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Trump mandated some settlement products labeled as being from Israel. Some GOP senators want it to become law.

Fri, 2021-07-30 20:18

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Seven Republican senators are backing a bill that would enshrine as law one of former President Donald Trump’s final orders — requiring products from the portion of the West Bank controlled entirely by Israel to be labeled as originating in Israel.

The Anti-BDS Labeling Act introduced this week by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., refers to the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

It comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s recent decision to pull its products out of the West Bank. Republican lawmakers, however, have been talking about enacting the Trump order since Dec. 23, when the lame-duck president issued the measure less than a month before leaving office.

Biden has not rescinded the order, which applies to goods manufactured in Area C, which is under Israeli control. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had contemplated annexing the area.

The bill has no chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Area C is where Jewish settlements are concentrated, although it also includes a Palestinian population.

Also in the West Bank are the much smaller Area A, which is under total Palestinian Authority control, and Area B under joint Israel-P.A. control. Under Trump’s order, products from those areas are labeled as coming from the West Bank.

In addition to Cotton, the bill is being backed by Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida; Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee; Ted Cruz of Texas; and John Boozman of Arkansas.

BDS generally refers to boycotts of all of Israel, not just of settlement goods. In announcing its new policy, Ben & Jerry’s said it did not adhere to the tenets of BDS.

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Jewish groups slam Brazilian president’s warm welcome to granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister

Fri, 2021-07-30 19:56

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Brazil’s president effusively welcomed a far-right German lawmaker whose grandfather was a senior Nazi officer, causing an uproar among Jewish groups.

Jair Bolsonaro, who has been highly divisive among Brazilian Jewish voters despite his openly pro-Israel speech, met with Beatrix von Storch, the deputy leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and a member of the German parliament since 2017.

The right-wing Bolsonaro was all smiles while meeting with on Monday with von Storch, who is a granddaughter of Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, a former finance minister during Adolf Hitler’s Nazi rule.

“AfD is an extremist, xenophobic party whose leaders downplay Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust. Brazil is a diverse, pluralistic country that has a tradition of welcoming immigrants. We defend and seek to represent the tolerance, diversity and plurality that define our community,” said Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, in a statement.

The AfD is linked to several extremist positions. The party supported the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol and has radically vilified Muslim immigrants in Germany. Late in 2017, Twitter temporarily suspended von Storch after she referred to a group of immigrants as “barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes.”

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A post shared by Beatrix von Storch (@beatrix.von.storch)

The Anti-Defamation League and the Brazilian office of the pro-Israel StandWithUs nonprofit also criticized the meeting in Brasilia.

“Neither Bolsonaro nor any elected official should welcome an AfD politician. Germany’s far-right AfD party accepts Holocaust trivialization & denial and uses xenophobic rhetoric,” the ADL tweeted Tuesday.

Last week, von Storch was also welcomed by Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son who is a popular federal lawmaker. She also met congresswoman Bia Kicis, chair of the Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Committee in the Chamber of Deputies. Kicis’ grandfather was a decorated Jewish war hero.

“I have the honor of being the granddaughter of General Samuel Kicis, recognized as a Brazilian Jewish hero who joined the Brazilian forces in the fight against fascism and Nazism in World War II,” Kicis said. “As a conservative congresswoman, I welcomed a German congresswoman, who, like me, defends Judeo-Christian values, the family and the sovereignty of her homeland.”

Bolsonaro, who was close with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and some of his aides have been embroiled in previous controversies involving Nazi history. In 2019, Bolsonaro called the Nazis leftists, but later apologized for the comment. Last year, his culture minister was fired for using excerpts of a speech by Nazi propagandist leader Joseph Goebbels, and this year a senior adviser was criticized for making a white supremacist hand symbol during a legislative session.

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Popular Argentine TV show uses Anne Frank image to illustrate song about ‘women who don’t leave the house’

Fri, 2021-07-30 19:38

(JTA) — In a recent episode of “Showmatch,” one of Argentina’s most popular talent contest shows, a contestant sang about “women who don’t leave the house” — in front of a background image of Anne Frank.

The song, titled “I’m Not That Woman” and written by Spanish singer Paulina Rubio, refers to empowered women who do not follow traditional societal norms. The image of Anne Frank appeared on a giant monitor right as singer Sofia Jimenez sang the lyrics “I’m not the type of woman who doesn’t leave the house” on an episode that aired last Friday. The screen showed other prominent female figures throughout the song, including Oprah Winfrey and Mother Teresa.

Argentine Jewish institutions condemned the incident, and some of the show’s producers, as well as its host, visited the Anne Frank House in Buenos Aires, a museum that recreates the famed Jewish diarist’s attic hideout.

“To use Anne Frank as the background for a song by a woman who refuses to stay at home is to bring the banalization of the Holocaust to its extreme expression,” the Anne Frank House had written in a statement. “Anne Frank did not stay at home because she was a submissive woman, but had to hide to escape the persecution of the Nazi machinery.”

The DAIA Jewish umbrella group called the show’s image choice “unfortunate and confusing.”

Showmatch, which debuted in 2005, has become one of the most watched and awarded TV shows in Argentine history. A group of producers led by host Marcelo Tinelli said the incident was an “unintentional mistake” and organized a visit to the Anne Frank House. Jimenez attended the visit as well.

Gracias al acuerdo firmado entre el Centro Ana Frank y la producción del programa #Showmatch en relación a la utilización de la imagen de #AnaFrank durante el show de Sofia Jiménez el día viernes,hoy nos visitaron para realizar la visita al Museo y conocer más sobre la historia pic.twitter.com/RMdATBUesb

— Centro Ana Frank AR (@centro_anafrank) July 27, 2021

Tinelli apologized on an episode of the show that aired Tuesday.

“I’m taking responsibility for that mistake. I’m far from trivializing the Holocaust. I personally visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam four times. I’m a father that sent one of his sons to the ORT [Jewish] school, I know very well the magnificent education that the Jewish community has in Argentina,” he said. “I’m expressing my sincere apologies.”

The Anne Frank House and Museum in Argentina opened in 2009 and hosts permanent exhibitions and runs educational programs. Since 2014, there has also been a statue of Anne Frank in Buenos Aires.

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Is USA rugby player and TikTok star Ilona Maher Jewish?

Fri, 2021-07-30 19:08

(JTA) — Ilona Maher was a star of the Tokyo Olympics before she even played her first match with the U.S. women’s rugby sevens team. Posting from the Olympic Village, her TikTok videos garnered millions of views as she spoke to the camera in a tie-dye Team USA bucket hat.

While Maher, 24, and the team lost in the quarterfinals to Great Britain on Friday, she is being called one of the breakout athletes of the Games. Many Jewish viewers — and TikTok fans — are wondering: With a name like Ilona Maher, is she Jewish?

I will not rest until I confirm that @ilona_maher is Jewish, no one is funny and named Ilona and not Jewish, I will be requiring confirmation and she is invited to Shabbos dinner.

— Julia (@JuliaHass) July 29, 2021

Ilona Maher has to be Jewish, right? @hey_alma, help us out here? #weneedanswers #olympics #teamusa

— Brandon Schuster (@brandonwrites) July 30, 2021

While Ilona is a Hebrew name meaning “oak tree,” it is also popular in Greece (in Greek meaning “torch” or “bright light”), Hungary (from a Queen in Magyar folklore) and Finland (in Finnish, “ilo” means “joy”). Maher, on the other hand, is an Irish surname — from the Gaelic surname Ó Meachair.

Ilona Maher, born and raised in Burlington, Vermont, is likely not Jewish. She has posted on Instagram about Christmas and tweeted about Easter — and while Jews can absolutely celebrate these holidays in interfaith families, she’s never posted online about anything Jewish.

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A post shared by Ilona Maher (@ilonamaher)

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Top Israeli judokas fail to medal at Tokyo Olympics

Fri, 2021-07-30 16:42

(JTA) — Team Israel won’t be repeating its Olympics success in judo from 2016, when two of its judokas won bronze medals in Rio.

In Tokyo this summer, there will be no individual medals in a sport in which Israel has won five of the nation’s 10 total Olympic medals.

Or “Ori” Sasson, the 2016 men’s heavyweight bronze medalist, lost in the round of 16. So did Sagi Muki, a half-middleweight, who was among the Israelis favored to medal. And three Israelis were defeated in their bids for bronze.

“Maybe I should have believed in myself more,” Sasson said. “If the fight had lasted a little longer, maybe it could have ended in my favor.”

Muki did have some upbeat news, however: His friend, the Iranian-born judoka Saeid Mollaei, won silver. Mollaei, who fled Iran in 2019 after being forced to throw a match to avoid competing against Israelis, dedicated his win to Israel.

“Thank you to Israel for the good energy. This medal is dedicated also to Israel. I hope the Israelis are happy with this win,” Mollaei told the Israeli Sports Channel.

Muki was definitely happy, he said.

“He is a very close friend of mine and I know what he went through to get here,” Muki said. “He deserves it. He is inspiring.”

Another Israeli judoka, Raz Hershko, failed to advance past the round of 16. But she did win a historic match against Tahani al-Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian judoka who had been under pressure to withdraw from her match rather than fight an Israeli.

“I’m happy this match took place. After the match, we talked a little in the hall, but she [Al-Qahtani] didn’t want the media to document it,” Hershko said. “We shook hands and hugged, we talked about the match, about the situation in her country. I told her I understood, and that she was brave.

“I’m happy she eventually stood up, despite everything, and fought like she should. I’m happy that the sport won out.”

Hershko lost in the next round.

Shira Rishony, Peter Paltchik and Baruch Shmailov reached the medal round but came up short fighting for bronze. They all responded with strong emotions.

Rishony wrote on Instagram that the dream remains an Olympic medal and the competition was an emotional roller coaster.

She also wrote: “I came here with another dream, I came here to prove what I’m worth, I came to show who I am, and to explode on the biggest stage in the world! And I feel wholeheartedly that I did it,” she wrote.

Following his loss, Paltchik said: “I don’t even know how to express myself. I feel awful, just awful. I wanted to be able to celebrate and now I am suffering. The majority of the bout was in my hands and I saw that my opponent was tiring, but all of a sudden it slipped through my fingers. I gave my heart and my soul and that is why I am hurting so much now.”

And this from Shmailov on his Instagram: “Although I didn’t finish where I wanted I am very proud of the absolutely intensive road, with a lot successes and failures, I have always found a way to overcome my obstacles. So I can’t get comfort in the 5th place but hell, I’m proud and thankful.”

Other Israeli judokas Timna Nelson-Levy, Inbar Lanir, Gili Sharir, Tohar Butbul and Li Kochman also failed to medal.

The post Top Israeli judokas fail to medal at Tokyo Olympics appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Israel becomes first country to begin giving third COVID vaccine shots

Fri, 2021-07-30 16:24

(JTA) — Israel is the first country to start giving a third dose of the COVID vaccine shot to its population in an effort to stem the spread of the Delta variant.

Those older than 60 are the first to get the booster from health care providers. President Isaac Herzog was among the first in that group. Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister and current leader of the parliamentary opposition, got his shot on camera and encouraged others to vaccinate. (Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is younger than 60.)

“I am proud we are the first country to vaccinate with a third dose,” Herzog said, according to The Times of Israel. “The step we are [taking] here is an important one for social solidarity in the State of Israel.”

The third dose aims is to provide an extra layer of protection to the elderly, who are at higher risk for serious illness and death. Pfizer, which has manufactured the vast majority of Israel’s vaccine doses, also recommended a third dose.

Earlier this year, Israel led the world in getting shots into arms and in March became the first country to vaccinate more than half its population. Case numbers plummeted, but they have spiked again in recent weeks from the Delta variant.

The post Israel becomes first country to begin giving third COVID vaccine shots appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

A guide to kosher food at every Major League Baseball stadium

Fri, 2021-07-30 14:09

(JTA) — Jews love baseball — there’s no denying it. But when the baseball season opened in April, most major league stadiums were operating at restricted capacities and offered a limited number of concession stands. 

Not anymore. As the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination rate has soared, many of the ballpark restrictions have been lifted, and remain so even in the face of the Delta variant case surge.

For those returning to the stands across the country (and Canada) who keep kosher, we have prepared this guide to eating in every stadium, from Seattle to Miami. There’s no favoritism — it’s aligned in alphabetical order.

Note that it also includes vegan options, which are plant-based and therefore considered by some to be acceptable in their kosher diets. 

(Another thing to keep in mind: It appears to be policy now at most ballparks, if not all, that credit cards are required to buy food — though there are special ATM machines at parks that can convert your cash into prepaid debit cards.)

Atlanta Braves, Truist Park

There are no kosher items here, but vegan food available includes a Beyond Burger and a smoked tofu sandwich. Like some other teams that have held a Jewish Heritage Night, the Braves have featured a special “kosher night” in past seasons. Unfortunately that does not appear to be on the docket this year with COVID wreaking havoc on scheduling. 

Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field

No kosher items are available. There are vegan hot dogs, vegan chicken wraps and vegan burgers.

Baltimore Orioles, Camden Yards

Though Camden Yards is nearly 30 years old, it’s still a tourist attraction and a great place to watch a game. Like many of the remaining older parks, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. From day one in 1992, the stadium has had a kosher food stand, apparently the first certified kosher stand in any of the major league stadiums. Now called Kosher Grille, fans can find it beyond the left field seats. 

Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park

The oldest ballpark in the American League has the most unique kosher serving device: a vending machine with kosher hot dogs since 2008.

The stadium’s vegan options include burgers and hot dogs. 

Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field

In the National League’s oldest ballpark, the Cubs have a kosher cart behind Section 227. They also sell veggie burgers in several locations and veggie dogs behind Section 117.

Chicago White Sox, Guaranteed Rate Field

No kosher items are listed, but vegan and vegetarian items include sandwiches, veggie burgers and an Asian appetizer duo from Impossible Foods, the brand behind the Impossible Burger.

Cincinnati Reds, Great American Ballpark 

No kosher items are listed, but they do sell veggie dogs (and regular Nathan’s hot dogs, which sadly are no longer kosher).

Cleveland Indians (soon to be Guardians), Progressive Field 

The park’s kosher hot dog stand is a thing of the past and there are no kosher items listed in the stadium’s offerings. However, vegan options include tacos, burritos, dogs and a garden salad. 

Colorado Rockies, Coors Field

No kosher foods are listed, though the Sandlot Brewery inside the ballpark says its beer is kosher certified. The vegan foods available include a veggie dog and salads. The park also offers vegetarian quesadillas.

Detroit Tigers, Comerica Park

No kosher items here, but fans can pay homage to former Tiger slugger and Jewish sports legend Hank Greenberg — his statue is one of six on the concourse in left center field. Greenberg’s 58 homers and 146 RBIs in 1938 is tops for a season among Jewish ballplayers. Vegan choices such as Beyond Burgers can be found in the Big Cat food court.

Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park

The park doesn’t have any specifically kosher foods, but the Astros offer several vegan food options, such as the Beyond Burger, at stands behind Sections 109, 125 and 208. It also has salads, fruit, hummus and other items at the 19th Hole concessions stand in center field.

Kansas City Royals, Kauffman Stadium

The Royals boast a stadium cart by Kohn’s Kosher, a Jewish deli from nearby St. Louis (the deli menu is similar to the Kohn’s Kosher cart at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium). Vegan options include burgers, Beyond Burgers and Beyond Brats.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium

The Jewish sausage factory Jeff’s Gourmet had provided the park with kosher food, but not this season. “Due to health and safety restrictions, we are unable to offer Jeff’s Gourmet until further notice,” the vendor said. Note that health and safety restrictions could be removed or eased at some point this summer, so check before your visit on the team’s website: mlb.com/dodgers/ballpark/information/guide. Dodger Stadium does have a variety of vegan options as well, including Beyond Burgers, Beyond Sausages, tempeh tacos and tempeh nachos with vegan cheese.

Miami Marlins, loanDepot Park

Kosher hot dogs and hamburgers can be found behind Section 3 — except on Shabbat, of course, as the team website makes clear.

Milwaukee Brewers, American Family Field

The kingdom of the ballpark sausage does not offer a kosher option of the famed Milwaukee bratwurst or other proteins. Non-meat options include soft pretzels, popcorn and fries, but otherwise it’s slim pickings.

Minnesota Twins, Target Field

While there are no kosher items offered, the stadium does offer a vegan burger and veggie burritos and tacos.

New York Mets, Citi Field 

The Mets offer several kosher products, including hot dogs, knishes and pretzels, which can be purchased near Sections 115 and 130 on the Field Level, as well as Section 408 on the Promenade Level. There are also vegan options at the many restaurants and concession stands scattered throughout the park.

New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium

Strictly Kosher, which features items such as hot dogs and knishes, is in four locations — behind Sections 110, 214A , 229 and 321. The Yanks also offer plenty of vegan items, such as field roast hot dogs and burgers, black bean burgers, Beyond Sausages and vegan sushi. There is more than enough kosher and vegan food to satisfy “long suffering” Yankee fans, who haven’t won a World Series since 2009.

Oakland Athletics, RingCentral Coliseum

No kosher foods are listed. Nor are there any vegan items listed among the foods available for mobile orders. But Aramark, which is in charge of the stadium’s food operations, does offer veggie dogs and veggie burgers at the other ballparks they cater. So there’s always next year.

Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank Park

Concessions manager Bruce Leith told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “Unfortunately, we have not offered kosher items except on Jewish Heritage Night due to several reasons, including preparation concerns and other factors.” But he added that permanent kosher food offerings have been under discussion and will be something the Phillies hope to offer in the future. 

Jewish Heritage Night has not been scheduled yet this summer — like most teams, the immediate concern was being up and operational by Opening Day.

Citizens Bank Park also offers a variety of vegan options, including dogs and burgers. Before the pandemic, the Phils also had a stand that sold famed musician and Philadelphia native Questlove’s vegan Beyond Meat cheesesteak. It won’t be back this season — they’ve had to pause agreements with several vendors because of COVID-19 restrictions — but it could return in 2022.

Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park

The Pirates do not offer kosher food, but like their counterparts at the other end of the state (the Phillies), they have had Jewish Heritage Nights in the past, where they bring in kosher food, and may well have one at some point this summer (even though nothing is currently scheduled). Vegan items include a burger and a greens and grain salad.

San Diego Padres, Petco Park

While they have no kosher items, no less than a dozen of their concession stands are listed as vegetarian friendly.

San Francisco Giants, Oracle Park

Although there are no official kosher selections, they do sell Hebrew National hot dogs — which many Jews consider kosher, despite a longstanding dispute over its certification. And there are plenty of vegan food options, including at the Garden (in an actual garden) behind center field and the John J. McGraw Derby Grill, which sells Impossible Burgers. A veggie cheesesteak can be found at Outta Here Cheesesteaks.

Seattle Mariners, T Mobile Park

No kosher food listed here. There is a concession stand, The Natural, with vegan and organic foods including Beyond Burgers, vegan sausages and other plant-based food.

St Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium

The aforementioned Kohn’s Kosher has a presence here as well, behind Section 147. Among their items: pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, knockwurst and hot dogs. Kohn’s has operated inside the new Busch Stadium since it was built in 2013, which happened to be the last time the Cardinals were in the World Series (they lost to the Red Sox, but the Cards do hold the National League record for most world titles at 11). 

Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field 

The Rays do not list any kosher food but they do have several vegan food items, including Beyond Burgers, and vegetarian rice bowls with vegan sauces.

Texas Rangers, Globe Life Field

The good news is they sell Hebrew National hot dogs. The bad news is the kosher Centerfield Market stand from the Rangers’ last stadium didn’t make it into the new ballpark — the team technically moved into its new home last year, but this is the park’s first year with fans. It does have a vegan cart with plenty of options, though. 

Washington Nationals, Nationals Park

Kosher Nats fans can rejoice: Max’s Kosher Grille features falafel, homemade sausages and hot dogs from the deli in Wheaton, Maryland. Vegan food choices are available as well at other concession stands.

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This haredi Orthodox mom is the face of a new Adidas campaign

Fri, 2021-07-30 13:45

(JTA) — In 2016, Beatie Deutsch placed sixth in the Jerusalem half marathon. Watching Deutsch, an Israeli born in America, you would have never guessed that she had taken up running only four months earlier. The following year she ran the Tel Aviv Marathon while seven months pregnant with her fifth child (really!).

Even while running, the haredi Orthodox Deutsch dresses modestly, following Jewish laws. She wears a headscarf, elbow-length shirt and a knee-length skirt covering her leggings — unlikely attire for a star athlete.

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A post shared by Beatie Deutsch (@marathonmother)

Just a few short years after her first race, Deutsch placed first in the 2018 Jerusalem Marathon. In 2019, she won Israel’s National Championships Marathon in Tiberias, and she quickly became the Israeli national champion in the marathon and half marathon. Most notably, she qualified for the 2020 Olympics by ranking among the top 80 women runners in the world.

Many women, particularly those who are religious, see Deutsch as a role model for observant Jewish athletes.

“We don’t have a lot of female athlete role models in Israel,” she says. “I want to see more girls becoming athletes and pursuing that passion. My ultimate goal in life is to share the beauty of Judaism, and impact people to spread light in that way because I did not dream about being an athlete, ever. I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, when I grow up, I want to be a professional runner.’ I didn’t know that was such a thing.”

And though she became famous for her speed and positive spirit, disappointments soon arose. First, due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021. When that happened, the women’s marathon was moved from a Sunday to Saturday — meaning that Deutsch needed to convince the International Olympic Committee to switch the date, or else she could not compete in the race, as it coincided with Shabbat.

And then, in April 2020, runners needed to requalify for a spot in the Olympics — this time beating a new standard time (2:29:30) or ranking in the top 80. Unfortunately, while Deutsch ran a new personal record of 2:31:39 in England, she didn’t make the cutoff.

After publicly fighting for months to switch the race date and show observant Jews around the world that their religion matters, Deutsch was disappointed by her race results. Still, she kept a positive attitude after this major setback.

“I know my time will come,” she says. “Plus, my PR is the same qualifying time for the World Championships [July 2022], which is a race not on Shabbos like the Olympics is. As much as I wanted to qualify for the Olympics, I knew that the chances of me actually being able to participate in the race were slim to none.

“It might take me a week or two weeks or even longer to get over this loss and process my emotions,” she said on Instagram following her disappointing results. “When everything fell apart, my first thought was that this is from Hashem. Maybe this was to show the world that sometimes you don’t reach the goals you set and how you deal with things when they don’t work out as planned.”

Despite the setback Adidas, one of the biggest sportswear companies in the world, took notice of Deutsch and decided to highlight her because of — not despite of — her religious observance. With her usual headscarf, skirt and long sleeves, Deutsch was featured in Adidas’ “Impossible is Nothing” campaign, which hopes to unite people through sports and expand the limits of human possibilities.

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A post shared by Beatie Deutsch (@marathonmother)

Within Israel, the campaign is hard to miss — it’s online, and there’s a giant billboard of Deutsch on the Ayalon highway near Tel Aviv.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was a beautiful opportunity to make an impact as a proudly modest woman, and Adidas chose to highlight that aspect of me.”

I was so surprised that they wanted to highlight the fact that I’m a religious runner and that my faith is what moves me. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from a big sports company.”

Deutsch sees running — and sports in general — as a way to connect to Judaism.

“Here I am teaching Judaism through sport,” she explains. By dressing modestly while running and still juggling the laws of Judaism, she shows people that you can be an observant Jew and still compete at the highest level.

“I love sport, I love pushing myself, I love challenging myself, I love running,” she says. “I’m using this gift that Hashem has given me in a way to fulfill my mission here. I’m really blessed.”

Since her race in England to qualify for the Olympics, Deutsch has begun to train for the Abbott World Marathon Majors in Berlin this fall. The finish line will be at the historic Brandenburg Gate, where Hitler was appointed chancellor and proclaimed his plans to annihilate the Jews.

“I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to demonstrate Am Yisrael Chai than by racing as a proud Orthodox Jewish mother,” she says.

Moms who want to have a family while chasing their dreams consider Deutsch to be their role model.

“I see a lot of women on track and field showing up and saying we can continue to pursue our careers and still have a family,” she says. “That is what’s revolutionizing the track and field world, and I’m one of those women.

Obviously, there’s more to juggle and balance. There are so many things I can’t do because I have a family. I can’t go away for altitude training, I can’t pick up and leave for six weeks. But at the same time, I see it as a great career opportunity for moms because my job’s flexible. I don’t train all day and I have a lot more time with my kids. I’m doing something I love while being there for my family.”

The post This haredi Orthodox mom is the face of a new Adidas campaign appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

De Blasio has vax advice for Rosh Hashanah • Chaim Deutsch gets 3 years • Rodeph Sholom’s new rabbi

Fri, 2021-07-30 12:47

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


Mayor de Blasio wants you to be fully vaccinated by Rosh Hashanah.

  • “If you get the first one by Monday and then you follow up on time, you will be fully vaccinated by the start of the holiday,” de Blasio said Thursday. “So yet another incentive.” (Rosh Hashanah begins Sept. 6.)
  • The city began wielding carrots and sticks to encourage vaccines in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city driven by the Delta variant.
  • Why us? A recent poll shows Jews as the religious group most likely to be vaccinated. However, Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods tend to have vaccine rates significantly below the national average.
  • Quotable: “That’s a great thing to do looking forward to the holidays, make sure every family member who’s going to be in the room is fully vaccinated,” said Rabbi de Blasio.


Former Councilman Chaim Deutsch was sentenced to three months in prison for tax evasion.

  • A federal prosecutor accused him of “deliberate conduct that occurred year after year.”
  • Deutsch, who represented parts of South Brooklyn that include large Orthodox Jewish communities, had refused to resign from the City Council but was expelled from the legislative body in April.

Native New Yorker Deborah Lipstadt is Joe Biden’s pick as the State Department’s next antisemitism envoy.

  • The noted historian of the Holocaust is perhaps best known for exposing a Holocaust denier in a British courtroom. The 2016 movie “Denial,” with Rachel Weisz starring as Lipstadt, was based on her book about the case.
  • Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, grew up in Far Rockaway. She attended the Hebrew Institute of Long Island, now part of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway. She majored in political science and history at the City College of New York.
  • Why it matters: Jewish organizations, alarmed by a spike in antisemitism, have been pressing the Biden administration to name an envoy and to name a separate Jewish liaison to the community, our colleague Ron Kampeas reports.

Rabbi Benjamin Pratt’s Jewish journey echoes that of his synagogue, Congregation Rodeph Sholom. 

  • Pratt is the new senior rabbi of the Manhattan synagogue, which started in the 19th century as Orthodox but is now Reform.
  • Spratt has roots in the Reconstructionist and Renewal movements, studied at an Orthodox yeshiva, and was ordained at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary.
  • “I have always been searching for my place of belonging,” Rabbi Spratt tells The Jewish Week. “I do feel I have found it here.”


Jeffrey Yoskowitz, the artisanal gefilte fish maven, has a new gig: vegan food.

  • The founder of Gefilteria launched Papaya, which partners with NYC restaurants to deliver plant-based meals from top chefs.
  • “Yes, I am Mr. Ashkenazi food,” Yoskowitz tells our colleague Shira Hanau. “But what you don’t know about me is that my grandmother was a vegetarian.”
  • The first “drop” featured a meal by Einat Admony, the famed Israeli chef behind the Manhattan restaurant Balaboosta.


Carl Levin, the Jewish Michigander and pro-Israel stalwart who served 36 years in the Senate, has died at 87. Levin was a go-to Democrat for pro-Israel lobbyists, although he parted ways with AIPAC when he backed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.


Israel’s Olympic baseball team lost its second game, falling to Team USA 8-1 in round-robin play Friday night in Japan.


How can we love the stranger when Torah also tells us to vanquish our enemies? In Israel, writes Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, the contradictions of this week’s Torah portion are confronted every day.


Our friends at The Nosher recently taste-tested “the most horrifying” hummus flavors they could find. Can you spot the fake among the otherwise real flavors below?

  1. Cake Batter Hummus
  2. Strawberry Daiquiri Cocktail Hummus
  3. Pickled Herring Hummus
  4. Pumpkin Spice Hummus


The Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, presents an in-person screening of “Asia” (2020, 85 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles), starring Shira Haas as a Russian émigré to Israel, navigating her teenage years along with her single mother. Info here. Sunday, 2:00 pm.

The National Library of Israel presents translator Hillel Halkin in conversation with British-Nigerian-Israeli writer Akin Ajayi, co-founder of the Tel Aviv Review of Books. They’ll discuss how translators negotiate ever-complex cultural, social, and literary sensibilities. Register here. Sunday, 2:00 pm.

Answer to News Quiz: 3.

Photo, top: Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to get a coronavirus vaccine by Monday — in time to be fully vaccinated by Rosh Hashana. (Screenshot from YouTube)

The post De Blasio has vax advice for Rosh Hashanah • Chaim Deutsch gets 3 years • Rodeph Sholom’s new rabbi appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Carl Levin, longtime Jewish senator from Michigan, dies at 87

Fri, 2021-07-30 03:05

(JTA) — Carl Levin, the Jewish Michigander who spent 36 years as a fierce inquisitor in the Senate, has died at 87.

The Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School announced Levin’s passing on Thursday. It did not give a date or cause of death, but Levin was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago. The center, named for Levin, focuses on the passion of his career: government oversight.

Levin, first elected to the Senate in 1978, became his state’s longest-serving senator. From 2001 until his retirement in 2015, Levin served as the chairman or the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was always a little disheveled and spoke softly, and his staffers described him as a rarity — a kind and accommodating boss in the world’s most intense pressure chamber.

“Carl Levin was a giant of a Senator and a giant of a human being with a big heart and a kind soul. He made his mark and will go down in history as one of the best,” former California Senator Barbara Boxer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Levin could be fierce in eliciting testimony in the Senate as chairman of the subcommittee on investigations. Hauling Goldman Sachs executives before his committee in 2010, amidst the carnage of the 2008 financial collapse, he said, quoting an internal email: “You knew it was a ‘shitty deal’ and you didn’t tell your clients. Does that bother you at all?” He repeated “shitty deal” a half dozen times in two minutes, and his subjects squirmed on camera.

Levin’s liberal economic outlook was shaped as he watched the diminishment of his once muscular and beloved city, Detroit. He fought hard for car manufacturers in Congress, knowing the lifeblood that they were for his state’s working class. He worked as a taxi driver while in college — he said he knew Detroit’s every block — and on an assembly line at Chrysler.

Levin was a dove who spoke out early against the George W. Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq, but as chairman of the committee that shaped military policy he was also a defender of protections for the armed forces, sometimes to what fellow Democrats was a fault. He successfully prevented bids to take investigations of sexual misconduct out of the hands of the line of command.

Levin told interviewers he grew up in a middle-class household in Detroit and that his parents, Saul and Bess Levin, were Zionists. Bess was active in Hadassah.

His brother “Sandy and I and our sister Hannah used to call ourselves Hadassah Orphans because when we got home in the afternoon, my mother was never there,” he said in an oral history for the Detroit Jewish Federation. “She was volunteering for Hadassah.”

Levin was a go-to senator for lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and was attentive to their requests for defense assistance to Israel. However, he parted ways with AIPAC when the lobby, heeding the Israeli government at the time, opposed the emerging Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

Even after his retirement in 2015, as the deal neared completion, Levin remained influential, urging his former colleagues to back the deal.

He was devoted to the entire state, traveling to its farthest corners to meet constituents. A staffer recalled to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he convened the staff after a woman in an airport complained to him that she had not heard back from his office after writing. The talk, the staffer said, was “serious,” but not a rebuke and not unkind.

Levin’s older brother Sander Levin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, and from 2010-2012 — when Sander was the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and Carl chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee — they were the most powerful brothers in Washington.

They were throughout their lives the closest of friends. Sander, who retired in 2019 — replaced by his son and Carl’s nephew, Andy Levin — described his sadness in 2014 anticipating Carl’s retirement.

“We’ve been the longest-serving siblings in the history of Congress,” Sander Levin told the Detroit Free Press. “We were raised together and have always been very close … we roomed together at law school … whenever there were issues of common interests, we talked quite a lot. And we sat together for 32 State of the Union Addresses. So it will be very different not sitting together this year.”

The post Carl Levin, longtime Jewish senator from Michigan, dies at 87 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Deborah Lipstadt, noted Holocaust historian, is Biden’s pick for antisemitism envoy

Fri, 2021-07-30 01:43

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Joe Biden is set to nominate Deborah Lipstadt, the Emory University Holocaust historian, to be the State Department’s antisemitism envoy.

The White House alerted top Biden supporters of the pick, which has been expected for weeks, on Thursday night, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned.

Lipstadt is perhaps best known for defeating Holocaust denier David Irving after he sued her in a British court for defamation for calling him a Holocaust denier. Her 2005 book, “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” was made into a 2016 movie with Rachel Weisz starring as Lipstadt.

Lipstadt, 74, has been for years a go-to expert for the media and for legislators on Holocaust issues, particularly on how the genocide’s meaning should be understood in the 21st century, and whether it had any cognates among anti-democratic forces in the current day. She twice endorsed Barack Obama for president but has on call for her expertise across the political spectrum.

Last year, during the election, she broke a longstanding taboo on comparing present-day American politicians to the Nazis and endorsed an ad by the Jewish Democratic Council of America likening the Trump administration to 1930s Germany. Lipstadt said Holocaust analogies were still off-limits, but she could see parallels to the rise of the Nazis.

“I would say in the attacks we’re seeing on the press, the courts, academic institutions, elected officials and even, and most chillingly, the electoral process, that this deserves comparison,” she said at the time. referring to the JDCA ad. “It’s again showing how the public’s hatred can be whipped up against Jews. Had the ad contained imagery of the Shoah, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Jewish organizations, alarmed by a spike in antisemitism, have been pressing the Biden administration to name an envoy and to name a Jewish liaison to the community — another post that White House officials said would be filled soon. The Trump administration took two years to name an envoy.

Lipstadt will be the first nominee who will need to be confirmed by the Senate since Congress first created the position in 2004. Congress last year elevated the role to ambassador-level, granting the position more funding and easier access to the secretary of state and the president. If Lipstadt is confirmed, she will be the fifth person in the position.

The antisemitism monitor’s role is tracking and reporting on the phenomenon overseas, and lobbying governments to address anti-Jewish bigotry within their borders. The position does not have a domestic role, although Elan Carr, Trump’s appointee, sometimes criticized domestic actors, including J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. His attack on J Street drew a rare rebuke from one of his predecessors, Hannah Rosenthal.

The post Deborah Lipstadt, noted Holocaust historian, is Biden’s pick for antisemitism envoy appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

GOP candidate for Virginia House likens being a conservative teacher to being Jewish among Nazis

Thu, 2021-07-29 22:00

(JTA) — A history teacher running for the Virginia House of Delegates said that being a conservative teacher in Virginia today is akin to being Jewish in Germany during the 1930s.

“To come out and say that you’re a teacher on the right is almost as dangerous as saying, as almost saying, going through Germany in the 1930s and saying ‘I’m Jewish.’ It’s gotten that bad,” Julie Perry said Wednesday in an online event entitled “Educators for Youngkin Coalition.” Glenn Youngkin is the Republican nominee for governor.

“Think about what’s happened with Tanner Cross,” Perry said. Tanner Cross is a Loudon County teacher the school system suspended for saying in a public forum that he would address transgender students by their birth gender pronouns. A court issued an injunction against the suspension and Cross is suing the school system.

A number of Republicans over the last year, including the prominent House Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, have likened coronavirus restrictions and safety measures to the Nazi treatment of Jews, drawing rebukes from Jewish groups who say it cheapens the horrors inflicted on Jews at that time. Jews targeted by Nazis in the 1930s — the period leading up to the Holocaust which historians generally say started in 1941 — were stripped of their property and livelihoods, beaten, deported and frequently murdered.

The Democratic Party of Virginia condemned Perry’s statement and called on Youngkin to denounce Perry.

“Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia House Republican Caucus must condemn these remarks and end their support of Perry’s campaign,” the party said in a statement. “Otherwise, Virginians will have no choice but to interpret their silence as an endorsement of her antisemitism.”

Perry forcefully endorsed during Youngkin during the session and Youngkin’s political action committee has given the largest donation, $3,000, to Perry’s campaign to win the 86th District, straddling Loudon and Fairfax counties. The seat is currently held by a Democrat.

The campaigns for Perry and Youngkin did not return requests for comment.

Virginia has over the last decade transitioned from a Republican to a Democratic leaning state. Perry and other educators during the session decried what they said were lowered standards, caused they said in part by mandates to emphasize equity in teaching.

Perry, who teaches world history, said she was affronted by changes to curriculum on the Roman era and the colonial era in the Americas.

“They want us to teach how they were certain groups of people oppressed in Rome and it’s so sad because Rome had so many accomplishments,” she said. “To see that taking away, is you’re taking away history.”

Perry also complained that she was forced to teach that the British “abused” Pocahontas, the Powhatan princess who was held captive for ransom by American colonists. She converted to Christianity while in captivity and married a colonist, John Rolfe.

The post GOP candidate for Virginia House likens being a conservative teacher to being Jewish among Nazis appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Israeli forces reportedly kill Palestinian man at funeral for a child also shot dead by soldiers

Thu, 2021-07-29 21:32

(JTA) — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man at the funeral Thursday for a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who had been killed a day earlier by soldiers, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Shawkat Awad, 20, became the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since Tuesday, according to reports.

Awad died hours after he was shot in clashes between soldiers and hundreds of mourners and protesters at the funeral for Mohammed al-Alami, according to Haaretz. The boy was struck by soldiers firing on a car at the entrance to the village of Beit Ummar. He was declared dead at the hospital.

“For seven years we tried to have children, until Mohammed arrived,” said al-Alami’s father, Muayed, according to Haaretz. “They took my heart from me, they snatched it from me.”

On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man who they suspected was committing a terror attack. According to the Israeli publication Ynet, the man was fixing a pipe.

Israel is investigating the three incidents.

The post Israeli forces reportedly kill Palestinian man at funeral for a child also shot dead by soldiers appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Jewish NYC council member sentenced to 3 months in prison for tax evasion

Thu, 2021-07-29 21:16

(JTA) — Chaim Deutsch, a former New York City councilman, was sentenced to three months in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to federal charges of tax evasion in April.

Deutsch, who represented parts of South Brooklyn that included large Orthodox Jewish communities, had refused to resign from the City Council but was expelled from the legislative body in April.

Deutsch evaded more than $82,000 in property taxes between 2013 and 2015. He operated a real estate business in addition to being a councilman.

“This was not aberrant conduct that occurred on a single occasion. It was deliberate conduct that occurred year after year,” said Eli Mark, the federal prosecutor who worked on the case, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

As part of his sentencing, Deutsch will pay $107,000 in restitution to the U.S. government as well as a $5,500 fine. Following his prison term, he will also be subject to a year of supervised release.

Deutsch has been working as a property manager in Brooklyn since being expelled from the City Council.

The post Jewish NYC council member sentenced to 3 months in prison for tax evasion appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Strawberry daiquiri? Pumpkin spice? We tried these American hummus flavors so you don’t have to.

Thu, 2021-07-29 20:53

This article first appeared on The Nosher.

Hummus, a Middle Eastern chickpea and tahini dip, has been adopted and Americanized in every possible way in recent years. Americans haven’t just embraced hummus, they have found truly appalling ways to make it their own. Here are the most horrifying flavors we could find.

Snickerdoodle Hummus

Snickerdoodle cookies are delicious, with their chewy texture and cinnamon sugar flavor. But in hummus form like this variety from Delighted By? Hard pass.

Cake Batter Hummus

Birthday cake is one of the world’s most perfect foods. It does not belong packaged in a tub as hummus, which is one of many sweet varieties offered from Tribe hummus brand.

Everything Bagel Hummus

Like the hummus craze itself, everything bagel seasoning is everywhere, including in this hummus from Boar’s Head. And while the savory everything bagel flavor may lend itself more naturally to hummus than sweeter takes, not everything needs to taste like an everything bagel (though I have heard some rave reviews about this flavor).

Chocolate Mint Hummus

If chocolate hummus wasn’t bad enough, now there is chocolate mint hummus, also from Boar’s Head. It’s like if chickpeas, chocolate and a tube of toothpaste all got mashed up together — but not in a good way.

Mango Hummus

I just don’t think fruit and hummus go together. There, I said it.

Red Velvet Hummus

Red velvet cake is a Southern staple in the United States. It’s rich, subtly chocolatey and imparts a little tang. It pairs perfectly with cream cheese frosting, but does not work with chickpeas.

Strawberry Daiquiri Hummus

Aldi not only sells strawberry daiquiri-flavored hummus but two other cocktail-inspired hummus flavors, including mudslide and piña colada. Personally, I’ll still take my cocktails on ice with a a tiny umbrella, not in chickpea dip form. Hmmm, now I am craving a cocktail.

Pumpkin Spice Hummus

Americans sure love turning anything they can into pumpkin pie or spice-flavored foods, and hummus may be a step too far. Let’s keep pumpkin spice where it belongs: in my Starbucks latte, of course.

The post Strawberry daiquiri? Pumpkin spice? We tried these American hummus flavors so you don’t have to. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Simone Biles exemplifies this Jewish value

Thu, 2021-07-29 20:48

This article first appeared on Kveller

When I woke up on Tuesday, at first it seemed like any other morning. I had to get two kids ready for camp (fill water bottles, slather sunscreen, pack the snacks), and I had to get myself ready to attend Ladino class over Zoom (finish a worksheet, slurp coffee, practice rolling my r’s). Since I live on the West Coast, I’m used to being a little late on breaking news. As I yawned and stuffed Pirate’s Booty into a bag, I noticed a one-word text from my sister: “Simone.”

At first I was confused. Then I remembered that the Olympic women’s gymnastics team final had started four hours earlier — and I suddenly had half a world of things to catch up on in the wake of Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the competition. What followed was a day of real-time drama, U.S. teammate heroics, Hoda Kotb appearing distressed and so many hot takes (so many) about Biles’ decision to scratch (i.e. exit the competition) after performing a vault and losing her air awareness partway through.

Despite all the words already spilled about the situation, I’m here to offer another take informed both by Jewish tradition and by my personal gymnastics fandom.

Like many women (and men), I’ve been a gymnastics fan since forever. This is not related to any personal involvement or skill in the sport; the most I’ve ever been able to do is a crooked cartwheel. However, since the 1992 Olympics, my sister and I have been hooked. That year we recorded the women’s gymnastics team final and literally wore out the VHS tapes replaying them. I can still hum every note of Shannon Miller’s floor routine, and I remember a television profile that showed Miller tapping her feet on the floor while studying at school — a superstar athlete for the aspiring quiz bowl set.

As each Olympic cycle approaches, my sister and I watch all the coverage of the gymnastics trials and analyze everything together. We have become well-versed in the sport’s lingo of tucks, pikes and twists; we have absorbed the back stories of our favorite competitors, like Dominique Dawes, Shawn Johnson, Aly Raisman (who didn’t kvell at her “Hava Nagila” routine?), Laurie Hernandez and Biles, considered by most to be the sport’s greatest champion. As we have aged from tweens to teenagers, from young women to adult moms, my sister and I have continued watching other young women — just like us but with glitter-streaked hair and killer abdominal muscles! — face unbelievable pressure to perform perfectly.

For fans of the sport, it has been amazing to watch the U.S. evolve into a global gymnastics superpower, winning Olympic team medals at every cycle since 1992 and frequently producing gymnasts who could win all-around and event titles at the World Championships. We’ve been watching long enough to know that, historically, it was not always such a given that the American women would win anything, much less piles of gold medals.

So my sister and I, like many young women around the world, were watching in 1996 when Jewish gymnast Kerri Strug performed a second vault, while clearly injured, to ensure that the U.S. would clinch the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics. We watched as Bela Karolyi carried her in his arms, his mustachioed glee contrasting sharply with her pale, drawn face. Many years later we watched as revelations emerged about the various abuses that gymnasts endured while training at the Karolyis’ Texas ranch; about accusations, coverups and willful negligence by USA Gymnastics; about the physical and emotional toll the abuse scandal has taken on a generation of American gymnasts. We watched as some of our gymnastics heroes bravely took the stand to accuse a vaunted team doctor (whose name, like Haman, should be drowned out in a chorus of boos) of physically abusing them under the guise of treatment, sometimes with their own mothers in the room.

Strug’s effort — hailed 25 years ago as the ultimate athletic sacrifice for her team, replayed as a gooey “inspirational moment” in network montages of past Olympic glory, and landing her on lists of Great Jewish Olympians — plays very differently now. Today, athletes in many disciplines are beginning to speak about coach abuse, sponsor mistreatment, pay inequalities and other injustices in their sports.

We are witnessing the dawn of a movement wherein athletes are setting boundaries to preserve their mental and physical health — creating their own version of pikuach nefesh, the Jewish principles of preserving life above all else. Earlier this summer, Naomi Osaka famously stepped back from the French Open after a dispute with the tennis powers-that-be about appearing for news conferences. Citing her history of depression and social anxiety, she also skipped Wimbledon to continue focusing on her mental health. For an athlete as globally influential as Osaka, the decision sent ripples beyond professional sports, prompting questions about how employers and organizations respond when someone requires support for mental health challenges or expresses a need for self-care.

Biles’ withdrawal yesterday sent similar shockwaves around the world, and was greeted by the same contrasting views that greeted Osaka’s timeout (essentially, “she rocks!” versus “she’s a quitter”). These athletes’ recognition of their need to step back runs counter to the typical narrative of athletic heroism, but Osaka and Biles are comfortable writing a whole new story of self-advocacy. This is not the story of someone in a sparkly leotard who limps her way through a vault to please her overbearing coach, or someone who fights through her anxiety to answer invasive questions from a reporter. Instead, this is about strong women who know exactly what they need to thrive, and who can recognize when a situation is too much for them — or their nefesh, their soul — to handle safely.

Biles acknowledged that her anxiety resulted in the disorientation that gymnasts call “the twisties,” and her refusal to perform when her head wasn’t in it was an admirable measure of self-protection. Any coach knows that being even slightly off, especially on the highly difficult maneuvers Biles is capable of, can result in serious injury. It’s tempting to conjecture about the factors that may have contributed to her reaching that point: being the face of Team USA, the financial apparatus of sponsors, incessant media coverage and the pressure of creating an Olympic viewing experience that rests on (and often exploits) the perfect performance of female bodies.

Add to all that the fact that Biles was consciously competing in order to convey her support for the sexual abuse survivor community — despite being traumatized, misled and mistreated by the people in the USA Gymnastics who were supposed to protect her. When there is so much you are trying to transcend, is it any wonder that flying through the air becomes a nightmare?

My sister and I kept texting throughout the day as more information emerged about the team competition. We cheered for the three remaining U.S. teammates who hit their routines to earn silver, and watched as they congratulated the gold medalists from the Russian Olympic Committee, with all the layers of gymnastics history that both teams represent. (Speaking of history: Shoutout to bronze medalist Great Britain, earning the nation’s first gymnastics team medal since 1928!)

As Tuesday in Seattle came to a close, I found myself thinking more about what it means to celebrate an athlete’s story. Removing herself from the competition may not be what the networks had in mind for Biles’ TV-ready moment of Olympic glory, but the message she sent was more powerful than any vault she might have performed. She communicated to the world the fact that life is precious, our souls are precious and we must do whatever we can to keep ourselves safe. Everything else is commentary.

The post Simone Biles exemplifies this Jewish value appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Hannah Einbinder opens up on ‘Hacks’ fame, her Jewish identity and rocking out to the ‘V’ahavta’

Thu, 2021-07-29 20:38

This article first appeared on Alma.

Hannah Einbinder has been taking a lot of walks. Aside from the many tasks that come with being nominated for an Emmy, her main job these days is, as she puts it, “not letting my crippling anxiety ruin my life.” Her greatest salve has been walking it off, sometimes for hours.

“The key is this: If I look like I’m in physically good shape, I’m not well,” she says.

Einbinder is, professionally speaking, doing quite well. The 26-year-old standup comedian turned actress recently scored a nomination for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for her role as Ava Daniels in “Hacks,” HBO Max’s dramedy about a legendary comedy diva (Jean Smart) and the 25-year-old “canceled” comedy writer who gets shuffled off to Las Vegas to liven up her set. She’s been called a “breakout star” and a “young comic on the cusp.” But via video call, Einbinder stresses to me that these objective wins do not make her anxiety disappear.

Einbinder and Jean Smart in “Hacks.” (Anne Marie Fox/HBO Max)

Like many before her, she connects some of that anxiety with the fact that she is Jewish.

“I think there is something to the idea that everything can be taken away from you, just like that, which feeds into the idea that in a self-loathing area of consciousness, everything should be taken away from you,” she says. “And it’s, you know, hell. But again, I’m walking.”

Einbinder laughs, as she often does after delivering a devastatingly honest remark.

Luckily this won’t be her first experience of awards show pressure. When I ask her to tell me about her bat mitzvah — from which she has shared several excellent throwback photos on her Instagram account — she warns me, “Get ready for this.”

The year was 2008. The theme was “Hannah Einbinder’s First Annual Friendship Awards,” and it was, indeed, structured as an awards ceremony.

“The stars were out that night on the pink carpet,” Einbinder says, gleaming. “My dad’s friends all pretended to be paparazzi, and all my 13-year-old weirdo friends were severely uncomfortable being photographed.”

In true inclusive L.A. fashion, her friends took home awards (in the form of plastic trophies) that night, from “funniest friend” to “best eyes” to “coolest hair.”

She also took the main event — chanting Torah — very seriously, despite being a “not-yet-medicated hyperactive kid beyond all belief.” Her parents requested the rabbi give her a shorter Torah portion because getting her to sit down and study anything was such a tremendous effort at the time.

“But I loved it. I gave it 110%,” Einbinder recalls. “I was kind of obsessed with singing in shul. I’m like V’ahavta, this is my jam. Let’s f—ing rock.”

Einbinder prepares for her 2008 bat mitzvah. (via @hannaheinbinder on Instagram)

Einbinder was raised in Los Angeles, where her family belonged to Temple Isaiah on Pico Boulevard, a synagogue that defines itself as “at the intersection of tradition and innovation,” and which the comedian describes as a “super hippie L.A. temple, incredibly inclusive and cool and queer and diverse.” (She says this while holding her pointer and pinky finger in the rock-on sign.) “For me, Judaism has always been music and dance and art and love and all of these really amazing, positive things.”

Growing up, she often visited family on the East Coast to celebrate the High Holidays, and did Shabbat with challah and grape juice — noting “it wasn’t anywhere near shomer Shabbos.” Still, it wasn’t just the culture of Judaism that drew in Einbinder.

“I’ve been religious since I was a child. I have had a personal connection to God since I was a kid,” she says.

Her belief in what she calls “the big H” (as in, you know, Hashem) is a departure from the rest of her family, which includes her sibling Spike Einbinder, a fellow comedian. But the concept of a higher power — and spirituality in general — was always around. Both her parents, comedian Laraine Newman, an original cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” and comedy writer Chad Einbinder were in Alcoholics Anonymous.

“I think they especially wanted to give [the concept of a higher power] to me young because they felt that, much like the origins of Judaism, it was a way to structure life,” Einbinder says.

If Judaism was one of the languages her family spoke, comedy was the other mother tongue, equally formative and rich. Unsurprisingly, Einbinder’s parents started sharing the great Jewish comedians with her at a very young age. Funny people like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Joan Rivers, who provided at least some of the inspiration for Smart’s character in “Hacks,” Deborah Vance.

“It was so much about getting a laugh out of my parents, that was the affirmation,” Einbinder says of her childhood. “It wasn’t grades, or athleticism, or really any of that. It was laughs.”

But despite being steeped (or as she says, “indoctrinated”) in humor growing up, she had no plans to pursue it professionally. It wasn’t until college, at Chapman University in Orange County, that Einbinder fell into improv and later the standup comedy scene. She’s been open about the somewhat tumultuous path she took to get there after being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and spending years as “a highly medicated teen.”

“In college, I was taking a lot of Adderall and smoking weed every day, constantly,” she recalls. “For several years of my life, I was in an altered state. I was not myself. I still had a tiny bit of me, but it was probably like 90% drugs, 10% Hannah.”

That all shifted when Einbinder was on a film set one day and a guy (whom she thought was cute) told her that she was funny, suggesting she try out for the school’s improv team. Someone else proposed she take a day off Adderall to see if it would help. Long story short: She made the team; she stopped doing drugs; she got a chance to try standup while opening for Nicole Byer’s campus show; she realized “improv is for nerds, this is where it’s at.”

(Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max)

Making the transition from standup to acting in “Hacks” was, she assures me, terrifying.

“I was so worried that I would f— it up. And so worried, almost until the last week of shooting, honestly, that I was not honoring the vision of [creators] Paul [Downs], Lucia [Aniello] and Jen [Statsky], despite constant affirmation,” she says. “I was like, they gotta say that. They were so lovely and supportive, and my demons were on call 24 hours a day, just blocking any sort of goodness that seeped into my conscious mind.”

You wouldn’t know any demons were afoot on set when watching Einbinder as Ava on screen. She exudes the perfect Gen Z elixir: cocky, oversharing, scorned bisexual vibes with a healthy dose of self-resentment and pluck. There’s also no shortage of moments of true vulnerability — like when Ava returns home after a family tragedy, and in the fleeting moments when she’s able to poke through Deborah’s hard-fought, tough as (manicured) nails exterior. It was those moments for which Einbinder was most grateful.

“As a comedian, I really crave the ability to be sincere in my art form, and acting — especially in a dark comedy, the way that this is — and having those darker, more sincere moments is a form of self-expression that I didn’t know I needed, but I do,” she says.

Einbinder gets most sincere with me when talking about her Jewish identity and what it means to her now as an adult. She’s wearing her signature Star of David necklace, the one that can be seen in pretty much every photo taken of her, and which she wore during her recent appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” I ask if it’s an aesthetic choice or something deeper.

“I think it’s both,” she responds. “I think it’s gorgeous, and I also think that, based on various antisemitic ideas about what a Jew looks like, it’s important to make it very clear that we can be anything; we are everything.”

Einbinder has fine red hair — not the boisterous dark curls often used to portray Jewish identity, especially in Hollywood — and she reveals that a lot of the antisemitism she’s experienced, especially in college, came from people assuming she wasn’t Jewish and therefore confiding  their sinister thoughts to her.

Antisemitism is one of the many reasons that Einbinder stays off Twitter, the platform where her character in “Hacks” made a joke in poor taste, leading to her career’s temporary plummet.

“When you tweet about antisemitism, or really anything Jewish, the Nazis find you on there,” she says. “It’s not like I couldn’t deal with the messages. I was just like, I’m outta here. What does this do, really, for me? Thus far, not a lot of Nazis on Instagram finding me, so that’s cute.”

Einbinder posted about the rise in antisemitic attacks in the country last December, a poignant message accompanied by a menorah with candles lit for the sixth night of Hanukkah. That same menorah sits on a bookshelf behind her while we talk.

“It’s a tough time right now, so it’s been really about reaching out and making new friends and connecting over this thing that we share that is unequivocally a part of us, whether you observe or you don’t,” she says of her present-day connection to Judaism. “I think of it in my everyday life as my safety. The people I’m safe with. [I’m] trying to create that environment for my friends and family, and trying to keep my eyes on the streets, so to speak, making sure that I’m educating myself around what’s going on and speaking out against it. I don’t see any other option, personally.”

Her face brightens when talking about the connections with fellow queer Jews she’s made, especially during the pandemic, especially online.

“To have people who I feel like I can relate to on both of those levels at the same time is like … a Jew? Dayenu. A queer Jew? Baruch Hashem,” she says.

Einbinder gets verklempt when I point out that it’s been 13 years since her bat mitzvah, essentially meaning this year is her bat mitzvah’s bar mitzvah.

“Oh my God, oh my God, what are we going to do?” she cries, bringing her hands to her temples. “Oh, we have the Emmys this year, so it’s the same thing!”

Einbinder wipes her eyes, perhaps a little teary at the thought of a gold-winged woman taking the place of the plastic trophies of yore.

(Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max)

But from what I can tell, Einbinder was ready for the spotlight long before she stood up in front of a congregation. As we’re signing off, she makes sure to share with me a video that she was sent the day before. She holds up her phone to the Zoom screen, alerting me that what I’m about to see is “fully psychotic.” What appears is young Hannah, maybe 9 or so years old, hair pulled back to reveal ears she hasn’t grown into yet. Her bold child-newscaster voice announces, “Hi, we’re here live on the scene at Spencer’s bar mitzvah. Let’s have a few people talk to ya! Come right this way.”

She proceeds to interview her parents, attendants at a neighbor boy’s celebration. Her mother wishes Spencer a “happy bar mitzvah.” Her father offers some show business technique on the fly — hold the microphone a little lower — before joking that he came to the event to get some good contacts for photographers and videographers.

Even at that age, Einbinder oozes confidence and stage presence. Adult Einbinder watches along with me, her hand over her mouth in shock and delight. We get one more shot of the budding performer, an extreme close-up with a direct address to the camera, her freckled face filled with pride.

“I’m Hannah Einbinder,” she says. “Thank you and goodnight.”

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Orthodox institutions dominate Jewish ritual in Israel. Could the new government change that?

Thu, 2021-07-29 19:46

(JTA) — When Israel’s current government managed to unseat longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, it did so by the narrowest of majorities and with the most ideologically diverse coalition in history.

Now that the government has turned to governing, it’s unclear what it can accomplish. The coalition, which includes right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties, as well as an Islamist party, is divided on the future of the West Bank, Arab-Jewish relations within Israel, domestic spending and even marijuana legalization.

But this government might be able to make some progress on one set of issues that has long bedeviled Israeli society: the state’s involvement in religious life. For decades haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, politicians have dominated the nation’s religious affairs. Advocates for pluralism are hoping now that the absence of haredim from this coalition will herald a liberalization of its public religious life.

“[It] is clear that there is much to be happy about and hope for change in the future,” read a newsletter sent by the religious pluralism advocacy group Hiddush days after the coalition was sworn in.

But the newsletter also cautioned that the coalition’s fractious makeup made any progress uncertain, and that “there are many question marks regarding the actual future path of the new government in this arena.”

Here’s why the Israeli government might be poised to break the status quo on religion — and which issues could be addressed first.

Haredi institutions dominate public Israeli religious life. 

When Israel calls itself a Jewish state, it isn’t referring only to the way most of its citizens identify or its public holidays. Government involvement in Judaism extends to nearly every sphere of public life — from who Jews can marry to where they eat to what they learn in school.

A big reason for that is the control that haredi authorities wield over public religious life. Believing Orthodoxy to be a dying phenomenon, the founders of Israel set a policy in the state’s early days that gave a body called the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly over a variety of religious ceremonies in Israel. Other legislation backed by haredi political parties, whose power has not died but grown, have made Orthodox preferences the law of the land, including in these areas:

  • Marriage: Within Israel, the government recognizes only Orthodox marriages certified by the Chief Rabbinate. Same-sex marriages are not legal, and those that are performed are not recognized. Israelis who want a non-Orthodox marriage must be married outside the country, then have their marriages recognized after the fact by the government.
  • Conversion: Under law, Israel offers citizenship to anyone with one Jewish grandparent. But within the country, the Chief Rabbinate effectively controls conversion and recognizes only certain Orthodox conversions. So if an individual or their mother converted with Conservative or Reform Judaism, they cannot marry legally in Israel because the Chief Rabbinate does not view them as Jewish.
  • Buses and commerce on Shabbat: Public transit does not run in the vast majority of Israeli cities on Shabbat. Haredi parties have also pushed legislation recently to force stores to close on the day of rest.
  • Kosher certification: The Chief Rabbinate has a monopoly on certifying restaurants and other establishments as kosher. A more liberal standard is prohibited by law from using the word “kosher” on its certificates.
  • Army service: Haredi men are largely exempt from Israel’s mandatory military draft and instead study in yeshivas, many of which receive government funding.

The majority of Israelis want all these things to change — supporting civil marriage, transit on Shabbat, military service for haredi men and more. But over the past several years haredi parties, allied with the prime minister, managed to block any of those moves. That just changed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman discuss the coronavirus in Israel at a news conference in Jerusalem, March 8, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Haredi parties tied themselves to Netanyahu — and lost power.

The current coalition is defined as much by who it includes as by who it leaves out.

Haredi parties were able to maintain their power for decades because they were part of nearly every governing coalition in Israel, to the right and left. They gave the prime minister political support in exchange for control of religious institutions and policies.

Over the past several years, the haredi parties allied closely with Netanyahu, who delivered on their wish list while he served for more than a decade in office, largely with haredi politicians as partners. Netanyahu increased funding to haredi institutions, maintained haredi control of religious affairs and refrained from enforcing COVID restrictions in haredi cities.

But when Netanyahu lost power, so did his haredi allies. So for the first time in six years, haredi parties are in the opposition, while advocates of religious liberalization hold positions of influence in the government.

This coalition may be a golden opportunity for secularists.

Religious pluralism activists view this coalition as a potential game-changer for the causes they have long pursued.

The head of the coalition’s largest party, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, built his political career on secularism and fighting for causes such as civil marriage and including haredim in the draft. Other leaders are also committed to reforming religious laws and reducing subsidies to haredi institutions. The first Reform rabbi elected to Knesset, Gilad Kariv, heads an influential parliamentary committee.

Even Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the country’s first Orthodox leader, is open to reducing the Chief Rabbinate’s power, and sees himself as a bridge between religious and secular Israelis. Commitments to a range of religious reforms were included in the agreement signed between Bennett’s and Lapid’s parties, which respectively lead the coalition’s right-wing and center-left blocs.

Anat Hoffman, the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, a Reform Jewish group, wrote in June that the coalition’s makeup is a “huge opportunity.”

“[Haredi parties’] constant presence in the government has been a major obstacle towards advancing pluralism and recognition of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel,” she said. “With government ministers who believe in and work to advance pluralism, we have an opportunity to advance our issues in cooperation with the government.”

Religious liberalization is already starting to happen. 

Under the terms of the Bennett-Lapid agreement, the coalition will pass legislation reducing the Chief Rabbinate’s control over kosher certification and Jewish conversion. The agreement also says the coalition will implement a plan to gradually increase haredi quotas in the military draft and perhaps require others to perform nonmilitary national service. It also stipulates reforms in the selection of the country’s chief rabbis and the judges on its religious courts.

Other coalition agreements, which aren’t binding but indicate the parties’ principles, call for launching public transit on Shabbat, ensuring stores can remain open on Shabbat, advancing toward civil marriage and increasing LGBTQ rights. It’s also likely that the government will recommit to a 2016 plan to expand a space at the Western Wall for egalitarian prayer.

Some of these initiatives already are underway. Israel’s religious services minister recently unveiled a plan to license a range of independent kosher certifiers; the Finance Ministry is cutting subsidies that favored some haredi families; and plans regarding conversion, the draft and the Western Wall have already been laid out.

Naftali Bennett, left, and Tamar Zandberg in the Israeli parliament, June 2, 2021.(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel’s narrow and fractious government will still have a hard time passing laws … 

But even if all of the coalition’s reforms are enacted, their effect will be moderate at most. Many of the proposals are more about changing the way religious services are regulated and provided, and less about ending the Orthodox monopoly over Israeli religious life.

Barring a drastic development, Israel still won’t enact civil marriage — let alone same-sex marriage. Buses won’t run nationally on Shabbat and the Chief Rabbinate will still exist. An American-style separation of religion and state is not in the cards.

That’s partly because it’s hard to change a 73-year-old status quo and because of the fragile makeup of the coalition. It essentially holds a one-seat majority in parliament, so if any one of its lawmakers isn’t behind a bill, the measure will fail. That was illustrated to almost comic effect earlier this month when a lawmaker doomed a bill to reform the religious courts — pressing the wrong button and accidentally voting no instead of yes.

And none of these reforms will come to pass if the government does not pass a budget in the next few months. Failure to do so would trigger automatic elections.

… And its leaders are still sympathetic to religious concerns.

In addition, there’s no guarantee that all the parties will agree to these reforms. For all his talk about unity and religious pluralism, Bennett is still Orthodox and has Orthodox allies. He has shown no desire to sap Israel’s Orthodox religious establishment of all its power. In addition, Raam, the coalition’s Islamist party, is a staunch opponent of LGBTQ rights and civil marriage.

The last time that Israel’s coalition attempted a meaningful reform of religious policy, in 2013 and 2014, it was unsuccessful. Then as now, the changes were spearheaded by Lapid and Bennett, who were first-time ministers elected as fresh faces on Israel’s political scene.

That government embarked on a program to draft the vast majority of haredi men, reform conversion, mandate the teaching of math and English in haredi schools, and cut subsidies to haredi institutions. But when haredi parties entered the next government in 2015, they promptly rolled back all the changes.

“In the last Knesset, people tried to blur Judaism and to strengthen democracy at Judaism’s expense,” Yair Eiserman, a spokesman for a haredi politician, told JTA in 2015. “We have an opportunity in the present government to strengthen Israel’s definition as a Jewish state.”

Jewish men pray at the Western Wall on the eve of Tisha B’Av in the Old City of Jerusalem, July 17, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The government may prioritize “low-hanging fruit” like arrangements at the Western Wall.

Despite all the challenges, activists say the government still has an incentive to pursue religious reform, if only to show that it’s accomplishing something despite its deep divisions. Religious issues “could be the common thread between the parts of the government,” wrote Tani Frank of Neemanei Tora V’Avoda, an Orthodox group that supports pluralism, in the Israeli publication Calcalist. “These are issues everyone can agree on.”

Asked in a survey last year to rank the most important religion-and-state issues, Israeli Jews prioritized things that would change their everyday lives, like having public transit on Shabbat, allowing stores to be open on Shabbat or recognizing civil marriage.

Issues that tend to excite American Jewish organizations — like the non-Orthodox space at the Western Wall, or funding for the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements — ranked at the very bottom of the list. There are relatively few active Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel, and prayer arrangements at the Western Wall aren’t that relevant to most Israelis, who live outside of Jerusalem and rarely visit the site.

Paradoxically, however, the fact that few Israelis care about the Western Wall plan may increase its chances of success. Yizhar Hess, a former leader of the Israeli Conservative movement, told Haaretz that the plan was “low-hanging fruit.” And calls for the government to take on the Western Wall issue gained momentum earlier this month after Orthodox protesters disrupted and heckled Conservative worshippers in the non-Orthodox space on Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning.

In a coalition with deep ideological divides, a relatively unobjectionable program like the Western Wall plan may be one of the first to win approval. But at the same time, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana cautioned activists not to hold their breath. Before taking on the Wall issue, he said, the government has to focus on passing a budget by November. Otherwise it won’t be able to do anything at all.

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Ted Cruz blocks bill advancing Israel-Arab normalization, citing pressure on Israel to reach two-state solution

Thu, 2021-07-29 18:48

(JTA) — Sen. Ted Cruz is blocking the advance of a bill that would promote normalization between Israel and Arab states because it includes language enshrining a two-state solution as the preferred U.S. outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cruz is proposing amended language that does not remove a reference to a two-state outcome, but makes it clear that it should be Israel’s prerogative.

“Senator Cruz believes that America should support our allies and that it’s not the place of American diplomats to dictate to our allies what to do with their sovereign territory,” a spokesman for Cruz, a Texas Republican, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Thursday. “Until recently there was bipartisan agreement in Congress mandating support for our Israeli allies in negotiations, but this bill is a radical departure that would change U.S. policy from supporting Israel to pressuring Israel. Senator Cruz opposes that change.”

Cruz is using his prerogative as a senator to impede swift passage of the bill, the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet, first reported. JTA confirmed the move.

Otherwise there is bipartisan support for the bill, which has a Republican, Rob Portman of Ohio, as a lead sponsor. The measure would mandate the U.S. government to build on the success of last year’s Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain, and which were brokered by the Trump administration. The accords are one of the rare areas of foreign policy agreement between the Trump and Biden administrations.

Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the bill to the full Senate. Cruz had backed the measure before the two-state language was added shortly before its consideration by the committee.

An official in Cruz’s office told JTA that the senator would lift the block if the sponsors would again consider his amendment to change the language. Only two other Republican senators on the committee joined Cruz in favoring the amendment.

The Cruz official told JTA that Cruz would lift his block on the bill even if the amendment were again rejected.

The language now reads that it is U.S. policy “to support a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states living side by side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.” Cruz’s amended language would read that it is U.S. policy “to support the government of Israel in its ongoing efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states living side by side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

The official pointed to language in existing laws relating to U.S.-Israel cooperation that refers to supporting Israel in its efforts to reach a two-state solution but does not enshrine the two-state outcome as U.S. policy.

J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, blasted Cruz for using his senatorial prerogative to block the bill.

“The vast majority of American Jews and most American voters support a two-state solution,” J Street’s director of government affairs, Debra Shushan, said in a release this week. “Unfortunately for Senator Cruz, just like the status quo of occupation and injustice in Palestinian territory, this position is untenable. A majority of Democrats and Republicans in Congress recognize that a comprehensive two-state peace agreement is the only way to ensure that both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples can have freedom, self-determination and safety.”

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NYC mayor encourages New Yorkers to be vaxxed by Monday to be protected on Rosh Hashanah

Thu, 2021-07-29 16:38

(JTA) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has a message for Jewish New Yorkers: If you want to be fully vaccinated by Rosh Hashanah, you need to get your first Pfizer shot by Monday.

“If you get the first one by Monday and then you follow up on time, you will be fully vaccinated by the start of the holiday,” de Blasio said Thursday. “So yet another incentive.” Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of Sept. 6.

De Blasio’s comments came as the city began rolling out carrots and sticks to encourage vaccines in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city driven by the Delta variant. New York City will offer $100 to anyone who gets their first dose at a city-run vaccination site, and all city workers will have to be vaccinated or go through strict weekly testing protocols.

The mayor touted the city’s star-studded “homecoming” concert on Aug. 21 in Central Park, saying tickets would be made available only to New Yorkers who show proof of having received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen are among the headliners of the concert, which is meant to celebrate the city’s rebound from the worst of COVID-19.

Despite a recent poll showing Jews as the most likely of religious groups to be vaccinated, Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods tend to have vaccine rates significantly below the national average.

De Blasio stressed the importance of being vaccinated before gathering with family for the High Holidays. Last fall, COVID cases increased around the time of the Jewish New Year, likely arising from the large number of people gathering in homes and synagogues to observe the holidays.

“That’s a great thing to do looking forward to the holidays, make sure every family member who’s going to be in the room is fully vaccinated,” de Blasio said.

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