Good Tuesday morning!
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelsonhas procured approximately two million face masks to counter the shortage of the much-needed protective gear at hospitals across the U.S., a source close to the billionaire informed Jewish Insider yesterday.
Philanthropist David Magermanis launching a grant program for tech companies that are working to address the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 4,000 people tuned in to yesterday’s JFNA webinar as SBA loans continue to dominate the conversation among Jewish nonprofits. Top viewer ratings will be featured in Friday’s Daily Kickoff.
Also attn:nonprofits, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a clause in the 2021 New York State Budget mandating all donor names and amounts above $5,000 be publicly available. The budget negotiation deadline is tomorrow. Here’s our deep dive on the clause and its impact on philanthropic giving.
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THE ISRAEL PRIMARY
How Adam Schleifer won over Israel — Steve Israel
Last week, former Rep. Steve Israel announced his endorsement of Adam Schleifer, one of 14 Democrats seeking to succeed longtime Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) in New York’s 17th congressional district. Israel, who served with Lowey in the House of Representatives for 16 years, spoke with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh over the weekend about his endorsement and the state of the 2020 race.
Readiness: “As the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I know that in this environment you can’t take anything for granted and you have to have candidates who are well-financed, who are ready to take the reigns immediately at a time of crisis, and who can fulfill Nita Lowey’s extraordinary legacy,” Israel told JI, explaining his pick. Though the former congressman described all the other candidates as extremely talented, “I’ve come to know Adam very well over the past few months and I’ve been incredibly impressed with his work ethic and his vision.”
Reaching out: Schleifer, a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, earned his endorsement. “He just called me out of the blue,” Israel told JI. “I am impressed with candidates who just pick up the phone and introduce themselves, and can make the case that he did. I then met with him. He talked to me about his positions on Israel, which are equivalent to my support for Israel in 16 years in Congress… After several months of conversations, I made the decision to endorse him because his talents are so exceptional.”
Filling the void: Israel described Lowey’s decision to retire from Congress as “a devastating loss to her district, to the state of New York and to the country.” As chairwoman of the appropriations committee, Israel said, Lowey is “one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives. She is supremely diligent when it comes to U.S.-Israel relations, and she works harder than many members of Congress,” he said. “So replacing her is going to take somebody with a set of similar skills and work ethics.”
Yarden Klayman’s rooftop saxophone performance attracts worldwide audience
Yarden Klayman was stuck in her Tel Aviv apartment and feeling restless. The 26-year-old Israeli alto saxophonist was used to playing her horn at clubs and festivals late into the night, but all of her shows had been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, inspired by clips she had seen of Italians singing from their balconies amid the pandemic, Klayman took to a rooftop in Tel Aviv’s Basel Square and performed a 30-minute set for anybody who would listen.
International response: The free show, captured on video, was a hit, as residents in the area emerged on their balconies to move to the music. “It was really just an idea,” Klayman said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, “that turned into quite an international thing.” She heard from people from around the world —many of those messages have come from outside the country, including from people in Russia and the Netherlands who told her they are not used to seeing uplifting news about Israel. “To see the reports about Israel being positive and showing our music,” she said, “is something that I see as a really good thing.”
Upbringing: Born in Jerusalem, Klayman picked up the saxophone at age 8 while living in New Zealand. Her father, she said, worked for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so the family moved around a bit while she was a kid. “It is not the typical instrument to give an 8-year-old girl,” Klayman said of the saxophone. “It’s considered pretty masculine.” Nevertheless, when her dad encouraged her to try it, she was hooked. “It was pretty much love at first sight.”
A star is born: Klayman studied jazz saxophone at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. After fulfilling her compulsory military service, she began playing professionally. Since then, she has toured the world, opening for The Chainsmokers and DJ Marshmello while performing at clubs and festivals in London, New York, Milan, Madrid, Munich, Montreux and other global destinations.
Encore: After last week’s performance, Klayman said the municipality has expressed a desire to hold more rooftop shows in other parts of Tel Aviv, and other cities in Israel have contacted her as well. “I definitely think it’s going to happen in more places,” she told JI. “It’s just a bit harder with all the new health regulations and with all the new rules. But I’m sure it will happen because people are definitely in need of entertainers at these times.”
Read the full feature here.
New York liberal Jews form progressive advocacy group
Sensing an opportunity for a New York organization that is focused on both domestic policy and Israel with a left-wing tilt, a group of local Jewish leaders and activists on Monday formally launched a new nonprofit advocacy group called the New York Jewish Agenda.
The team: Co-founders include Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Manhattan’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah; Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn; Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn); Democratic National Committee Director of Jewish Outreach Matt Nosanchuk; and Amy Rutkin, chief of staff to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
Mission: Nosanchuk, president of the newly launched group, told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh that the goal is to be a voice for liberal Jews in New York to advance social justice issues and combat antisemitism. The group will also advocate for “supporting a democratic Israel” and work to engage allies within and beyond the Jewish community. “The idea is to be a liberal voice that advocates and educates around issues, not in support of political candidates,” said Nosanchuk, who served as White House Jewish liaison during the Obama administration. “We believe that in New York there’s a strong core of liberal Jews, whose voices haven’t been brought together in an essential address. We all agree there’s a void that needs to be filled, and that’s what we are intending to do — be a cross-denominational and intergenerational voice.”
Kickoff: The group held its first organizing conference call on Monday via Zoom to discuss the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Speakers on the call included Nadler and New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. “We felt it was important to bring people together, even during these times when we are all socially distanced, to talk about the response to the crisis,” Nosanchuk told JI. “This is an issue that touches all New Yorkers and we wanted to take this opportunity to be the essential address that we are aspiring to be.”
Read more here.
Esther Safran Foer wants you to know she’s still here
Esther Safran Foer will be the first to tell you she isn’t a writer. But Foer, whose debut book, I Want You To Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir, comes out today, is as much a storyteller as anyone in her literarily talented family, which includes sons Frank, a staff writer at The Atlantic; Jonathan, a novelist whose fiction and non-fiction books have garnered worldwide acclaim; and Joshua, who is an author and the founder of Atlas Obscura. Foer spoke with Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss about her emotional and physical journey to discover her family’s roots.
Telling stories: Until recently, Foer was the executive director of the historic Sixth and I synagogue in Washington, D.C. Before coming on board at the synagogue, Foer embarked on a different kind of adventure: a journey to her late father’s hometown in Ukraine. When she left Sixth and I after a decade at the helm, she knew it was time to write about her experiences. “I spent most of my professional life helping other people tell their stories, corporations, if you will, and then helping to build Sixth and I,” Foer told JI. “I feel like I almost had to do all of that first.”
Familial roots: The book recounts Foer’s 2009 journey to Trochenbrod, Ukraine, with her son Frank to locate the family who hid her father during the Holocaust. Her mother survived the Holocaust by fleeing east, working in farms and factories as far away as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before returning to Europe. Her parents met at the end of the war and soon married, and Foer was born in a refugee camp in Germany. Her father’s suicide when she was 8 altered the course of Foer’s life. It wasn’t until decades later that she would learn some of what had haunted her father — not only memories of his life in Europe, but those of his first wife and child, who did not survive the war.
Never forget: Foer was amazed during her journey to discover the power of memory — and resilience. “As I was going through these villages, who would have thought that there were people who still remembered where my family lived? And it was clear they remembered — I wasn’t giving them any prompts,” Foer said. “When I was in the village my father and my half-sister lived in, where their family lived, they’re telling me the only thing that survived is this pear tree. Can you imagine? There’s a pear tree, still giving life, still bearing fruit after all these years.”
😣 Ground Zero: Wall Street Journal reporters Erin Ailworth and Alexandra Berzon take an inside look at how the Jewish community in New Rochelle dealt with the first outbreak of the coronavirus at the Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) Academy and how it impacted the wellbeing of the local community. [WSJ]
🕵️ Deep Dive: In BuzzFeed News, reporters Rosie Gray and Caroline Haskins shine a light on the shifting positions of some libertarians — generally opposed to mass surveillance — in the face of the pandemic, as countries from Israel to China to South Korea implement tech to track the virus. [BuzzFeed]
⚕️ In the Trenches: AFP spotlights the Jewish and Arab doctors working together in Israel on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis — despite tensions and accusations of inequality — after that photo of two medics praying went viral on social media. [AFP]
Around the Web
☢️ Oversight: The U.S. has renewed waivers on Iran sanctions to allow Russian, Chinese and European companies to conduct work at Iranian nuclear sites aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
🤔 Mystery: Oscar Health, a health-insurance company run by Josh Kushner, was asked by the White House to create a government coronavirus website before it was suddenly scrapped, The Atlantic reports.
🧪 Start-up Nation: More than 80 Israeli companies are working on wide-ranging solutions to aid health workers and patients fighting the deadly virus. Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Ministry is reportedly planning to use software created by spyware firm NSO to help locate likely carriers of the virus.
✈️ Welcome the Stranger:Israel is offering its second-biggest airport as a parking place for foreign airlines grounded by the coronavirus outbreak.
👎 Defying Orders: Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have all spotlighted the spike in coronavirus cases in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities, where many were slower to heed lockdown orders.
📊 By the Numbers: The Israeli Health Ministry has released a detailed breakdown of coronavirus cases by city, with Jerusalem — 650 — at the top, followed by Bnei Brak with 571 and Tel Aviv with 278.
🇨🇦 Across the Border: The Hasidic Jewish community in Boisbriand, outside Montreal, has been placed under quarantine after an outbreak in the community.
🚨 Disgrace: Brooklynite Baruch Feldheim was arrested for coughing on FBI agents who came to investigate claims of price gouging on medical supplies.
💰 Talk of the Region: A group of Democratic senators have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to ensure Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip receive allotted aid to fight COVID-19, as Hamas prepares for mass quarantines.
🙏🏻 Tehillim Time: Speaking on the Senate floor last week during a debate over the $2 trillion stimulus package, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) recited Psalms chapter 121 to explain why he thought Americans should turn to faith, rather than solely rely on the government for relief.
🏇 First Place: Four days after being diagnosed with leukemia, Roger Sofer watched his horse, Tiz the Law, win the Florida Derby over the weekend. The Florida win guarantees the horse a spot in the Kentucky Derby, which has been postponed to the fall.
👨 👩 Power List: City & State NY has published its “2020 Real Estate Power 100” list.
📈 Still Growing: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink indicated the company is not yet done with growth and acquisitions.
🧼 No Enthusiasm: Actor Larry David crashed his daughter’s video interview with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig to talk about the benefits of being a germaphobe today.
👩 Always a First: Eileen Filler-Corn, the first woman and first Jew to serve as the Virginia House Speaker, is continuing to break ground by pushing for “an aggressive agenda of change.”
🎖️ Remembering Heroes: Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich is funding a new initiative at the Royal Air Force Museum in London to honor Jewish World War II veterans.
📚 Book Shelf: The New York Times reviewsWhen Time Stopped by Ariana Neuman, a memoir of “one Jewish-Czech family’s race to outwit the Nazis.”
🕯️ Remembering: William Helmreich, a sociologist and scholar of Judaism, has died of coronavirus at age 74.
📜 Paying Tribute: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will rename the state’s Domestic Terrorism Act the “Josef Neumann Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act” in honor of Neumann, who died of his injuries three months after the Hanukkah stabbing attack in Monsey last December.
Pic of the day
Workers wearing gloves and using disposable wooden tools cleaned and sanitized the stones of the Western Wall and removed thousands of notes tucked between the stones for burial on the Mount of Olives.
Former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts from 1981 until 2013, named co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, he has served as a director of Signature Bank since 2015, Barnett “Barney” Frank turns 80…
Music producer, band leader of the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert turns 85… New York Times best-selling novelist, poet and social activist, Marge Piercy turns 84… Syndicated talk radio host on 400+ stations and conservative political commentator under the name Michael Savage, also author and nutritionist under his real name, Michael Alan Weiner turns 78… Comedian, actor and professional poker player, Gabe Kaplan turns 75… Professor of special education at Long Island University since 1981, Joel E. Mittler turns 74… Emmy Award-winning actress, Rhea Jo Perlman turns 72… Russian ice dancing coach and former competitive ice dancer, now living in Stamford, Connecticut, Natalia Dubova turns 72… Chairman of Apple, Inc. since 2011 and CEO of Calico (an Alphabet R&D biotech venture), Arthur D. Levinson turns 70… New Jersey attorney, Steven Sacks-Wilner turns 70…
Flagstaff resident, David L. Freedman turns 69… Israeli singer and songwriter, Ehud Banai turns 67… Deputy chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, David Breakstone, Ph.D. turns 67… President at the Detroit-based Nemer Property Group, Larry Nemer turns 66… Show-jumping equestrian and 10-time American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year, she is a 2009 inductee into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Margie Goldstein-Engle turns 62… Emmy Award-winning writer and producer (“24,” “Homeland” and “Tyrant”), Howard Gordon turns 59… Director of finance and operations at Yeshivat Netzach — Westchester Torah Academy, Judah E. Isaacs turns 56… LA-based businessman, film producer and donor to progressive causes, Steve Bing turns 55…
Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Andy Berke turns 52… Chief economic correspondent for Politico and author of its “Morning Money” column covering the nexus of finance and public policy, Ben White turns 48… Chief legal correspondent at MSNBC, Ari Melber turns 40… Footballer for Beitar Jerusalem, who has also played for Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham United in the English Premier League, Tal Ben Haim turns 38… Tal Meir Levine turns 37… Internet entrepreneur who is the co-founder and former CMO of Tinder, Justin Mateen turns 34… British-French journalist, author of This Is London and Fragile Empire, Ben Judah turns 32… Jerusalem-born, raised in Brookline, MA, she was a 2010 contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” she went on to join the IDF, Esther Petrack turns 28… Howie Keenan turns 26…