👋 Good Tuesday morning!
The Jewish Democratic Council of America’s political arm is launching a five-figure ad campaign in support of Shontel Brown, who is competing next Tuesday in Ohio’s hotly contested 11th Congressional District special election. The digital and print ads will target more than 20,000 Jewish voters in the Cleveland area through August 3, according to JDCA, which endorsed Brown in early July.
Republicans Susan Wright and State Rep. Jake Ellzey face off today in a runoff election in Texas’s 6th Congressional District. If Ellzey manages to beat or narrow his margin with Wright, the frontrunner who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, the election is likely to prompt questions about Trump’s continued influence. More on what to expect today.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) sent a letter to Unilever CEO Alan Jope on Sunday regarding Ben & Jerry’s pullout from what it referred to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Jewish Insider has learned.
In the letter, Gottheimer wrote, “I would sincerely hope that Ben & Jerry’s, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, will reconsider this wrong and misguided decision to fuel efforts to single-out and undermine Israel, and will promptly reverse course.” Read Gottheimer’s letter here.
The Kof-K, the kosher certifying authority for the ice cream company, released a statement yesterday that it will “continue to fulfill its contractual obligations to Ben & Jerry’s while using its influence to make sure that this anti-Israel policy never becomes implemented.” The Kof-K had been under pressure to decertify Ben & Jerry’s since the company’s announcement last week.
Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) issued a joint statement condemning the NSO Group — an Israeli company whose Pegasus software was used by authoritarian regimes to surveil journalists and activists — saying companies like it are equivalent to A.Q. Khan, a key figure in Pakistan’s nuclear program.
PayPal teams up with ADL to research, root out extremists, hate movements
Payment processing giant PayPal is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League on a project to examine how extremists and hate groups use financial platforms to fund criminal activity and root out bad actors, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. The data gathered will be shared with others in the financial industry as well as lawmakers, law enforcement and other civil rights groups.
Inside the program: The ADL’s Center on Extremism will lead the program aimed at “uncovering and disrupting the financial pipelines that support extremist and hate movements,” according to a joint ADL/PayPal statement. The initiative will focus on white supremacists, anti-government organizations and those propagating and profiting from antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-Hispanic and anti-Asian hate.
Notable supporters: The new initiative — which comes amid a nationwide spike in antisemitic and anti-Asian hate crimes and as the Biden administration steps up its efforts to combat domestic extremism — already has backing from influential figures within government. “I applaud PayPal and the Anti-Defamation League for joining forces to combat hate and extremist movements who seek to utilize financial platforms to bankroll their criminal activities and profit from the spread of racism and bigotry,” outgoing Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said in a statement. “My Office stands ready to assist financial institutions and businesses of all kinds in this urgent fight to stop hate and protect members of historically marginalized communities.”
Pushback: Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance tweeted in response to the news that “the ADL is now a joke of an organization that just goes after conservatives” and that “the next stage of deplatforming will be denying access to the financial system.”
Assessing the constant outrage culture with Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt
Writer and journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt joined “Limited Liability Podcast” co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein to discuss the latest controversies — including Ben & Jerry’s and the new Netflix show “My Unorthodox Life” — plus her own life as a journalist and a rabbi’s wife, bridging the secular-religious “chasm,” as she calls it, and the politics of kosher certifications.
On the rise of outrage culture: “I don’t know if you saw that meme — you know, that popular meme with the guy walking with the girl and he’s turning around, look at another girl. So that literally is what it’s like. We’re jumping from one to the other….A lot of this is a product of what Twitter has done to our brains, where we’re sort of addicted to the adrenaline, that outrage, and the way that the algorithm rewards it. You know, that’s really what it’s sort of, I think, sparked in us. As a journalist, I find it very disturbing, and partly because I feel that I have been complicit in this as a media person. My job is to actually contribute to that. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be in and I think, simply, in the Jewish community we have let it go really far.”
Sped-up outrage cycles: “I think it’s immediate and also, it’s all consuming. It follows you wherever you go. It’s in a device that is glued to your hand and glued to your eyes. There’s no way of escaping unless you’re someone who has an incredible amount of discipline and does not exist online. You’re seeing this constantly. You’re bombarded by it. And not only that, I think you’re constantly pushed to have a take on something, to have an opinion, to make a statement. I sometimes have people reach out to me [and] say, ‘You know, I noticed that you didn’t post something about x outrage du jour?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not a politician. I don’t see myself as that sort of a public figure. I’m not going to respond to absolutely everything that the Jewish world or the larger world is losing its mind over.’ But social media has convinced us of — what a writer at The New Yorker recently called this ‘main character energy’ — where we are all main characters in this big narrative, and we all have to have our takes, we all have to have our positions.”
On life as a writer from the Orthodox community: “It’s very uncomfortable, because there’s always attacks on both sides. I think, from within the religious community, of course, I’m too out there; I’m too feminist; I talk too much about issues. And from a secular standpoint, there’s this constant, ‘Well, why are you still religious? You’re still doing that long-sleeve thing?’ You know, I get that all the time from people.. This is a really big statement, but I think the vast majority [of the Orthodox community is] living those tensions in some way or another. Not necessarily gender, but with the tensions of modernity and tradition. And you see that in all aspects of life. And we don’t normalize that enough. So when you were that one person talking about it, people sort of look at you in shock.”
Listen to the full episode here.
Why the dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary is leaving to lead a day school
As he approached 14 years as dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins thought he would remain at the Manhattan school, the flagship institution of the Conservative movement, for the rest of his career — until the coronavirus pandemic. Nevins spoke with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff about how his experiences during the coronavirus pandemic inspired soul-searching, followed by some job-hunting and finally the decision to start a new phase of his career — as the head of school at Golda Och Academy (GOA) in West Orange, N.J.
A shifting center: “Some people feel like 3080 Broadway [JTS’s address in Morningside Heights] is the center of the Jewish universe,” he acknowledged. “And JTS is a national organization.” But the coronavirus pandemic caused him — and many other people — to reconsider his career path. Nevins had also thought about going back to the pulpit, but the contrast between JTS’s remote learning program — which was suitable for adults — and the immersive experience offered by day schools struck him as especially compelling. “Day schools were lifted up in my mind as the place where the most important Jewish identity formation was happening,” he said.
Heft and humanity: Raised in New Jersey and educated at Harvard University, Nevins received ordination from JTS in 1994. That same year, he took a job as a pulpit rabbi at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Mich., where he both taught at the local day school and helped to found a non-denominational Jewish community high school, the Frankel Jewish Academy. His pastoral and scholarly abilities were very appealing to the hiring committee at GOA, said Rebecca Berman, one of the members. “We were really moved by his intellectual heft and his menschlichkeit,” she said, using the Yiddish word for humanity. One of his references, a colleague at JTS, was so moved as she described Nevins’s skill as a listener that she cried. Nevins is a member of the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, and has written on the participation of Jews who are blind in the Torah service, electricity and Shabbat and artificial intelligence.
Today begins the release of articles from the second issue of SAPIR. Stay tuned for additional articles each day through August 4.
Powerful or Powerless? Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens introduces the complex and ambivalent relationship between Jews and power, while arguing for its necessity. “Is strength more corrupting than powerlessness? It is obviously true, per Lord Acton, that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But this truism leads people to the mistaken belief that the reverse is also true — that powerlessness tends to ennoble and absolute powerlessness is positively saintly. In fact, powerlessness can be corrupting, too, when ordinary people choose self-abasement, or cowardice, or faithlessness, or dishonesty, or silence, all for the sake of simply being left alone and alive. The moral life, for people and nations alike, requires the possibility of meaningful choice. That, in turn, requires power, including sovereign power. Israel exists so that a Chosen People can exercise the full meaning of chosenness by also being a choosing people.” Read more.
Culture Crisis: Thane Rosenbaum reflects on the outsize impact of Jews in defining American culture, and examines the repercussions of their waning influence. “One might say an entire culture is in the process of being cancelled. The ground rules of liberalism have disappeared, and with them, the qualities that made Jews so vital to American culture are vanishing as well. It isn’t that Jews no longer occupy important positions in American culture, to say nothing of other fields. What’s disappearing from the cultural scene is the Jewish sensibility: its essential broad-mindedness, impish irreverence, openness to difference, and its skill in the art of disagreement. Today, culture-makers fear being charged with plundering the stories of others, instead of being inspired to tell them.” Read more.
Join us on August 12 at noon ET for a deeper dive into his piece with Thane Rosenbaum and SAPIR Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens. Register here.
💻 Booming Business: In The New York Times, Max Fisher looks at the new booming business of “disinformation for hire,” firms peddling false facts online, seeking to smear political figures and companies on behalf of clients who can hide behind a shield of deniability. “For-hire disinformation, though only sometimes effective, is growing more sophisticated as practitioners iterate and learn. Experts say it is becoming more common in every part of the world, outpacing operations conducted directly by governments.The result is an accelerating rise in polarizing conspiracies, phony citizen groups and fabricated public sentiment, deteriorating our shared reality beyond even the depths of recent years.” [NYTimes]
🙋♂️ Identity Crisis: Liel Leibovitz argues in Commentary that Jews, like other groups who several generations prior were not considered to be white, are increasingly — and sometimes from within the Jewish community — identified as white as their primary marker of identity. “Jews are just Jews, a difficult realization that has driven haters to distraction throughout the generations. It’s why we alone have been singled out for a specific kind of steady stream of suspicion and persecution throughout history, even here in America. It’s a torrent that hasn’t grown any weaker, no matter how cheerful we wish to be.” [Commentary]
🤝 Going Public: In The Hill, Seth Frantzman writes that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to make public relationships that were closed-door under the Netanyahu government has helped to usher in a new era of diplomacy for the Jewish state. “[Netanyahu’s] failure to build on ties shows that peace through strength was one of the myths of the Netanyahu administration’s ability to foster Israel’s acceptance in the region. Normalization is one thing, but having public meetings and Israeli diplomats on the ground and Arab leaders visiting Israel sends a message to the public across the Middle East. Private or secret phone calls don’t do that.” [TheHill]
✍️ Eulogizing: The New York Times’s Joseph Berger writes the obituary for Rabbi Yoel Kahn, a top disciple and oral scribe of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who died on July 15 at 91. Kahn, who had a photographic memory, “had the uncanny ability to memorize virtually verbatim the grand rabbi’s hourslong speeches and discourses, which he then compiled into roughly 150 published volumes.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🎤 Happening Today: The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot will convene for the first time today to hear testimony from Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan Police officers.
📺 On Record: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) said in an NBC Peacock interview that “the conversation has shifted tremendously” among Democrats on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, noting, “We cannot sustain the safety and security of Israel while continuing to oppress the Palestinian people.”
📜 Ally Outreach: A bipartisan group of 10 House members introduced a resolution urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s political wing as a terrorist organization in addition to its already-designated military wing.
🍨 Giving Back: Ben & Jerry’s franchise owner Joel Gasman, who described his family as “proud Jews, Americans, and active supporters of the New York Jewish community and State of Israel,” said his Upper West Side shop would donate 10% of its profits to “educational causes” in Israel.
🤼♂️ Sitting Out: Sudanese judoka star Mohamed Abdalrasool failed to show up to his match against Israel’s Tohar Butbul at the Tokyo Olympics, the second Olympian to choose not to compete against an Israeli in Tokyo.
👩 Closure: The family of Estelle Hedaya, the last victim of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse to be identified, confirmed her death on Monday.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: British NGO Campaign Against Antisemitism accused Twitter of ignoring antisemitic harassment and abuse by allowing users to tweet sentiments such as “Hitler was right” and “Jews control the world” without consequence.
🎖️ Long Overdue: Henriëtte Pimentel, a Dutch teacher who saved 500-800 Jewish children during the Holocaust and was killed in Auschwitz, was posthumously honored with B’nai B’rith’s Jewish Rescuers Citation.
💼 All in a Day’s Work: With no religious parties in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is making moves to increase Haredi participation in the workforce in order to boost the economy.
🎉 Tale of Two Cities: Two Lebanese Parliament members are under fire for throwing lavish weddings for their daughters as the majority of the country grapples with electricity blackouts, long gas lines and empty supermarket shelves.
➡️ Transitions: David Halbfinger, who formerly oversaw The New York Times’s Jerusalem bureau, was announced as the paper’s new politics editor. Amir Hayek was named Israel’s first permanent ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Michael Kassan, Jacqui Canney and Lisa Licht are joining the board of new mental health startup, Project Healthy Minds.
🕯️ Remembering: Michael Jeser, former CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego, died of esophageal cancer at 45. Ilya Braverman, national political director at J Street, died at 33.
Pic of the Day
Israeli bicyclist Shlomi Haimy competes during the downhill portion of the men’s cross-country mountain bike race of the Tokyo Olympics at the Izu mountain bike course.
Rabbi at Kesher Israel: The Georgetown Synagogue, Rabbi Hyim Shafner turns 53…
Television producer and later founder of People for the American Way, Norman Lear turns 99… Real estate developer who founded Aspen Square Management, he heads an eponymous foundation known for its flagship program PJ Library, Harold Grinspoon turns 92… Forensic pathologist known for his work investigating high-profile deaths, Michael M. Baden turns 87… Managing partner of Access Fund Management Company, he is a past President of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Harold Zlot turns 84… Former CIA director and deputy secretary of defense, now a professor emeritus at MIT, John M. Deutch turns 83… Steven M. Mizel turns 82… Former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Stephen M. Greenberg turns 77… Artist and museum founder focused on Fusionism, Shalom Tomáš Neuman turns 74… Israeli author and television producer, Yarin Kimor turns 69… Israeli-born fitness personality, Gilad Janklowicz turns 67…
Comedian, writer, producer and actress, Carol Leifer turns 65… Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, Linda Feldmann turns 62… Former VP of global communications, marketing and public policy at Facebook, Elliot Schrage turns 61… U.S. Army Colonel (retired), Jeffrey Brian Carra turns 61… Heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, now a film producer, Jean “Gigi” Pritzker turns 59… Former CEO of the Rabbinical Assembly, now the managing director at Leading Ethics, LLC, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld turns 56… Former member of the Hungarian Parliament and member of the European Parliament since 2009, Tamás Deutsch turns 55… Former national platform director for the Democratic National Committee, now a political consultant, Andrew Grossman turns 53… Managing partner at Capitol Venture, LLC, Jeremy Deutsch turns 45… VP of marketing at Xometry and winner on “Jeopardy!” in 2019, Aaron Lichtig turns 41… D.C. area political activist, Benjamin Rothenberg turns 39… Communications director for Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), Jeremy Adler turns 29…