👋 Good Tuesday morning and Happy Hanukkah!
One of the first COVID-19 vaccines administered in the United States was given to a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center yesterday in Queens, N.Y.
Alex Goldstein, the Massachusetts political strategist behind @FacesOfCovid, has a new initiative, @2ShotsInTheArm, highlighting the individuals receiving the vaccination.
The Electoral College formally confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory yesterday. In an address to the nation, Biden said that “it is time to turn the page” on the election. “To unite. To heal.”
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens suggested that the legacy of Trump’s presidency is the deep corrosion of “social trust — the most important element in any successful society.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed a new head of the Mossad — named only as “D.” — to replace outgoing leader Yossi Cohen.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Biden to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, vowing that Iran would return to compliance if the U.S. reenters the agreement.
The Biden-Harris transition team will be holding a Hanukkah Zoom meeting with Jewish leaders today at 3 p.m. ET.
Rabbi Meni-Even Israel, son of the late Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, will light the menorah at the Israeli Embassy in Washington tonight.
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Bread and Butter
‘God help us’: Jewish restaurants in New York brace for long, hard winter without indoor dining
As indoor dining in New York City came to an end on Monday, Jewish food establishments were bracing for a long, hard winter, even with the prospect of widespread vaccination on the horizon. With the onset of the colder months, eateries have increasingly come to rely on seating customers indoors at the mandated 25% capacity. “Dining in helps a lot,” Henry Sinchi, a manager at Kasbah Grill, a kosher restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Monday evening. “Now we have no people here today. It’s empty, and outside it’s too cold. It’s not enough.”
‘Deeply disappointed’: “I feel deeply disappointed,” said Dean Jankelowitz, co-owner of Jack’s Wife Freda, a South African-Israeli bistro with locations in SoHo, Chelsea and the West Village, adding that he was caught off-guard by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on Friday. “Taking away the indoor dining really sucks out the energy of the space entirely, and then relying on outdoor dining in this season — it’s hard for the staff, it’s hard for the customers and the community.” The coming weeks are “going to be a lot more difficult as the weather turns and the days get darker,” Jankelowitz added. “God help us.”
No safety net: “The employees that are getting really screwed don’t have a lot of options in the restaurant business,” said Melissa Jones, the bookkeeper at Sarge’s Delicatessen and Diner in Murray Hill, noting that Sarge’s has now had to lay off two busboys and four waitresses. Noah Bernamoff, a restaurateur in New York who is affiliated with Black Seed Bagels, Celestine and Grand Army, sounded a similar note of frustration in a text exchange with JI. “I’m completely in favor of austere policies that protect public health and safety,” he told JI, “but we can’t ignore the reality that certain business categories and employee sectors have paid the highest cost throughout this pandemic.”
Silver lining: It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. Business has been going well at Pastrami Queen’s two locations, one of which opened on West 72nd Street last week, replacing the kosher restaurant Fine & Schapiro, according to manager David Zilenziger. Cooped-up New Yorkers, he said, take comfort in ordering Jewish delicacies like brisket, corned beef and matzoh ball soup during trying times, much for the same reason they appear to have relied on pizza joints and liquor stores throughout the pandemic. “I think it works in the best and worst of times,” Zilenziger told JI.
Harsh reality: Still, as the pandemic takes its toll, restaurants in New York have been fighting for their lives. At least two Jewish delis in the city have closed permanently, including Jay and Lloyd’s in Sheepshead Bay and Pastrami Masters in East Williamsburg. For many restaurants, the suspension of indoor dining is a major setback. “We are a tiny restaurant,” said Fawzy Abdelwahed, co-owner of B&H Dairy in the East Village. “We can only put three tables out in front, and have only two safely spaced tables inside. We don’t have the big outdoor spaces like other restaurants. We fear we will not survive the pandemic at this rate. We need every table. If restaurants are being asked to stop indoor dining, then give us something in return. Help us!”
SCENE LAST NIGHT
‘Latkes & Vodkas’ draws an eclectic Zoom crowd
It was a bipartisan celebratory scene on Zoom last night for Bluelight Strategies’ 26th annual — but first virtual — Latkes & Vodkas event. Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff showed off his vegan sufganiyot from Glory Doughnuts & Diner in Frederick, Md. Later in the evening, noted cookbook author Joan Nathan provided a latke cooking demonstration, and kosher food expert Paula Shoyer walked attendees through the process of making sufganiyot.
More light: The relaxed, casual event was kicked off with comments by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), a Latkes & Vodkas regular. He noted that Hanukkah is one of his favorite times of the year, especially during a year “which has been so challenging for so many in so many different ways, on a night where the first vaccines are out and people across the country are now getting them… There are signs of hope and a little bit of light,” he said, joking that he gave “the shortest ‘TED Talk’ you’ll ever hear.”
Spotted: Ken Marcus, Matt Nosanchuk, Sarah Stern, Meredith Jacobs, Noam Neusner, Avi Goldgraber, Gil Preuss, Tevi Troy, Andrew Silow-Carroll, Yitzhak Benhorin, former Rep. Sam Coppersmith (D-AZ), Mark Levin, Susan Turnbull, Julie Schonfeld, Mira Resnick, Ira Forman, William and Heidi Daroff, Matt Dorf, Ann Lewis, Aaron Weinberg, Vicki Keyak, Liz Leibowitz, Aviva Kempner, Tom Kahn, Toby Dershowitz, Howard Mortman, Jack Moline, Kenneth Bob, Jay Footlik, Jodi Rudoren, David Makovsky, Ron Kampeas, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Heather Booth, Steve Sherman, David Mark, Ari Roth, Marc Stanley, Herb Block, State Rep. Tana Senn, Rob Zucker, Shai Franklin, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rob Satloff, Chanan Weissman, and hosts Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak.
House Dems Spanberger and Pressley weigh in on Democratic rift
David Remnick, editor in chief of The New Yorker, hosted Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) on a recent episode of his podcast to offer their opposing views on the debate within the Democratic caucus about the party’s direction following disappointing results in recent congressional elections.
Missed opportunity: “We have good policies,” said Spanberger, who was reelected to a second term last month. “And it’s unfortunate when we’re talking about what we as legislators are advocating for and are working towards that we’re missing the opportunity to make sure people know that when there are calls for change sweeping our country and calls for reform sweeping our country, to let people know that we’ve acted on them.” Spanberger also claimed that, during a November caucus call in which she made leaked comments criticizing the party’s left wing, most of the other lawmakers on the call agreed with her position.
Justice not unity: “The Black Lives Matter movement is the modern day civil rights movement, and I’m certain that many of the policy mandates and signs that were carried at that time were considered equally disruptive and perhaps offensive [as ‘Defund the Police’] to some,” said Pressley, who ran unopposed for reelection this year. “Any time you are disrupting the status quo, any time you are ushering in a paradigm shift, any time you are truly being progressive, you are going to be met with [criticism]. I would urge us to not be bogged down in a debate about language that allows us to get distracted from the work we must be doing.” Pressley added: “At the end of the day, unity is not the goal, justice is… Bipartisanship is a talking point. The goal must be centering the people and responding accordingly to their needs.”
Listen to the full podcast here.
Bonus: Progressive Democrats are reportedly putting aside their grievances for another few weeks in order to rally behind the two Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia ahead of the runoffs slated for Jan. 5, which will decide control of the Senate.
📜 Time Capsule: Historian Avner Cohen writes in Haaretz about a recently declassified document that reveals the information on Israel’s nuclear program that then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres and IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin shared with a visiting Henry Kissinger — at the time a Harvard professor — in 1965. [Haaretz]
✍️ Speaking Out: British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis penned an op-ed in The Guardian saying that he “can no longer remain silent” about the Chinese oppression of its Uighur Muslim minority. “Every one of us shares in the responsibility to act,” he wrote. “Let no person say that the responsibility lies with others.” [Guardian]
🤳 Insta News: Former “CBS News” executive producer Mosheh Oinounou spoke to Variety’s Brian Steinberg about his new non-traditional media role: Instagram current events commentator and news concierge. “My feed is sort of Drudge Report meets Axios meets The Skimm — all on Instagram.” [Variety]
🍿 Binge Watch: In an interview with Vulture’s Rachel Handler, veteran filmmaker Nancy Meyers reflects on her long career and the joy her classic films have brought to many amid the pandemic. “Since COVID, it’s been a lot of a certain kind of appreciation for my films and the experience that lets them get out of this world for a minute.” [Vulture]
🇸🇩 In Limbo: Tens of thousands of Sudanese migrants living in Israel fear they could soon be deported amid a burgeoning peace deal with Sudan, reports Isma’il Kushkush in Foreign Policy. Many believe the situation at home is still dangerous, “and we know better than to return to a home that isn’t safe for us.” [ForeignPolicy]
Around the Web
🏦 On Notice: The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned two senior Iranian officials it says were involved in the abduction and killing of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is assumed dead.
🇮🇷 Tehran Talks: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israelof the recent assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Rouhani also defended Iran’s execution of journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was based in France and captured by Iran last year, as in line with “a court’s ruling.”
☢️ Backing Biden: A group of former national security officials including former CIA director John Brennan, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and former Sens. Tom Daschle and Gary Hart signed onto a letter calling for Biden to rejoin the JCPOA.
💰 Negotiations: The Trump administration reportedly offered $850 million in compensation to U.S. victims of terror attacks in an attempt to gain congressional backing of its deal with Sudan.
🇲🇦 For Sale: The Trump administration notified Congress on Friday that it plans to sell $1 billion in weapons to Morocco following the country’s U.S.-brokered normalization deal with Israel.
🚔 Crackdown: Moroccan police blocked a planned protest of the country’s normalization agreement with Israel in the nation’s capital yesterday.
🛬 Flying High: More than 50,000 Israeli tourists have flooded intothe United Arab Emirates since direct flights between the two countries launched two weeks ago.
⛓️ Behind Bars: Lebanon sentenced a political activist to three years of hard labor for allegedly visiting and collaborating with Israel.
💉 Next Step: Israel’s Institute for Biological Research is beginningthe second stage of human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine.
😷 Safety First: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quarantining until Friday after coming into contact with a staffer who tested positive for the coronavirus.
🧑⚖️ Final Rule: The Israeli Supreme Court upheld the extradition of accused pedophile Malka Leifer to Australia, clearing the way for the extradition to proceed quickly.
📝 Fine Line: The directors of dozens of German cultural institutions authored a public letter rejecting the BDS movement but denouncing efforts to boycott or silence those who support it.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: New Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Tzipi Hotovely called on the British government to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
🕵️♂️ No Resemblance: Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy deniedthat he was the inspiration for the late spy novelist John le Carré’s fictional hero, British intelligence officer George Smiley.
💸 Cash Infusion: Paul Bassat’s Square Peg Capital, which invests in Israel, Southeast Asia and Australia, is now Australia’s largest venture capital firm, with $1.4 billion in managed funds.
📸 Photo Fallout: Amid criticism, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) deniedknowing that she was posing for a recent photo with former Ku Klux Klan leader Chester Doles.
🎤 On Record: Georgia Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock saidin 2013 that the Nation of Islam “has been important for the development of Black theology.”
🗞️ Exit: Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstein is stepping down from managing the newsroom and will become a senior advisor to the paper.
🖥️ Hate Attack: Hackers posted Nazi imagery and other antisemitic slurs yesterday on the website of the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Long Island.
🚇 Shortlist: Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg is reportedly under consideration to head the Biden administration’s Department of Transportation.
🕎 New Life: The table used to protect celebrants during a stabbing attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey last year has been repurposed into a menorah stand.
📺 Small Screen: MGM and Israel’s Tadmor Entertainment are jointly producing a documentary about Adolf Eichmann titled “Eichmann – The Devil Speaks.”
📱 Video Flub: Musician Smokey Robinson mispronounced“Chanuka” in a now-viral video he recorded as a gift for a fan via Cameo.
🍞 Challah-lujah: The Centre Street Bakery in Bath, Maine is one of the sole producers of challah in the area — and has a standing bulk order through the local synagogue.
💼 Appointment: President Trump appointed Michael Glassner and Max Miller to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council on Monday.
👨💼 Transition: Nadav Tamir, a diplomatic advisor to former Israeli President Shimon Peres and the former Israeli consul general to New England, was named the new executive director of J Street Israel.
🕯️ Remembering: Theodore Mann, an attorney who previously led the American Jewish Congress and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and was the founding chairman of Mazon, died at age 92.
Pic of the Day
The band HAIM, made up of sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, is sharing special Hanukkah surprises and videos all week long on its Instagram feed.
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