Daily Kickoff: Trump’s recent generosity towards Jewish community continues | Congress on Trump’s UN threat | Manischewitz is popular… in Caribbean

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TOP TALKER — President Donald Trump’s decision yesterday to commute the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, the former Chief Executive of Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, sparked a spontaneous outburst of celebrations across the Orthodox Jewish community in New York. Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) called it a “real Hanukkah miracle.” Celebrations were held in Monsey, Upstate New York [PicVideo], in Borough Park, Brooklyn [PicVideo], and at Chabad HQ on 770 Eastern Parkway [PicVideo] • Trump flags were being waved outside 770 [PicPicVideo]  

Close to midnight, Rubashkin arrived to greet his parents at their home in Borough Park. Thousands gathered outside to welcome him. JI’s Jacob Kornbluh was on the scene. Watch a replay of his live broadcast [Periscope

WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT: “The President’s review of Mr. Rubashkin’s case and commutation decision were based on expressions of support from members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community,” the White House said in a news release. “This action is not a Presidential pardon. It does not vacate Mr. Rubashkin’s conviction, and it leaves in place a term of supervised release and a substantial restitution obligation, which were also part of Mr. Rubashkin’s sentence.”

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told Jewish Insider that he wrote a personal letter to the President following the decision, thanking him for the commutation of Rubashkin. “I told him what the Talmud says, ‘He who saves a single human life it is as if he has saved the entire world,’ and he has saved many human lives by doing this. He saved the life of Sholom Rubashkin and of members of his family who were having a terrible time without him. It’s long overdue Tzedek (justice), and I think the President should be commended for finally doing what others were supposed to do. He has served far too long. This is the right result, and I am very happy he did it.”

Dershowitz said he had advocated for Rubashkin’s release in his conversations with President Trump. “I had the opportunity to lay out my case for commutation to the President, particularly the business aspect of it,” he said, adding that Trump was sensitive to the case being a businessman and understanding that “the government manipulated the price of the company down in order to raise the sentence.” [JewishInsider]

Maggie Haberman tweets: “In a recent meeting, Trump polled attendees about whether he should make this move” [Twitter]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Mr. Rubashkin made national headlines nine years ago after federal agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, including several children, who were working there… He was later convicted of bank fraud in federal court… Many Jewish leaders have rallied behind Mr. Rubashkin, whose treatment they said was unfair, perhaps even anti-Semitic, and whose sentence they considered unduly harsh and out of line with what other white-collar criminals received.” [NYTimes• Trump issues his first commutation [CNN] • Trump commutes sentence of kosher slaughterhouse boss who was in the clink for financial crimes [DailyNews]

“How Trump came to commute an ex-meatpacking executive’s 27-year prison sentence” by Derek Hawkins: “His supporters included five former attorneys general, including Michael Mukasey, who headed the DOJ when Rubashkin was charged… Dozens of members of Congress and 80 former federal judges raised similar issues in letters to the DOJ and the White House in the years after Rubashkin was sentenced. The White House posted a ream of those documents online Wednesday.” [WashPost]

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a letter dated August 14, 2017, wrote: “By an equitable measure, Mr. Rubashkin’s sentence is unduly harsh and does not meet the goal of our criminal justice system.” [Doc]

FLASHBACKS — Samantha Michaels: “I spent months investigating a wild backstory to this case—the judge involved put hundreds of immigrants behind bars while her husband invested in private prisons.” [Twitter]

WORTH NOTING:— “Jared Kushner, who faced the harrowing experience of seeing his father incarcerated, has supported organizations like the Aleph Institute that works to ensure Jewish prisoners can see a rabbi, and also advocates for sentencing reform.” [TheMarshallProject]

“Hundreds of Thousands in Donations Tie Kushners and Trump to Chabad Movement” by Judy Maltz: “A Haaretz examination has revealed that Charles and Seryl Kushner have been major benefactors of Chabad over the years. Between 2003 and 2013, their family foundation donated a total of $264,500 to various institutions and projects associated with the movement, their tax records show… It turns out that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has also contributed to the movement – even before his daughter, who converted to Judaism, was married. Altogether, the Donald J. Trump Foundation has donated $11,550 to three Chabad institutions.”

Question on the mind of some JI readers: To what extent was the commutation — and the recent announcement on Jerusalem — an isolated decision and coincidental timing vs. part of a larger grand strategy? And, if you believe the President has transactional tendencies, could there be a cost attached to Trump’s generosity as some experts — including Dennis Ross — floated after the Jerusalem move? The Jewish leaders who replied last night on-the-record were not buying the speculation. 

Dershowitz: “They are not favors. What he did on Jerusalem was designed to undo what Barack Obama had done, namely to change the status quo. Obama changed the status quo by allowing the UN resolution (UNSC 2334) to go through that declared the Kotel to be illegally occupied territory. So it wasn’t a favor to anybody. It was the right thing to do. And this (Rubashkin commutation) was done because it is just, it was the right thing to do.”

Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), and a supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2016, tells us… “I don’t believe that this is an ‘Orthodox Jewish’ political strategy. Quite frankly, Trump is already popular with this constituency. The fact is that both of these decisions (Jerusalem and Rubashkin) were correct based on the objective facts. I think this speaks more to Orthodox Jews having access to the President and being able to make their case directly to him. That’s the hardest part – just getting the President to hear you out.”

Dov Zakheim:  “The Orthodox Jewish community already supports him. In fact, it’s the only part of the Jewish community in America that supports him. Maybe this is his way of saying thank you, that’s possible. But the fact of the matter is, on its merits, he did the right thing. Frankly, Obama should have done it before he left office. In this case, the President was simply righting a wrong. Rubashkin should have been convicted, he should have gone to jail, but you would have thought eight years in jail was enough. And, frankly, you would have thought seven years in jail was enough. Trump did the right thing, and Obama did the wrong thing.”

Abe Foxman: “The standard should always be whether it was merited on the facts and circumstances and not on the politics of it. I recall the prosecution may have been overzealous and therefore the sentence may have been overly harsh. If this is accurate, then a commutation would be welcome and appropriate. I don’t believe it should result in a due bill from the Jewish community. A respectful thank you should be sufficient if justice was delivered or repaired.

David Lobl‏: “If you think that POTUS pardoned Rubashkin to pander to vast swaths of the Orthodox Community after the Jerusalem announcement- you don’t get orthodox politics.” [Twitter]

Jeff Ballabon emails us from Jerusalem: “The President is a man of his word and a man of honor. Instead of looking over his shoulder at what his critics will say – and they will always say something – he is showing America and the world what it means to be a leader and they are getting the message. I’m also proud that the Orthodox community overall saw past the outrageous attacks on Donald Trump and voted overwhelmingly for him. I know it’s been Chanuka, but I keep thinking of Purim: ‘LaYehudim Hoiso Orah V’simcha V’sosson V’ikor.'”

ALTERNATIVE TAKE — Bethany S. Mandel‏: “He’s not a good guy. The fact that he’s out isn’t really a thing to celebrate or even fight for. There’s others worthy of our efforts. Yeah the sentence was excessive given sentences for similar crimes. But given how many mitzvot he broke not sure why anyone went to the mat.” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE DAY — The United Nations General Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution rejecting U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Speaking at a cabinet meeting yesterday, Trump threatened to withhold U.S. aid from countries who would be voting in favor of the resolution. “Let them vote against us,” he said. “We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”

— “It is difficult to see how Mr. Trump can make good on that threat because it could involve cutting off financial assistance to the country’s most strategic allies in the Middle East. Some of those programs, like Egypt’s, are congressionally mandated. While the president can hold up aid unilaterally as a form of leverage, canceling it would require new legislation… Egypt received $77.4 billion in foreign aid from the United States from 1948 to 2016, according to the Congressional Research Service, including about $1.3 billion in annual military aid.” [NYTimes]

Aaron David Miller: “Trump’s threat to cut aid is — to paraphrase Seinfeld a show about nothing. More serious is that Administration thought they were defusing Jerusalem issue; they’ve now put it at top of the international agenda.”[Twitter]

ON THE HILL — House members on Trump’s threat to cut aid over UN vote — by Aaron Magid: “Screw the UN and those countries,” Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) told Jewish Insider. “Israel is our ally and it’s our prerogative to do that. I totally support the President. We don’t need them. We don’t need them to be constantly defying U.S. interests, Israeli interests.”

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH): “The UN is out of control and has to respect our decision. If they are not going to be supportive of us at the UN – we supply more than 20% of the funding to the UN – I would be open to being supportive of [cutting aid].”

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL): “It doesn’t seem like a very well thought out strategy. We are one country in a very large world. His constant threats and lack of diplomacy: they’re not helping the U.S. It seems to me that we ought to work with our allies and improve our standing in the world as opposed to always picking fights.”

Rep. David Price (D-NC): “I do not think it is very wise to threaten other countries to cut off their aid if they vote against us at the UN. If that were to be consistently applied, we’d be in trouble constantly with every country in the world because nobody gives us 100% agreement. As a tactic, I think it is questionable.”

“Senior Saudi prince says Trump’s Jerusalem move threatens stability” by Rania El Gamal and Katie Paul: “It is a very bad decision. The consequences will be more bloodshed, more conflict rather than peaceful resolution,” Prince Turki, a senior royal family member and a former ambassador to Washington, told Reuters in an interview… But Saudi Arabia stopped short of calling for any Arab action against the decision. Palestinian officials say Riyadh has been working for weeks behind the scenes to press them to support a nascent U.S. peace plan. “The reaction here was total surprise,” said Prince Turki.”  [Reuters]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on CNN’s Connect the World with Oren Liebermann: “I think that now after this historic declaration, we have to think how we continue from here. We are not going to disappear. The Arabs are not going to disappear. We have to start looking for serious solutions… I think when the times will come and the Palestinians will be able to compromise the way we are able to compromise… it will be possible to resolve. We have proven that we are always ready for peace agreements. I don’t think there’s anything to compromise on Jerusalem. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. The statement of the Americans is very important even if it doesn’t go into specific details of the future of the city.” [CNN

TOP TALKER: “Pence’s Christmas Pilgrimage Is Canceled. His Next Mideast Move Is Complicated” by Declan Walsh: “In Bethlehem — where the Abbas-Pence meeting had been scheduled to take place, according to Palestinian officials — banners that read “Bethlehem refuses US vice president’s visit,” now hang over Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity… In Jerusalem itself, the patriarchs and leaders of 13 Christian churches said in a Christmas message on Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s decision “tramples on the mechanism that has maintained peace throughout the ages,” and warned it “will lead to a very dark reality.” … The public snubs from Christian leaders are a sign of the deep ideological gulf between American evangelicals like Mr. Pence, whose support for Israel is rooted in biblical prophesy, and the Christian communities that have lived in the area since the time of Jesus himself.” [NYTimes]

** Good Thursday 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 **

SPOTLIGHT:“After the Disney-Fox deal, smaller players like Paramount and MGM face pressure to bulk up” by Meg James and Ryan Faughnder: “The most obvious corporate pairing, many analysts say, would be CBS and Viacom Inc. because both are controlled by the Sumner Redstone family. Shari Redstone, the ailing mogul’s daughter, now is the chief decision maker. Last year, she favored a plan to rejoin the two companies (they were separated in 2006), but she abandoned the effort when CBS balked at the price that Viacom’s board was seeking for Viacom’s shares… “What does Shari do? She looks like a small fry and the family has badly lagged the market in wealth creation over the decade,” said media analyst Michael Nathanson. Viacom’s shares have fallen more than 60% in the last five years, and currently hover around $31 a share.” [LATimes]

“How Facebook Handled A Fake Photo Of Mark Zuckerberg In A Nazi Uniform” by Alex Kantrowitz: “Earlier this year, a simple Facebook search for Mark Zuckerberg’s name returned an unexpected result: an image of the Facebook founder in Nazi uniform presented at the top of his photos, directly underneath his verified profile… Facebook did not delete the image. Instead, it left it up on the platform. The image no longer appears in the top results for searches of “Mark Zuckerberg,” and a spokesperson said it was pushed down in Zuckerberg’s search results in a sitewide update meant to improve relevance.” [BuzzFeed]

MEDIA WATCH: “Glenn Thrush, Suspended Times Reporter, to Resume Work but Won’t Cover White House” by Sydney Ember: “The New York Times said on Wednesday that Glenn Thrush, one of the paper’s most prominent political reporters, would remain suspended until late January and then be removed from the team covering the White House  after he faced allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior… In a statement, [Dean] Baquet said the company had completed its inquiry and found that Mr. Thrush had “behaved in ways that we do not condone.” “While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired,” Mr. Baquet said.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Is the Museum of the Bible that tourist-destination evangelicals have been waiting for?” by Karen Heller “Officials hope that the museum will become as much of an attraction for faith-based group tours as the Capitol or the Library of Congress… To stay competitive with the city’s panoply of free attractions, such as the Smithsonian, the Bible museum does not charge admission, although it suggests a $15 individual donation for adults and $10 for children. In a city with costly lodging and budget-conscious tourists, it might remain more of a suggestion than a reality.” [WashPost]

DESSERT: “Manischewitz Wine: A Kosher Drink Popular In Caribbean Communities” by Nadege Green: “Just over a year ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw a picture of  a billboard in Haiti advertising Manischewitz wine. The kosher wine has been a constant in Jewish homes for Passover seders and sacramental occasions, but in Jewish circles, while admittedly nostalgic, it’s typically scorned and made fun of. Yet the very sweet Manischewitz wine is a hit in some Caribbean communities where it is met with respect and praise, especially around Christmas.  “It’s the immigrant’s fine wine,” explains Carla Hill. Her mom, who is originally from Trinidad, is a Manischewitz wine aficionado. Hill is not.” [WLRN]

BIRTHDAYS: United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchinturns 55… Former Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in the Bush 43 and Obama administrations, Stephen Friedman turns 80… Producer of over 90 plays on and off Broadway for which she has won seven Pulitzer Prizes and ten Tony Awards, Daryl Roth turns 73… Member of Knesset since 1999 for the Likud party, he serves as Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, Haim Katz turns 70… Former member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (1994-2014) following an equally long tenure on the Los Angeles City Council (1975-1994), Zev Yaroslavsky turns 69… CEO of WndrCo (created in 2017 to invest in new media), he is the former CEO of DreamWorks Animation (2004-2016) and chairman of Walt Disney Studios (1984-1994), Jeffrey Katzenberg turns 67… NFL insider for ESPN since 2009, previously on the NFL Network (2004-2009), Adam Schefterturns 51…

Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Kulanu party, Rachel Azaria turns 40… Founder and president of Junction Investments, a platform for investment in major motion pictures, and formerly a producer at CBS Evening News, Brian Goldsmith turns 36… Chief Investigative Reporter at KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, IA, after a stint at New Haven, CT’s WTNH News 8, Josh Scheinblum turns 29… VP in the financial services practice at NYC-based Bliss Integrated Communication, Julia Mellon turns 28… Political reporter for the Boston Globe since 2013, previously in DC for ABC News and the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Joshua Miller… Marta Skipper

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Haley “taking names” of countries voting against Trump admin on Jerusalem | The Mooch’s Hanukkah rant | The Knicks’ Bar Mitzvah Man

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DRIVING THE WEEK — “Israel Tells Envoys to Act to Avoid Embarrassment at UN Vote on Trump’s Jerusalem Move” by Noa Landau: “The UN General Assembly is set to meet on Thursday at 10 A.M. New York time (5 P.M. Israel time) for an emergency discussion on the unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… The United States does not have veto power in the General Assembly… In an urgent cable to Israeli diplomatic missions, the ambassadors were asked to seek meetings with high-level officials to persuade them to direct their representatives at the UN to oppose, not to support, or at the very least not to deliver a speech at the General Assembly.” [Haaretz]

“U.S. warns allies Trump will take Jerusalem vote “personally”” by Pamela Falk: “President Trump will be watching a vote in the United Nations General Assembly “very carefully,” and has asked his ambassador to the world body, Nikki Haley, to “report back on those countries who voted against us,” Haley wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to some countries… Haley wrote that the U.S., “will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”” [CBSNews]

‘TAKING NAMES’ — Haley tweeted‏: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”  [Twitter]

HEARD YESTERDAY –Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud Hanukkah event: “I told President Trump that keeping a promise was the right thing to do. Some tried to tell him Israel doesn’t really want [the capital recognized or the embassy moved]. He asked me whether Israel wants it. I told him that Israel really wanted it. What does it mean to want? Israel has wanted it for thousands of years. This step will be remembered for generations, as will President Trump visiting the Kotel… The UN says the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian land. I have news for them – the Western Wall is ours, it always was ours and will always be ours. When anyone tries to change history, I say the Maccabees weren’t Palestinians but proud Jews.” [Video]

VIEW FROM EUROPE — Interview with Washington Institute’s David Makovsky following his recent visit to Europe — by Aaron Magid: Makovsky recently returned from a trip to four European capitals where he discussed his new interactive program using satellite imagery to track the latest settlement trends. Makovsky contends that one must differentiate between settlements on the Israeli side of the barrier and those settlements deep inside the West Bank. “There should be at least some understanding where Israel should be permitted to build inside the barrier but in return for restrictions not to build outside the barrier,” Makosky explained. “By drawing the analytical distinction my point is to say there is a basis here to still reach the two state solution not to give up hope and at the same time try to incentivize Israel about settlement activity by being more flexible in areas that in some cases even under Abbas would be part of Israel.”

How the Europeans reacted to the project: “The Europeans understand that any deal means that some bloc settlements will be part of Israel. Yet, they don’t translate this into meaning that adding more settlers into any settlements now — outside of a negotiated deal between Israelis and Palestinians — is something that they can even tacitly support,” Makovsky told Jewish Insider. “As one European diplomat said, ‘Europe has found opposition to all settlements to be a unifier among European states and the EU prioritizes European unity above all.'”

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Brussels, Makovsky noted “there was more convergence than divergence” with Israel in regards to concerns about Iran’s growing military presence in Syria along with Egypt’s fight against extremism in the Sinai peninsula. Nonetheless, on the Palestinian issue, there is a “real chasm” between the EU and Israeli government due to the lack of progress on the peace front. “I came to the conclusion that he (Netanyahu) should almost email his views the next time and save himself the trip,” Makovsky emphasized. Makovsky cautioned that if the Trump administration peace plan fails, it is possible that “several of the more mainstream European countries will unilaterally recognize Palestine.” The full interview will post on later today

GREENBLATT IN ISRAEL — “Met with Special Representative Fernando Gentilini to hear his thoughts on recent developments, to discuss Gaza and the US peace efforts. Looking forward to continuing to work together. Met with Gen. Poli Mordechai to discuss security and economic initiatives as well as catch up on other matters… Together with Amb. David Friedman, met with Prime Minister Netanyahu as a check-in as the Administration continues with its peace efforts which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.” [Twitter]

“Greenblatt arrives in Israel for his first major diplomatic test” by Michael Wilner: “His visit is “not about repairing relations – it’s about moving forward with this plan,” [a White House] official said on Tuesday. “It is a missed opportunity if they don’t want to meet – but we’re not going to pressure them and push for it. We’re going to keep our heads down and continue on.”” [JPost

“PA looks for replacement to US as Mideast peace process sponsor” by Ahmad Abu Amer: “Naji Sharab, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip… said that the United States could be understanding of the Palestinian anger over Trump’s decision if the Palestinian position remained limited to anger and did not translate into policies and positions against the United States and Israel; otherwise, both America and Israel could take strong steps against the PA, such as cutting all the aid and financial support provided to it and tightening the grip around it.” [Al-Monitor]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Two Cheers for Trump’s National Security Strategy” by Dov Zakheim: “Whatever one might argue about the wisdom of the president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — not mentioned in the strategy — there can be little doubt that the authors are absolutely correct when they point out that “Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.” In one respect, the statement is a mere recognition of reality… Yet it also embodies a repudiation of the Obama administration’s implicit belief that “if only” there were peace between the Israelis and Palestinians all would be well in the Middle East… Perhaps his introduction should be treated as one should treat his early morning tweets: worth noting before getting on to the realities of American policy, which the strategy itself generally articulates exceedingly well.” [FP

“Trump Doesn’t Seem to Buy His Own National Security Strategy” by Peter Beinart: “In its fourth paragraph, the strategy declares that the Trump administration will pursue a “strategy of principled realism.” But Trump mangled the phrase, declaring instead that, “Our new strategy is based on a principle, realism.” Although likely unintentional, Trump’s goof was telling. “Principled realism” probably appeals to Trump’s establishment-minded foreign-policy advisers because it adds a moral patina to America First… This depiction of a globe divided along ideological lines—between white-hatted American democrats and black-hatted Russian and Chinese authoritarians—sounds more like John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Marco Rubio than Donald Trump. Which may be why Trump largely abandoned it in his speech.” [TheAtlantic

ON THE HILL: “Congress demands clarity on Trump administration’s dealings with Qatar” by Josh Rogin: “The American people have a right to know what steps Qatar’s government is taking to deter Islamic terrorism,” a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) wrote in a letter to Tillerson on Dec. 14. “The decision to classify the document while publicly praising Qatar’s progress toward upholding its contents makes it impossible for the public to judge Qatar’s compliance.”After four months of requests, the State Department allowed lawmakers to view the MOU once last month, but only for a few hours in the Special Compartmentalized Information Facility inside the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)… Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J) viewed the MOU and said his concern was not just about its secrecy. The document doesn’t specify what happens to Qatar if it doesn’t make progress on combating terrorism financing, he said.” [WashPost]

BREAKING — via Politico’s Kyle Cheney: “Rep. Jerry Nadler has won the race to become the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, besting Rep. Zoe Lofgren 118-72. It puts Nadler in the driver’s seat on efforts to defend Special Counsel Robert Mueller and if Dems take the House in 18, on impeachment debate.” [Twitter]

As Amir Tibon reported last week, two issues that could come up in discussion before the Judiciary Committee, and are of concern to Israel, include: legislation against boycotts of Israel and its settlements in the West Bank; and international legal investigations concerning IDF actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Chris Christie on MSNBC: “Jared Kushner “deserves the scrutiny. You know why? Because he was involved in the transition and involved in meetings that call into question his role. If he’s innocent of that, then that will come out as Mueller examines all the facts, and if he’s not, that will come out too.” [Video]

“The Mooch rips ‘loser’ Steve Bannon at Hanukkah party” by Mara Siegler: “The Mooch was invited to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Hanukkah party to speak about his trip to Israel… But [Anthony Scaramucci]… once again went wildly off-script during his Sunday night sermon at the rabbi’s Upper West Side townhouse. Of [Steve] Bannon, he told the crowd, “He’s a loser. He’ll be a stalwart defender of Israel until he’s not. That’s how this guy operates. I’ve seen this guy operate… The problem with Bannon is he’s a messianic figure. It’s his way or the highway. He was dramatically and incredibly divisive in the White House… He was leaking on everybody… So the guy’s a loser.” [PageSix

** Good Wednesday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Trump chief economist Gary Cohn says he’s staying [CNN• Israel’s Elbit Systems wins U.S. contract worth up to $176 million[Reuters] • At Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone, Prospective Buyers Are in the Final Tire-Kicking Phase [VanityFair] • How Elliott gained its stake in the duty-free retailer Dufry is pretty complicated [DealBookFinancialTimes] • 2nd Phase of David Cordish’s Ballpark Village in St. Louis Breaks Ground [CPExec]

SPOTLIGHT: “A New Playbook for Real Estate Dynasties” by Peter Grant: “The Lowys consciously didn’t steer the next generation into Westfield careers because it was a public company, Peter Lowy said. “My dad never believed, I don’t believe and my brother doesn’t believe that just because of us, you would not take [the sale to Unibail] to its logical conclusion,” he said… There were earlier signs the Lowy family was open to selling Westfield at the right price, and family members were eager to do other things. For example, Peter Lowy, who resides in Los Angeles, has made it clear that he was interested in other pursuits, including politics in the U.S. and surfing. His roles include serving as chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council for Los Angeles County… Peter initially decided to leave because he didn’t feel there was enough work or the company was large enough for two chief executives. Peter’s father and the board changed his mind.” [WSJ] • Disclosure: Peter Lowy is the Chair of Tribe Media

PROFILE: “The Man Who Made The Republican Internet — And Then Sold It To Far-Right Nationalists Overseas” by Henry Gomez: “In 2015, [Vincent Harris] signed on with Israel’s Likud Party and the reelection campaign for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a move that fit Harris’ evangelical conservative politics, in which Israel’s importance is deeply ingrained. The timing of his hiring fueled speculation that he was a favor from some of his conservative clients back home. “I have not spoken to Senator Cruz or to Mitch McConnell about my job here,” he told the Jerusalem Post at the time… Lacking strong ties to Trump or to a Republican establishment that hasn’t yet found the secret to navigating Trumpism, Harris’ US prospects are a bit murky. The firm has been closely aligned with Secure America Now, a conservative, pro-Israel advocacy organization that has a digital-first messaging strategy.” [BuzzFeed

TEVI TROY’S LATEST: “Heritage’s New President Faces a Challenge” — “The campaign and election of Donald Trump largely rewrote conventional wisdom. Traditional conservative think tanks were not Trump-friendly… A more likely punishment for a think tank out of presidential favor would be a deliberate lack of relevancy with the administration, relegating it to the same status as the 1,800 or so other think tanks in the country (400 or so in Washington alone). But the Trump administration is different. If it does not like the direction of the new Heritage, it is more apt than previous administrations to express that unhappiness personally and publicly. At this point, given the challenges both Heritage and Trump face in our fractured political debates, their alliance may grow stronger.” [TheAtlantic

“Conservatism Can’t Survive Donald Trump Intact” by David Frum: “The conservative intellectual world is whipsawed between its distaste for Trump and its fear of its own audience… The vast majority of those in the conservative world who do not admire Trump—and who cannot safely divert their feelings into anti-anti-Trump fulminations against the detested liberal media—are carefully treading his own prudent path… As the scandals about Trump worsen, pressures on right-of-center people to conform will only tighten… The urgency to defend Trump will accelerate should Republicans lose one or both chambers of Congress in November 2018.” [TheAtlantic]

TRANSITION — Frank Lowenstein, former Mideast Envoy and longtime adviser to John Kerry, joined APCO Worldwide as head of the firm’s growing Global Solutions Practice.

TRAGIC: “After Fatal Fire in Brooklyn, a Somber and Cautious End to Hanukkah” by Luis Ferre-Sadurni and Kenneth Rosen: “The fatal fire rattled a deeply religious community… On Tuesday, as neighbors grappled with the loss of life, they also focused on the safest way to celebrate the seventh and penultimate night of Hanukkah… “Jewish families are generally very cognizant of the danger of open flames, as candles or oil lamps are used to usher in the Sabbath each week as well as on holidays, particularly Hanukkah,” said Avi Shafran, the director of public affairs at Agudath Israel of America. “But, like any open flame, they should not be left unattended.”” [NYTimes] • Dad doesn’t know his children died in fire caused by menorah[NYPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jewish family pulls off a ‘Toys for Tots’ Christmas miracle” by Carl Campanile: “The family sprang into action when Toys for Tots was overwhelmed by demand and didn’t have enough toys to go around. Within 24 hours, Gabriella Rizack, 22, her dad, Joshua, and brothers Reid and Emmet came to the rescue by raising $17,000 to deliver gifts to the waiting children… Gabriella volunteered after seeing an appeal for the toy charity online, persuading her father to overcome his reservations about wearing a St. Nick costume. “What’s a Jew doing putting on a Santa Claus suit?” Joshua quipped. “Think about all the Christians who died liberating the [concentration] camps and how we can set an example to people of all religions, dad,” Gabriella responded.” [NYPost

SPORTS BLINK: “New York Knicks’ O’Quinn: ‘Next thing you know, I was just Bar Mitzvah Man’” by Ian Begley: “For a few Saturdays during his tenure in New York, [Kyle] O’Quinn has taken on an entirely different one: bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah entertainer. “The parties are crazy,” he said. “I did one, did two, and the next thing you know, I was just Bar Mitzvah Man.” O’Quinn is one of the bigger comedians in the Knicks’ locker room, so it makes sense that he would thrive as the headline act at a party filled with 13-year-olds. The 6-foot-10 center spends most of his time at the parties socializing, dancing, joking around with families and — of course — taking plenty of selfies.” [ESPN

DESSERT: “Harlem rugelach bakery is a hot spot for Midtown media crowd” by Emily Smith: “Alvin Lee Smalls, 75, who runs Lee Lee’s on 118th Street, is said to be Harlem’s last old-style rugelach baker, and we are told customers have been lining up for orders before the holidays. Tamron Hall also joined the queue and managed to snatch one of the last rugelach batches, bringing it to Michael’s on Monday… Hall… shared them with her high-powered friends after lunch, including p.r. expert for city billionaires and new communications firm founder Christine Taylor, Full Picture and Project Runway’s Desiree Gruber, philanthropy and events specialist Vanessa Weiss and Sandra Lee… before the delectable dish was passed around to other diners. Smalls describes his baking style as “a dying art” and he rolls each rugelach by hand.” [PageSix

BIRTHDAYS: Television producer, creator and executive producer of the Law & Order franchise, Richard Anthony (Dick) Wolf turns 71… Founder of an online childrens bookstore featuring titles in a variety of languages, Yona Eckstein turns 76… Former chair of the executive committee of the Jewish Federations of North America, he also served three terms as president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Michael Gelman turns 73… Illusionist, magician, television personality and self-proclaimed psychic, Uri Geller turns 71… Carol Gene Berk turns 67… President of the University of Miami since 2015, he is a Mexican-born physician and former Secretary of Health of Mexico, Julio Frenk turns 64… Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale since 2014, she is a professor of both philosophy and psychology, Tamar Gendler turns 52… Writer, best known as the author of the book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough,” Lori Gottlieb turns 51… Actor, producer, screenwriter and comedian, Jonah Hill(full name Jonah Hill Feldstein) turns 34… Development associate at the UJA-Federation of New York, Adam Wolfthal turns 32… Denver-based director of communications at Israel on Campus Coalition, Megan Nathan turns 32… Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Jeremy Burton… Bob Lindenbaum

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Daily Kickoff: Experts react to Trump’s UN veto | Bloomberg investigates Kushner Cos. holdings | How a New Orleans Kosher restaurateur got his start

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PIC OF THE DAY — What shuttle diplomacy looks like in 2017: Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt was spotted boarding a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv last night [Pic]

PENCE ISRAEL TRIP POSTPONED, AGAIN — Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Israel and Egypt has been delayed once again due to the tax reform vote expected this week. Pence was scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Wednesday for a meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and travel in the evening to Israel. “The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line. The Vice President looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January,” the Vice President’s Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

A White House official emails… “Since the tax vote could possibly take place shortly before midnight on Wed, it was not practically possible for the VP to travel this week. He would have arrived in Egypt late on Thursday night and then would have run up against Shabbat and Christmas for his visit to Israel. Therefore, to get the most out of the trip, the VP will now be traveling in mid-January. Jason Greenblatt is still headed to Israel as planned to continue working on the Administration’s peace efforts.”

REPORT: Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, rejected an American request for Vice President Pence to hold a press conference at the Western Wall during his — now delayed — trip to Israel. “According to the [Channel 10 News] report, Rabinowitz said in private that his main concern was the threat of renewed violence due to the press conference likely conveying a political message… The report said the US is now searching for an alternative site nearby in which to hold the press conference.” [ToI]

DRIVING THE CONVO — The U.S. used its first veto power in the Security Council since Trump became President as Ambassador Nikki Haley was the only one to vote to against an Egyptian-sponsored UNSC resolution calling on Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” Haley said in remarks following her vote. “A ‘peace process’ that is damaged by the simple recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not a peace process; it is a justification for an endless stalemate.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately released a video message comparing Haley to the Maccabees. “On Hanukkah you spoke like a Maccabee, you lit the light of truth and expelled the darkness. One triumphs over many; truth triumphed over falsehood. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley,” Netanyahu said. [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Why the U.N. veto was a loss for Trump and Netanyahu” by Barak Ravid: “In reality, Netanyahu led Trump to defeat in the U.N. Security Council twice in one year – today and last December, when the Trump transition team tried and failed to prevent a Security Council resolution on West Bank settlements behind the Obama administration’s back. Trump doesn’t like to lose.” [Axios

REACTIONS — FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer tells JI’s Aaron Magid: “The veto is not a defense of Israel. It’s obviously a defense of the U.S. It certainly looks like an extension of U.S. policy to challenge Israel bias at the UN… For [Egyptian President al-]Sisi, who purportedly values his relationship with the Trump administration, the move was rather odd. Not to mention that the Sisi regime values its security cooperation with the Israelis. All of this amounts to mixed messages from Cairo, to put it mildly… My sense is over time this will likely blow over because, again, it doesn’t impact the final status of Jerusalem as it pertains to negotiations. I am taking a wait and see approach to see how long this crisis lasts for.”

The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky: “What we have seen with the Arab states is that there is a clear firewall between what they do on security and how they vote politically, and this has consistently been the case. While people can talk about an Israeli-Sunni Arab convergence — which is accurate — it is not a political alliance, certainly when it comes to things that have a religious resonance like Jerusalem. This is not going to end so easily.”

The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller: “This is the mandatory rhetorical hoops which the Arabs have to jump. Look at the reaction in the Arab world to what Trump did. Had this happened a decade ago, there would have been a severe reaction. It means the Arabs are preoccupied, they are distracted and have other business to attend to that is more important. It doesn’t mean that they can flagrantly abandon the Palestinian cause so they have to jump through these hoops. It’s a game. That’s business as usual. The U.S. stands up against other members of the Security Council and basically protects Israel. Trump’s team is simply not going to do nothing. Having set into motion the Jerusalem decision, they were going to defend it. They couldn’t walk away from it.”

Former Ambassador Dan Shapiro: “It’s the right decision. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Now they need a policy to promote an end of the conflict and a realistic vision of two states to go with that decision.”

MEDIA OBSERVATION from Noah Pollak: “When Obama vetoed an anti-Israel UNSC resolution, NYT reported it straight. When Trump vetoed an anti-Israel UNSC resolution, NYT reports the US is “isolating” itself.” [Twitter

“Trump’s foreign policy smacks of isolationism and retreat, French FM says” by Oren Dorell: “Trump’s order to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem undermines U.S. allies who’ve backed the notion that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in negotiations, and plays into the hands of adversaries, such as Iran, [ [French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves] Le Drian said. “With this decision, President Trump gives Iran the opportunity to control all Palestinian issues,” he said… Le Drian, previously France’s defense minister, was in Washington for meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.” [USAToday]

TRUMP PARK — Trump thanks Kiryat Yam mayor for naming park after him: “I recently learned that you will name a new park after me in beautiful Kiryat Yam,” Trump wrote in the letter. “Thank you for this great honor…I am grateful for your gesture and am moved to know that the people of Israel are encouraged by my decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I send my very best wishes to you and the people of Kiryat Yam.”[JerusalemOnlineJPost]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “The Guerrilla Campaign Against McMaster Is Alive and Well” by Jenna McLaughlin: “Two sources with ties to the White House are telling Foreign Policy that Oracle Corporation CEO Safra Catz and Peter Thiel, a tech magnate, both turned down jobs to lead the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board at least partly over concerns about [H. R.] McMaster… Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy… on Wednesday blamed McMaster for having “wasted a precious year of Donald Trump’s presidency,” arguing he “sabotaged” President Trump’s campaign against “defeating ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’”” [FP]

COUNTERING IRAN FIRST: “Trump national security strategy doubles down on Iran” by Jack Detsch: “Released on Monday, the 55-page document draws from Trump’s foreign policy speeches throughout his first year in office… The Trump strategy comes as the White House is trying to deter Iran, dubbed “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism” in the document… Monday’s strategy could provide a preview of how the Trump administration’s pressure campaign will develop over the next year. It cited Iran’s efforts to beef up its influence through proxy groups, weapons proliferation and a recommitment to its ballistic missile program, activities that have “continued unabated since the 2015 nuclear deal.”” [Al-Monitor• Mattis: Iran Working to Destabilize Middle East [DODNews]

“Three Ways to Read Trump’s National Security Strategy” by Eliot Cohen: “Another way of exploring the NSS is with the mindset of a rigorous 19th-century critical student of the Bible. In the same way that those scholars dissected the holy texts for multiple authors (J, P, and E for the five books of Moses, Proto-, Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah for that prophet’s works) so too may one begin to see multiple hands in the crafting of this otherwise enigmatic work. Here too, remarkably enough, three authors emerge: the Trumpian Monarchist, the Deep State Scribe, and the Bureaucratic Redactor… There is not a great deal one can actually do with spoor; it does not predict whether the beast will turn right or left, gore an innocent farmer or charge madly off a cliff. It offers a few clues, and that is about it. So by all means study it. Just don’t swallow it.” [TheAtlantic]

“Obama’s Alternative Facts on the Iran Nuclear Deal” by Eli Lake: “Russia established those air bases less than two months after the end of the Iran nuclear negotiations. The chief of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, also saw the close of the nuclear talks as a green light. He was soon on a plane to Moscow to iron out the tactical alliance between Russia and Iran in Syria as Obama went about trying to persuade more than a third of Congress to support the nuclear bargain… At the time the Obama administration told us that in exchange, the U.S. had to lift only the crippling nuclear sanctions against Iran. It turns out the price was much higher.” [BloombergView]

CURRENT ISRAELI GOV’T HAS LIMITS, APPARENTLY: “Israel to Boycott Austria’s New Far-right Cabinet Ministers” by Noa Landau and Ofer Aderet: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign affairs portfolio, said Monday that Israel will boycott Austria’s far-right ministers, instructing Israeli ministers to work only with lower-ranking officials… [Sebastian] Kurz, the new Austrian chancellor… calling the Israeli prime minister by his nickname… said: “Bibi Netanyahu is a friend whom we work well with.” With regard to Israel’s reexamination of its ties with Austria, Kurz said: “We respect Israel’s decision, but are optimistic nevertheless,” referring to prospects for good relations between the two governments.” [Haaretz

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — “Amid Backlash for Defending Trump, Dershowitz Reminds Everybody He Voted for Clinton” by Alberto Luperon: “I have never voted for a Republican for president,” he told Law&Crime over email. “Of course I voted for and contributed to Hillary Clinton.” [LawandCrime]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork settles trademark lawsuits against Chinese rival UrWork [TheRealDeal] • Bernard Madoff victims near full recovery of principal with payout [CrainsNY] • Toby Moskovits’ Heritage Equity Partners lands $68M loan for Williamsburg Hotel [TheRealDeal] • Teva Pharm Woes Seen Denting Israeli Exports, Economic Growth[NYTimesJPost] • Softbank Leads $120 Million Investment in Israeli AI-Based Insurance Company Lemonade [CalcalistVentureBeat] • Aby Rosen sells Tribeca dev site for $56M [TheRealDeal] • Clark Valberg’s InVision is investing $5 million in design startups with new fund [TechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT: “Kushners’ New York City Buildings Are Mostly Owned By Others” by Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski: “The vast majority of the money behind the purchases didn’t belong to Kushner or his family. Rather, it came from an obscure Israel-based company called Gaia Investments Corp. and related entities. Gaia has almost no public profile in New York real estate. Its principals have held roles in enterprises owned by the diamond-trading Steinmetz family, with close ties to Raz Steinmetz, the nephew of billionaire Beny Steinmetz. A 2015 deal for 16 apartment buildings had a similar structure… The investors in this case… were C-III Capital Partners, a Texas-based asset manager run by Andrew Farkas, who also invested in Cadre, the real-estate startup co-founded by Jared and his brother Joshua Kushner.” [Bloomberg

TRANSITIONS: “Tony Ressler’s Ares Management names Michael Arougheti as chief executive” by Javier Espinoza: “Ares Management has become the latest big alternative asset management group to make leadership changes this year after naming Michael Arougheti as its chief executive officer. Tony Ressler, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, is set to become executive chairman with a focus on investor relationships, strategy and marketing. The move comes as Ares business becomes more complex and larger with $106bn assets under management in real estate, private equity and credit and more than 200 funds, the company said.” [FinancialTimesBloomberg

Darin McKeever has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the William Davidson Foundation. “McKeever, the Foundation’s chief program and strategy officer, will succeed Jonathan S. Aaron, chairman of the Board of Directors, who has served as president since the philanthropic organization’s founder, William “Bill” Davidson, died in 2009. The William Davidson Foundation is a private, family foundation established by Mr. Davidson in 2005 to advance the economic, cultural and civic vitality of Southeast Michigan, the State of Israel, and the Jewish community.”

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Is the BDS Movement Failing? Depends on Your Definition of Success.” by Armin Rosen: “If BDS activists’ goal is to remove Israeli products from college campuses, or end academic exchanges with Israeli institutions, they’ve failed so far… But if the movement’s goal is to make any Israel-related topic poisonous, or to make students wary of associating themselves with the Jewish state in any way, its success has be measured against nebulous and largely unknowable criteria. In the future, the movement might get more mileage out of interrupting or “no-platforming” Israeli speakers, as recently happened to Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat at San Francisco State University in April of 2016, or stigmatizing participants in Birthright—the goal of a newly launched JVP campaign—than from organizing campus boycott efforts.” [Tablet]

One of two Swedish synagogue firebomb suspects released: “A Swedish prosecutor… Stina Lundqvist says the 18-year-old man… remains a suspect in Dec. 16 attack in Sweden’s second largest city. She said Tuesday there was not sufficient evidence to keep him jailed while police investigate the attack. No one was injured and the firebombs didn’t damage the building.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Hundreds gather to mourn mom, three kids killed in Brooklyn fire” by Elizabeth Rosner: “The assembled mourners were distraught and wailing as they clung to the vehicles. Unable to enter the synagogue, the bodies then headed straight to JFK airport where a flight was preparing to fly them to Israel.”

CHALLAH RISING: “In One New Jersey Town, Pending Tax Changes Create Anxiety” by Patrick McGeehan: “The pending tax changes have been a prime topic of conversation this week among the diners at Eppes Essen, a Jewish delicatessen on one of Livingston’s main thoroughfares, said its manager, Jeff Lajqi… “If they’re raising the taxes, you know what’s going to happen: Everyone’s going to raise prices,” Mr. Lajqi said. Picking up a loaf of challah bread, he added, “Raise my taxes, I raise your challah.”” [NYTimes

“This Israeli designer was asked to sketch a wedding dress for Meghan Markle — here are the designs” by Bobbie Edsor: “According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli fashion designer Inbal Dror… was asked by palace officials to provide some sketches of potential wedding dress designs for Markle last week. When approached by Business Insider, a spokesperson for Inbal Dror declined to comment on whether Dror had been approached by the palace. Nevertheless, the spokesperson did say: “We have been responding to an initiative of the Bridal Council to present the sketches [for Markle].”” [BusinessInsider

DESSERT: “Kosher Cajun Deli in Metairie feeds the hunger of a community” by Todd Price: “Thirty years ago, Joel Brown was a 19-year-old from Metairie. He had a complaint you don’t often get around here. “There were no places to eat in New Orleans,” Brown said. Brown is Jewish. He keeps kosher. Growing up, the only place for him to eat out was at someone else’s house. Now, Kosher eaters have a handful of options around New Orleans. One of those is Kosher Cajun in Metairie, which Brown opened 30 years ago this month.”

“How did a 19-year-old start a grocery and deli? Appropriately enough for a teenage entrepreneur, it started with pizza. Brown had been in Philadelphia visiting family. He discovered kosher pizzas, and brought some back with him to New Orleans. His friends devoured the pizzas and wanted more. “The supply and demand lightbulb went off,” Brown said. The closest kosher pizzeria he could find was in Miami. So he ordered 150 pies, all pre-sold to friends, and arranged to have them flown back via Delta air freight. “They thought it was a prank call,” he said.” [NoLA]

“Fat Sal’s — We’re Making Hanukkah Sandwiches Here” by Susan Hornik: “In honor of the eight-day Jewish holiday, a food collaboration between Fat Sal’s Hollywood, Instagram celebrity the Fat Jewish, Yeastie Boys Bagels and celebrity chef Eric Greenspan came together to create “The Fat Jewish.” Greenspan, who runs modern kosher eatery Fleishik’s and the Roof on Wilshire, thought it was a no-brainer to get involved. “The three of us are sandwich guys and are Jewish — the minute we ran into each other and started talking, we knew we had to team up. It was beshert, which means ‘meant to be’ in Yiddish,” Greenspan said.” [LAWeekly]

BIRTHDAYS: President and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University (1976-2003), then YU’s Chancellor (2003-2013), scholar, author and communal leader, Rabbi Norman Lamm turns 90… Israeli novelist, essayist and playwright, winner of virtually every Hebrew book award, referred to as  the “Israeli Faulkner,” A. B. Yehoshua turns 81… Communications director in the Clinton administration (1999-2001) and then a senior aide to Hillary Clinton, sister of Barney Frank, she is President of the Joint Action Committee Education Foundation, Ann Frank Lewis… Journalist and playwright, Bernard Weinraub turns 80… 1983 winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, mathematical physicist, scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Mitchell Feigenbaum turns 73… NYC-based real estate investor, developer of four of Manhattan’s tallest towers in recent decades, Douglas Durst turns 73… Ruth Wolff turns 71… Israeli scientist, high-tech entrepreneur and leading businesswoman, Orna Berry turns 68… Publisher of Long Beach (California) Jewish Life, Jon Strum turns 63…

CFO at wine importer and distributor, New York Wine Warehouse, Jane Troyturns 63… British cellist, distinguished for his diverse repertoire and distinctive sound, Steven Isserlis turns 59… Member of the Knesset for the Meretz party (2000-2003 and again since November 2017), he has served as secretary general of Peace Now, Moshe “Mossi” Raz turns 52… Acclaimed actor, whose mother is Jewish, he reports that on his 13th brthday he performed a “bar-mitzvah-like act, without the typical trappings,” Jake Gyllenhaal turns 37… Program officer for education and research at the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, Eli Schaap turns 22… Founder, President and Chief Creative Officer of Rachel G Events LLC since 2008, following an event-planning career in the private and non-profit sectors, Rachel L Glazer turns 45… Peter Keizer turns 33… Partner in Tel Aviv-based venture capital firm Aleph, Aaron Rosenson turns 28… David Ginsberg

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