Good Friday morning!
An Iranian passenger plane veered sharply, injuring some passengers on board, to avoid collision with a U.S. fighter jet over Syria yesterday. U.S. officials said the jet was making a visual inspection of the aircraft from a safe distance.
Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) campaignaccused her primary opponent, Antone Melton-Meaux, of being “in the pocket of Wall Street” and referenced only Jewish donors to his campaign in a recent mailer. The donors listed are Stanley Weinstein from Miami Beach, Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray and Boston hedge fund manager Seth Klarman.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has maxed out to the Joe Biden presidential campaign, according to recent FEC filings.
President Donald Trumpcanceled the Republican National Convention activities slated for next month in Jacksonville, Fla., as COVID-19 cases in the state surge.
During a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on Thursday, nominees for ambassadorships in Chile and Canada — Leora Rosenberg Levy and Aldona Wos — touched on their parents’ experiences seeking safe haven from pre- and post-World War II Europe.
Check out the latest Jewish Insider‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into this week.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
Orthodox DJ Matt Dubb wants to cross over
When Matt Weiss was in his early 20s, he would often sneak out of his Brooklyn yeshiva to perform at events. As the lead keyboardist for in-demand cover group the EvanAl Orchestra, Weiss was playing about four nights a week at weddings in the tri-state area. In his mid-20s, Weiss discovered electronic dance music and left EvanAl behind to pursue a career as a DJ. Now 29, Weiss — who performs by the stage name Matt Dubb, as in the letter ‘w’ — has built a reputation for himself as an in-demand electronic music artist. Dubb spoke to Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel about his unique role in the Orthodox music world.
Holy beats: “People were like, what’s this guy doing? He’s bringing club music into the Jewish world,” Weiss said. His detractors were right in one sense: Weiss’s music sounds as if it belongs in a nightclub or at a rave, and that is, of course, where he wants it to be heard. But it is also intimately in touch with the ritual of ecstatic song and dance in Jewish culture, creating a kind of tension — a push and pull between innovation and tradition — that has driven much of Jewish-American art. “To me, it’s so deep and spiritual,” he said. “People think it’s just, like, party music. But it’s so deep. A good beat hits me in the soul.”
Teaming up: Weiss quickly found his footing in the music world. His first album, in 2015, was with the renowned Hasidic pop singer Lipa Schmeltzer, who had previously sung with EvanAl. B Positive was a stylistic departure for Schmeltzer, who had released nearly 20 albums and was unused to the accompaniment of pulsing beats and buzzing synth lines that Weiss taught himself to make via YouTube videos and a computer program. “It was a big risk to do that album,” Schmeltzer told JI. Still, he did it anyway. “I trusted Matt.”
Background:“He’s a frum kid from Lakewood,” said Ruli Ezrachi, a singer and musician who works as Weiss’s manager. In fact, Weiss grew up on top of a shul in Lakewood, N.J., that his father built. He went on to attend yeshivas in Edison, Staten Island and Brooklyn until the age of 25, when he moved on to DJing. “I was never rebellious,” Weiss said, adding that his father was supportive of his nontraditional route. Weiss isn’t married and has never studied in Israel, though he has visited several times for gigs. Still, he prays with a minyan three times a day and tries to study the Talmud for 45 minutes each night. “Even if he goes to Mexico on vacation,” said Ezrachi, “he’s going to be in the Chabad House every morning at 9 a.m. for the minyan.”
Strong roots: Despite his desire to move beyond the Orthodox music scene, it is clear that Weiss has no intention of abandoning his identity as an Orthodox Jew. “I’m very spiritual,” he told JI. “I don’t want to switch that. Like, I don’t want my songs to be about girls. I want them to be about God and stuff like that — spiritual — but I’d love for it to be played everywhere.” He at least takes comfort in the belief that he has earned several converts within his own community since he started on his path in music. “In the beginning, people hated me,” he said. “But the world has changed.”
The viral Israeli-Canadian comedian you should be following
It took Renny Grinshpan six years and a planned move back to Canada to realize that she was truly, fully Israeli. The actress, comedian, singer and model was gearing up to head back to Toronto earlier this year when it dawned on her that Tel Aviv was the place she really wanted to put down roots. “All of a sudden I’m reflecting on my life and I’m like, oh, I am Israeli,” Grinshpan, 29, told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent phone interview. “I feel truly Israeli now.”
Viral wit: It’s fitting, therefore, that Grinshpan became a well-known face in Israel due to her starring role in “HaYisraeliot” — “The Israeli Girls” — an all-female comedy troupe whose short digital videos frequently went viral. The clips, discussing everything from dating to sex, current events, Jewish holidays and politics, were so popular that Grinshpan was constantly stopped on the street by fans during the show’s heyday. “I’m very flattered. I’m very honored,” she said of the attention. “Local notoriety in Tel Aviv has been a godsend to me, because it got me so many work opportunities and opportunities to grow professionally and personally and mentally.”
Bio: Grinshpan grew up in Toronto with an Israeli father, a Canadian mother and two sisters. From a young age, she said, she was constantly performing. “Every single dinner, every night, my entire childhood, would not be complete until me and my sister got up and did a dance,” Grinshpan said of her older sister, Eden Grinshpan Nivron, the host of “Top Chef Canada” and the former host of her own Cooking Channel show, “Eden Eats.” Grinshpan studied art history at NYU and then got a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. But she followed her heart to Israel, making aliya to be with her now-husband, Hadar Amar.
Kids these days: One of the most popular videos she made with “HaYisraeliot” was a guide to Hebrew slang — including words like tachles, sababa and baasa — which got “the biggest reaction by far,” she said. Dozens of Hebrew teachers reached out to her after the video aired to let her know that they showed it to their students. “I think maybe it didn’t even occur to a lot of these Hebrew teachers to teach slang,” she said, “which is so useful and the most fun. I love Hebrew slang.” While “HaYisraeliot” is on an indefinite hiatus, her creative energy gets an outlet in the humorous videos she posts on social media for her tens of thousands of fans.
Adjusting: “To be in comedy in Israel as an English speaker is a challenge,” she said. “You want to be in the know, you want to know what other people are saying, you want to watch different comedians and be able to understand them or riff off them.” And while adjusting to a new life in Israel was a challenge, she said the language and culture were not the hardest things to overcome in her career. “I was used to this culture my whole life because I had visited here so much and my dad is Israeli,” she said. “The most difficult part was something I would have faced anywhere, which was doing something that you’re passionate about with confidence, and not second guessing yourself and not doubting yourself.”
Students express support for embattled Columbia professor
Students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) are rallying behind a professor who is facing calls for his dismissal over a course he teaches. Three dozen Columbia SIPA students and alumni signed onto a letter Thursday defending visiting lecturer Mitch Silber, who was accused in a document outlining activists’s demands of harboring “racist, Islamophobic, and violent beliefs.”
Community ties: Silber is the executive director of the New York Jewish Community Security Initiative, a joint project of the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Silber, himself an alumnus of SIPA, previously served as director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department.
Protest movement: Student activists called for✎ EditSign curriculum changes and a restructuring of the school’s processes ranging from recruitment to financial aid. The document also called for Silber’s course, “Modern Urban Terrorism,” to be “cancelled forever, and that SIPA thoroughly investigate all courses and professors at SIPA to determine who has engaged in racist actions, perpetual racism in their courses, and are aligned with the NYPD.”
First-hand account: Silber’s supporters allege that none of the document’s authors have even taken his class. “I think the course made me question a lot of my own preconceptions, and it made me learn a lot about effective ways to counter terrorism,” a student who took the class and signed onto the letter of support told JI. “There were some eye-opening aspects of seeing how the consensus in the counterterrorism community is how important it is to promote religion.”
What’s next: Columbia’s Committee on Instruction, the body made up of faculty and student representatives responsible for approving and canceling courses, programs and majors, has investigated the allegations through a combination of course material review and interviews with students. The committee is expected to issue a decision on Silber’s course in the coming days, though the decision ultimately lies with the school’s top administrators.
ON THE Hill
House passes measure to double budget of office on antisemitism
The House of Representatives passed an amendment last night that would double the funding for the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
Details: The measure, added to the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, was pushed by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Max Rose (D-NY). The current budget for the office is $500,000. The full bill is expected to pass the House later today. In a statement to Jewish Insider, Rose said that the increased funding was especially critical given the rising tide of global antisemitism. “We need to be doing everything we can to fight this threat, and we can’t do it with one hand tied behind our back,” he said.
Deserves a raise: Elan Carr, a former prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, has served as the administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism since February 2019. “I’ve been proud to support Elan Carr,” Rose said, “and by doubling the resources he has to do his work I’m confident he’ll be able to continue affecting real change.”
Alternative view: Hannah Rosenthal, who served in the position from 2009 to 2012, wrote an op-ed for the Jewish Telegraph Agency earlier this week alleging that Carr has used his office to “score political points” and engage in partisan “divisiveness” against President Donald Trump’s Jewish critics. Rosenthal told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that given recent cuts in the State Department budget, there’s no reason for the SEAS budget to be singled out for increases. “Such actions could feed the horrid hateful sentiments that Jews get more when it comes to money than other groups and/or bureaus,” she explained. Rosenthal added that if she felt the current envoy “was able to accomplish the things I was doing to great acclaim and he had other initiatives he wanted to add, then it might be worth discussing.”
On the Senate side: By a vote of 86-14, the Senate passed the $740 billion 2021 National Defense Authorization Act last night, which includes a mandate for the Pentagon to rename military bases honoring Confederate generals.
📝 Cancel Culture: Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi explore in The Washington Post the “swift, bitter” backlash to the open letter published in Harper’s in support of open discourse. “Three paragraphs don’t resonate around the world like that if they’re just a straw man,” said co-author Thomas Chatterton Williams. [WashPost]
✍️ Never Again: Richard Ferrer, the editor of the U.K. Jewish News,writes in The Times that ignoring the plight of the Muslim Uighurs, who are being rounded up and imprisoned in China, is to “forget the lessons of the Holocaust.” [TheTimes]
🍨 I Scream: In the Bloomberg Businessweek cover story, Jordyn Holman and Thomas Buckley highlight how Ben & Jerry’s, a company with a deep history of social activism, published “the most detailed and powerful message from any corporation” in the wake of anti-racism protests across the U.S. [Bloomberg]
🎶 Gone Too Soon: Eve Barlow penned an ode to the late Amy Winehouse — “Queen of the Jews” — in Tablet magazine. “As she wielded an image of strength through adversity, the public forgot to show her empathy and kindness.” [Tablet]
Around the Web
🔓 Free Man: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney, has been ordered released to house confinement after a judge determined his return to jail was politically motivated.
🪑 Vacant Seat: The post of Israeli Consul General to New York will remain unfilled after Dani Dayan departs next week, as Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is undecided on his approach.
🏙️ Tall Tales:Political strategists Bradley Tusk and Howard Wolfson have launched The Gotham Literary Prize, which will award $50,000 to the best New York story.
🚘 Hate on the Road: A 51-year-old Orthodox Jewish man was attacked in Brooklyn earlier this month, in what police are now investigating as a hate crime, after a video showed three people chasing him and yelling antisemitic slurs.
🏫 Pay Back:The Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland County is suing Clarkstown for $10 million for undermining its attempts to purchase a local church.
💰 Big Moves:Billionaire Ron Perelman has sold his majority stake in Humvee maker AM General as he begins to shake up his vast investment empire.
⚖️ Justice Served: Bruno Dey, a 93-year-old German man, was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder for serving as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp.
📺 Shake Up:Israel-based Dori Media Group has acquired full ownership of Dori TLV’s Israeli channels after Sony Pictures Television sold its 50% stake.
🥪 God’s Plans:Natalie Lee realized her dream to open an old-fashioned Jewish deli, Mikki & Al’s Noshery in Montclair, N.J., after her restaurant Plum on Park shut due to the pandemic.
👩 Transition: Marina Yudborovsky has been appointed the new CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group following the passing of Ilia Salita last month.
🕯️Remembering:Ruth Glosser, the maternal grandmother of White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, died at age 97 of coronavirus — something the White House denies.
Gif of the Day
In an emotional welcome home this week, Melaniya Petrushanska, a three-year-old toddler, reunited with her Ukrainian immigrant parents in Israel after being stranded in Kyiv for six months, on what was supposed to be a short trip with her grandmother, due to Israeli entry restrictions for non-citizens.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum previews the 2018 Covenant Solomon Lot 70:
“Sometimes one need not travel very far to experience a great wine. I often dream of being in Italy or France for my next wine tasting but it turns out that a short drive to nearby Berkeley, Calif., can yield a great wine moment. I went to visit my friend Jeff, the founder of Covenant Winery and we tasted a number of spectacular wines together. The surprise of the night, a breaking story, was the soon-to-be-released 2018 Covenant Solomon Lot 70 wine. It has the makings of being truly epic.”
“The 2018 Covenant Solomon Lot 70 is the winery’s most audacious wine. The deep ruby-red color which greets the eye when poured, foreshadows the powerful big fruit and chocolate mid-palate. This wine has a very long and intense cherry finish. The 2018 Covenant Solomon Lot 70 will be on the shelves soon, and my guess is that it will not remain in stores for very long. Let this wine breathe for two hours. Serve it with a cowboy steak, deep fried in a cast iron skillet and, upon finishing the bottle, best not to operate any heavy machinery for a while.”
Founder and chairman at Chicago-based The Habitat Company, Daniel Levin turns 90 today…
FRIDAY: Former U.S. Ambassador to Romania and AJC president, Alfred H. Moses turns 91… Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Lowell Bergman turns 75… Israeli physician and younger brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, Iddo Netanyahu turns 68… Political consultant Joel Benenson turns 68… Los Angeles-based attorney, Michael Jeffrey Bordy turns 68… CBS radio anchor and reporter, Michael Sugerman turns 66… Member of Congress (D-Florida-13), Charlie Crist turns 64… Russian oligarch and chairman of the Council of Patrons of the Conference of European Rabbis, Boris Mints turns 62… Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Judge Patty Shwartz turns 59…
Director of the AIPAC Fellows program for the Florida regional office, he is a retired NFL player who won in Super Bowl XXVII, Alan (Shlomo) Veingrad turns 57… Partner in the Lexington, Kentucky, office of Frost Brown Todd and author of The Liberal Case for Israel, Jonathan Miller turns 53… President of Access Computer Technology in West Bloomfield, Michigan, Rabbi Jason Miller turns 44… Member of Congress (D-Michigan-13), Rashida Harbi Tlaib turns 44… Rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in the San Fernando Valley, Noah Zvi Farkas turns 41… Actress and director, she is married to Seth Rogen, Lauren Miller Rogen turns 38… Co-founder and partner at Orfin Ventures, Adam Finkel turns 34… Senior account executive at RpR Marketing Communications, Sarah Citrenbaum turns 30… 2020 graduate of Yale Law School, Shlomo Klapper…
SATURDAY: Journalist and author, Midge Rosenthal Decter turns 93… Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky turns 79… Member of the New York City Council, Alan N. Maisel turns 74… Film producer Victor Drai turns 73… Former IDF Brigadier General and now president of Genie Oil and Gas, Effi Eitam turns 68… Voiceover artist, Peter Grossman turns 63… Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist, Anne Applebaum turns 56… Retired MLB pitcher from the small Jewish community in the Dominican Republic, José Bautista turns 56… Israeli journalist, Oshrat Kotler turns 55… Senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steven Weil turns 55… NYC-based criminal defense attorney, Arkady L. Bukh turns 48… Head coach of the men’s basketball team at Kent State University, Rob Senderoff turns 47… Senior director of PR at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Erin Seidler turns 38… Baseball pitcher on the Israeli national baseball team, Joseph “Joey” Samuel Wagman turns 29…
SUNDAY: Advertising and documentary photographer, Elliott Erwitt turns 92… Retired member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 92… Former mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman turns 81… Former academic administrator and then CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Barry Munitz turns 79… Member of the Florida House of Representatives, Richard Stark turns 68… Sports columnist Paul Finebaum turns 64… Health care consultant, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA turns 68… Film and television director, Lesli Linka Glatter turns 67… Correspondent for ABC News, a co-anchor for “Nightline” and the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” Daniel B. “Dan” Harris turns 49…
Founder of the DC-based consulting firm Stonington Global, Nicholas Muzin turns 45… Israeli born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 38… Israeli born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 37… Assistant director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Lauren Garfield-Herrin turns 36… Master’s student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Drew Gerber turns 25… Running back for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, who despite his last name is not an MOT, Tarik Cohen turns 25… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News, Tal Shalev… Texas-based editor at Sports Illustrated, Tomer Barazani…