Good Thursday morning!
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced their endorsement of Michael Bloomberg for president this morning.
Leslie Wexner is expected to step down as CEO and chairman of L Brands as the company nears a deal — estimated at $1.1 billion — to sell control of lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret to private-equity firm Sycamore Partners.
President Donald Trump has appointed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence.
In Riyadh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss Iran and other regional matters.
Yesterday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a Holocaust education bill (HB2682), which would require students to study the Holocaust at least twice between 7th and 12th grades. The bill was introduced by State Rep. Alma Hernandez, a Mexican-American Jewish millennial elected to the legislature in 2018.
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live from Las Vegas
Candidates take aim at Bloomberg during his debate debut
At a feisty and contentious debate last night, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates aimed their fire at newcomer Michael Bloomberg, attacking him over not releasing his tax returns, his stop-and-frisk policies as mayor, his past comments about women and the NDA agreements signed by some of his former employees.
First timer: Bloomberg had a rough time early on during his debut debate performance in Nevada Wednesday night, stumbling over some answers, drawing fire from everyone on stage — as well as the moderators — and not always given the opportunity to respond to repeated attacks. The former New York City mayor said he will release his tax returns in a few weeks, as they are too complicated to publish immediately: “I’ve made a lot of money, and I’m giving it all away to make the country a better place.”
Chopped or sauteed? Bloomberg appeared visibly frustrated when moderators didn’t return to him on a question about health care, saying quietly, ‘What am I, chicken liver?’
Answering for the past: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) slammed Bloomberg — who she called “an arrogant billionaire” — repeatedly over his alleged past treatment of women, citing past comments calling members of the royal family “horsey-faced lesbian” and “fat broad.” She also called on Bloomberg to publicly release former female employees from non-disclosure agreements they signed after settling complaints, which he declined to do. Bloomberg said he has “no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the #metoo movement has exposed,” and said it was possible that at times some female employees “didn’t like a joke I told.”
Health matters: Bloomberg and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the two oldest candidates in the race at 78, also briefly sparred about their health. Asked by moderators about releasing his full health records, Sanders demurred, and then pointed out that he and Bloomberg had at least one thing in common: “You have two stents as well.” Bloomberg quickly shot back: “Twenty-five years ago.”
Comeback: Bloomberg enjoyed a stronger moment when he contrasted his business background with the rest of the field during a discussion over economic empowerment. “I’m the only one here I think who started a business. Is that fair?” he asked, looking at his remaining candidates, who stood silently. He later hit back at Sanders, saying: “The best-known socialist in the country is a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss?” The Vermont senator retorted by listing his three homes, including a “summer camp. Forgive me for that.”
Israel angle: There was scant discussion of foreign policy during the two-hour debate. But in defending her knowledge of international affairs after not being able to name the Mexican president, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) boasted that she’s well aware of many facts about foreign governments, including that the Israeli Knesset has 120 members. former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg conceded that he “actually didn’t know how many members are in the Knesset, so you got me there.”
Bonus: Kenneth Baer, former associate director at the White House Office of Management and Budget, writes in The Atlantic that the “deeply flawed set of rules” around debate participation have damaged the nominating system, and “took power away from the party and gave it to the Twitterverse.”
Campaign surrogates on their candidate’s performance
Steve Grossman, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and currently a co-chair of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in Massachusetts, toldJewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh that Bloomberg had a “disastrous night” because he came into the debate “with high expectations” and “demonstrated pretty clearly that he was not ready for prime time.” Grossman maintained that his candidate stands to benefit most from Bloomberg’s poor performance because it “opened the lane for the centrist candidates in the race to regain momentum.”
Mike the mensch: Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a surrogate for the Bloomberg campaign, explained that the former NYC mayor was “acting as a gentleman” in his first-ever presidential debate. “When you have a gang of five going after you, it’s a challenging situation,” Levine told JI following the debate. He acknowledged that going into the next debate in South Carolina, Bloomberg will need to up his game: “He needs to speak more from his heart. He needs to swing, he needs to punch and needs to counterpunch.”
Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, noted that, “it took him just 45 minutes in his first debate in 10 years to get his legs on the stage. He was just warming up tonight.”
Another mensch on stage: Joel Rubin, who serves as Sanders’ liaison to the Jewish community, emailed JI, “Senator Sanders once again demonstrated why he’s beloved by his supporters: because he’s a true mensch who wants to heal the world. So while the other candidates spent their time cutting each other down, Senator Sanders lifted us all up by sharing his vision of what our country can become. And it’s a vision that’s winning over more voters by the day. Kol haKavod to Senator Sanders for another job well done.”
CHANGING THE STATUS QUO
At Jewish non-profits, a push for gender equality upends c-suite norms
Female executives at Jewish nonprofits are pushing for a change — a title change. A 2018 Leading Edge survey found that male leaders at Jewish nonprofits were far more likely than their female peers to have the title CEO or president instead of executive director. Such a seemingly inconsequential title change has real-world professional implications, experts tell Jewish Insider.
By the numbers: Leading Edge, an independent organization that takes a sector-wide approach to addressing challenges in the professional Jewish community, found that 35% of women who run the 108 Jewish organizations surveyed held the title of executive director, compared to just 11% of men. Seventy-five percent of male leaders in the surveyed organizations had the title CEO, president or president and CEO, whereas 52% of the women in similar roles had one of those titles.
What it means: Having the title CEO confers more gravitas and power on those who possess it and in the long term will shift the way female leaders are perceived in the Jewish non-profit world, said Leading Edge CEO Gali Cooks. “The more we can see women being called CEO and leading organizations, the more we can shift the mental model of leadership… Women are perceived as better leaders the more we see them in leadership positions for longer periods of time.”
Walking the walk: Cooks herself was Leading Edge’s founding executive director and had her title changed to CEO in early 2019. “Since changing my title, people’s posture has changed when meeting me, like they’re thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to take her seriously.’ As an external vehicle it’s the most powerful asset someone can have. A mental shift happens, too, so women think, ‘I’m worthy of this. Let me own it.’ My own posture has changed. I’m at the table and I deserve to be at the table. That’s been the biggest shift.”
Not on board: One executive director, who spoke with JI on the condition of anonymity, said she is concerned that changing her title might signify a more corporate approach at the organization. “I feel non-profits shouldn’t just go the corporate route,” she said. Changing her title to CEO, she pointed out, “could be a slippery slope into corporate values that put efficiency and the bottom line before attention to culture, mission and values.”
talk of the city
NYC’s Commission on Human Rights highlights New York Jews in new ad campaign
Amid a rise of antisemitism, the New York City Commission on Human Rights has launched an ad campaign in support of the Jewish community.
Details: The campaign, which will run in several Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish print publications and online, seeks to reassure the Jewish community that the city is committed to combating antisemitism and religious harassment in the wake of recent antisemitic violence. “We will lift up and celebrate the diversity of Jewish communities, work to build a foundation of compassion and understanding between neighbors, and remain engaged in these communities to foster trust and healing,” Carmelyn Malalis, the commission’s chair, said in a statement.
Spreading the message: The online banners feature images of individual New Yorkers — two women, a person of color and a Hasidic man — with a message of solidarity that reads, “Jewish New Yorkers belong here. Anti-Semitism does not.”
Behind the campaign: “We thought carefully about having not just a Hasidic Jew but representing a wide range of Jews,” Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, one of the commissioners, tells JI. “The campaign did really careful thinking about the images and about language and different ways of saying it.” The message of the campaign is “to say that this city cares about us being here safely and to make a statement to other New Yorkers that we don’t all look, sound or present the same but are an important part of the fabric of this city.”
Bonus: In an interview with Yahoo News Video, Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) expounded on his Jewish upbringing in New York. “When you grow up Jewish in New York City, you think everyone’s Jewish,” Rose said. “And then I went to school in Connecticut and in school in London, and, again, in both circumstances, you think everyone is Jewish. And then I enlisted, and I am in basic training in Georgia, and for the first time, you are the first Jew that someone’s met. It is only then you realize how few Jews there are in the world. This is what has made the spike in antisemitism so horrifying, especially for people in my generation, because we never lived with this.”
👨💼 Calling Out: In the Los Angeles Times, Noga Tarnopolsky profiles Afif Abu Much, an Arab-Israeli who works in the tech industry and is using social media platforms to stand up and speak out for Arab citizens who have long been underrepresented in Israeli society. [LATimes]
🏃♂️ Frenemies:The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere uncovers the unrealized plan by Sen. Bernie Sanders to challenge President Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012, and what that means for the fraught relationship between the two men today. [Atlantic]
💻 Deep Dive: In BuzzFeed News, Alex Kantrowitz takes an inside look at how Saudi Arabian hackers infiltrated Twitter, accessing thousands of user profiles and passing their information on to aides of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in order to identify anonymous dissidents. [BuzzFeed]
🦅 Policy Hawk: Sean Nayor, the national security correspondent for Yahoo News, examines how John Bolton’s 17-month tenure as national security advisor led to him “steamrolling” the White House’s aggressive policy against Iran, despite repeated clashes with the Pentagon and a “little civil war” between other members of the administration. [Yahoo]
Around the Web
⚔️ Buddy Buddy: Obama White House veterans are reportedly angry at Michael Bloomberg ads that portray a close relationship between Bloomberg and the former president, when the reality was different.
🗳️ Nevada Caucuses:Jerusalem Post reporter Omri Nahmias spoke with Nevadan Jews about this week’s contest — and how observant Jews are trying to make it to the ballot for early voting since the caucuses take place on Saturday.
👴🏻 Mishpucha: In Vox, Sarah Seltzer examines why American Jews are decidedly lukewarm on Bernie Sanders.
🚫 Walkout: At Oracle headquarters in California, some employees are planning to stop working for a few hours in protest of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s fundraiser for President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
📺 Trading Barbs: Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) challenged Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on his “present” vote on then-President Barack Obama’s use of force resolution against Syria in 2013 during the first televised match-up between the two on Tuesday, ahead of the September 1 primary.
💲Dealmaking: Michael Weisz’s startup investment platform YieldStreet has partnered with asset management giant BlackRock to give YieldStreet’s users access to a new diversified investment fund, Yieldstreet announced on Tuesday.
🥛 Startup Nation: Israeli start-up Insightec is utilizing ultrasound beams to help counteract tremors in people with Parkinson’s and other diseases.
⚖️ Reliving History: An upcoming court case by Rothschild banking scion Geoffrey Hoguet — accusing the city of Vienna of “perpetuating” Nazi-era laws — is dredging up the family’s past dark treatment in Austria.
⌨️ Q&A: Former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett spoke with Jewish culture site Alma about his Jewish upbringing, his bar mitzvah theme and his ideal bagel order.
🍪 No Crumbs: Levain Bakery’s downtown Manhattan location will finally open next week.
🥯 End of an Era: Katz Bagels in San Francisco, the last of what was once a mini-chain in the city, is closing after 27 years.
🕯️ Remembering: Larry Tesler, a renowned computer scientist, who was responsible for the terms “cut,” “copy” and “paste,” passed away at age 75.
😢 Farewell: Philanthropist Albert Sherman, a pillar of the Boston Jewish community, passed away at age 81.
Pic of the day
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had a jam session with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Comedian, actress and writer, best known for portraying Gina Linetti on Fox’s series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Chelsea Peretti turns 42…
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turns 78… Former head of the Shin Bet (1988–1994) and later a member of the Knesset for Yesh Atid, Yaakov Peri turns 76… Born in Tehran, Iran, emigrated to the U.S. in 1950, co-owner of NYC-based TF Cornerstone, owner of 12 million square feet and 7,000 apartments in NYC and DC, Kamran Thomas Elghanayan turns 75… University professor of social science, anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, winner of a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for biography, David Kertzer turns 72… Physician and acupuncturist based in Valley Village, California, Andrea Hoffman Kachuck turns 69…
Nursing home administrator in Hazlet, New Jersey, Benzion Schachter turns 69… Founder and former publisher of 18 Media in the San Francisco Bay Area, now publishing Punch, M. Sloane Citron turns 64… SVP of News at CBS-owned local television stations, David M. Friend turns 64… Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and an on-air analyst for MSNBC, David Corn turns 61… Former NFL player who was one of the league’s original long snapper specialists, Adam Schreiber turns 58… Senior editor at Politico, David Cohen turns 57… Professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, Shmuel Aaron Weinberger turns 57… Actor William Garson Paszamant turns 56…
Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum turns 54… Senior cantor at University Synagogue in the Brentwood area of West Los Angeles, Kerith Carolyn Spencer-Shapiro turns 50… Actor best known for his role as Joel Maisel on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Michael Zegen turns 41… Owner of a baseball development facility in Denver, he was a starting MLB pitcher for the Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies, Jason Hirsh turns 38… Senior program officer at Maimonides Fund, Aimee Weiss turns 34… Executive director at NYC-based Integrity First for America, Amy Spitalnick turns 34… Ethiopian-born Israeli fashion model and television personality, winner of the Israeli version of “Big Brother,” Tahounia Rubel turns 32…