👋 Good Monday morning!
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mark Dawson, Rabbi Brad Levenberg and Victoria Raggs, co-chairs of the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition, issued a “renewed invitation” for Black-Jewish collaboration against injustice.
President-elect Joe Biden is staffing up his incoming State Department with a number of veterans from the Obama administration, tapping Wendy Sherman, who served as lead U.S. negotiator on the Iran deal, to serve as deputy secretary of state, and veteran diplomat Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs.
Biden also announced that Philip Gordon, a veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, will serve as deputy national security advisor to the vice president.
With just over 48 hours remaining in President Donald Trump’s presidency, the “brisk market for pardons” has hit high gear in DC, with convicts Dina Wein Reis and Sholam Weiss reportedly among the figures hiring lobbyists to plead for clemency. The president reportedly could issue more than 100 pardons in his final days in office.
At a press conference Friday on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) focused at length on the presence of a rioter photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6: “To see this punk with that shirt on and his antisemitism, that he has bragged about… requires us to have an after-action review.”
For Florida’s Jewish federations, COVID refugees present fresh opportunities
With each winter comes more traffic, slower drivers and less space to place a lounge chair at a crowded beach, signs that indicate to Floridians that the snowbirds — the close to 1 million seasonal residents who spend more than a month in the state — have arrived. And since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many seasonal residents have stuck around the South Florida region full-time, in addition to a swelling wave of newcomers. Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch spoke with Jewish nonprofit leaders in the region about the opportunities presented by the influx of new residents.
Jumping in headfirst: Senior employees at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County told JI that newcomers to the area are already getting involved in the community. One group convened by the federation has connected recent arrivals looking for jobs with local professionals. It’s hard to quantify the number of people who have moved to the area from out of state since the pandemic started, but anecdotal evidence is mounting: Just this semester, 12 new families from New York and California started at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy, a pluralistic day school in Boca Raton, said Rabbi Josh Broide, director of community engagement at the federation.
Group effort: Donations to the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County soared during the pandemic. “We were concerned we would see a dip in collections,” said Michael Hoffman, the organization’s president and CEO, but “we’ve seen a significant uptick in philanthropy.” Since the pandemic began last March, Hoffman said his federation has seen an 800% increase in requests for emergency financial assistance, as people struggle to put food on the table and pay rent and utilities. The financial and emotional need in the community is enormous, Hoffman said, but the “level of participation in philanthropic efforts is inspiring.”
New neighbors: Miami, meanwhile, is home to relatively few snowbirds, welcoming more Latin American immigrants than New York retirees. In recent years, thousands of Jews have moved to Miami-Dade County after fleeing Venezuela’s deteriorating economy and authoritarian regime. Welcoming those immigrants has taught Jewish nonprofit professionals in Miami a great deal about reaching out to newcomers, Greater Miami Jewish Federation president and CEO Jacob Solomon told JI. “We want to be in relationship with them. We want to help with their transition,” he said. “We also recognize that the first thing on their to-do list is not call the local federation and get a pledge card.”
Big names: Still, Solomon has noticed the new trend of business owners and executives moving to Miami. “Every day we see in the press, the business press, the name of someone — a high net worth individual who’s moving here from New York or elsewhere. We certainly pay attention to it,” he said. To reach those new donors, federations can play a unique role, according to Michael Balaban, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs. “From a funding standpoint, the federation and groups like United Way play the role of making a shidduch,” he said, by helping people find causes and partner organizations that resonate with them.
Two party primaries could shape Israel’s national political scene
Two Israeli political parties will hold their leadership primaries in the coming week, with just over two weeks to go until parties must finalize and submit their electoral lists. And with two months until the March 23 national election, interparty negotiations are ramping up as factions across the political spectrum seek to consolidate their electoral power. Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro breaks down all the latest developments and the key factors to watch out for this week.
Leadership battles: After former Education Minister Rafi Peretz quit politics, the faltering Bayit Yehudi Party will hold a leadership primary tomorrow, Jan. 19. The two main candidates in the running are Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Hagit Moshe and party CEO Nir Orbach. And a Supreme Court ruling last week confirmed that the Labor Party leadership primary will go ahead this Sunday, Jan. 24. The only two confirmed candidates so far are Labor MK Merav Michaeli and Gil Beilin, but several party insiders are reportedly lobbying former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to enter the race.
Primary watch: Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman told JI that the two primaries — despite being held in parties currently polling below the electoral threshold — could have major implications. “These primaries are actually very important on a national scale,” he said, “because there’s a couple of things that can’t happen until we know who wins these primaries.” In Bayit Yehudi, Hoffman said, Moshe is seen as an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Orbach is seen as aligned with Yamina’s Naftali Bennett, shaping up their potential future alliances. And Hoffman suggested that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai would merge with Labor if it is headed by Michaeli, but not if it is led by Barak.
Merger machinations: Meanwhile, a whole host of other parties are engaged in negotiations to join forces ahead of the Feb. 4 filing deadline, with speculation running rampant. On the center-left of the spectrum, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s The Israelis Party, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Labor, Meretz, and a host of smaller factions are continually rumored to be in talks. “The Israeli Left is plagued by too many egos, too little voters, and a growing sense that they offer nothing new to the public debate,” Israeli journalist Neri Zilber told JI. While he noted that the shifting landscape is unpredictable, Zilber posited that the current proliferation of parties “is way too many and runs the risk of throwing votes away below the electoral threshold.”
Waiting game: On the right of the political map, Bennett’s Yamina, Bezalel Smotrich’s newly renamed National Zionist Party and Bayit Yehudi have all pledged to run independently, despite battling for many of the same religious-Zionist voters. But once the Bayit Yehudi leadership primary is settled, predicted Hoffman, at least one, if not two, mergers are bound to follow. And former Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, who split from Lapid last week to run at the head of his Telem faction, “can actually go in a lot of different directions,” said Hoffman, suggesting that Ya’alon could join Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party or eventually even reunite with Lapid.
Poll perusal: Israel’s polls — of varying reliability — show a deeply fractured electorate — and a difficult path to building a coalition for any premier contenders. In four polls released last week, Likud received 27-32 seats, New Hope got 14-17 seats, Yesh Atid 13-14 and Yamina 10-14. Several polls show that, if they run alone, Labor, Bayit Yehudi, Blue and White, The Israelis and Telem would fall beneath the electoral threshold. Meanwhile, many observers have speculated that Israel’s wildly successful COVID-19 vaccination drive could boost Netanyahu among undecided voters.
Bonus: Sa’ar’s campaign has hired the four founders of The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump conservatives who campaigned heavily against the president ahead of the 2020 election.
Elsewhere: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced over the weekend that the PA would hold its first parliamentary and presidential elections in 15 years in both the West Bank and Gaza this year. Despite the decree Abbas handed to the Central Election Commission on Friday, many observers are skeptical that such an election will materialize in 2021 after many such false promises in the past.
COPPER STATE CODA
Arizona’s long-awaited Holocaust education bill finally gets its moment
Last week, Alma Hernandez, a Democratic state legislator from Tucson, introduced her long-awaited Holocaust education bill to the Arizona House of Representatives — again. The bill, which is likely to pass with bipartisan support, requires that public schools in Arizona teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides at least twice between grades seven and 12. “I feel that the earlier we can introduce it to students the better,” Hernandez, 27, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview. “I think if people, students at least, are taught this early on, we won’t see as many issues that we see now.”
Pivotal moment: For Jewish community activists and Holocaust survivors in Arizona, the legislation arrives at a pivotal moment. “It’s quite clear this is to ensure that we don’t see more people wearing those stupid ‘Camp Auschwitz’ T-shirts,” said Paul Rockower, executive director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, alluding to the man who was dressed in a shirt emblazoned with antisemitic language during the Capitol breach two weeks ago.
Long overdue: If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the bill would likely have been signed into law last year. Hernandez, a Mexican-American Jew, began crafting the bill shortly after she assumed office in January 2019. The legislation cleared the House and made its way to the state Senate, where it was expected to be sent up to the governor and signed into law. Then the pandemic hit, stalling the legislative session, and the bill found itself in limbo. Hernandez is now back to where she started with the beginning of a new session. Still, the state legislator is confident the bill will pass, given that the Arizona Board of Education added Holocaust education to its administrative code last October. Hernandez believes the bill is still necessary to ensure that such education is codified as law.
Future funding? Volker Benkert, an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University who specializes in Holocaust studies, is part of a task force assembled to ensure that teachers are equipped with Holocaust education resources. He said the bill was a promising first step, but because the bill received no funding, he hopes future legislation will be put in place to ensure that training is available to teachers in the years ahead. “It’s better to have a bill than no bill,” he acknowledged. “But I think this would be much more valuable, or even more valuable, if we had a follow-up with some teeth.” The plan is to secure funding “down the road,” Hernandez said.
Personal ambition: For Hernandez, the bill represents the ultimate fulfillment of a personal ambition. She recalled learning about the Holocaust as a young girl from her first-grade elementary school teacher, Theresa Dulgov, a child survivor. Dulgov, 76, testified on behalf of the bill last year. “We’re getting older and older,” Dulgov said, “and we are losing more and more survivors who can tell children what it was like.” Hernandez feels a similar sense of urgency. Two survivors with whom Hernandez worked to fine-tune the bill have died in recent months, including one two weeks ago from COVID-19. “They were a big part of it,” Hernandez said. “That’s why it’s something that’s very important to me. I’m hoping that we can get it done quickly without any interruptions this time.”
👨👩👧👦 Family Ties: Cole and Ella Emhoff, the step-children of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, described home life with the future veep in a Zoom interview with The New York Times’s Jessica Bennett. Ella said when all the family gets together, “it’s like you’re layering all of them on top of each other and it becomes everyone trying to talk over each other. So it’s a lot of really enthusiastic yelling.” [NYTimes]
📖 Priorities: Pat Gelsinger, the new CEO of Intel, has written extensively about how his faith helps him “confront business challenges,” reports The Wall Street Journal’s Asa Fitch. When he realized he was picking up the WSJ each day before the Bible, “I committed to never reading the Journal before finishing my daily devotional time; I’ll read God’s Bible before reading the businessman’s bible.” [WSJ]
🖼️ Too Close: In The New York Times, Nina Siegal reviews a new book, Göring’s Man in Paris, by Jonathan Petropoulos, a European history professor who developed a questionably close relationship with Nazi art agent Bruno Lohse. “What emerges from Petropoulos’s research is a portrait of a charismatic and nefarious figure who tainted everyone he touched.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💥 Fiery Exchange: The IDF struck Hamas targets in Gaza early this morning in response to two rockets fired into Israel from the Strip.
🏗️ Green Light: Israeli authorities are moving forward with the approval of hundreds of new settlement homes in the final days of the Trump administration.
🎒 Classroom Ban: The Israeli Education Ministry has bannedB’Tselem and any other groups that refer to Israel as “apartheid” from lecturing in schools.
☢️ Urgent Warning: French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian warned that the U.S. must call off its maximum pressure campaign and quickly work to revive the Iran nuclear deal, as Iran continues to build up its nuclear capacities.
📈 Looking Up: Israel’s Finance Ministry estimates that the country’s economy will grow by 4.6% this year.
🏦 Make a Deal: The two largest Israeli banks have signedmemorandums of understanding with the National Bank of Bahrain to help open trade between the two nations.
🤝 Making Amends: GitHub’s head of HR resigned and the company apologized to a Jewish employee who was fired for suggesting that Nazis participated in the Capitol riot.
🖥️ Hack Attack: Hackers targeted the “MLK Shabbat” event hosted by The Temple in Atlanta featuring Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock, cutting off access to a portion of the webcast.
🎖️ Called to Serve: Army reservist Danny Ceisler dropped out of the race for district attorney of Bucks County, Penn., in order to assist the Pentagon with the fallout of the Capitol riot.
📰 Under Threat: Rabbi Kenneth Hain received a threatening note at his home after the Long Island synagogue he leads asked that the Five Towns Jewish Times cease delivery following a controversy over its coverage of the Capitol riot.
⚰️ Showing Respect: Security at the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp was stepped up after visitors were caught sledding on graves.
⛓️ Behind Bars: A Deliveroo driver in France faces a prison sentence and deportation after refusing to serve Jewish restaurants — and for living and working in the country illegally.
🧑⚖️ Day in Court: A federal judge declined to dismiss a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by a Christian family against the homeowners’ association of a heavily Jewish community near Boca Raton.
🥣 New Spot: A new Jewish deli, Rye Deli & Drink, has opened in Chicago and offers elevated versions of deli classics — for takeout only.
📚 Book Shelf: A new biography of author Patricia Highsmith explores the paradox of her antisemitic writings and her romantic relationships with multiple Jewish women.
🕯️ Remembering: Music producer and convicted murderer Phil Spector died of COVID-related complications in prison at age 81. Benjamin de Rothschild, chairman of the Edmund de Rothschild Group, died at 57. Shirley Abrahamson, the first female chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, died at age 87.
Pic of the Day
Dr. Miriam Adelson stands next to the coffin of her late husband, Sheldon Adelson, after arriving at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport late Thursday night. Adelson was buried in Jerusalem on Friday in a private family ceremony.
Israeli businessman, he served as a member of the Knesset from 1978 to 1981, Shlomo Eliahu turns 85… Founder and executive chairman at PodcastOne, Norman Pattiz turns 78… Retired executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition of Greater Washington, Judy Novenstein turns 74… Community newspaper publisher, David Jacobs turns 73… Senior editor at The 74 Media, JoAnne Wasserman turns 66… Microbiologist and professor of biology at Wichita State University, Mark A. Schneegurt, Ph.D. turns 59… Former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley turns 58… Chief financial officer of Aspen Square Management, Jeremy Pava turns 58… Strategic advisor for Olami, Rabbi Yitz Greenman turns 57… Personal finance commentator and journalist, Beth Kobliner turns 56…
Senior rabbi of Golders Green United Synagogue in London, Rabbi Dr. Harvey Belovski turns 53… VP of partnerships, government and airport affairs at JetBlue Airways, Jeffrey Goodell turns 52… Former All-Star and Gold Glove MLB catcher, Mike Lieberthal turns 49… Head of public affairs at the DC office of APCO Worldwide, Gadi Dechter turns 46… Samara Yudof Jones turns 43… Actor and screenwriter, best known for his role in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” Jason Jordan Segel turns 41… Basketball player, dubbed by Sports Illustrated as the “Jewish Jordan” in 1999, Tamir Goodman turns 39… Israeli-born, best known for his web series “Jake and Amir,” Amir Blumenfeld turns 38… Deputy political director of the Midwest Region of AIPAC, Talia Alter turns 30… Linda Rubin…