First Look — New York Magazine Profile – Twin (Jewish) Titans of Stuyvesant High School: Jack and David Cahn’s Mission to Conquer Stuyvesant — “Four years ago, when they felt they’d reached the academic ceiling of the Ramaz School, a private modern-Orthodox yeshiva on the Upper East Side, they decided to try testing into Stuyvesant, which has the highest cutoff score for the entrance exam of the city’s nine specialized public high schools. Their mission: Divide and conquer. And they’ve mostly conquered. Jack is in student government, David got the newspaper; plus, they’re a formidable debate team and passionate agitators for a variety of causes. They have A averages; study Mandarin (they also speak Hebrew and Spanish); have lobbied successfully to audit a class during their lunch period and audited several others at New York Law School on their own time; have held national positions with the Junior State of America; are Huffington Post columnists; were intern supervisors for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; and have started a business, Guerrilla Joe, selling ad space on the sides of coffee carts throughout the city.
–They’re incredibly easy to spot in the Stuyvesant hallways; the school has a largely Asian student population, and the Cahns are two of the only students among 3,300 who wear yarmulkes every day. They credit their notoriety, in part, to the “natural advantage of being ‘the Jewish twins,’ ” says David. “By the third day of school, I would say that we were probably the single-most-identifiable people in our entire grade of 800.” Two months into being at Stuy, they ran for president and vice-president of the freshman class—“The last time we’ll ever run together,” says Jack, because it negates the advantage of having a running mate with a different voter base. The election didn’t get them power, but it did make them known. Jack says they had more posters up in the school than all the other fifteen tickets combined. “Everybody saw our faces.”
–…The clock strikes 2 p.m. They’re up with a bolt. They don’t mean to be rude, but it’s Friday, and they’ve only got four more hours before sunset to use their cell phones and computers and ride the subway before Sabbath starts…. Around the time their parents moved to separate apartments, the twins ran for and won the seventh-grade class co-presidency at Ramaz and quit going to Jewish day camp to get their first jobs (working at Jewish day camp). They took the test for Stuyvesant when their father suggested “they were outstripping where they were in eighth grade in terms of the way the school was dealing with the world,” Jerry says; the twins wanted to study Chinese, which Ramaz does not offer.
–Their mother had hoped to keep them in yeshiva, where they were comfortable and had friends. “There was drama around that topic,” she says. But Dina works with children with special needs, and she’s developed a philosophy, she says, of “accept the child you have … I just want them to be mensches.” The way they tell it, their “debate careers” almost weren’t. Most debate tournaments happen on Friday nights or Saturday during the day, conflicting directly with the Sabbath. Since they can’t use any transport other than walking, if those tournaments are out of the city, they often have to travel ahead of the team and find a local parent or rabbi who’s willing to put them up overnight; with their father’s encouragement, they’ve been making those arrangements themselves since they were 15½. They also can’t “flow,” in debate parlance—take notes on their opponents’ case to refute it point by point—and had to spend a year and a half losing many debates they entered before learning how to do so in their heads.” [New York Magazine]
If Israel strikes Iran, Gen. Dempsey says U.S. ‘would meet’ obligations: “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Monday that if Israel were to strike Iran in an effort to damage the country’s nuclear program, the United States would meet “some defined obligations” it has to the Middle East nation. “I feel like we have a deep obligation to Israel,” the military leader said. “That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration with them.” [CNN]
Kerry rebuffs Netanyahu: Nothing the U.S. is doing on Iran will put Israel at risk — Kerry postpones visit to Israel to avert brush with Netanyahu during the P5+1 talks with Iran in Geneva, sources say. [Haaretz]
Top Talker – US Jewish leaders feel misled by White House over Iran deal: “Obama administration officials did not tell them that they had been secretly negotiating with Iran for the past year, and that the Geneva talks were really “precooked,” and thus it was an act of bad faith for the administration to ask the Jewish groups to hold off on pressure for more sanctions with the promise that they would meet again in 30-60 days to consider where the negotiations had led. In fact, the Jewish leaders believe, the administration knew exactly where the negotiations would be heading, since they had secretly negotiated the terms.
–Two sources told The Times of Israel they were convinced there was a secret channel of negotiations and were dismayed that the White House had not come clean about it. However, the White House denied reports that Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser, had been involved in secret talks with Iran. “There is absolutely no truth whatsoever to the rumors put forth by anonymous sources that Valerie Jarrett has ever been involved in secret talks with Iranian officials,” spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in an emailed statement. Israel was also kept in the dark about the secret channel, and only learned about it from other sources, The Times of Israel was told by the source, who asked to remain anonymous. Contacts between US Jewish leaders and the senior American official handling the Geneva talks, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, had been candid and emotional on occasion,
–Sunday’s Channel 10 report was not the first to assert a secret US-Iran channel involving Obama aide Jarrett. In November 2012, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth said, Jarrett — a Chicago lawyer born in Shiraz, Iran, to American parents, and a good friend of Obama’s — was “a key figure in secret contacts the White House is conducting with the Iranian regime.” That report said “Jarrett served as the personal and direct emissary of the president to secret meetings with the Iranians, which are understood to have taken place in one of the Gulf principalities.” [TOI]
Politico Magazine – John Kerry vs. the ‘Babble’ – The secretary of state answers his critics: “Clearly, the harsh words sting, especially at a moment when Kerry has so many diplomatic balls in the air that it’s almost impossible to say whether he’ll end up looking like a negotiating genius—or a secretary with a bad case of overreach. “I am an optimist,” Kerry told me, “because I am one by nature; in this job you have to be. But I am not running around suggesting to people anything is easy or will happen quickly. Never suggested that ever…. If Middle East peace was easy, it would’ve been done a long time ago. I have no illusions. But I would ask Jackson Diehl and anyone else who was critical of our engagement: What is the alternative?” [PoliticoMag]
Aaron David Miller OpEd – Confidence Man, “John Kerry has the skill, toughness, and ego to be a great secretary of state. But will the world let him?” [ForeignPolicy]
Staffing Up: David Makovsky joins Indyk’s Middle East peace team: “Veteran Middle East scholar David Makovsky has joined the team of US Middle East peace envoy Martin Indyk as a strategist and senior advisor. Makovsky formally joined Indyk’s team and started working at Foggy Bottom today. “While we are saddened to lose David, we are proud that he will play this critical role in U.S. policymaking,” Robert Satloff, executive director at the Washington Institute, said in a press statement later Monday. “We are confident that David will enrich the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts to promote Middle East peace with the same creativity and wisdom that have made him a pivotal member of the Institute research team and a trusted resource to decisionmakers in Washington and throughout the region.” [BackChannel]
This Time It’s Serious by Robert Satloff: “America and Israel are in uncharted waters. Just eight months since President Barack Obama visited Israel on the first foreign trip of his second term in an attempt to patch things up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two close allies are at odds once again—this time over a proposed “first step” nuclear agreement with Iran. Washington and Jerusalem eventually will find a way to move beyond this titanic clash, but no kiss-and-make-up effort can erase the scars that will be left behind.” [Politico]
Laura Rozen Accuses Jewish Expert of Speaking at Instruction of Israeli Government – Jewish groups quick to rebuke: “Foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen tweeted, and then deleted, a claim that a Jewish official at a prominent Washington think tank took positions on Iran at the instruction of the Israeli government. Rozen, a reporter for the Middle East news site Al Monitor, tweeted the accusation on Friday as Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) executive director Mark Dubowitz was giving a radio interview about Iran’s contested nuclear program.” [FreeBeacon]
Alan Dershowitz OpEd: Dear J Street, Ditch the distortions, focus on Israel’s survival — “J Street maliciously distorted my clear support for diplomacy in order to appease their hard left constituents, who prefer containment rather than preventing Iran going nuclear.” [Haaretz]
Netanyahu invites Abbas to Knesset ‘for sake of peace’ – In front of French President Francoise Hollande, prime minister calls for two-state solution, Palestinian recognition of Jewish state: [TOI]
“Israel Summed Up in One Headline” – “Hamas PM Haniyeh’s granddaughter transferred to Israeli hospital for treatment”: The granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was transferred on Sunday to Schneider Medical Center in Petah Tikva for treatment, sources in the Gaza Strip confirmed. She returned to the Gaza Strip after her condition worsened. [JPost]
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pays tribute to victims of Auschwitz death camp during visit: “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday visited the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz to pay tribute to Holocaust victims.” [WashPost]
Jewish groups laud federal proposal on holiday time off: “Jewish groups made up nearly half the faith groups that praised proposed federal regulations clarifying compensation time for religious holidays. Some 20 groups, including nine Jewish ones, on Nov. 13 joined in attaching a formal comment praising the latest federal proposal for compensation time.” [JTA]
Happening Tonight: Hillary Clinton to present the World Jewish Congress award to Elie & Marion Wiesel: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will present the World Jewish Congress’ Theodor Herzl Award to the Nobel Peace laureate and writer Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, a noted humanitarian, at a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on November 19, 2013. [JewishInsider]
Sheldon Adelson, top 2012 donor and casino magnate, readies to fight Internet gambling: “Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose record-breaking campaign spending in 2012 made him an icon of the new super-donor era, is leveraging that newfound status in an escalating feud with industry rivals over the future of gambling. Adelson, best known for building upscale casino resorts in Nevada and more recently in Asia, wants to persuade Congress to ban Internet betting. He says the practice is a danger to society and could tarnish the industry’s traditional business model.” [WashingtonPost]
Forbes Profile – Liesel Pritzker Sued Her Family And Got $500 Million, But She’s No Trust Fund Baby: “Liesel’s mother, Irene, who became Robert Pritzker’s second wife after meeting him while working for a Hyatt hotel in Australia, filed for divorce in 1989 after nine years of marriage. If court documents are any indication, the couple’s children–Liesel and her older brother, Matthew–became the subject of bitter quarreling. Irene got primary custody of the children, and Liesel and Matthew found themselves spending less time with the extended Pritzker clan. Meanwhile, Robert began to tinker with his children’s trusts. Controversially, Robert donated each of the children’s shares in the family holding company–which included Hyatt–to the family foundation, and the children’s trusts got promissory notes; the shares were bought soon after at 600 times their stated value by the family holding company. Six years later, when the family cousins secretly hammered out a plan for divvying up the fortune, Liesel and her brother were left out. So in 2002 Liesel sued her father and the Pritzker family.” [Forbes]
Estee Lauder granddaughters Aerin and Jane are officially declared billionaires: “Estee Lauder’s granddaughters Aerin and Jane have officially been declared billionaires. The sisters, who both hold executive positions at the giant cosmetic company, are each worth an estimated $2.6 billion, according the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The numbers make them two of the youngest female billionaires in the world. The sisters’ sudden rise in wealth can be attributed to Estee Lauder’s growing success in the stock market. The company’s market value has risen 23 per cent this year, and at press time, Estee Lauder was being traded at over $73 per share.” [DailyMail]
An Investor in the Israeli startup PrimeSense Threatens the Person That Leaked It Was About To Be Bought By Apple: “Yesterday, news broke that Apple is reportedly negotiating a deal to buy Israeli company PrimeSense for $345 million. PrimeSense’s big claim to fame is that it helped Microsoft create Kinect. The story went viral and shortly after, a PrimeSense investor inadvertently confirmed that talks were taking place by writing a post on Facebook threatening to expose the leaker. The post was written in Hebrew by Izhar Shay, a general partner at venture capital firm Canaan Partners. Shay is an investor in PrimeSense. Shay essentially said the leak could have killed the deal but didn’t.” [BusinessInsider]
Zula, The Mobile Collaboration App From VoIP Pioneer Jeff Pulver, Gets A Seed Round From Microsoft Ventures: “Microsoft took a big step into enterprise collaboration when it acquired Yammer, and an equally big step into VoIP when it bought Skype. Now it’s taking an investment in Zula, a new startup that is offering a solution for how those two kinds of services might potentially work together. The Israel-based mobile collaboration app co-founded by Jeff Pulver, one of the original people behind Vonage and VoIP, is today announcing a seed round from Microsoft Ventures.” [TechCrunch]
Video – How Jon Medved’s OurCrowd Helps Fund Early Stage Israeli Companies: [Bloomberg]
Israeli Totlol Delivers A Kid-Safe Alternative To YouTube On Web & Mobile: [TechCrunch]
#JewishStartUp — No Surprises Software’s Viewabill attorney billing software lands a $1.1M investment: “No Surprises Software Inc. has landed a $1.1 million equity investment for its Viewabill software that tracks companies’ legal bills. The startup co-founded by David Schottenstein and longtime friend and attorney Robbie Friedman on Nov. 15 made public the investment, a collaboration of several private groups along with New York’s i-Hatch Ventures, Friedman said.” [Columbus Business First]
Synagogue rebuilt from former auto shop: [CNN]
NYTimes – Casting Light on Little-Known Story of Albania Rescuing Jews From Nazis by Joseph Berger: “There were a handful of European nations where the Nazi killing machine sputtered, but few seem more remarkable and less illuminated than Albania. With ordinary Albanians moving Jews from hide-out to hide-out to elude capture, Albania saved virtually all of its 200 native Jews and 400 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria. The country also helped spirit hundreds more over from Nazi-occupied Balkan lands. “Albania was one of the only European countries that had more Jews at the end of the war than at the beginning of the war,” said Michael Berenbaum, former project director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.” [NYTimes]
Dessert – Mike’s Bistro Opening Kosher Restaurant In Midtown East: “Mike’s Bistro will be closing their Upper West Side location and will be opening a 3rd location (in addition to the original and Amsterdam Burger Co.) in Midtown East, on East 54th St (between Lexington and Park Aves), which the restaurant owner, Mike Gershkovich, projects will open in Spring 2014. The new Mike’s Bistro will be approximately double the size of the original location with 180 seats, 5 private rooms, and a 25 seat bar.” [YeahThatsKosher]
Thats all folks, have a great Tuesday!
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