👋 Good Tuesday morning!
American troops completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending the U.S.’s 20-year presence in the country.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, announced a congressional delegation to Israel, the West Bank and Lebanon. Joining the delegation are Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Ossoff and Murphy will make additional stops in Tunisia and Greece.
Bahrain’s first-ever ambassador to Israel arrived in the country on Tuesday. Ambassador Khaled Yousef al-Jalahmah begins his work as the Gulf state’s first emissary to Israel almost a year after the two countries, together with the United Arab Emirates, moved to normalize ties.
Al-Jalahmah announced his arrival in a series of Hebrew, Arabic and English tweets, writing: “I am honored to announce that I will be arriving in Tel Aviv today to begin my post as #Bahrain’s first Ambassador to #Israel.”
Israel’s coronavirus cabinet on Monday approved new restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the Delta variant, including a plan to limit the number of worshipers at the Western Wall for the High Holy Days. Presented by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the plan will limit participants for Selichot penitential prayers to no more than 8,000 people, divide worshippers into pods and enforce outdoor mask-wearing.
the yiddish candidate
Ben Samuels returns to his roots
It is probably safe to assume that Ben Samuels, a 30-year-old Democrat and political neophyte now running to unseat Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) in the suburbs of St. Louis, is the only congressional candidate in the country who speaks Yiddish. “I’m proficient enough at Yiddish to make my way around Williamsburg without too much trouble,” Samuels, who studied the language in college, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kasselregarding the Brooklyn neighborhood in a recent interview. “In a lot of ways,” said Samuels, who descends from German, Polish and Russian Jews who began settling in St. Louis in the 1870s, “the history of Yiddish is similar to the history of a lot of immigrant languages in the United States in how it tells a part of the American story.”
Background: Born in Connecticut, Samuels split his childhood between California and Missouri. He specialized in Near Eastern languages and civilizations as an undergraduate at Harvard University, where he served as president of The Harvard Crimson and penned a first-person essay about his decision to forego covering a football game because it was scheduled on Yom Kippur. “I had my Sandy Koufax moment,” he wrote in 2011, “abstaining not just for religious reasons, but also on principle.” Out of college, Samuels worked at a tech startup that was later acquired by MasterCard, got a master’s degree at Harvard Business School and then took a job in former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. His most recent role was director of special projects for Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts.
Middle ground: “I’ve been an independent for a good chunk of my life, but I think in the era that we’re in right now, I’ve found that a lot of the Republican Party was moving towards right-wing extremism in a way that scared me,” Samuels, a moderate who says he aligns with centrist House coalition like the New Democrats and the Blue Dogs, told JI. “So I’m a proud Democrat now, but also come at this as someone who understands how to work with people across the aisle and a pragmatic approach that will be focused on getting things done.”
On the issues: On foreign policy matters, Samuels made clear that he was eager to take an active role in bolstering the U.S.-Israel relationship, maintaining that his voice would be a valuable addition to the conversation amid festering Democratic divisions over the Jewish state. “In many cases, a lot of younger Jews don’t always understand why Israel is important to our collective safety and to Americans and to the Jewish people,” said Samuels, who has family in Israel and has visited twice. “I think a new generation of younger Jewish leadership is in a very good position to try to do something about that and help younger Americans and younger Jews understand the importance of the U.S. relationship with Israel.”
Uphill climb: With upcoming redistricting in Missouri controlled by GOP legislators, Wagner’s seat, which she’s held since 2013, could become even more prohibitive to Democrats running in next year’s midterm elections, according to Betsy Sinclair, a professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis. “We should expect the 1st Congressional District boundaries to grow,” she said of the seat occupied by Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), whose district may be redrawn to include more of St. Louis County because of declining population rates in the city — likely pushing Wagner’s territory into redder counties as a result. If that scenario plays out, “the 2nd District could become less Democratic,” Sinclair told JI.
Dara Horn on a world that only teaches about ‘dead Jews’
In her previous five books, author Dara Horn has created fictional worlds around living Jews with interesting lives and story lines. Her latest book People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Present — an essay collection that comes out on September 7 — is her first work of nonfiction. The title is meant to be provocative: It gets at Horn’s concern with how non-Jews around the world usually learn about Jews: not by interacting with them or learning about Jewish life, but by learning about “dead Jews,” through topics like the Holocaust or the Spanish Inquisition. Horn’s essays address the dissonance between people’s fascination with dead Jews and rising levels of antisemitism in the U.S. She spoke to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch about what Jewish liturgy has to say about dead Jews, how universalizing Jewish stories can erase the Jewish experience and why Tevye’s story still matters.
Education gap: “Think about your social studies textbook when you’re in sixth grade or something. There’s something about the Israelites in the ancient history section. And then there’s a chapter about the Holocaust. That’s the only thing they say about Jews.”
Back to normal: “The last few generations of non-Jews were sort of chagrined by the Holocaust, and that made antisemitism socially unacceptable. But now that visceral response is fading, because the people who really lived with those events [of] that generation are dying. I’m 44. For the people who are in my generation and my parents’ generation, the times we grew up in were not normal. Now normal is returning. And we know that because the liturgy is set up for this. Do I find it absolutely terrifying that this is my children’s normal? Yes. They find that hard to believe. Their experience is more typical of Jewish history.”
Enduring mythologies: On American Jews’ response upon learning that their families’ names were not changed at Ellis Island, and that their ancestors actually changed their own names later, in a bid to better fit into American society: “People really, really get mad when you tell them that. The moment when it gets uncomfortable is to me the signal that there’s an important story here. Why are educated American Jews — and these are people who pride themselves on their skepticism and critical thinking — why are they taking this la la land fairytale story that’s demonstrably untrue, and then trying to figure out some way to make it true, saying, ‘Well, maybe my great-great-grandfather was the exception?’ Why are people so attached to the story? It is doing something important emotionally for people.”
🚭 Bad High: In Indianapolis Monthly, Michael Rubino, Julia Spalding and Derek Robertson do a deep dive into the story of Rebecca Raffle, a California transplant to the Midwest and granddaughter of a West Coast Jewish philanthropist, who concocted a series of elaborate lies as she attempted to open a cannabis bakery in the Hoosier State. “Raffle told others she was building an enterprise — a farm, dispensaries, tech firm — by and for a community with whom she shared an affinity. Jewish mothers. Gay women. Hemp enthusiasts. When Raffle moved here from the West Coast and left behind her consulting business, she started recruiting a team of women she met in Facebook groups, who in turn recruited their friends. Working with Raffle would have seemed like a can’t-miss opportunity. On paper, at least.” [IndyMonthly]
🌎 Climate Catastrophe: In The Washington Post, historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg implores both Israelis and Palestinians to look past the conflict and focus on a common threat: climate change. Noting the recent wildfires outside Jerusalem that ravaged the landscape and the Middle East’s pace of heating — which surpasses the world’s average — Gorenberg hopes to shift the debate about claims to Israel’s land to a cooperative conversation aiming to stave off climate change’s worst effects. “In this harsh glare, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is beyond tragic. Why should Israel insist that it cannot give up settlements, or Palestinians insist on the individual right of return of refugees to homes in pre-1967 Israel, when both peoples may end up as climate refugees knocking uselessly on the gates of Canada and Finland? We should be desperate to reach a political compromise so that our diplomats can jointly travel from capital to capital, demanding action on greenhouse emissions.” [WashPost]
👩🏫 History Lesson: In The Atlantic, Amy Zegart, who was a professor at UCLA in 2001, explores the dichotomy of teaching college students about the September 11 attacks over a span of two decades. “Then, students sought certainties; I pressed them to see complexities… Now I’m at Stanford, and I have the opposite problem: Instead of taking the emotion out of 9/11, I am trying to find ways to put the emotion back in. My students see 9/11 as long-gone history, a kind of black-and-white reel of events that happened long ago, alongside the Cold War and the Peloponnesian War.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🎺 Lights Off: The historic Karnofsky Shop, where Louis Armstrong played and worked, was destroyed by Hurricane Ida.
📈 Man to Know: The Information profiles Elad Gil, the Jerusalem-born solo venture capitalist with $620M raised from at least 26 limited partners, the largest amount raised by a solo fund manager according to the publication. Gil grew up splitting his time between Israel and the U.S.
📉 Worthless: Investor John Paulson called cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, “worthless” in an interview on “Bloomberg Wealth” with David Rubenstein.
😋 Cooking Country: In an interview with Mashed, chef Erez Komarovsky praised Israel’s culinary offerings, noting the melting pot of flavors derived from the country’s ethnically diverse population.
🍳 Tasting History: Stewart Woodman, the executive chef of Shiloh, a new kosher restaurant in the suburbs of Minneapolis, is taking inspiration from the food styles of different Jewish groups in America dating back to the 17th century.
🍎 Apples and Honey: Cookbook author Joan Nathan’s Rosh Hashanah salad recipe incorporates food from the Sephardic tradition to make the holidays both delicious and meaningful.
👨 What’s in a Name: Writer Peter Osnos explores the history behind his unusual last name.
🥺 Tweet Storm: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is under fire for a tweet in which she expressed sympathy for a Palestinian who was killed while attempting to attack IDF soldiers, and voiced outrage that Israel hasn’t returned the assailant’s body to her family.
✉️ Dear Sir: Israel’s post office reported a rise in letters from around the world addressed to God, often coming from young children, since the start of the pandemic.
🪖 Update: An IDF soldier shot during border riots along the Gaza Strip earlier this month died of his injuries. The family of Barel Hadaria Shmueli, a Border Police officer who was shot at close range 10 days ago, has demanded a military commission of inquiry into his death.
💰 Banking Bonanza: Israel announced it will loan the Palestinian Authority $150 million, a spike in the amount provided during the Netanyahu era, following a meeting Sunday between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
💸 Money Explainer: Though Israel’s new budget is facing a tough road in the narrowly divided Knesset, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expressing optimism that the proposed outlay of upwards of NIS 400 billion in both 2021 and 2022 will ultimately garner the support of the parliament’s majority.
🤔 Tough Spot: The recent backlash against Ben & Jerry’s decision to end sales of its ice cream products in what it referred to as the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” has highlighted the divisions among stakeholders over how to invest in the region.
🤝 Summit Sidelines: Iranian leaders met with Gulf officials on the sidelines of a regional summit in Iraq over the weekend.
🇺🇸 On the Hill: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Ranking Member Mike McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that the U.S. prioritize the release of Americans being held hostage in Iran, as well as a “full account” of the fate of Robert Levinson.
💼 Transition: Naomi Adler, formerly the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, was named the CEO of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, effective September 1.
Pic of the Day
An original Maccabi soccer team jersey displayed on the sidelines of a ceremony to celebrate the “100 years of the Maccabi World Union,” a union of sports clubs founded in the early 20th century by Jewish athletes excluded from other leagues.
Israeli fashion model now in the IDF, Yael Shelbia Cohen turns 20…
Actor, director and producer, Larry Hankin turns 81… Howard Crim turns 79… World renowned violinist and conductor, Itzhak Perlman turns 76… Screenwriter for television and film, Lowell Ganz turns 73… Member of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Steve Soboroff turns 73… Academic physician and health care policy expert, his brother is Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), David Blumenthal turns 73… 2004 Nobel laureate in Physics and professor at California Institute of Technology, Hugh David Politzer turns 72… Author and professor emerita of journalism and women’s studies at American University, Iris Krasnow turns 67… Owner of thoroughbred racehorses including the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Ahmed Zayat turns 59… Television host Mark L. Walberg turns 59…
Gold medalist in volleyball at the Maccabiah Games in 1997, she is currently the athletic director at Seattle University, Shaney Fink turns 49… Physician assistant now serving as a practice administrator at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Lyudmila Milman turns 46… Israeli poet, translator and literary editor, Sivan Beskin turns 45… Former member of the Knesset, he also served as Minister of Tourism, Asaf Zamir turns 41… Communications director at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Jessica Levin Raimundo turns 37… Senior account director at W2O Group, Nick Horowitz turns 36… Crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman turns 36… Deputy counsel and director of government relations at Cardinal Infrastructure, Bennett E. Resnik turns 33… Political reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan turns 33… Southwest regional political director of AIPAC, Deryn Sousa turns 27…