JVP described the First Intifada in the tweet as “a series of mass protests against Israeli settlercolonialism and occupation.” Various pro-Israel users on Twitter condemned the post. “277 Israelis, mostly civilians, were murdered during the First Intifada,” tweeted Avi Mayer, director of global communications for the American Jewish Committee. “What do you call a group that celebrates the deaths of Jews?” He added in a subsequent tweet that the poster featured in the JVP tweet “equates Palestinian rioters with partisans during World War II, suggesting that Israel is akin to Nazi Germany. As a reminder, this is defined as a form of antisemitism by the [International] Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.” The Israel Advocacy Movement, a proIsrael group in Britain, similarly tweeted: “This utterly repulsive antisemitic tweet
from JVP will shock you. In it they compare the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group and [Leila] Khaled [a terrorist who hijacked a plane] to Jews who resisted the Nazi genocide. This is disgusting, even by their standard.” International human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky tweeted, “[The] 1st Intifada was a brutal and violent Palestinian uprising. But trust [JVP] to stand up and glorify the terrorists.” JVP did not respond to the Jewish Journal’s request for comment.
Netanyahu to make first official visit to Egypt in more than a decade (Israel Hayom via JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to head to Egypt for a state visit in the coming days, at the request of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, officials in Cairo have confirmed to Israel Hayom. The official visit will be the first by an Israeli prime minister to the country in over 10 years. Netanyahu is expected to discuss a series of regional issues with the Egyptian leader, chief among them bolstering security and diplomatic ties in light of the Iranian threat and coordinating positions between Jerusalem and Cairo ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s entry into the White House. Netanyahu and el-Sissi are also expected to discuss the possibility of renewing talks between Israel and the Palestinians as well as efforts by mediators in the Egyptian intelligence services to achieve a deal for the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian officials said the government was concerned that a Biden administration would be hostile to Cairo and that it would sign onto a new nuclear deal with Iran that would undermine regional stability. The officials further said that Cairo placed great importance on the Abraham Accords as well as the regional alliance being forged between Israel and other moderate Sunni Arab states and Sudan. A senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry official told Israel Hayom that “If Netanyahu’s planned visit to Egypt does take place, President el-Sissi will greet him at the airport with Egyptian and Israeli flags waving alongside one another,” he said.
Israel launches second program to put a lander on the moon (JNS) Israel on Wednesday launched its Beresheet 2 project, the country’s second lunar mission. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted the ceremony, which was joined online by schoolchildren, students and volunteers from six space centers around the country. Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay, SpaceIL founder Kfir
Damri and CEO Shimon Sarid, as well as Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) CEO Boaz Levy, also participated in the event. Beresheet 2, a joint initiative of SpaceIL, IAE and the Israel Space Agency at the Science and Technology Ministry, aims to launch three spacecraft – one orbiter and two landers – to the moon in approximately four years. Alongside its scientific missions and role in advancing international cooperation, an additional aim of the project is to “inspire the next generation of engineers, innovators and dreamers,” according to an official statement. Science and Technology Minister Shay called the project “groundbreaking and inspiring” and said, “We are pleased to announce that in conversations with the Israel Space Agency, seven countries from five continents have expressed an interest in participating in the project, and that in conversations with the United Arab Emirates, the subject has been raised several times. I have no doubt that Beresheet will once again spark our imagination, redefining the boundaries of the possible and securing Israel’s status as a powerhouse of innovation,” he said. Israel’s first lunar probe, “Beresheet,” named after the first word and the first book of the Torah (meaning “in the beginning”), lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21, but crash-landed on the lunar surface on April 11, 2019 at the end of its 6.5 million-kilometer (approximately 4 millionmile) journey.
Cruz reintroduces bill to label Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group (JNS) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has reintroduced a bill that calls on the U.S. State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. His office announced on Dec. 2 that the senator is again pushing for the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, which requires the State Department to report to Congress about whether the transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt meets the legal criteria for designation. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). “Many of our closest allies in the Arab world have long ago concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group that seeks to sow chaos across the Middle East, and I will continue working with my colleagues to take action against groups that finance terrorism,” said Cruz. In the same statement, Inhofe said “since the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Brotherhood-affiliated groups have consistently preached and incited hatred against Christians, Jews and other Muslims while supporting designated radical terrorists.” The Trump administration has jewishledger.com
reportedly considered designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group but has received pushback from Pentagon and other officials.
GOP Congress members move to ensure US embassy in stays in Jerusalem (JNS) Ahead of the three-year anniversary of U.S President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, more than three-dozen Republican members of Congress have called for language in an upcoming must-pass appropriations bill that would prohibit American funding from being used to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Jerusalem. In a Dec. 4 letter, a group of 43 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to ensure that the 2021 State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies bill, primarily funding the U.S. State Department, which oversees embassies, includes language that prohibits funding from “being used to move the United States’ embassy out of Jerusalem.” Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, 2017, and moved the U.S. embassy to there from Tel Aviv five months later. “In a time when we are seeing the increasing normalization of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we must ensure that the United States does not take a step backward by moving the U.S. embassy out of Jerusalem, which is why we seek the prohibition of any FY21 funding in the State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies bill being used to move the United States’ embassy out of Jerusalem,” wrote the GOP congressional members.
Investment in Israeli companies reaches $10 billion despite pandemic (JNS) Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, Israeli companies raised a record amount of capital in 2020, according to a new report by an Israeli NGO. According to the report, released by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) on Monday, as of the beginning of December, Israeli companies had raised $9.5 billion in capital, putting 2020 on course to break the $10 billion threshold for the first time–a 20 percent increase over the $7.7 billion raised by Israeli companies in all of 2019. The amount of capital already raised is nearly 20 percent more than the $7.7 billion, and well above the amount of high-tech investment recorded this year in Europe, Asia or the United States, the report notes. SNC director of research Aviv Alper attributes the excess performance of the
Israeli tech ecosystem to the “growing demand for Israel-led technologies and the unique qualities of the Israeli innovation industry.” These qualities include “rapid response to change, cumulative technological experience and Israel’s branding as a global high-tech hub,” according to the SNC. However, warns Kandel, “The impressive growth figures must not divert our attention from the worrying decline in the number of new start-ups and the relative scarcity of earlystage rounds.”
Anne Frank memorial in Idaho vandalized with swastika stickers (JTA) – A statue of Anne Frank in Boise, Idaho, was vandalized with stickers bearing swastikas and the message “We are everywhere.” The Boise Police Department found and removed nine of the stickers from the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, according to KTVB, a local station. One of the stickers was placed over the diary held by the sculpture. They were placed there between Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Police are reviewing security footage to find the perpetrators. “I fear for what is happening to our community,” read a Facebook post by the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, the local organization that erected the memorial in 2002. The memorial, until recently the only statue of Anne Frank in the United States, was toppled by vandals in 2007 and vandalized again in 2017. Later, after an outpouring of support, the center wrote on Facebook, “Let us each stand up in our homes, neighborhoods, schools and places of work when we hear words that demean or marginalize members of our community. Let us each stand up and be a force of goodness. By Wednesday evening, bouquets of flowers had been lain at the statue’s feet. “This is shocking and disturbing, and we know it does not reflect the values of our community,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said in a statement.
4 passengers threaten to blow up Belgian train unless ‘cancer Jews’ get off (JTA) – Police in Belgium are looking for four men who used a train’s public address system to threaten a bombing of the vehicle near Antwerp unless Jewish passengers step off. The passengers took control of the public address system on Wednesday afternoon between Antwerp and Mechelen, the city that Nazis and their collaborators used as an internment and dispatch station for Jews whom they sent to be murdered in Poland. “Attention, attention,” the men said in Flemish, “the cancer Jews need to leave the train now or we’ll blow you all up,” witnesses said. Security
personnel on the train failed to locate the perpetrators, according to Michael Freilich, a Belgian-Jewish lawmaker who asked the Transportation Ministry to explain why the perpetrators were not caught, how they gained access to the address system and what can be done to prevent a recurrence. The ministry has two weeks to respond.
At White House Chanukah party, Trump talks up ‘four more years’ (JTA) – To cries of “four more years,” President Donald Trump told guests at a White House Chanukah party that he could stay in office “if certain people have wisdom and courage.” Trump skipped the first White House Chanukah party Wednesday evening. But he made an appearance at the second, where he once again said, falsely, that he won the election. “If certain people have wisdom and courage we’re going to win this election,” he said. Trump has said in the past that he hopes the Supreme Court’s conservative majority – including the three justices he nominated – would decide elections appeals in his favor. So far, the court has summarily rejected appeals to hear lower court decisions throwing out pro-Trump lawsuits against state officials who have declared Biden the winner. The latest lawsuit, brought by Texas’ Republican attorney general, seeks to nullify the results in four swing states where Biden was victorious. Election experts have ridiculed the lawsuit, but Trump has sought to join it. A number of invitees to the two parties declined to attend, citing fears of the spread of the coronavirus; previous White House events are believed to have been “super spreaders” and were followed by multiple infections.
Rapper Nissim Black’s single ‘The Hava Song’ remakes ‘Hava Nagila’ (JTA) – The latest single by Nissim Black, a pathbreaking Orthodox hiphop artist, reimagines what may be the mostly widely known Jewish song. “The Hava Song,” released on Black’s 34th birthday Wednesday, is a modern and bassforward reimagining of the traditional “Hava Nagila.” It features Black rapping about gratitude, his place in Jewish society and even allusions to the coming Messianic age. “Big house coming down / from the sky to the crowd / we’re gonna sing it out loud / Black, Jewish and proud,” he sings. Black has been producing music since his teens but has been exclusively creating Jewish music with religious themes since his conversion to Judaism in 2012. He moved to Israel in 2016, where he currently lives with his wife and six children. “I put my heart into my music and I love to give my heart to everyone. I’m a lover of humanity,” he told Alma back in February.
DECEMBER 18, 2020
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The real story behind ‘Mank,’ the new movie about the Jewish screenwriter who wrote ‘Citizen Kane’ BY GABE FRIEDMAN
(JTA) – Acclaimed director David Fincher’s highly anticipated film “Mank,” on the Jewish screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and the story behind his writing of the classic film “Citizen Kane,” hit Netflix on Friday following a short theater-only run. It’s already being considered a front-runner for several Oscar nominations. Beyond “Citizen Kane,” Mankiewicz worked behind the scenes on dozens of famous films from the silent era into the 1950s – among them “The Wizard of Oz” and the comedy “Dinner at Eight” – without often receiving credits. He was known in Hollywood’s inner circles for his sharp wit, as well as his alcoholism, and numerous critics have described Mankiewicz as one of the most influential screenwriters of all time. But Mankiewicz has never gained the fame of “Citizen Kane,” nor its director and star, Orson Welles. And it’s likely that only the most zealous of film buffs are aware of the Jewish sides to Mankiewicz’s story. Here’s some of that history.
Meet the Mankiewiczes Mankiewicz was the son of German-Jewish parents who immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century and spent most of his early years in New York City. He has been far from the only noted member of his Jewish family. His prominent relatives include: • His late brother, Joseph, won multiple Oscars as a director, screenwriter and producer. • His son Frank was a political aide to Sen. Robert Kennedy and eventually a president of NPR. • His late son Don was an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and author. • His late nephew Tom was a screenwriter and director who worked on multiple James Bond films and other blockbusters. • His grandson Ben is a host on the Turner Classic Movies channel and a co-founder of The Young Turks, a popular progressive online politics show.
A fledgling Jewish journalist Before becoming a screenwriter, Mankiewicz served in the Army and Marines, then worked as a journalist, first as a reporter in Berlin for American newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, and then as a theater and book critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker. jewishledger.com
GARY OLDMAN PLAYS HERMAN MANKIEWICZ IN “MANK.” (SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE)
But before all of that, he first worked after college as an editor for the American Jewish Chronicle, one of the earliest English-language Jewish publications, then distributed nationally once a week.
Not big with the Nazis In 1935, the man nicknamed “Mank” was writing for MGM when Nazi propaganda mastermind Joseph Goebbels sent the studio a letter saying that none of the films Mankiewicz was involved in would be shown in Germany – unless his name was removed from the credits. According to a New York Times obituary, Mankiewicz didn’t do his status in Nazi Germany any favors by working on a project called “The Mad Dog of Europe,” which satirized Hitler but in the end was abandoned “on advice of influential American Jews, who feared it might militate against their co-religionists in Germany.” The Anti-Defamation League also “feared it would provoke accusations of Jewish warmongering, and they worried that if it failed commercially, it would demonstrate American apathy to Hitler or even pave the way for pro-Nazi films,” explains an article in Commentary on the film that was never made.
An unadvertised identity Mankiewicz was just one of the many influential Jews in the early days of Hollywood working in all facets of the industry. But even as the Nazis were aware of them, most did not telegraph their Jewish identities, especially as the
THE REAL MANKIEWICZ IN 1943. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Hollywood blacklist – spurred on by the anti-communist sentiment of people like Sen. Joe McCarthy and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover – grew in influence in the 1940s and ’50s. As his grandson Ben told the Forward in May, “Most of them had to, if not hide it, hide that it mattered, that part of their identity. They felt very strongly, ‘we can’t let our Judaism influence the tone and texture of the art, of the films,’ because they knew they were succeeding in a world rich with antisemitism.” (Ben also said in the interview that his father, Frank, Herman’s son, grew up in an “observant Jewish household.” So Herman clearly passed on some religiosity.)
The important Jewish character in “Citizen Kane” Mankiewicz and Welles had a famously contentious relationship that boiled over during and after the making of “Citizen Kane,” as they publicly tussled over who deserved the limelight in the wake of the film’s success. Welles is often seen as the only star of the project, which he was onscreen as the lead actor – but a 1971 New Yorker article by the renowned (and Jewish) film critic Pauline Kael muddied that narrative and gave Mankiewicz not only joint but sole credit for the movie’s lauded script. Regardless, Welles was interestingly “very fascinated and crazy about all things Jewish,” the director Peter Bogdanovich told Tablet in 2011, and “a big fan of the Yiddish art theater.” That sentiment likely formed out of Welles’ friendly relationship
with a doctor named Maurice Bernstein who was close with his family, Bogdanovich theorized. In “Citizen Kane,” which is roughly based on the rise of the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, there is a character named Bernstein who sticks by the protagonist Charles Foster Kane’s side through thick and thin, and is usually referred to as the film’s most sympathetic persona. “[Dr.] Bernstein, who was [Orson’s] legal guardian after his father died, was a very, very important figure in his life. He named Bernstein in the movie as a gesture toward his guardian,” Bogdanovich said in the Tablet interview. In a twist, Mankiewicz was the one wary of including the clearly Jewish character, especially after the actor Everett Sloane was cast to play the role. “Everett Sloane is an unsympathetic looking man, and anyways you shouldn’t have two Jews in one scene,” Mankiewicz said about one moment in the film, according to a memo unearthed by Bogdanovich. Sloane, who was Jewish, had a nose that he thought was too large and despaired over it in striving to become a leading man. Welles would later say that Sloane “must have had 20 operations” on his nose before taking his own life at age 55. One of the film’s many innovative montages includes one of the earliest examples of a character standing up against antisemitism onscreen, as Kane rebukes his first wife Emily’s repulsion to Bernstein during a series of breakfast scenes. While Mankiewicz and Welles collaborated on much of the script, Tablet’s Harold Heft wrote that Welles penned the breakfast montage on his own. “The antisemitism that existed then was largely from the Jews themselves,” Bogdanovich said.
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Teen leads effort to preserve Vermont’s oldest Jewish cemetery BY DAVID LACHANCE
AST POULTNEY, Vermont – (Bennington Banner via JTA) – The autumn leaves crunched underfoot as Netanel Crispe walked uphill toward the northwest corner of the small cemetery. He stopped and examined a toppled headstone. “The last time I was here this was standing up,” he said, regarding the weathered, gray stone. “At least it hasn’t broken.” Crispe brushed away the leaves to reveal a carving at the top of the stone: two raised hands, the gesture used in the delivery of the Birkat Kohanim, Judaism’s priestly blessing. This is the grave of Marcus Cane, who died on Nov. 13, 1874, and the raised hands are an indication that he was a kohen, a descendant of the sons of Aaron who served as priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. Cane was a pioneer, one of the first German Jews who made his way to settle in the Slate Valley along the New YorkVermont border in 1868. These families established Vermont’s first Jewish community here in Poultney and left behind this largely forgotten place, the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vermont. Before this summer Crispe, 18, a senior at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, was unaware that the cemetery existed. Now he’s leading an effort to restore and preserve the site. “I decided it’s my responsibility to honor these pioneers and preserve their history because it’s vital to the history of our state,” Crispe said. Crispe first learned of the cemetery while doing some metal detecting in town on behalf of a historical society. “I came across a house that I was told was a synagogue,” he said. The family who owned the house “mentioned that there was a Jewish cemetery in town, and I was blown away because I had no idea.” As both a 10th-generation Vermonter and an Orthodox Jew, Crispe is keenly interested in the history of Jewish life in the Green Mountain State. “There are not many Jews in the area, so every time I meet one, it’s amazing,” he said. The homeowner gave Crispe directions to the cemetery, but even so it was difficult to find. “This was all grown up,” he said, waving his hand toward the entrance, “and I couldn’t even see the gate. But I finally found it on my third attempt.” Expecting that it might be a marked-off corner of a larger burial ground, as is the 24
NETANEL CRISPE WORKS ON A HEADSTONE AT THE OLDEST JEWISH CEMETERY IN VERMONT. (DAVID LACHANCE/BENNINGTON BANNER)
case for many other Jewish cemeteries in Vermont, Crispe was “shocked” to find that it was a full, half-acre cemetery. “And then I was really just disappointed to see how so many of the older stones are fallen down, broken, although many of them are in good shape,” he said. The cemetery contains some 60 to 85 graves – there are no conclusive records. Most of the graves date from the 19th and 20th centuries. A handful, parts of family plots that date back decades, are more recent. Cane was the first person buried here, and his wife, Elisa, was the third. Who were these settlers, and where have their descendants gone? “Those were the two big questions that I was asking myself as well,” Crispe said. His research led him to Members of this Book: The Pinkas of Vermont’s First Jewish Congregation by Robert S. Schine, a professor of Jewish studies at Middlebury College. A pinkas is a notebook, a record of events kept by a Jewish community, and Poultney’s pinkas had somehow survived, discovered in a used bookstore in Denver in 1966. Schine writes that he had written to the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati looking for any information about the Jews of the Slate Valley. The one item in the collection was the pinkas, written between 1867 and 1874 in German, with Hebrew and English bits intertwined. Through the pinkas, Crispe learned that Poultney’s Jews had arrived from Germany around the time of the Civil War, drawn to the area’s booming slate industry.
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
Predominantly peddlers in Europe, these new Americans became the shopkeepers, tailors and grocers for Poultney and Fair Haven, as well as Granville, New York, and environs. “They were peddlers traveling around just with whatever they had on their back and their small skills, finding jobs here and there, but when they came to America, this was like a new life for them,” Crispe said. “They established and basically became a strong Jewish community here.” The center of the new community was Poultney, where an upstairs room in the house owned by Isaac Cane, one of Marcus’s sons, was used for services. The congregation purchased a Torah, and later a second, from New York, and bought a halfacre of land from the Union Church to serve as its cemetery. The history of the Jews of Poultney mirrors that of the slate industry itself, which went through booms and busts before collapsing during the Great Depression in the 1930s. By the 1890s, the Jewish community had disbanded. Some went to Rutland, others to New York, and still others to Ohio and the Midwest. Crispe has been unable to find any further traces of the founders of the Poultney Jewish community. However, he has made contact with 15 to 20 members of families who came later. “They’re just so happy to see that something’s being done and that their family hasn’t been forgotten in this way,” he said. “It’s been incredible hearing their stories, seeing the pictures they’ve been able to send me and placing a face on the stones,
really being able to connect with these people.” There are unanswered questions, among them the disappearance of both Torahs. Crispe said it’s possible that one was taken by a member of the congregation when he moved away, and that the second might have gone to a congregation in Rutland. The deed for the cemetery has long gone missing – “no one has the slightest clue where it might be, or if it still even exists,” he said – and so the town has taken responsibility for the site. Crispe has a threefold plan: Restore and preserve the cemetery and all of its stones; create a fund to ensure that it can be maintained in perpetuity; and obtain official recognition of the cemetery’s historical status. “I’m applying for a state historic marker to be placed here, and I want to get a nice gate – if we can raise the funds – that says Poultney Hebrew Cemetery, which is what it’s referred to,” he said. “I’ve been connected with different historical societies, museums, the town of course, and different Jewish communities around the state. It’s a collective effort.” Crispe has established a GoFundMe account – Save Vermont’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery – which had raised nearly $7,000 by early December. Ideally he would like to add to the cemetery a genizah, a place for the proper disposal of worn-out or damaged Jewish religious items. “I’ve contacted different rabbis in the state and most synagogues don’t actually have one,” he said. “They would love to have something like that available.” “Really the main goal of the project is to reunite the Jewish communities of Vermont, bring together the Jewish life with the secular life and the communities of Poultney and the surrounding areas, and really just bring people together with a great kind of goal and mission in these troubling times.” Crispe has dedicated himself to helping to preserve the state’s historic places. They’re not as secure as some Vermonters may think, he warns. “Although we have so many historic buildings, and you see history everywhere around us … we’re losing it every year because there’s no laws preventing it,” he said. “If we lose our history, we lose our identity.”
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wave that overwhelmed their devastated the community. The pandemic also brought with it a new form of antisemitism: blaming Orthodox Jews for the spread of the pandemic. Media reports highlighted Orthodox weddings and funerals that drew thousands of attendees. Articles about COVID that did not focus on Orthodox Jews nonetheless featured pictures of them. Haredi New Yorkers believed their community was being uniquely singled out, even though cases were rising across the city, and photos emerged of crowded parties and gatherings elsewhere in the five boroughs. De Blasio contributed to that feeling in April, when he rage-tweeted about a crowded funeral procession in Orthodox Williamsburg, writing, “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed.” That month, the ADL documented a “significant increase” in social media posts that “blamed the Orthodox community for the spread of the virus.” Videos began circulating of people accosting haredi Jews on the street for breaking COVID regulations, as did reports of antisemitic harassment related to the COVID crisis. While some of that harassment resulted in arrests, more seemed to go unchecked. And haredim also increasingly felt, over the course of the COVID crisis, that the officials who had pledged to protect them at the beginning of
the year were now scapegoating them. That sentiment was partly behind unrest in Brooklyn in October, when the Orthodox radio host and right-wing agitator Heshy Tischler riled up a crowd of haredim who had, over the course of a few days, burned masks in the street and assaulted onlookers. Local haredim said the rest of the community was unfairly blamed for the actions of a small group. “There were members of the Jewish community who were not following the rules, but it was presented as the whole of the Jewish community, so there’s something sinister playing out there,” said Devorah Halberstam, an activist in Crown Heights whose son was killed in a 1994 antisemitic attack. She said the visuals in the media were “very troubling to me. So troubling to me that I shivered when I saw it.” Cuomo, meanwhile, was criticized for name-checking the Orthodox community during his briefings about New York’s second wave of the pandemic. In one instance, he used a photo of a 2006 Hasidic funeral to warn about the dangers of gathering in 2020. Yossi Gestetner, a haredi conservative political activist, lamented that “people in political office feel it’s OK to bash Orthodox Jews outright and as a group.” Gestetner had believed that Cuomo built a good relationship with the state’s haredim. But that has changed, he said. “What Governor Cuomo has done in early
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and mid-October, making the resurgence of the virus about Orthodox Jews, is unforgivable,” he said.
Hopes for Jewish unity fizzle The virus also hindered efforts toward solidarity between haredi and liberal Jews in New York. When haredim protested the state establishing restricted zones in their neighborhoods to curb the pandemic, liberal Jews organized to support the measures and expressed consternation at violations of social distancing in Orthodox neighborhoods. The New York Jewish Agenda, a progressive group that had called out de Blasio’s tweets, posted a statement during the October Borough Park protests signed by 400 mostly non-Orthodox rabbis in support of the restrictions and condemning “the lack of compliance with public health directives and recent violent reactions from some individuals within the Orthodox Jewish community.” “There are a few people within the tribe who pretend to care about the issue of bigotry when it involves immigrants or Muslims or Jews in general, who were either silent when this went on or even added fuel to the fire,” said Gestetner, without mentioning any groups by name. Matt Nosanchuk, who founded the New York Jewish Agenda, said the group is eager to join a united front to protest antisemitism and has repeatedly protested bigotry against Orthodox Jews. But he said the group wants to show there is Jewish support for coronavirus restrictions and will not be shy about saying so. “Where we can find opportunities for common ground, we will do so,” he said. “But when we have policy disagreements with certain parts of the Jewish community, we’re not going to be silent.” Ritual Jewish responses to the pandemic also differed according to denomination. Most non-Orthodox synagogues and other institutions quickly migrated their services and programs to Zoom. Haredi synagogues and their advocates, meanwhile, strove to keep their synagogues, schools and camps open as long as possible, and launched a series of court battles to fight state restrictions on religious gatherings. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision delivered a major victory to the Catholic archdiocese and an Orthodox group challenging limits on church and synagogue attendance in New York. Haredim in New York also told JTA that they chafed at calls from Jewish activists and others earlier this year during widespread racial justice protests to defund the police. While activists who use the term say it does not refer to a wholesale abandonment of public safety measures, haredi Jews were jewishledger.com
among those who worried that the slogan called for an end to police departments, which they view as their first line of defense against street attacks. “Whatever goodwill or bridge-building that had started, that has been put on the back burner as everyone has hunkered down in their own communal concerns and conflicts,” said Shani Bechhoffer, a haredi educator in the Monsey area, regarding Monsey Jews’ relations with their non-Jewish neighbors. “And then of course the haredim feel betrayed because they believe the liberal Jews are in favor of defunding the police, which could leave us vulnerable to anyone who wants to come around with a machete.” Yochonon Donn, an editor for two haredi publications, told JTA that the hopes for unity expressed at the January march were nice sentiments that could not overcome deep divisions within New York’s Jewish population. “The differences are too great,” Donn said.” He added: “When it comes to all the things that we care about, they’re fighting us on every level.”
Looking ahead to a year of division and possibly even more hate As New Yorkers begin thinking about a post-COVID world, those who monitor antisemitism worry that a return to street life will mean a return of antisemitic attacks. And this time, resentments and prejudices could linger from the pandemic, exacerbating interethnic tensions that predate 2020. “I hope it doesn’t lull people into a false sense of security,” Silber said. “You’re seeing fewer people act out in the physical world because of the COVID environment, but what you’re also seeing is people spending a tremendous amount of time online in extremist forums. When COVID ends, you’re going to have a lot of people who have been radicalized.” He added, “They’re going to be looking for scapegoats. And as we’ve already seen in some of the memes and the talk in social media, Jews are a convenient scapegoat for COVID.” Organizations that work for intra-Jewish unity say that terrain remains punishing, too. Michael Miller, a longtime local Jewish leader who helped organize the January march, said the national climate of polarization, in addition to COVID, has made the job of internal Jewish cooperation unprecedentedly difficult. “It’s much more challenging today than it’s been in my 30-year career at the organization,” said Miller, the executive director of New York’s Jewish Community Relations Council. “The community is much more highly diverse and the country is much more highly polarized, and therefore the admixture of diversity and polarization, both
Everyone has been so welcoming from Avi Patt to Dean Katherine Black, Arnold Greenberg, and Warren Goldstein, the head of the search committee. I’ll also have a joint appointment in Jewish Studies and History and he’s the department chair so I really look forward to working with him. I haven’t even officially started yet but I feel like I already have colleagues there. Everyone’s been so supportive. Does expanding throughout Connecticut include working with Avi Patt, your predecessor at the Greenberg Center who is now at UConn? Definitely. I’ve known Avi for some time due to our participation in the Association for Jewish Studies, so it’s been such a treat to get to work with him in this transition. He’s been so supportive and has really helped me to navigate the Greenberg Center before I even get there. We had a meeting the week before Thanksgiving talking about programming that we’re going to do for the spring. The calendar isn’t up yet so I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but we definitely have a great lineup where we will be collaborating on programs together. It makes sense, I think, to work together, especially during the pandemic. Tell us about the book you are currently writing on American Jews, the American Protestant community and the Evangelicals. I see this project as having so much resonance in the current political moment. When you look at who was voting in the 2020 election, religious ideologies definitely play a role in who the candidates are looking to for support, all the more so when it comes to Israel. I’ve also been really interested in
internal and external, requires full-time attention.” One exception to the environment of rising tensions appears to be in Jersey City, where the small Jewish community is growing again and the grocery store has reopened in a different location. But In Monsey, Bechhofer said Jews have remained on guard since the stabbing and are bracing themselves for potential future attacks. “It feels like it was something that was there in a large amount and we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “I’ve heard people talk about buying guns for self-defense. There is a general sense that a reckoning is coming….The lack of
Jewish-Christian relations. American Jews have always been a small minority of the population and I think we’ve always looked to other groups to help integrate into society. I think that’s the case with many other ethnic, religious, racial groups. And so I really see interfaith relations, intergroup relations, as a hallmark of American Jewish history itself. What are your thoughts about the rise of antisemitism on campus? I think all campuses need to be concerned about antisemitism or any form of hatred or racism. I think it’s important that there is an education component that ensures that people have a real understanding of the issues that need to be addressed. I think with education you can help to root out some of those issues. I’ve talked with the Hillel director about this when I was last on campus. I am looking to do an entire program related to all types of hatred, ensuring the idea that “Never Again” really means never again to all forms of hatred. We’re looking forward to having a program to highlight the diversity of Jewish life and I think that’s also really helpful [for people to know that] Jews don’t look one way. They don’t live in only one country. And I think there’s also where my research comes in. This spring I’ll be teaching a class on American Jewish diversity… looking at the diversity within American Judaism, looking at the different movements, but also looking at how the members of these different movements are aligning with Americans across racial, ethnic, and all other types of boundaries. I’m really excited about this class and I think some of the work that we’re doing with University of Connecticut will really overlap with some of the public programming that’s going on.
understanding and mistrust – something has to be done to address it now more than ever.” Bernstein shares the anxiety that a future attack could be looming. This year, he left the ADL to helm the Community Security Service, which trains ordinary congregants to patrol their synagogues and protect against attackers. He said the antisemitism of the current era has taught him that if there had been a golden age of Jewish safety in America, it’s over now. “It keeps me up at night,” Bernstein said. “We are concerned that there will be an uptick in all the trends [from] before COVID. We’re not going in the right direction.”
DECEMBER 18, 2020
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| DECEMBER 18, 2020
Opinion CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10
protect public health. So long as states treat houses of worship as they do other institutions that present similar risks – and impose similar restrictions – then there is no constitutional issue. In the California case, the state had indeed treated houses of worship as well or better than “lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.” California’s rules passed Roberts’ constitutional test. But two months later, a Nevada church challenged the state’s COVID restrictions, which prohibited houses of worship from admitting more than 50 people while casinos and other institutions were permitted to admit up to 50% of their capacity. The court declined, without explanation, to issue emergency relief even though casinos would appear to present far more risk than houses of worship. While Nevada argued it gave casinos more leeway because they were more easily monitored, the four conservative justices, who had already objected to the court’s decision back in May, issued harsh dissenting opinions accusing the majority of allowing Nevada to continue implementing rules that treated houses of worship far worse than other analogous institutions. This, they argued, constituted a form of religious discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment because the discrepancy appeared to be based on the state valuing casinos more than houses of worship. This backdrop highlights the significance of the court’s opinion last week. First, its decision represented the first time the court had intervened to lift restrictions during the pandemic on account of religious liberty. Second, the court determined that it was unconstitutional for houses of worship to be capped at 10 people regardless of their capacity, but for essential businesses “such as acupuncture facilities, camp grounds, garages, as well as … all plants manufacturing chemicals and microelectronics and all transportation facilities” to have no capacity restrictions. What the court did not do, however, is compare houses of worship to the sorts of “gatherings where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time” – which remained shuttered under New York rules – the very mode of analysis it had invoked back in May although neglected in July. What led the court to modify its approach? The easy version of the answer is that the composition of the court has changed. Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the seat held by the late Ruth Ginsburg certainly provided the fifth vote to the majority in its decision to grant emergency relief to the plaintiffs. But there’s more to
the case than that. It’s important to note that the court did not strike down the entirety of Cuomo’s executive order. Rather it specifically took issue with the 10- and 25-person attendance restrictions while leaving the other capacity restrictions in place. Those attendance restrictions, in the court’s view, were simply too extreme – not only as compared to the lack of restrictions on essential businesses, but when compared to, in the words of the court, “those adopted by many other jurisdictions hard-hit by the pandemic and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus at the applicants’ services.” The court noted that New York could have adopted less restrictive rules that would have better addressed religious liberty concerns while still protecting public health, such as tying “maximum attendance at a religious service … to the size of the church or synagogue.” Indeed, some justices who chose to dissent from the majority opinion balked at these unyielding attendance maximums. Roberts noted that “[n]umerical capacity limits of 10 and 25 people, depending on the applicable zone, do seem unduly restrictive” and “may well … violate the Free Exercise Clause.” Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, described the attendance maximums as “severe,” noting that 10- and 25-person maximums “are indeed low.” For some of the dissenting justices, the reason not to grant the plaintiffs emergency relief had less to do with the merits of the case and more to do with whether the present circumstances were sufficiently exigent to justify the court’s intervention while the case was still pending before a lower federal court. Thus the court’s calculus appears to have been a combination of multiple considerations woven together. What this means going forward is that states with specific rules for religious worship will need to be mindful of discrepancies whereby houses of worship face unyielding restrictions that both fail to take their capacity into account and are significantly out of line with the restrictions imposed on essential businesses. The court was careful to strike down only the most severe elements of New York’s restrictions, and its logic demanded this sort of distinction. It was because New York could still impose capacity restrictions on houses of worship – tying attendance limitations to the size of the church or synagogue – that the state’s insistence on also imposing attendance maximums were unconstitutional. Put differently, New York’s limits violated the First Amendment, jewishledger.com
THE KOSHER CROSSWORD DEC. 18, 2020 “Notable Notes” By: Yoni Glatt
Difficulty Level: Medium
in part, because there were less restrictive alternatives that could also effectively meet the demands of public health. But such alternatives, such as capacity restrictions based on the size of the house of worship, are only effective if the relevant faith communities adhere to them. In this way, the court’s decision reflects a bargain of sorts. If religious communities remain committed to the demands of public health – if they adhere to the remaining capacity and other attendant COVID guidelines – then courts have the leeway to strike down the most onerous of restrictions on religious worship. But if religious communities choose to pocket this win and flout the remaining rules, it will raise serious questions with the court’s analysis. Ultimately, the Supreme Court told New York that extreme regulation of religion was unconstitutional – and it told religious communities that it will rely on less restrictive regulations if compliance ensures the effectiveness of those regulations. Let’s hope that both sides can live up to their ends of the bargain.
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Michael A. Helfand is professor of law and vice dean at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, visiting professor at Yale Law School and fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
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“A Matter of Life or Death”
Jewish groups fight for the right to vote by mail 1
| JULY AUGUST 31, 2020 7, 2020
Find us online: jewishledger.com
ANSWERS TO DEC. 11 CROSSWORD
Across 1. *Museum in the old city 6. Many NYC dwellings 10. Spy Hari 14. Something some are invited to take 15. *”___ Kohen” (Var.) 16. “Big Brother” host Julie 17. Goes up against 18. “...and vessels of brass and ___,...” (Josh.6:19) 19. Minyan need for many, these days 20. Misquote, e.g. 21. *Gemara option 23. Hebrew name meaning “My G-d is G-d”
26. Uses eBay, maybe 27. *City on the slopes of Mount Carmel 28. He turned the Nile to blood 31. Feeds 32. Qualified 33. Girl’s name that’s short for a street backwards 36. Classic 1965 movie hinted at by the ends of the starred clues in this puzzle 40. Torah accessory 41. Bolt fastener 42. Killer swimmers 43. Another name for Irgun 45. *Part of India known as “Mini Israel”
46. Island close to Java 48. Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 49. *Notable Ma’arat 53. Pull 56. They sometimes have it? 57. “Casablanca” character 58. Balderdash 60. “I’d advise otherwise” 61. *Religious, in Israel 62. He often fights against (but sometimes with) Spider-Man 63. *Sport Israel often excels at 64. Gawker 65. They might tell a runner to steal
Down 1. Eatery that sounds like a drink it probably serves 2. Teen word, in Hebrew 3. Made once again 4. “Lost” actor Daniel ___ Kim 5. Fourth qtr. followers 6. “Entrapment” director Jon whose last name means “G-d of my people” 7. Catherine who married Henry VIII 8. Cut-off pants? 9. Booker and Cruz: Abbr. 10. He debated with Obama 11. “Get ___ of yourself!” 12. Groups for athletes
13. Not so into 21. Alternative word for a vote in 56-Across 22. Streaming provider 24. Umbridge punished Potter for telling them (he didn’t) 25. “Assuming that’s the case...” 27. Lol alternative 28. Jewish television judge 29. Several 30. Flag thrower 31. Barnyard abode 32. A British princess 33. Accompanying 34. Lab container 35. Summer appliances: Abbr. 37. Lays alternative
38. Medieval defense 39. It can be a Major or Minor 43. Stretchable, in product names 44. Quirky habit 45. Hawaii’s Mauna ___ 46. Louisiana marshland 47. Make adjustments to 48. “The Exorcist” star Linda 49. Journey to Mecca 50. Make like Waldo 51. Arthur Miller creation 52. 90 degree from norte 54. Resting atop 55. They were on the High Priest’s breastplate 58. Some streaming devices 59. Outdoor outfitter
DECEMBER 18, 2020
AROUND CONNECTICUT Trinity Hillel remembers Kristallnacht
Helping to feed the hungry in Orange
The Trinity College Hillel Student Leadership Council recently hosted speaker Holocaust survivor Ruth Weiner, who shared her personal story of life in Vienna as a young Jewish girl and spoke of the persecution and extermination of Jews at the hands of Nazis at “Living Through Kristallnacht,” a Nov. 12 virtual event hosted by the Trinity College Hillel Student Leadership Council and organized by Trinity Hillel member Harrison Silver (’22) to mark the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnact. During her talk, Weiner encouraged the audience to think about the significance of Kristallnacht today.
Volunteers from Congregation Or Sholom in Orange helped make the first annual “Pop The Trunk” food drive on Sunday, Dec. 6 a huge success. Organized by the Orange Clergy Thanksgiving Appeal and held at the High Plains Community Center, the drive-by event collected donations of food and paper goods for the Orange Food Pantry. Volunteers from Or Sholom and other organizations helped unload cars overflowing with canned fruits, vegetables and tuna, boxes of cereal, pasta and rice, jars of peanut butter and jam and huge quantities of toilet paper and paper towels. Some of the volunteers reportedly arrived with wheel barrows, which came in handy! “This outpouring of love in the form of literally thousands of pounds of food will make such a big difference to our families in need!” exclaimed Denise Stein, director of the Orange Food Pantry, who said that many local families are facing a difficult winter owing to the high unemployment rate brought about by the Covid pandemic.“Thank you to all who supported this successful event, and thank you to our town’s clergy!” she added.
RUTH WEINER (BOTTOM) ONLINE AT THE KRISTALLNACHT VIRTUAL COMMEMORATION WITH TRINITY HILLEL MEMBER HARRION SILVER AND HILLEL DIRECTOR LISA KASSOW.
A lunch time treat for West Hartford seniors It was an early Chanukah gift for members of the West Hartford Senior Center when staff from Hoffman SummerWood, Hebrew Senior Care’s assisted and independent living facility, handed out complimentary lunches for those who stopped by. On hand to give out the lunch bags where (l to r) Sophia (“The Menorah”) Cannavo-Ostroski, Rabbi Aaron Jaffee and Madelene Francese.
JONATHAN GLASSMAN, OR SHOLOM MEMBER AND ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE/COO OF BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, SUPERVISES BOY SCOUTS SETH GLASSMAN (LEFT) AND LOGAN TUREY (RIGHT) AS THEY CARRY DONATED FOOD ITEMS INTO THE COMMUNITY CENTER.
Farmington Valley families get in the Chanukah groove On Sunday, Dec 6, Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom handed out to members who drove through the synagogue parking lot goody bags filled with chocolate gelt, dreidels, blue and white lollypops, 3D Jewish prism glasses, Chanukah candles, stickers and a booklet all about Chanukah. Carloads for members were treated to smiles and cheers by the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Bekah, and volunteers from the Membership/Outreach, Social Action, Sisterhood and Caring Community Committees who were bundled up to greet them on the sunny cold day. A Chanukah bear was also on hand to entertain the kids and Sunday School families stopped to take photos with their children. Goody bags that were not picked up were hand-delivered to recipients by 14 drivers who fanned out to towns from Hartford to Burlington, Winsted to Bloomfield and throughout the Farmington Valley. Besides all the fun, members were encouraged to bring donations of warm winter hats and gloves to be donated to the South Park Inn Shelter in Hartford. More than 80 hats and 64 pairs of gloves were collected during the two-hour event, as well as cash donations for those in need.
A BLOW-UP CHANUKAH MENORAH WAS PART OF THE FUN FOR (L TO R) KEVIN ZALL, RABBI BEKAH, RUTH GOLDBLATT AND MARLO ZALL (CREDIT: JOANNE COHEN)
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
Emanuel Sisterhood members change their dinner plans On Oct. 22, The Emanuel Synagogue Sisterhood in West Hartford was scheduled to host their Paid-Up Membership Dinner for Sisterhood members, when along came Covid-19 to waylay the group’s plans. When it became clear that the dinner would not take place, Sisterhood member Sandra Myers had an idea – in lieu of the dinner, why not donate what the dinner would have cost to those in need during these difficult times? Unanimously approved by the board, the Sisterhood then donated $800 to the Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry. Though the Sisterhood did not get to enjoy dinner together, Beth Goldberg, Sisterhood vice president of membership, coordinated a Zoom program that included entertainment by impersonator Joni Lambert, and was attended by 95 guests.
JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE CEO KATIE HANLEY (LEFT) ACCEPTS THE EMANUEL SISTERHOOD AN $800 DONATION FOR THE ANJA ROSENBERG KOSHER FOOD PANTRY FROM (L TO R) SISTERHOOD MEMBER BONNIE LASKER, EVENT CHAIR AND SISTERHOOD MEMBERSHIP VP BETH GOLDBERG FERN COHEN SISTERHOOD PRESIDENT.
Camp Laurelwood selected to pilot initiative to expand family camp programs MADISON – Camp Laurelwood, Connecticut’s only overnight Jewish camp, has been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of JFAM, a new initiative of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s (FJC). This innovative program, funded by the Maimonides Fund, provides overnight camps with financial and programmatic support to launch or expand their family camp offerings to provide meaningful Jewish experiences for families with young children. As a participant in the JFAM program, Camp Laurelwood will offer three new and different family camp weekends each year for five years, beginning in 2022. FJC will provide important resources to pilot these programs at camp, and will include training as well as a grant covering capital funding, staff capacity funding, and subsidies for participating families. Laurelwood will work with partner organizations throughout this process, who will lead recruitment efforts with support from the camp. After being forced to close last summer
due to COVID-19, Camp Laurelwood quickly realized the need to safely invite the community to visit camp in some capacity. To meet this need, Laurelwood offered three weeks of family camp over the summer on its sprawling, 140 acre Madison campus. Founded in 1937, this was the first time Laurelwood had ever explored family camp offerings, and the positive response was overwhelming. FJC’s JFAM program will allow Laurelwood to expand on the programs offered this past summer and build on a vision of year-round community programming rooted in Jewish values and traditions. “Camp is a technology that we use to build Jewish identity, and we know that it works,” said Rabbi James Greene, Laurelwood’s executive director. “It is what Laurelwood has been doing for more than 80 years. We are so excited to partner with Foundation for Jewish Camp to bring the magic of camp to families across the region and to build the JFAM program in the years ahead.”
B’NAI MITZVAH TYLER RUDNICK, son of Rachel and Jason Rudnick, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Saturday, Dec. 12, at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford. jewishledger.com
At the Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation, we understand that comfort and familiarity is a key part of the journey to wellness. We also understand that maintaining your religious beliefs and principles is fundamental in continued enrichment of life. Our Kosher meal services allow residents to maintain their dietary requirements throughout their stay with us. At the Hebrew Center, we ensure we follow all principles of Kosher including purchase, storage, preparation, and service.
At the Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation, we also offer a variety of other services and amenities to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. THESE SERVICES INCLUDE: • Passport to Rehabilitation Program • Long-Term Skilled Nursing Care • Specialized Memory Care • Respite Care Program • Palliative Care and Hospice Services Coordination
OUR AMENITIES INCLUDE: • Barber/Beauty Shop • Café • Cultural Menus • Laundry and housekeeping services • Patient and Family education • Life Enrichment
For more information on our Kosher program, please contact: DIRECTOR, PASTORAL SERVICES - (860) 523-3800 Hebrew Center for Health and Rehabilitation One Abrahms Boulevard, West Hartford, CT 06117
L IKE U S ON
DECEMBER 18, 2020
WHAT’S HAPPENING Jewish organizations are invited to submit their upcoming events to the Ledger’s What’s Happening calendar section. Events are placed online on the Ledger website – both on our home page and our digital issue – on Tuesday afternoons. Deadline for submission of calendar items is the previous Tuesday. For more information, contact Judie Jacobson at judiej@ jewishledger.com.
Kulanu to Host Chanukah Zoom-AThon NEW YORK, New York – Kulanu will host its first “Zoom-A-Thon,” the “Kulanu in Song Chanukah Benefit,” featuring the music of Jewish communities throughout the world, on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 8 pm. and again on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m. The international event will celebrate Kulanu’s many partner communities – including that of Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown – who will light the menorah and share songs and prayers by people from Guatemala, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Indonesia and other countries. Founded in 1994, Kulanu – Hebrew for ‘all of us’ – is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting isolated, emerging, and returning Jewish communities around the globe. Kulanu’s hope is that this will raise funds for the organization, as well as an awareness that Jewish communities, no matter how far they may be, are all interconnected. Learn more about the event at kulanu. org/zoom-a-thon. “Chanukah Night Live” will feature musical guests Hosted by the Young Israel of West Hartford, “Chanukah Night Live” – a Zoom candle-lighting held at 5:30 p.m. on each night of Chanukah will be highlighted by a special musical guest. For more information, visit youngisraelwh.org; log on to Chanukah Night Live at youngisraelwh.org/zoom The following is the schedule of entertainment for the last three nights of Chanukah: Tues., Dec. 15 – Maccabeats a cappella group Wed., Dec. 16 – The Yeshiva Boys’ Choir Thurs., Dec. 17 – 8th Day. 34
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28
United Jewish Federation annual meeting, featuring Dr. Sherri Wise
A Pedagogy of Social Justice: Teaching Jewish Diversity, Dismantling the “White, Male Jew”
Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy’s Celebration Dinner goes virtual
Dr. Sherri Weiss will discuss “Survival and Forgiveness: A Story of Optimism and Hope” at the annual meeting of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, to be held on Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. The annual meeting will also be highlighted by the presentation of the Harvey A. Peltz Young Leadership Award to Robin Fischel; the Recognition of retiring board members: Linda Gornitsky, Lorraine Kweskin, Peter Lilienthal, Nancy Mimoun, and Shari Raymond; and the presentation of the proposed UJF Board slate for 2021. To register: ujf.org. Engaging the next generation of philanthropists
TUESDAY, DEC. 15 THRU THURSDAY, DEC. 17
DEC. 15 – FEB. 28
The Greater Hartford Jewish Leadership Academy (JLA) will host “Authentic Philanthropy: Engaging the Next Generation,” an interactive Zoom workshop with Jillian Wagenheim, founder and principal consultant, Sertus Consulting, LLC, to be held Thursday, Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m. The free workshop will focus on fundraising through the lens of generational perspectives and personalities. A Zoom link will be provided upon registration.
THURSDAYS, JANUARY 7 – FEBRUARY 18 ALEPH 2021 learning initiative presents: The Jewish Roots of Social Justice ALEPH: The Institute of Jewish Ideas, a Jewish learning initiative co-sponsored by the Mandell JCC and UConn Judaic Studies, has announced its 2021 schedule of educational programs. The Institute’s theme for 2021 is The Jewish Roots of Social Justice. All programs will be held Thursdays, 7:30 on Zoom. For more information, visit judaicstudies.uconn.edu or mandelljcc.org. The following are Aleph programs through February: JANUARY 7 The Biblical Prophets and Social Justice Prof. Deena Grant (Hartford Seminary) Biblical prophets, such as Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, witnessed and called out systemic social injustices – which did not necessarily reform Israel’s behavior nor alter the course of the nation’s history. This program will explore the prophetic argument for social justice as well as the prophetic experience of failure, in order to understand the role of prophecy within the larger context Israel’s salvation, exile, and restoration.
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
Prof. Aaron Hahn Tapper (University of San Francisco) This session offers one way to both teach and deconstruct the dominant stereotypes that Jews reinforce when teaching about Jews and Judaisms. FEBRUARY 18 Jewish Ethics, Social Justice, Community Organizing and the 21st Century Rabbinate Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay (Jewish Theological Seminary) Rabbi Ruskay is focused on raising the scope and profile of social justice work and community organizing skills in the role of the contemporary rabbi.
“Engaging with Fortitude” is the theme of the Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy 65th Annual Celebration Dinner to be held virtually on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. At this year’s dinner, the pre-K through grade 12 Stamford school will pay tribute to several community leaders, including: Guests of Honor Stephanie and Josh Bilenker; Young Leadership Award recipients Nicole and Jonathan Makovsky; Doris Zelinsky, recipient of the Morton G. Scheraga President’s Award; and the many school alumni who are currently serving in the Israel Defense Force. In addition, Jacqueline Herman, who will be retiring as Bi-Cultural head of school at the end of this academic year, will receive the inaugural Walter Shuchatowitz Award for Excellence in Education. Celebration Dinner chairs are Vered and Mark Links, and Shira and Marc Nerenberg. Journal chairs are Jodi Hadge, Lisa Sharabi Karsch and Maria Reicin. For more information, call (203) 3292186 or visit bcha-ct.org.
BULLETIN BOARD Applications for Teen Israel Leadership Institute due Jan. 21 Applications are now being accepted for the annual Teen Israel Leadership Institute scheduled to be held Sunday, Feb. 7 and 14, 1 - 4 p.m. The 2021conference will be held virtually, as was the fall conference. The Institute, offered by the Atlantabased Center for Israel Education (CIE) in partnership with the Emory University Institute for the Study for Modern Israel, enhances Israel knowledge among Jewish teens in grades 10-12 and provides them with valuable skills for sharing that knowledge with others. During the workshop, participants will engage in a wide variety of learning activities and experiences. They will also have the opportunity to hear from college students. Once the official program is over, all participants will be required to create an Israel learning program for their community, synagogue or youth group. Projects can vary from a one-time educational program to an ongoing series. Projects can be collaboratively devised. CIE staff will mentor students in the
creation and delivery of their projects. Upon completion of this program, participants will receive a CIE Teen Israel Leadership Institute Certificate in Israel Education. The November Institute was also held online, owing to the pandemic. “Teens created new contacts and shared a wide variety of perspectives, making the discussions more varied for everyone,” said CIE Teen Program Manager Michele Freesman. At the November conference, 41 10thto 12th-graders from 11 states, as well as Mexico, Paraguay, Panama and England, gathered through Zoom for three hours of learning on two consecutive Sundays. They covered topics ranging from the history of Zionism and the prospects for peace in the 21st century to lessons in Israeli leadership, media coverage of Israel and Israeli politics through music. The deadline for applications is Jan. 21. Thanks to generous donors, CIE is waiving the $54 registration fee this one time. For details or to receive an application, visit israeled.org/teens. For additional information contact Freesman at email@example.com.
THE LEDGER SCOREBOARD
Israeli contenders rake in international gold medals BY ABIGAIL KLEIN LEICHMAN
(Israel21C via JNS) Judoka Peter Paltchik, 28, was crowned European Judo Champion on Nov. 21 in Prague. Tal Flicker won the silver medal. Israeli windsurfer Yoav Cohen, 21, won the 2020 European Windsurfing Champion, held in Portugal on Nov. 24. Shahar Zubari, a member of Israel’s Olympic sailing team, won a silver, as did Israeli teammate Katy Spychakov in the women’s category. This was Zubari’s fifth European Championship medal. Zubari (also spelled Tzuberi) also won the bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Taekwondo warrior Avishag Samberg, 19, won a gold medal in the European Clubs Championship in Croatia on Nov. 25. Nimrod Krivishkiy won a silver medal, while Ori Patishi and Alon Katz won bronzes. Artistic gymnast Linoy Ashram, 21, won a gold medal in the all-around competition at the European Championships in Kiev, Ukraine, on Nov. 29, becoming the first athlete to win the prize in decades who was not from a former Soviet country or Bulgaria. It was the first all-around European gold in Ashram’s career; she won the allaround silver in 2018 and the all-around bronze twice. Ashram was a gold medalist in two events at the 2019 European Championships, and is considered a top contender for an Olympic medal in 2021. Ashram edged out Alina Harnasko of Bulgaria in a nearly unprecedentedly close tie-breaker.
A 21-year-old Israeli defense forces veteran born to Mizrahi and Sephardic parents, Ashram will represent Israel at the Tokyo Olympics, which has been rescheduled to summer 2021. The Israeli rhythmic gymnastics team also earned its first all-around gold medal at the European Championships, for a stunning hoops and clubs routine by Ofir Dayan, Yana Kremernco, Juliana Tilgin, Shai Ben Ruby, Bar Shpushnikov and Karin Waxman. And junior team member Daria Atamanov won a gold medal for her performance in the clubs event. Israeli chess grandmaster Evgeny Postny, 39, won the first place in an online international chess championship, besting 89 chess players from 20 countries. And finally, the sTAUbility team from Tel Aviv University won the gold medal in the “Best Software Tool” category at the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) virtual world championship in synthetic biology. The 12-member sTAUbility team is led by Prof. Tamir Tuller, head of the Laboratory of Computational, Systems and Synthetic Biology, and captained by Karin Sionov. Judoka Inbar Lanir was named European Judo Champion in Poreč, Croatia on Nov. 12 in the under-23 category; Maya Goshen won the silver medal.
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This article was first published by Israel21C.
ISRAELI GYMNAST LINOY ASHRAM COMPETES AT THE EUROPEAN RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS IN KYIV, NOV. 29, 2020. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
FUN, FRIENDS, FOREVER
For more information or a personal guided tour, please contact us. 463 Summer Hill Rd. Madison, CT PART OF THE 2018-19 BEMA CONCERT SERIES www.laurelwood.org 2626203.421.3736 ALBANY AVENUE • WEST HARTFORD • 860.233.9696 JEWISH LEDGER
DECEMBER 18, 2020
You can make a difference in the lives of people who reach out to Schoke Jewish Family Service every day!
Schoke JFS continues its commitment to serve the community during these uncertain times. As a result of Covid-19 many families are facing financial distress, food insecurity, unemployment and homelessness. We are here to ensure they receive support in their greatest moment of need. These individuals have all benefited from our programs: Kuriansky Family Counseling Prorgram Case Management and Emergency Assistance Grecia and Ron Gross Jewish Family Life Education Home Companion Program Freedberg Family Kosher Food Pantry Hirsch Kosher Home Delivered Meal Program Brain Fitness Joan and Ben Zinbarg Camp Scholarship Program Anachnu - Holocaust Survivor Service Hebrew Free Loan Program Jewish Twenties & Thirties Your support remains the lifeline to our community, providing families and individuals with critical services when they have no place else to turn.
To make a gift online visit CTJFS.org/FriendsCampaign or contact Lisa Rich at 203-921-4161 Recipient agency of United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien and Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
R T E HE T F A
CLOUDS, THE SUN set t ing the stage for a bright future
he Bushnellâ€™s campus may be quiet right now, but the daily
work we undertake throughout
our communities continues. With your support, we can plan with
confidence for when we can gather together again in our performance halls, and be well-positioned to help jumpstart Hartfordâ€™s economy once this intermission ends.
Please consider a gift to The Bushnell today bushnell.org/donatenow.
DECEMBER 18, 2020
KOLOT Pandemic Crisis Raising the Risk of Elder Abuse and Exploitation
BY ANNE HUGHES
ecognizing isolation is a primary risk factor for abuse among elders, it is important to note the heightened emotional state that the pandemic created, causing an even greater threat for seniors. Perpetrators, all too frequently disguised as trusted loved ones, and numerous others using the internet, phones, USPS, and electronic devices to engage isolated seniors for exploitation, theft and abuse have been successful in their quest to take unfair advantage of older adults. The very same safety measures put in place to protect the vulnerable have also placed them at greater risk. Restrictions on visitations, quarantines and isolation have left many older adults with no one to talk to, eat with, listen to, engage with, laugh with when happy or cry with when sad. Electronic devices have become life connectivity. As human beings, we are hard-wired for social engagement. Research shows that under electronic imaging, the brain responds differently when another person is in proximity and engages us. Our brains do not respond quite the same when looking at televisions, electronic devices or listening on a telephone, yet for many they have become the default for in-person engagement. Nine months ago, older adults were at senior centers, religious services, and group outings doing weekly errands and engaging in regular recreational activities. Now, most have been restricted for months in isolation, relying on delivery services and virtual appointments with limited contact with others. As a result, we are witnessing cognitive decline, weight loss, lack of appetite, diminished mobility, and cases of depression in elders. Even long-term care settings have experienced a reduction of social contact, activities, visitations, and a noticeable change in residents’ physiological, cognitive, and emotional health. This pandemic has exposed cracks in our social systems and accessibility for elders in society, leaving them more vulnerable than ever to abuse. The top three risk factors for elder abuse victims are social isolation, proximity to abuser (trusted family/household member facing substance or financial problems) or mild cognitive impairment.
What can we do? Creativity: Communities have initiated “Senior to Senior” postcards and letter-writing, 38
operationalizing a community “Letters Against Isolation” initiative, matching willing members to write, as seen during WWII with writing to soldiers, known or unknown to the writer offering a sense of purpose and supporting social engagement. Some communities have formed a phone tree and reach out with regular “check-in” calls to homebound elders. Facilitate Zoom or FaceTime visits, or neighborly check-ins from driveway, yard or curbside. Some communities have placed notes in grocery bags, coordinated with local grocery services, or provided by Meals-onWheels or social service agencies. Expand ‘Secondary Caregiver’ model to nursing homes and assisted living facilities and become a certified non-medical volunteer. Finally, remember we are morally responsible to report suspected abuse. If we think an elder is being abused or at risk… Speak up and report it! Abuse thrives on silence.
Resources: AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline: 877-908-3360 Center for Elder Abuse Helpline: 203-396-1097 CT Protective Services for Elderly (to report): 1-888-385-4225, After Hours: 2-1-1 www.ct.gov/dss/protectiveservicesforelderly Connecticut COVID-19 Response website: https://portal.ct.gov/coronavirus Connecticut “DO NOT CALL” List: 1-888-382-1222 Volunteer to Support Your Community: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/ Information-For/Volunteers Anne Hughes, LMSW, Institute on Aging, Jewish Senior Services in Bridgeport, has served as state representative for the 135th district since being elected in 2018. She served as a member on the Aging, Human Services, and Insurance and Real Estate Committees in the 2019 legislative session. Hughes has also worked as a licensed master social worker for Jewish Senior Services’ Institute on Aging and for the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention. Readers are invited to submit original work on a topic of their choosing to Kolot. Submissions should be sent to judiej@ jewishledger.com.
| DECEMBER 18, 2020
BY RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB
ypically, this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17), is read during Chanukah. This year is an exception. This Shabbat, we read Miketz on the day after Chanukah. Since my early childhood, I’ve associated the day after Chanukah with sad feelings, feelings of loss. After all, for eight consecutive days, we celebrated with hallel vhodaah, with praise and thanksgiving, with special foods and songs, and gifts. We lit candles every night, culminating in the night before last when we lit eight candles. Then, suddenly, abruptly, we cease all celebration–no more candles! I remember one Chanukah in my early teenage years. Earlier that year, just before Rosh Hashanah, I had been contacted by a rabbi in another neighborhood, who was assembling a small group of selected yeshiva high school students to join him in a special “club for spiritual advancement.” That rabbi, now long gone, was the late Rabbi Avigdor Miller, whom I consider one of my first mentors. There were about 10 or 12 young boys in the group, and we would assemble in his synagogue in Brooklyn, once every three weeks. We would briefly study a classic work of Jewish ethics, or mussar, and were given an assignment designed to foster our spiritual development. We returned three weeks later to report about our progress. Several weeks before Chanukah, we were introduced to what is now referred to as “mindfulness meditation.” We were asked to spend some time in front of the lit menorah, gazing at the candles and monitoring the thoughts that came to mind and the emotions we were feeling. On the “ninth day,” we were to sit before the unlit menorah and again reflect upon our thoughts and feelings while sitting in utter darkness. That experience made a lifelong impression upon me, and I well recall that cold winter evening, sitting in the darkness, and sobbing in sadness. This year, however, the day after Chanukah falls on a Shabbat., this Shabbat. The Shabbat day thankfully dispels whatever sadness we might otherwise be feeling. It is not only the Shabbat itself that dispels the “darkness” that we feel postChanukah. Rather, dispelling darkness is the very theme of this week’s Torah portion. Last week’s parsha, Parshat Vayeshev, ended on a very dark note. Joseph was interred in a deep and dark dungeon. His desperate, and only, hope was that his once fellow prisoner, Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer,
would remember his plea: “But think of me when all is well with you again, and do me the kindness of mentioning me to Pharaoh, so as to free me from this place” (Genesis 40:14). But the discouraging final verse of last week’s Torah reading still rings in our ears: “Yet the chief cupbearer did not think of Joseph; he forgot him!” (Ibid. verse 23) This week, our parsha begins with the very next verse: “At the end, Miketz, of two years’ time, Pharaoh dreamed...” We gradually come to know the details of Pharaoh’s dreams. We become aware that they dramatically lead not only to Joseph’s freedom from the dungeon, but to his elevation to the position of viceroy, the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. The word ketz means “the end.” Thus, the Midrash links our verse to the words of Job: “Ketz sum lachoshech, He sets an end to darkness; to every limit that man probes, to rocks in deepest darkness” (Job 28:3). The Midrash continues, “The Almighty assigns limits to times of darkness,” to which the commentaries suggest that even times of darkness have a purpose. Thus, Joseph’s imprisonment, dark as it was, was the setting for his encounter with the royal cupbearer, which eventually led not only to his freedom but to his rise to power. We can begin to understand the purpose of darkness only when the darkness is finally lifted. This lesson is intrinsic to the very procedure of Chanukah candle lighting. We follow the custom of the great Hillel, as opposed to that of Shammai, whose school kindled eight lights on the first night of the holiday, and then kindled one less light each night until they were left with but one candle on the final night. With one candle left, there is nowhere to go except to zero. Hillel on the other hand began with but one candle and increased the number of candles each night until there were eight. He was, as the Talmud puts it, mosif v’holech, always increasing the number of candles, always increasing the amount of light. His lesson is clear. When one encounters the darkness of the ninth day, he must continue to increase the amount of light. He must, figuratively of course, light a “ninth candle.” He dare not succumb to darkness or despair. He must continue on the path of mosif v’holech, constantly moving forward. Ketz sum lachoshech. An end to darkness. An apt prayer for our current circumstances. Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is the Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union.
OBITUARIES FODIMAN Fred B. (“Fodi”) Fodiman, 73, of Greer, S.C., formerly of Stamford, died Nov. 30. He was the husband of Pamela Fodiman. Born in Stamford, he was the son of the late Max and Phyllis (Wiener) Fodiman. In addition to his wife he is survived by his children, James B. Fodiman and his wife Alexandra of Ashville, N.C., Phillip A. Fodiman and his wife Randi of Norwalk, Allison L. Lupinacci and her husband Mathew of Greer, S.C., and Maxine L. Fodiman of Greer, S.C.; his brother Sanford Fodiman and wife Fern of Florida; his grandchildren, Anabella, Phillip, Mathew, Hayden, Zoe, Nathan and Leigh; and countless nieces and nephews. He was also predeceased by his sister Myra Fodiman and his brother Bruce Fodiman. FRIEDMAN Carl Friedman, 78, of Longboat Key, Fla., formerly of Stamford, CT, died Nov. 20. He was the husband of Martha Friedman. Born in Stamford, he was the son of Florence and Benjamin Friedman. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, James Friedman and his wife Melissa Friedman of Stamford, and Robin Weiner and her husband Stephen Weiner of Glastonbury; his grandchildren, Amanda and Derek Friedman and Jacob Weiner; his sister Marilyn Goldblum and her husband; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. JACOBS Ruth G. Jacobs, 92, of Portland, Me., formerly of Manchester, died Nov. 19. She was the widow of Ronald Kaplan Jacobs. Born in Hartford, she was the daughter of the late Morris Greenwald and Ethel Liss. She was a longtime member of Temple Beth Sholom (now Beth Sholom B’Nai Israel) in Manchester. She is survived by her children, Linda Jacobs and her husband Joseph Manning of Cape Elizabeth, Me., David Jacobs and his wife Louise Akillian of Lincoln, Mass., Mark Jack Edwards and his wife Susan Edwards; her grandchildren, Samantha and her husband Paul, Elizabeth and her husband Roy, Stephanie and her husband Aryeh, Rebecca, Alexander and Benjamin; her great-grandchildren, Adelaide and Reuben; and her sister Marion Rabin of Florida. RADIN Sondra Lorraine (Wisnefsky) Radin, 86, of Preston, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Dec. 2. Sondra was born on April 20, 1934 in New Britain, Conn. to the late Benjamin and Arlene (Slitt) Wisnefsky. Sondra graduated from the Norwich Free Academy in 1951 and immediately went to work for the Lehigh Oil Company. Soon after, she met the love of her life Leonard Radin, and they married in June of 1952. As Leonard moved from the poultry business jewishledger.com
to owning and operating Radin’s Spirit Shoppe, in Norwich, Sondra became his dedicated and dependable partner, taking care of the bookkeeping and other duties, while Len entertained the customers. Len and Sondra sold the business in 1993 and retired. In addition to her duties with the family business, Sondra raised four children. Sondra was an avid mah jongg player, knitter, needle pointer, reader and baker. She produced many iconic “not ready for prime time” needle points. Her baking skills were legendary to her family, especially her strawberry rhubarb pie. Sondra was always, and we mean always, in an upbeat mood and loved to laugh. From her childhood to this most recent summer, Sondra loved to go to Ocean Beach in New London. One of her greatest joys in life was spending time with her grandchildren, who are all heartbroken by the loss of their Bubie. Sondra was a member of Beth Jacob Synagogue and Hadassah. Sondra is survived by her three children; daughter Eileen Radin of Norwich, son Ronald Radin and his wife, Hyla Radin of Bonita Springs, FL; and son Stuart Radin and his wife, Dr. Carrie Wolfberg of Canton; seven grandchildren, Joshua Rowland of Manchester, Jessica and her husband Jack Brennan of Boston, MA, Austin Radin of Bonita Springs, FL, Jordan Radin of New York, NY, Carly Radin of New York, NY and Stephanie Schwartz of Deerfield Beach, FL. Sondra is also survived by her brother and sister-in-law, Walter and Barbara Wisnefsky of Rocky Hill; and many nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, Sondra was predeceased by her son, Michael Zane Radin and her sister, Marilyn Cohen. A graveside service took place on Sunday, Dec. 6, officiated by Rabbi Julius Rabinowitz, at the Hebrew Benevolent Cemetery #2 in Preston. Church and Allen Funeral Home of Norwich has care of arrangements. Donations in Sondra’s memory may be made to Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich.
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CT SYNAGOGUE DIRECTORY To join our synagogue directories, contact Howard Meyerowitz at (860) 231-2424 x3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org. BLOOMFIELD B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom/ Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning Conservative Rabbi Debra Cantor (860) 243-3576 office@BTSonline.org www.btsonline.org BRIDGEPORT Congregation B’nai Israel Reform Rabbi Evan Schultz (203) 336-1858 email@example.com www.cbibpt.org Congregation Rodeph Sholom Conservative (203) 334-0159 Rabbi Richard Eisenberg, Cantor Niema Hirsch firstname.lastname@example.org www.rodephsholom.com Jewish Senior Services Traditional Rabbi Stephen Shulman (203) 396-1001 email@example.com www.jseniors.org CHESHIRE Temple Beth David Reform Rabbi Micah Ellenson (203) 272-0037 office@TBDCheshire.org www.TBDCheshire.org CHESTER Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Reform Rabbi Marci Bellows (860) 526-8920 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cbsrz.org
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SIMSBURY Chabad of the Farmington Valley Chabad Rabbi Mendel Samuels (860) 658-4903 firstname.lastname@example.org www.chabadotvalley.org Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, Emek Shalom Reform Rabbi Rebekah Goldman Mag (860) 658-1075 email@example.com www.fvjc.org SOUTH WINDSOR Temple Beth Hillel of South Windsor Reform Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman (860) 282-8466 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tbhsw.org SOUTHINGTON Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation Reform Rabbi Alana Wasserman (860) 276-9113 President@gsjc.org www.gsjc.org
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Congregation P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Shabbat Services Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (860) 561-5905 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jewishrenewalct.org Kehilat Chaverim of Greater Hartford Chavurah Adm. - Nancy Malley (860) 951-6877 email@example.com www.kehilatchaverim.org The Emanuel Synagogue Conservative Rabbi David J. Small (860) 236-1275 firstname.lastname@example.org www.emanuelsynagogue.org United Synagogues of Greater Hartford Orthodox Rabbi Eli Ostrozynsk i synagogue voice mail (860) 586-8067 Rabbi’s mobile (718) 6794446 email@example.com www.usgh.org Young Israel of West Hartford Orthodox Rabbi Tuvia Brander (860) 233-3084 firstname.lastname@example.org www.youngisraelwh.org WETHERSFIELD Temple Beth Torah Unaffiliated Rabbi Seth Riemer (860) 828-3377 email@example.com templebethtorahwethersfield. org WOODBRIDGE Congregation B’nai Jacob Conservative Rabbi Rona Shapiro (203) 389-2111 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bnaijacob.org
Congregation Beth Israel Reform Rabbi Michael Pincus Rabbi Andi Fliegel Cantor Stephanie Kupfer (860) 233-8215 email@example.com www.cbict.org
DECEMBER 18, 2020
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