Good Monday morning!
Ahead of tomorrow’s Democratic presidential primary in Wisconsin, some of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s top aides are encouraging him to drop out of the race. The calls come amid a battle between Democratic and Republican leaders in the state over whether to delay the primary due to the coronavirus.
David Axelrod, who served as former President Barack Obama’s campaign mastermind, also called on Sanders to quit. “Barring an act of God — which admittedly may not be the best turn of phrase at the moment — Biden will be the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Axelrod wrote.
Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks toldThe Financial Times that this is “the moment of all moments for faith communities.” Sacks said amid the coronavirus pandemic, “people are really acting like angels, I’ve never seen anything like it… faith communities are being judged not by what they believe but what they do.”
Quibi, the short-video mobile streaming platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, launches today.
A provision in the New York State budget that would have made public the names of donors giving over $5,000 to nonprofits was gutted prior to the budget’s approval late last week.
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Across the pond
Jewish groups cautiously optimistic about new Labour leader
Jewish leaders and former MPs reacted yesterday to the election of Member of Parliament Keir Starmer as leader of the British Labour Party on Saturday, replacing Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh reports on the latest developments.
Jewish connection: In an interview with the Jewish News in February, Starmer revealed, “My wife’s family is Jewish. Her dad is Jewish, their family came over from Poland. The extended family live in Israel.”
Day one commitment: In his victory statement, the new Labour leader — who served as Shadow Brexit Secretary — said that “antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry. And I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.” Starmer wrote a letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews on Saturday, inviting them to meet to discuss measures to tackle antisemitism within Labour.
Wait-and-see approach: The Board of Deputies welcomed the gesture, but emphasized that the new leader “will be judged on his actions rather than his words.” Former MP Joan Ryan, who quit Labour last year over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism, told JI that she agrees with the group’s decision to wait to see if Starmer “matches his words” with action. “Corbyn has been a total disgrace and led Labour into a dark place, inflicting a catastrophic defeat on Labour,” Ryan said. “Keir was absolutely right to apologize to the Jewish community. I hope now we can rebuild Labour on the basis of its traditional decent values and that he will truly root out antisemitism and extremism.”
Low bar: Former MP Ian Austin, who also gave up his seat in parliament to protest Corbyn’s extremist views, told JI on Sunday that while Starmer was criticized for “not speaking out more strongly as extremism and racism poisoned the Labour Party” under his predecessor, he “is obviously an improvement on Corbyn, but that’s not a high bar.” Austin said it “is good” that Starmer opened with an apology, but his organization, Mainstream, has “set some very clear tests against which his leadership will be judged, and the public will want to see tough action and a new process to tackle antisemitism.”
Bad joke: Former Labour Member of Scottish Parliament Gordon Jackson resigned as leader of Scotland’s chief legal body after a video was released of him making a quarantine joke and referencing Anne Frank in a way that “trivializes the Holocaust.”
Tumult: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized Sunday evening for tests after 10 days of battling the coronavirus. Downing Street said Johnson would continue to carry out his duties. The uncertainty in Britain led Queen Elizabeth to rally the country in a rare televised speech that evoked the darkest days of World War II.
A Great Neck rabbi becomes a medical supplier and his yeshiva, a distribution center
Rabbi Eitan Rubin’s yeshiva, Beit Midrash of Great Neck, is normally occupied by students. But lately the 35-year-old rabbi has been using his school as a makeshift distribution center for thousands of masks and hand sanitizer dispensers that he delivers — for free — to New York City hospitals. Rubin spoke to Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel about his efforts to contribute to the fight against COVID-19.
Providing protection: So far Rubin has delivered 35,000 N95 respirator masks and 4,000 hand sanitizer dispensers to hospitals including Mount Sinai, Maimonides and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, he said. Another order of 50,000 masks and 8,000 dispensers, the rabbi told JI, is expected to arrive in New York this week.
Pay it forward: Ultimately, Rubin hopes to procure at least $2 million worth of goods for local hospitals. On Wednesday night, he set up a GoFundMe page with that in mind, and has raised nearly $400,000 as of this writing. Some of the 49 donations are hefty, including one for $75,000. He’s hoping his small effort can inspire others to give as well. “If I can do a million dollars worth of charity and 100 more people join me, that’s $100 million worth of charity happening.”
Taking a risk: While Rubin is concerned his contact with health workers could expose him to the disease, he isn’t willing to let that fear stop him. “If I don’t do this, then how do the first responders and the doctors do their jobs?” he said. “We have to be willing to put ourselves out there.”
Elsewhere: Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv in Lawrence, New York is working to convert its gym into a “field hospital” — in conjunction with Northwell Health — to treat moderately ill coronavirus patients.
HEARD THE OTHER DAY
Perez tells Jewish Dems they will ‘be proud of’ DNC platform
On a pre-Passover conference call, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez sought to reassure Jewish Democrats concerned over support for Israel within the party ahead of the summer’s slated convention and determination of the party platform.
Reassurance: “We want to make sure that our platform, which is our values statement of our party, is a platform that you can be proud of, a platform that, again, reaffirms our commitment to a two-state solution — negotiated directly by the parties,” Perez said during the call with Jewish party members on Thursday. Perez added that Matt Nosanchuk, who was recently hired as the DNC’s director of Jewish outreach, will reach out to Jewish Democrats “in the weeks ahead” to get their input.
Jewish vote: Perez also said he was “very heartened” by the results of a recent poll sponsored by the Jewish Electorate Institute, which showed that Jewish voters overwhelmingly identify with the Democratic Party. “We understand that this president [Donald Trump] is trying to create wedge issues so that he can divide us, so he can win a few more voters, especially in swing states,” he added. “We recognize that we have to continue to compete for every voter, and I am confident we can do this.”
Bonus: Urging the president to use the full powers of the Defense Production Act to address the shortages of personal protective equipment at medical facilities around the country, Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) told participants on Thursday’s DNC call that it’s a “shonda” (shameful) that there are health care workers across the country “going to work bravely, saving people’s lives every day, without the proper protective equipment. It’s a shonda that we are not testing people.”
The first-term House member, who replaced his father Sander “Sandy” Levin in 2019, added, “I am going into Passover feeling like I need my Jewish community more than ever… Our Jewish community has managed to find a way to observe our rituals and our religion through every kind of challenge that czars and dictators have put in front of us, and we will persevere through this public health care crisis as well.”
RACE TO WATCH
Rashida Tlaib challenger gains ground in new poll
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who is challenging Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th congressional district, gained on her opponent in a poll released Friday, but still trails Tlaib by a significant margin.
Results: The poll of 500 registered voters, from Michigan pollster and political consultant Ed Sarpolus of Target-Insyght, found Tlaib leading Jones 43% to 34% in a head-to-head matchup. This represents a massive gain for Jones after the last poll, taken in June 2019, which found Tlaib ahead 56% to Jones’s 19%. The Democratic congressional primary is scheduled for August 4.
Large hurdles: Jones enters the race with little money in her coffers, compared to Tlaib’s $1.6 million war chest, and lower name recognition across the district than her opponent. Jones would need to launch an aggressive fundraising and outreach campaign, which will be very difficult amid social distancing guidelines, Sarpolus said.
Ties to Farrakhan: Jones has repeatedly expressed praise for notoriously antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. When Farrakhan spoke in Detroit earlier this year, Jones issued a statement that she was “so excited” to welcome Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam to the city. Stephen Grady, Jones’s chief of staff in the city council’s office, spoke at an event featuring Farrakhan in Detroit in March, telling the crowd that Jones supports the Nation of Islam. Jones did not respond to a request for comment.
Read more about the race here.
🏥 Front Lines:The New York Times spent a day on the trail of Dr. Joshua Rosenberg, who attended medical school in Israel and now works as a critical care doctor at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, where “the coronavirus crisis pummeled” the hospital, and “misery was evident.” [NYTimes]
👴 LD’s Quarantine Tips: Larry David, the father of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” shared withNew York Times columnist Maureen Dowd his daily quarantine routine at his home in Los Angeles and offered tips for those in isolation. [NYTimes]
🕵️ Life of a Legend: In Wired, Alex French explores the life of Gus Weiss, a former member of the National Security Council under three presidents and a reputed “mastermind” of technological espionage against the Soviets, whose mysterious 2003 death was ruled a suicide. [Wired]
✍️ Long Read: Benjamin Wallace writes in The New Yorker about Rinaldo Nazzaro, aka Norman Spear, a prep school grad from New Jersey who went on to found the Base, a notorious neo-Nazi and white nationalist group that targeted Jews and minorities across the U.S. [NewYorker]
Around the Web
🙇🏻 Apology: Zoom CEO Eric Yuan acknowledged in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he “messed up” in not preventing security breaches on the popular platform.
😵 Coalition Conundrum:Blue and White leader Benny Gantz told President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday that he may ask for a 14-day extension on his mandate to form a government as talks with Likud remain at a stalemate.
📺 Never Forget: “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl conducted an interview with a Holocaust survivor, Aaron Elster, who died two years ago, to showcase the Shoah Foundation’s 3D artificial intelligence remembrance project.
🖼️ Taking Steps: Plagued by accusations of faked artifacts, the Museum of the Bible is working to win over skeptics and critics of the Washington museum.
✡️ Passover Prep: Jews around the world are gearing up for a “Passover unlike any other” this year, The Wall Street Journalreports, where “the chastened happiness of Passover will have a new meaning and relevance.”
👴 Word from the Elder: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger writes in The Wall Street Journal that the outbreak has changed the world order, requiring leaders to focus on a global approach, and praised the Trump administration for doing “a solid job.”
🕵️ Intel Guy: President Donald Trump is reportedly considering appointing billionaire investor and ally Steve Feinberg to a senior position at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
👨💼 A Note of Caution: Apollo Global Management co-founder Marc Rowan cautioned in an email to investors and government officials, including White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, that the economy will be in “shambles” without more support from the Federal Reserve.
😟 Talk of the Town: Rockland County has dropped its charges and fines against a yeshiva in Monsey for operating during the coronavirus lockdown after the school claimed it was closed and that cars were only there to pick up food and homework.
😷 Helping Hand:Israeli prison inmates have started to manufacture protective face masks for security forces and first responders. The Israeli Health Ministry has said it is working to produce masks that are specially designed for people with beards.
💲 Locking Arms: Israeli officials are exploring the option of pooling public and private money in a $1.6 billion fund to help companies hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
⛪ Bitter Taste: The annual Palm Sunday march through the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions.
🎧 Tuning In: Top Hollywood agent Richard Weitz has been hosting exclusive Zoom pandemic parties featuring concerts from John Mayer to Debbie Gibson and Josh Groban.
😀 Grin and Bear It: Friends and nonagenarians Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner held a socially distanced video chat about surviving difficult times: “We can get through this stuff; this is a breeze,” said Brooks. “We just have to grin and bear it.”
🎶 Late Night Song: Adam Sandler has penned a new “Quarantine Song,” giving thanks to doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.
🥪 Free Agent: Gloria Leon, a 41-year veteran of the now-shuttered Nate’n Al’s deli in Los Angeles, has found herself inundated with job offers from rival delicatessens.
🍲 Open Book:Crain’s spotlights Zingerman’s, an almost 40-year-old Jewish deli in Michigan, which has built up a network of partner businesses across several industries to share its management philosophy.
🕯️ Remembering: Sam Lieberman, a member of the Nevada Board of Regents and a former chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party, died at age 58.
🕯️ Remembering: Perry Rosenstein, who founded the Puffin Foundation in 1983, died from coronavirus complications on Friday at age 94.
Pic of the Day
The Azrieli Sarona Tower in Tel Aviv — the tallest tower in Israel — was lit up on Friday night with the central prayer of the Jewish faith, Shema Yisrael.
Head of MTV Documentary Films, she has won 32 individual Primetime Emmy Awards, Sheila Nevins turns 81…
Born in Shanghai, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, 1992 winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, Edmond H. Fischer turns 100… Israeli lawyer and former justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (1981-1993), aunt of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Shoshana Netanyahu turns 97… Educator often considered the founder of the modern small schools movement, senior scholar at NYU, Deborah Meier turns 89… Born in Amsterdam, she survived the Holocaust and moved to Israel in 1978, visual artist and designer, Helen Berman turns 84… Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Mark Mordecai Green turns 83… Award-winning best director for “Rain Man” (1988), produced and directed films including “Diner” (1982), “Good Morning Vietnam” (1987), “Bugsy” (1991) and “Wag the Dog” (1997), Barry Levinson turns 78…
Santa Monica-based poet and teacher, she earned her Ph.D. studying Jewish American literature, Nancy Shiffrin turns 76… Founder and chairman of Cognex Corporation, Robert J. Shillman turns 74… Founder and CEO of Emmis Communications, a media conglomerate and owner of radio stations and magazines across the U.S., Jeff Smulyan turns 73… Political activist, she was adopted as a young child by philanthropist Max Fisher, Mary Fisher turns 72… Candidate for the California State Senate in 2020, Ann Ravel turns 71…Los Angeles-based playwright and teacher of autobiographical storytelling, Stacie Chaiken turns 66… Movie director and producer, Rob Epstein turns 65… Scholar of piyyut (ancient and medieval Hebrew poetry), head of the Fleischer Institute for the Study of Hebrew Poetry, Shulamit Elizur turns 65… Philanthropist and Jewish community leader, Jeanie Schottenstein turns 64… Professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Michael J. Gerhardt turns 64…
Senior political analyst for CNN and a senior editor at The Atlantic, Ronald J. Brownstein turns 62… Director and producer of television comedies, Steven Levitan turns 58… Manhattan Beach, California resident, Deborah Granow turns 58… CEO of the Motion Picture Association, he was previously the U.S. Ambassador to France, Charles Hammerman Rivkin turns 58… Reporter for The New York Times, Glenn Thrush turns 53… Screenwriter and producer, best known for creating the HBO television series “Entourage,” Douglas Reed “Doug” Ellin turns 52… Serial entrepreneur, he co-founded Demand Media in 2006, Richard Rosenblatt turns 51… Israel’s Consul General in New York from 2007 until 2010, now CEO of Israeli private equity fund Amelia Investments, Asaf Shariv turns 48… Founder and chief investment officer of Hong Kong-based Oasis Management Company, he serves as vice chairman of the Ohel Leah Synagogue in Hong Kong, Seth Hillel Fischer turns 48…
Actor and producer, Zachary Israel “Zach” Braff turns 45… AIPAC’s senior development director for New York and founder of its real estate division, Jay Haberman… Mandolinist and teacher, Joseph Brent turns 44… Resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute since 2019, Yuval Levin turns 43… Co-founder and executive editor of Modern Loss and story editor for Chalkbeat Indiana and New York, Gabrielle Birkner turns 41… Member of the Knesset for Likud since 2019, Shlomo Karai turns 38… Best known as the winner of the second season of Bravo television’s “Top Chef,” Ilan Hall turns 38… Minneapolis-based associate director in the department of regional offices at AJC Global, Jacob Millner turns 36… Asher Liam Senor… Philip Seal…