Daily Kickoff: Powerball prank in California | Debate recap | Obama on Ted Deutch’s beard | Jewish navy dentist wins appeal | Yitz Applbaum profile

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TOP TALKER: “Was that big Powerball win one big hoax?” by Jared Sichel: “For a few hours Thursday afternoon, it looked like the California winner of the record $1.6 billion Powerball was an employee of Jewish businessman and philanthropist Shlomo Rechnitz, and that her ticket was one of nearly 18,000 that Rechnitz gifted to all his employees and all the residents of his dozens of nursing homes. And then, Thursday evening, that all changed when the New York Daily News, and the Los Angeles Times reported that this woman, who is reportedly a registered nurse at the Park Avenue Healthcare & Wellness Center in Pomona, did not win. The Daily News reported that the entire thing was a prank orchestrated by her son.” [JewishJournalABC7] • “Shlomo Rechnitz, the man who reportedly gifted the winning Powerball ticket” [JewishJournal]

GOP DEBATE RECAP — Highlights by Jacob Kornbluh: On Iran — Cruz: “In that State of the Union, President Obama didn’t so much as mention the 10 sailors that had been captured by Iran. President Obama’s preparing to send $100 billion or more to the Ayatollah Khamenei. And I’ll tell you, it was heartbreaking. But the good news is the next commander-in-chief is standing on this stage.”

Christie: “When we talk to our allies and we give them our word, in a Christie administration, they know we’re going to keep it. We have to talk to our adversaries, and we have to make sure they understand the limits of our patience.”

Jeb: “We need to confront their ambitions across the board. We should reimpose sanctions, they’ve already violated sanctions after this agreement was signed by testing medium-range missiles.”

Trump: “And Iranian wise guys having guns to their heads. It was a terrible sight. A terrible sight. And the only reason we got them back is because we owed them with a stupid deal, $150 billion. If I’m president, there won’t be stupid deals anymore.”

On Israel — Rubio: “Barack Obama does not believe that America is a great global power… And that’s how you get a foreign policy where we cut deals with our enemies like Iran and we betray our allies like Israel.” Jeb: “We need to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send a serious signal that we’re back in the game with Israel and sign an agreement that makes sure that the world knows that they will have technological superiority.”

Carson also mentioned Israel when discussing screening Syrian refugees: “What we need to do is get a group of experts together, including people from other countries, some of our friends from Israel, who have had experience screening these people and come up with new guidelines for immigration, and for visas, for people who are coming into this country.”

On Saudi Arabia vs. Iran — Jeb: “We need to get back in the game as it relates to our Arab nations. The rest of the world is moving away from us towards other alliances because we are weak.” Kasich: “My biggest problem with them is they’re funding radical clerics through their madrasses… We better make it clear to the Saudis that we’re going to support you, we’re in relation with you just like we were in the first Gulf War, but you’ve got to knock off the funding and teaching of radical clerics who are the very people who try to destroy us and will turn around and destroy them.” [Transcript]

How It Played: “At Republican Debate, Taunts and Quips as Rivals Battle” [NYTimes] • “Ted Cruz Accidentally Proves Donald Trump Is Human” [DailyBeast• “Rubio Throws Kitchen Sink at Cruz” [ABC] • “Increasingly sharp attacks highlight Republican debate” [LATimes]

Spotted: Rand Paul having kosher steak for lunch yesterday at LeMarais in Midtown NYC. [Twitter]

Sam Stein: “Some guy at Java Joes in Des Moines is handing these [yarmulkes] out” [Twitter]

DONOR WATCH: “Bush donors await green light to jump ship” by Anna Palmer and Ben White: “The deterioration of the Bush campaign has been a humbling experience for his fundraisers. A year ago, even before he was a candidate, Bush’s team was locking down donors across the country and getting commitments for six- and seven-figure checks with little trouble. Donors were pitted against each other to see who could raise more and be in the good graces of the man who, at the time, was described by many in Bush World as the inevitable nominee. Now the fundraising pitch is decidedly different. “Hey, I need you to throw away money on Jeb — out of loyalty,” a Bush fundraiser has told donors recently.” [Politico] • Mutual donors: “Lindsey Graham to Endorse Jeb Bush as GOP Presidential Nominee” [NBC]

From a reader at David Lichtenstein’s fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in NYC yesterday: “150 people attended Hillary’s fundraiser hosted by David and Shiffy Lichtenstein at an apartment in Manhattan. The event was oversold and people were turned away. Hillary’s speech was mostly personal and no mention of Israel. She gave a shout-out to OU’s Rabbi Menachem Genack and Councilman David Greenfield.”

“As Bernie Sanders Surges in Polls, Are Jews Feeling ‘the Bern’?” by Ron Kampeas: “God love him, but our community is not feeling ‘the Bern,’” said Steve Rabinowitz. “He does not deny [his Judaism], he does not shrink from it, when asked about it he says the right thing – but we’d like it on his sleeve. We got it from [Lieberman]. Blacks got it from Obama. Hispanics would expect it. It’s not a litmus test, but we kind of want more from him.” [JTA]

STATE OF THE LEFT: “Netanyahu’s Flexing of Power Throws Israeli Left Into Despair” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Ever since the right-wing Likud party won its first election four decades ago, the Israeli left has been vowing to return to power. And while it did so in the 1990s, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected there is growing concern on the left that it will be much harder than expected to overturn the hold his Likud-led coalition and allied religious parties have on government.”[Bloomberg]

Liel Leibovitz: “Can the Israeli Left Save Itself? When their own luminaries were caught behaving badly, Israeli progressives refused to admit any wrongdoing. And that’s very bad for democracy.” [TabletMag]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Western Europe Jewish migration to Israel hits all-time high” by Aron Heller: “Jewish immigration to Israel from western Europe has reached an all-time high as a result of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, a leading nonprofit group said Thursday, as France’s beleaguered Jewish community grapples with whether to refrain from donning Jewish skull caps for their own safety. The Jewish Agency, which works closely with the Israeli government and acts as a link to Jews around the world, told The Associated Press that 9,880 western European Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015.” [AP• “Twitter campaign to get all France wearing Jewish skullcaps” [BBC]

“Navy dentist with family in Israel wins appeal to work in Saratoga Springs” by Dennis Yusko: “An American dentist whom the Defense Department deemed a security threat for having family in Israel will keep his job with the Navy after the federal government, in a striking reversal, granted him security clearance to work in the military. A Navy commander informed Gershon M. Pincus by email last week that security officials had completed a required investigation into his background and decided the 62-year-old civilian did not pose a threat and could continue working on sailors from West Milton at a naval dental clinic on West Avenue in Saratoga Springs, said Avi Schick, Pincus’ attorney in Manhattan.”[TimesUnion]

TOP TWEET — David Aaronson: “Rep Ted Deutch is the first-ever member of congress to grow a shloshim beard (for his mom who died a few weeks ago)” [Twitter] • At the State of the Union, President Obama told Deutch, “I like the beard, man! Except it’s as gray as my hair” [Video]

IRAN: “Defense Secretary Says U.S. Sailors Made Navigational Error Into Iranian Waters” by Michael Schmidt and Helene Cooper: “The American sailors detained by Iran earlier this week made a navigational error that mistakenly took them into Iranian territorial waters, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said on Thursday. In a formal acknowledgment that the Persian Gulf episode was the result of an error by the United States Navy, Mr. Carter said the crews of two American patrol craft were not on a clandestine mission and “obviously had misnavigated.”” [NYTimes]

Eli Lake: “Kerry Thanks Iran for Resolving the Crisis It Created” [BloombergView• Noah Pollak tweets: “Even Haaretz, Israel’s far-left paper, is making fun of Obama on Iran” [Twitter]

Book Review: “The Shah of Iran, the Islamic Revolution and the Mystery of the Missing Imam” by Rick Gladstone [NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 12PM, the Hudson Institute hosts a panel on “Turmoil in the Persian Gulf—Are Iran and Saudi Arabia Poised for More Conflict?” with Ali Alfoneh, Michael Doran, Phillip Smyth, and Lee Smith. [LiveStream]

AIRING SUNDAY: “This week on CSPAN’s Q&A, documentary filmmaker, Aviva Kempner.  Ms. Kempner discusses her latest film, “Rosenwald,” about the late American businessman and philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald.

**Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI].  Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Josh Kushner’s hipster health insurer Oscar hires heavyweight Joel Klein” [NYPost] • “How a Brooklyn Boutique Turned Into a $10 Million Jewelry Juggernaut” [Bloomberg• “Von ‘Fraudster’ claimed relation to fashion designer to rent SoHo penthouse” [NYPost

PROFILE — JI’s wine guru: “Getting to the core of Yitz Applbaum: S.F. venture capitalist loves wine, Israel and Republicans” by Dan Pine: “Isaac Applbaum, or “Yitz” as he’s known, is an unofficial evangelist for the State of Israel, ever touting the virtues of the Jewish state… To his mile-long resume as an entrepreneur, investor, wine connoisseur and philanthropist, Applbaum recently added “chief evangelist,” his title at Radius, a San Francisco company that helps business-to-business marketers. He also remains an active investor and venture capitalist, and his passion for wine led to a key role in promoting kosher vintages, a growing sector of the wine market. Cozy wine tastings at chez Applbaum are the stuff of legend, and he’ll be leading a wine tour of Israel this November, with a gaggle of Silicon Valley bankers in tow.” [JWeekly]

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: “The Dalton winery is in the beautiful Upper Galilee. The winery itself is magnificent. It is perfect for a gathering of family and friends. The winery remains family owned and, despite its remarkable growth over the past five years, it is welcoming and homey.”

“The Dalton Single Vineyard Meron Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is a wonderful wine. The Cabernet grapes come from its namesake vineyard on Mount Meron. The wine sits in French oak for approximately 15 months although it remains very approachable. There are some tannins on the front palate which very quickly move to fruitiness on the finish. It is a wine I would drink now or within the next 12 months. Drink it with fish and mild cheeses. It is very easy to drink, so plan to open two bottles — it goes quickly and one bottle at a time might not suffice.” [DaltonWinery

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Md. school system keeps Jewish holidays” by Donna St. George:“Howard County’s school board voted unanimously Thursday night to markedly expand its schedule of religious and cultural holidays in a decision that members said recognized the growing diversity of the suburban Maryland school system. Thursday’s decision followed extensive backlash about a calendar proposal that would have opened schools on the Jewish holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah for the first time in more than three decades.” [WashPost]

Headline: “Charedi Talmud Torah Tashbar: Stamford Hill Jewish school that does not teach English ordered to close” [Independent]

INBOX from Aaron Keyak: DC – NYC Cholent Cook-off: “Kesher Israel has challenged the winner of the Stanton Street Shul’s cholent cookoff to a Shul Championship Cookoff in March! Why the Stanton Street Shul? Well, it just so happens that their founding rabbi was Rabbi Judah Rose. Oddly enough, our own young lad, also named Judah Rose, (coincidence? or great-grandson?) has selflessly volunteered to sponsor the winner of their cookoff to come to Kesher and compete against our winner, so there’s even more cholent to look forward to…and shul bragging rights!”

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Bluelight Strategies Steve Rabinowitz… Rebecca Berg… Jeffrey Skoll turns 51… Norman Podhoretz turns 86… Joseph Berger… Aisha Creswick…

** A Message from Shabbat 2016: This edition of JI is proudly presented by “Shabbat 2016,” a pair of bipartisan Friday night dinners in Iowa (1/22) and New Hampshire (1/29) for campaign staffers, volunteers, and journalists on the trail. While there are many things that can divide us, we know that one thing can help unite us: Friday night! You can register here — and please pass on the info to folks in the early states. Hope to see you there! **

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