👋 Good Wednesday morning and Happy Hanukkah!
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a former 2020 presidential contender, was announced as President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of transportation.
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was reportedly angling for the job, is now eyeing a “high-level ambassadorship,” according to Business Insider.
Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan who was a founding board member of Democratic Majority For Israel, is Biden’s pick for energy secretary.
Jared Kushner is leading a senior delegation of U.S. officials to Israel and Morocco next week, flying directly from Tel Aviv to Rabat for discussions following last week’s normalization agreement between the two countries.
A series of U.S. lawsuits has been filed by U.S. victims of terrorism in Israel, accusing several banks in Qatar of funneling money to finance Hamas terror through the U.S. banking system.
The Israeli Knesset has yet to agree on either a new budget or new elections, but if no deal is made by Dec. 23, the Knesset will automatically disperse and a new election will be mandated.
Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla will light the menorah tonight for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. at 6:30 p.m. ET.
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Chloe Fineman, SNL’s master impressionist
Since she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live last year, Chloe Fineman has gained a reputation as one of the show’s most promising new stars, thanks in large part to her uncanny impressions of such varied public figures as Timothée Chalamet, Drew Barrymore and Tiffany Trump. “I love an eccentric,” Fineman told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent email exchange. The 32-year-old Bay Area native dished on her favorite Jewish comedians, revealed her Hanukkah plans and hinted at some of the caricatures she currently has in the works.
Jewish Insider: You’ve previously talked about growing up in a “loud Jewish family.” Care to elaborate on what that was like and how it influenced you as a comic?
Chloe Fineman: Yes! I had a really hilarious and artistic grandmother who would ask me to recite The Vagina Monologues at the dinner table — so that sort of set the tone for how unfiltered my family was growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Then I was lucky to be surrounded by really funny Jewish girls in elementary school and at Camp Kee Tov [in Berkeley, Calif.], where we all went on to become counselors. So much of being “cool” was making people laugh, and I was lucky that sketch comedy, a.k.a. kumzits, was such a focus at camp. We’d watch a lot of “Best of SNL” on VHS and would dress up as businessmen on sleepovers. We definitely were free to be weird and uninhibited growing up.
JI: Who are your favorite Jewish comedians?
Fineman: I worshiped Sacha Baron Cohen and The Lonely Island in high school — especially since [the latter] are from Berkeley, Calif., where I grew up. Same with other Bay Area Jews like Moshe Kasher and Chelsea Peretti. Amy Schumer is a genius. Jenny Slate. Honestly, growing up was a lot of googling “is so and so Jewish?” And usually the answer was “no,” but I’m happy that we have so many more Jewish ladies making a mark. And Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak! Highly recommend “POOG,” their podcast.
JI: Any impressions in the works that you’re at liberty to reveal?
Fineman: Gosh, certainly been struggling with some famous men. Sometimes my voice just won’t go low enough. Harry Styles was a nightmare. Have wigs for The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown, Grimes and Miley Cyrus currently buried in my closet.
JI: What are you doing for Hanukkah? Are you planning to make latkes?
Fineman: I will as soon as I’m back in San Francisco. My kitchen is smaller than most bathrooms. But I’ve had some really nice candle-lighting FaceTimes with friends. I always find it so cool that, even if they are newer friends from different parts of the country, we still know the same songs and prayers. It’s special.
New contender emerges for Biden’s ambassador to Israel pick
In the parlor game of who will be Biden’s pick for ambassador to Israel, a new name has emerged: Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and current vice chairman of Morgan Stanley. Nides’ name first appeared in a CNNarticle a week ago of possible candidates for the Jerusalem job and sources tell Jewish Insider that, although the pick won’t be made for a few more weeks, Nides will be a formidable candidate. Nides declined to comment when reached.
Close ties: The Duluth, Minn., native is close with Biden as well as key members of his cabinet and national security team. In the Obama White House, Nides was viewed as a pro-Israel voice and someone the Israelis often went to when challenges arose, while also an advocate for humanitarian support for the Palestinians.
What they’re saying: Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tells Jewish Insider that “Nides would be an intriguing choice, partly because he’s not a career foreign service officer and not just a big macher within the Jewish community. He was deputy secretary of state so he’d be functioning at a much higher level than previous ambassadors who were also not foreign service officers. He obviously cares deeply about Israel and he has the stature that would serve him well in this position,” Miller added. “He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s accessible. I half-jokingly say that because he’s from Minnesota, he’s following in the Tom Friedman, Norm Ornstein style. These guys don’t scare easily. Nides checks most, if not all of the boxes, in what you’d want in an ambassador to Israel.”
Prediction: In predicting who will ultimately receive the Jerusalem job, Miller said he “would be surprised if Biden went with somebody who had no experience in government, no diplomatic experience and someone who was not seen to be close to Biden or to those he really trusts.”
The field: As JI reported last month, other names that have been floated for the position include Ambassadors Dan Shapiro and Dennis Ross, former Representatives Steve Israel (D-NY) and Rob Wexler (D-FL), and Michael Adler.
JVP panel featuring Tlaib urges an intersectional approach to antisemitism
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and columnist Peter Beinart advocated for an intersectional approach to tackling antisemitism during a heavily scrutinized Jewish Voice for Peace event on Tuesday evening, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Allyship: JVP faced significant advance criticism over the event, which featured just two Jewish panelists — Beinart, a New York Timescontributing opinion writer and Jewish Currents editor at large, and moderator Rabbi Alissa Wise. They were joined by Tlaib and professors Marc Lamont Hill and Barbara Ransby. Beinart called the criticism “deeply disingenuous,” adding: “Everybody in the Jewish community really wants allies. The alliances where we find the greatest protection are the alliances with people like ourselves who know what it’s like to be a stranger. And that includes especially Palestinians who live without basic rights in the West Bank and Gaza and with Palestinian Americans whose right to free speech is being threatened.”
No hierarchy: Tlaib expounded on the evolution of her approach to antisemitism: “I realized just how antisemitism was so connected to my freedom, to my right to live as a Muslim in our country, as a child of immigrants,” Tlaib said. “I really realized just the connection of the anti-Muslim, anti-blackness, anti-immigrant and Jewish movement that was out there, and… if you open the curtain, it’s the same people coming after us.” She later added: “I also think it’s really important to really center something I heard from one of my beautiful Black neighbors, who teach me more and more about fighting racism, including antisemitism and so much more, is that there’s no hierarchy of who’s hurting the most,” the Michigan congresswoman said. “When we do lead with compassion, we want to center that on everyone should be truly free… and how that is all interconnected around human dignity.”
Bound together: Speakers throughout the event emphasized that antisemitism cannot and should not be addressed separately from other forms of discrimination. “So many of the contemporary movements of young activists today are resisting the silos that previous generations may have succumbed to, to say that our freedom and justice for all people are bound up together,” said Ransby. “So we can’t really just ask the question ‘what does a world without antisemitism look like?’ We have to ask the question ‘what does a world without imperialism look like? What does the world without settler colonialism look like? What does a world without hetero-patriarchy look like?’”
SHOT IN THE ARM
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg touts COVID-19 vaccine
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared a post on Facebook yesterdayabout her father, a physician based in Florida, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Joel Sandberg, a voluntary professor at the University of Miami, was a key figure in treating United Hatzalah founder Eli Beer when he was hospitalized in Miami with COVID-19 earlier this year.
End in sight: “As my father writes, vaccinations are the only hope to protect all of us. I hope and pray that people will understand this and take the steps they need — including vaccination — to protect themselves and everyone else so this pandemic will come to an end,” Sandberg wrote, before sharing her father’s own post about his experience.
“This morning I got the Covid 19 vaccination. It didn’t hurt and I am even smiling under the mask. When I walked in for my appointment, there were tears in my eyes seeing how efficiently Memorial Hospital System is vaccinating our entire medical staff and employees. I see this, hopefully, as the beginning of the end of this pandemic. Every doctor I know says they will get the vaccine. I encourage anyone who is hesitant to know that the vaccine is safe and 95 percent effective. If enough people get vaccinated, we can end this scourge. In the meantime, follow CDC guidelines to wear masks, keep social distance, and wash hands frequently.”
🤝 Kindred Spirits: Natan Sharansky, a former Prisoner of Zion in the Soviet Union, writes in The Washington Post about his connection to and support for activist and dissident Jimmy Lai, who is facing life imprisonment in Hong Kong. “He already understands that jailers cannot humiliate you; you can only humiliate yourself. And that while your body may be shackled, in prison your spirit can roam free.” [WashPost]
🥪 Chow Down: In Eater, Nili Blanck spotlights the Jewish culinary renaissance taking hold in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, which was once home to the city’s main Jewish population hub. With two new delis and an Israeli-inspired hummus shop opening up, “hints of the area’s past are returning.” [Eater]
⚖️ Next in Line: The Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha profiles Jeffrey Rosen, the lawyer who will replace William Barr as attorney general next week. Rosen, 62, who has served as a deputy attorney general since last year, oversaw the Justice Department’s suit against John Bolton over his book, as well as its antitrust case against Google. [WSJ]
🏙️ New Neighbors: In the Tel Aviv Review of Books, Afif Abu Much explores the growing trend of “mixed cities” in Israel, as middle-class Israeli Arabs are increasingly moving to live in majority-Jewish towns, but tensions and discrimination among residents often linger. [TARB]
😷 Holy Health: The Associated Press’s Israel bureau chief, Josef Federman, highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated religious rifts in the country, bringing “long-simmering tensions to a boil,” with more than ⅓ of Israel’s coronavirus cases believed to be in haredi areas. [AP]
Around the Web
🇺🇳 International Stage: Former U.N. Ambassadors Danny Danon and Nikki Haley will reunite today to headline DiploTech, a global virtual summit focusing on Israel innovation.
🇧🇭 On the List: The State Department has designated Saraya al-Mukhtar, an Iranian-backed group in Bahrain, as a terror organization.
🚀 Partnership: After a successful Israeli missile defense test yesterday, senior defense official Moshe Patel said Israel is open to security cooperation with Gulf nations.
🇸🇾 Sticky Situation: The Biden administration will likely have to contend with long-term Iranian influence in Syria threatening Israel, Elizabeth Dent and Ariane Tabatabai write in Foreign Affairs.
🎞️ Silver Screen: “Amen-Amen-Amen,” a new documentary on the Jewish community in the UAE, is set to be released next year.
🧑🏫 Right Direction: A new country-wide curriculum in Saudi Arabia has reportedly cut out some antisemitic content, but still characterizes Jews and Christians as “enemies of Islam.”
🚘 On the Road: Israel’s Mobileye is eyeing a 2025 release of its self-driving car, while looking to build and install its own lidar sensors in the vehicle.
💰 Big Deal: Innoviz, an Israeli sensor startup created by elite IDF veterans, is gearing up to go public in a $1.4 billion SPAC deal.
💾 Data Dumped: Alloy, the Reid Hoffman-backed Democratic campaign data startup, is shutting down amid a staff revolt over high-level firings.
🗳️ To the Polls: Investor Lisa Blau, the wife of Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau, is working to boost voter turnout in next year’s New York City elections.
💵 Pro Tip: Avenue Capital CEO Marc Lasry, who is reportedly angling to advise the Biden administration on economic policy, suggested that Biden raise taxes in order to pay down the deficit “a little bit.”
🍽️ Giving Back: The Miami Heat and its owner, Israeli-American billionaire Micky Arison, are donating $3 million to World Central Kitchen.
⚖️ Humble Origins: New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press profiledattorney Mark Aronchick, a lawyer who went from driving an ice cream truck at Woodstock to representing Pennsylvania election workers against a Trump campaign lawsuit.
😂 Late Night: While promoting her new film “Wonder Woman 84,” Gal Gadot convinced “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon to sample gefilte fish — as well as a Hanukkah sufganiya.
📚 Bookshelf: The New York Times spotlights a new book by Rachel Mikva titled Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
📉 In the Red: Popular vegan and kosher chain By Chloe has filedfor Chapter 11 bankruptcy after its revenue declined more than 65% this year.
🏈 Mensch on the Bench: Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner announced that he is donating a portion of his paycheck to Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue as a Hanukkah gift.
👨💼 Title Bump: California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel was appointed majority whip of the California State Assembly Tuesday.
Pic of the Day
This week, the Jewish Food Society featured the Hanukkah recipes passed down to Lorenza Pintar, whose great-grandparents were forced to hide their religion after Mussolini implemented Italy’s racial laws in 1939. The family “quietly kept certain customs and traditions going in secret. Among them were Jewish recipes that would appear on the family table at certain times of the year and then simply disappear.” Pintar’s great-grandmother, Aurelia (above), continued to serve latkes, tzimmes, frittole—a kind of Italian fritter, and fried apples with stracchino, a soft cows-milk cheese.
CBS News journalist since 1972, she has been a “60 Minutes” correspondent since 1991, Lesley Stahl turns 79…
Israeli-American pianist and distinguished professor of music at Indiana University, Menahem Pressler turns 97… British chemist and research professor at the University of Nottingham, Sir Martyn Poliakoff turns 73… Partner in the Los Angeles office of Boies Schiller Flexner, she was the first female president of the Harvard Law Review, Susan Estrich turns 68… Partner in the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg and veteran radio broadcaster, Craig Silverman turns 65… Novelist, journalist and lecturer, Allen Kurzweil turns 60… President and co-founder of The New Agenda, an organization helping women and girls succeed, Amy Siskind turns 55… First OMB director in the Obama administration, now CEO of financial advisory at Lazard, Peter R. Orszag turns 52… Astrophysicist and professor at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, he was a winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Adam Guy Riess turns 51… Deputy national director of AIPAC’s synagogue initiative, Rabbi Eric Starkturns 50…
SVP at CRC Public Relations, Adam Bromberg turns 49… Head of strategy, external engagement and internal governance in the London office of HSBC, Melissa Wisner turns 38… Chief of staff for Senator Cory Booker, Matthew B. Klapper turns 38… Middle East analyst at Christians United For Israel, Kasim Knuth Hafeez turns 37… Co-author of Politico‘s Playbook, he has announced plans for a new publication in 2021, Jake Sherman turns 35… Actress best known for her role on The CW’s teen drama “Gossip Girl” and more recently ABC’s “General Hospital,” Amanda Setton turns 35… U.S. Senate correspondent at the National Journal, Zachary C. Cohen turns 29… Deputy White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Drew Liquerman turns 24…