Good Friday morning!
Today marks 57 years since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington. Last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke at a virtual march organized by the NAACP, which continues tonight.
Doug Emhoff, the husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, will headline the launch of the Biden campaign’s Jewish outreach effort in Florida today, along with Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Biden campaign senior advisor Tony Blinken.
Last night at the Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump touted his Mideast record, proclaiming: “When I took office, the Middle East was in total chaos.” He listed withdrawing from the Iran deal, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and achieving “the first Middle East peace deal in 25 years” among his accomplishments.
The United Nations Security Councilis voting today via email on a resolution that would extend the mission of UNIFIL and call on the Lebanese government to facilitate “prompt and full access” to cross-border tunnels between Lebanon and Israel.
Check out Jewish Insider’s latest ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the past week.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
Inside the hidden facility safeguarding America’s largest collection of Holocaust artifacts
In Bowie, Maryland, 35 miles away from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, sits a nondescript, highly-secure 103,000-square-foot warehouse. That building houses the largest collection of Holocaust artifacts in the United States. Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch took a recent exclusive tour of the facility, which opened in 2017.
Getting there: The final couple miles of the drive to the warehouse, officially called the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center, take you past nondescript office plazas and hotels, all of which looked mostly abandoned — a result of COVID-19’s impact on the economy — on a recent Friday afternoon. The final turn toward the Shapell Center, as museum staff call it, leads visitors to a narrow road surrounded by bright green trees. (The Shapell Center sits across from a nature preserve.) If, amid the idyllic surroundings, you briefly forget where you’re going, you’ll be reminded when two security guards emerge from a booth on the edge of the property, whose perimeter is entirely surrounded by a tall fence and security cameras. One guard will check your ID, while the other will lead a bomb-sniffing dog around your car. The building’s address is not posted publicly; individuals cannot visit without express permission.
Heart and soul: “This is the foundation, the heart and soul of everything we do,” Sara J. Bloomfield, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s director, said of the millions of written pages, objects, films, artworks and other artifacts from the Holocaust housed in the center. “If we lost this,” she explained, “we’ve lost everything.” She added, “If we lost the [museum] building, we could rebuild a building. This you can’t rebuild.”
Origins:When Congress passed a bill in 1980 creating the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the original plan did not involve a massive collection of historical artifacts. The only goal was to create an exhibition space — a large museum, free to the public. It took 13 years to finally open the museum, and in those early years, “they were just trying to get the museum opened,” Bloomfield recalled. But it soon became clear that Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, and many others would continue approaching the museum with artifact donations. “We decided, we are America’s national memorial. We should have America’s national collection. And then we began aggressively building it.”
Preserving history: Rebecca Boehling — director of the museum’s National Institute for Holocaust Documentation — showcased the meticulous processes that guarantee every item that arrives at the museum, down to even a single-page of a faded handwritten letter, is carefully preserved, documented and digitized. The museum’s renowned conservation department works to reinforce and strengthen artifacts, a different process than the restoration art museums do after acquiring a painting or a sculpture. “If you had a Picasso, you would restore it to try to get it back to where Picasso had it. We want the history of the object to show,” Bloomfield explained.
Perfectly planned:Every detail of the facility was planned and approved by conservation experts. In the event of a fire, a special sprinkler system would provide just enough water to extinguish the blaze without causing too much damage to the artifacts. The cases are made out of material that does not cause any chemical interaction with the object, and they are raised off the ground so that, in the case of a flood, water would not seep into them and damage the contents. Each individual case is set to a different temperature, with custom humidity levels and lighting.
Collecting evidence: For several years, the museum has been working on a project to document all the sites of incarceration in Nazi Europe, from a single jail cell at a Gestapo prison all the way to Auschwitz. They’ve documented more than 42,000 sites so far. “All these Europeans who said, ‘Well I never saw anything, I never heard anything,’ it’s a little hard to claim that now. That’s kind of the same feeling I get when I’m in a place like this,” Bloomfield said of the facility. “There’s so much evidence.”
Read the full feature and see more photos of the facility here.
Ready for retirement
Reverend Rubén Díaz, Sr. looks back
In the lead-up to New York’s June 23 primary, it looked as if Rubén Díaz, Sr., the brash Pentecostal minister and Bronx city councilman, was strongly positioned to defeat his Democratic opponents in the 15th congressional district race. But when the votes were tallied, he lost by 18 points to Ritchie Torres, the 32-year-old progressive city councilman. In a recent phone interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, Díaz adopted a care-free tone in discussing his loss. “I have no regrets,” he said. “No regrets.”
Blame game: “I did what I had to do,” Díaz, 77, told JI. “I congratulate Ritchie Torres.” Still, the city councilman sounded somewhat aggrieved in assessing the reasons he believes he failed to garner a plurality of the vote. He blames President Donald Trump. Or, rather, he blames Torres’s apparently successful effort to link Díaz — who holds conservative social positions and has expressed positive views of Trump — with the president. “I thought people would not believe it, but they did,” said Díaz.
Assessing the loss: Díaz seemed surprised that his enthusiasm for Trump’s first presidential campaign might have hampered his prospects in the Bronx. “I have supported Republicans in the past, and I have no problem with that,” he said. “Most likely, I will do it in the future.” Though he admitted in a March interview with JI that he did little campaigning in his district, Díaz averred that there was nothing he would change if he had the chance to do his campaign over, implying that his record stands on its own. “No elected official does more activity for that community than me,” he declared. “No one.”
Voting verdict: Asked who he would vote for in the upcoming election, Díaz put forth a roundabout response. “I’m not voting for Biden,” he said. “No. I’m not voting for him.” Would he vote for Trump? “I don’t know,” Díaz said. “I might vote for Trump, who knows? Hey, I’m deciding. I’m probably — I’m a Democrat. I am a Democrat. And I might be voting for Biden, yes. I’m just joking with you. I think that I am a Democrat.”
Retirement: Díaz told JI he plans to retire from the city council at the end of his current term in 2022. “Next year I’m not running,” he said. “I’m out of politics.” Though his run for Congress didn’t seem to yield the result he would have liked, Díaz said he has nevertheless been keeping busy in his capacity as a city official. His district office is open, he told JI, pointing out that he has been working to serve his community amid the coronavirus outbreak. “This is my last year and that’s it,” he said. “But I’m going to keep doing what I always did.”
Kushner: Trump admin strategy on Israeli-Palestinian issue is ‘not to do stupid things’
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner defended the decision of the Trump administration to cut U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority in an interview with PoliticoPlaybook yesterday.
Assigning blame: “Our strategy has not been to isolate the Palestinians. Our strategy has just been to not do stupid things,” Kushner said, explaining why the administration has cut off aid as the PA grapples with an ongoing financial crisis. Kushner said he told representatives of the “Quartet” — the U.S., U.N., E.U. and Russia — on Wednesday that the Palestinians are complaining about “a self-made financial crisis,” because they are unwilling to take money from Israel. Kushner also addressed the escalation between Israel and Gaza, saying: “The only reason why they have conflict is because they’re shooting rockets on buildings in Israel.”
Don’t mess with us: “In the past, people would rush and try to help them, but we just haven’t rewarded bad behavior,” Kushner stressed. “They started criticizing America when we moved the [U.S.] Embassy [to Jerusalem], we basically said, OK, we’re not sending you money anymore.’ We’re not going to send American taxpayer money over to a country, to a people who basically insult America and take [us] just for granted. So we’ve just taken a common-sense approach. We’ve tried not to do stupid things again.” Kushner suggested President Donald Trump “could actually be the first person to lead the Palestinian people to a place where they have self-determination, hope and a lot of economic opportunity” if they choose to return to the negotiation table.
Trump’s alliance: In a Zoom call hosted by the American Jewish Committee yesterday, Peter Berkowitz, director of policy planning at the State Department, denied that the U.S. has isolated itself on the issue of Iran following the U.N.’s rejection of the Iran arms embargo extension. “We need to understand that the American partners who are most directly affected by Iran’s ceaseless effort to extend its hegemony throughout the Middle East — that is our Arab Gulf partners and Israel — are at one with us in our approach to Iran and support the maximum pressure campaign,” Berkowitz explained. “The countries that understand, I think, best and face most immediately the Iranian threat… they understand this as the United States is working actually with them to advance our shared interest in stability in the Mideast.”
📜 Document Dive:Historian David I. Kertzer explores in The Atlantic the secrets unearthed in the newly opened Holocaust-era Vatican archives, including memoranda — “steeped in antisemitic language” — persuading Pope Pius XII not to speak out against Nazi atrocities. [TheAtlantic]
🏗️On the Record: Stephen Ross, the billionaire investor, sports team owner and real estate developer, held a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times’s David Gelles about politics, philanthropy, the pandemic — and the president. “I’m going to give back more than half what I have to charity,” he vowed. “I’m not looking to be some public figure, and I’m not controlling everything.” [NYTimes]
⚔️ Law and Order: In The Financial Times, Dan Senor posits that ongoing social unrest in the United States will only fuel Trump’s reelection prospects. “The gun and law enforcement issues could well undermine a key part of what was supposed to be Mr. Biden’s strength: his ability to win back working-class voters.” [FT]
Around the Web
✈️ Ground Breaking: Israel’s El Al airlines is slated to fly to Abu Dhabi on Monday, in what will be the first commercial passenger flight from Israel to the UAE.
🏦 Cash In:The biggest banks in Dubai and Israel, Bank Leumi and Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, are in early talks about potential cooperation.
🤝 Slow Pace: Israeli investors are worried that investments from the UAE in the country’s tech industry will be lower than expected due to the decades-long regional conflict.
👨⚖️ Legal Matters: Israel’s High Court ordered the removal of the Mitzpe Kramim outpost in the West Bank because it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.
⚽ Red Card: A Europa League game between Maccabi Haifa and Željezničar in Israel was postponed yesterday after five players from the Bosnia-Herzegovina club tested positive for COVID-19.
🔥 Fiery Exchange: Residents living in the south of Israel have joined firefighters in recent months to extinguish blazes caused by incendiary balloons launched from Gaza. The IDF struck Hamas targets in Gaza again overnight after further rocket fire from the Strip.
🖼️ On Auction: Billionaire Ron Perelman has asked Sotheby’s to find buyers for valuable works from his arts collection as he shakes up his vast investment empire.
✊ Solidarity: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted that news of an arson attack on the University of Delaware’s Chabad House “is deeply disturbing — as an alum of @UDelaware and as an American.”
💺 Musical Chairs: A British-Israeli woman is suing easyJet after she was asked to switch seats on two separate flights from Tel Aviv to London to accommodate Orthodox Jewish passengers.
🧔🏽 Talk of the Nation: American Jews of color feel increasingly “stuck in the middle,” facing both racial injustice and antisemitism, as their numbers appear to be growing.
🚗 War Machine: A new study has found that German automotive manufacturer Continental AG used forced laborers and supplied military equipment to the Nazi regime during World War II.
🕯️Remembering:Famed D.C. restaurateur Mel Krupin died at age 89.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi lays a wreath at the “Gleis 17” memorial at Grunewald station in Berlin during a visit to Germany.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Joseph ‘Jack’ Lew turns 65 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Artist and chemist, he survived the Holocaust by living in a hole in the ground for seven months, Tibor Spitz is 91… International trade and development professional, Bernard Kupferschmid turns 89… Professor emeritus of quantum physics at Tel Aviv University, Yakir Aharonov turns 88… Retired general counsel of Queens College of the City University of New York, Jane Denkensohn turns 72… Founder and CEO of Indigo Books & Music and co-founder of Kobo, Heather Reisman turns 72… Psychoanalyst and author of a 2019 memoir about her father Norman Mailer, Susan Mailer turns 71… Former chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch turns 65… CEO of the Consumer Technology Association and author of the New York Times best-seller “Ninja Innovation,” Gary J. Shapiro turns 64… British actress known professionally as Emma Samms, Emma Elizabeth Wylie Samuelson turns 60… Television writer and producer, David J. Zuckerman turns 58… Founder and CEO of Health Innovation Strategies, Naomi Fried, Ph.D. turns 54… COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg turns 51… General counsel of G/O Media, Kai Falkenberg turns 47… Former Israeli soldier held captive for over 5 years by Hamas, Gilad Shalit turns 34… Director of marketing at the Maccabee Task Force, Shian Knuth-Hafeez is 29… 2019 valedictorian at YULA high school, Ari Willner…
SATURDAY: Interior designer and fashion icon, Iris Apfel turns 99… Retired insurance agency owner, Joe Lissak turns 86… Longtime movie and television actor, Elliott Gould turns 82… Former U.S. secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin turns 82… Head of Yeshiva Ahavat Shalom in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Hillel turns 75… Hotel and real estate mogul, she is an attorney and co-founder of Ogden CAP Properties and co-founder of Dog Tag Bakery, Connie Milstein turns 74… Former dean of Duke Law School following 17 years as a U.S. District Court judge, David F. Levi turns 69… Founder of Yad Sarah and former mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski turns 69… Los Angeles resident, Warren B. Stern turns 68… Senior counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, Amy L. Nathan turns 65… Director of operations at Kesher Israel: The Georgetown Synagogue, Laura Kamer-Israel turns 60… Journalist, author and blogger, Lisa Frydman Barr turns 56… Partner at DC-based HLP&R Advocacy, Jerr Rosenbaum turns 48… Election law guru at Dickinson Wright PLLC, Charles R. Spies turns 48… Hip-hop fashion designer, entrepreneur and artist, he is the founder and chief creative officer of Ecko Unlimited, Marc Ecko (born in Lakewood, N.J., as Marc Milecofsky) turns 48… Rosh yeshiva and head of school at Bnei Akiva Schools in Toronto, Rabbi Seth Grauer turns 42… Winner of the Tiberias Marathon and the Jerusalem Marathon, Haredi mother of five and marathon runner, Bracha “Beatie” Deutsch turns 31… Community strategist at Lyft, Robin Rubin… Adam Shapiro…
SUNDAY: Basketball star in both the U.S. and Israel, a first round pick of the Baltimore Bullets in the 1965 NBA draft, Tal Brody turns 77… Israeli activist and a former mayor of Kedumim, Daniella Weiss turns 75… Stand-up comedian, Lewis Black turns 72… Hasidic rebbe of Zvhil-Mezhbizh, based in Boston, Miami and Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzhak Aharon (Ira) Korff turns 71… Producer for CBS News’ “48 Hours,” Murray Weiss turns 69… Israeli vocalist who sings in Hebrew, Turkish and Spanish, Shlomi Shabat turns 66… Actor, comedian and television director, David Paymer turns 66… Rosh yeshivah at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa and the rabbi of Kibbutz Lavi, Rabbi Yehuda Gilad turns 65… Co-founder of Maoz (a leadership network in Israel), Deborah Cogen Swartz turns 60… Business manager of the Perth Amboy (NJ) Free Public Library, Herschel Chomsky turns 60… SVP and global head of communications for SoftBank, and founder of venture studio 25Madison, Gary L. Ginsberg turns 58… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, Baron Daniel Finkelstein turns 58… Associate producer at Fox News Channel, Eldad Yaron turns 47… Director of search and analytics for Politico, Mitchell Schuler turns 43… Founding partner of the Boston office of 4CM+M, Julia Hoffman turns 38… Recent graduate from Harvard’s Kennedy School, Margy Levinson turns 34…
BIRTHWEEK: Former CEO of the Jewish federations of both Nashville and San Antonio Jewish Federation, now an organizational consultant in Parkland, Fla., Mark S. Freedman turns 69…