👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: ‘Like a bathroom baby’: ‘Curb’ director Jeff Schaffer says new season will bring surprises; The Jewish day school grads covering the World Series; A path-blazing Druze diplomat now empowers a new generation of women; Joe Lieberman still walks the center path; ‘Start-Up Nation’ starting to tackle its own climate crisis; and Alcee Hastings’s Yiddishe Kop. Print the latest edition here.
An additional $100 million boost for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)has been included in the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” budget proposal, a partial victory for lawmakers and Jewish community activists who have called current funding levels insufficient. More below.
Illinois’s state legislature passed its new congressional district map on Thursday. Under the final plan, parts of Rep. Marie Newman’s (D-IL) current district were combined with parts of fellow Democratic Rep. Chuy Garcia’s (D-IL) district, with a strong advantage going to Garcia, according to the Cook Political Report’s U.S. House Editor Dave Wasserman.
Newman and Garcia are among the two most active Israel critics in Congress, and both voted last month against supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.
Wasserman predicted that Newman will ultimately run in a neighboring district against Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL), who holds more moderate policy positions than Newman. A previous draft map had more directly set up such a contest.
Israel has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, the Prime Minister’s Office said Friday. The announcement comes ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s participation in the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next week.
Bennett will meet with nine world leaders in Glasgow, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, who will have come straight from the G20 summit in Rome, where a meeting on the Iran nuclear talks is planned.
New York City officials are bracing for large-scale staffing shortages — including among essential workers — following the deadline next Monday for all municipal workers to show proof of vaccination or face unpaid leave.
Alcee Hastings’s Yiddishe kop
The special House election to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) has, barring a few exceptions, moved along at a relatively lethargic pace — and that dynamic seems unlikely to change as the election wraps up on Tuesday, with a clear frontrunner yet to emerge. One thing remains clear: Hastings, the charismatic former longtime dean of Florida’s congressional delegation, who died in April at 84 from pancreatic cancer, looms over the election. In South Florida, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel talked to Jewish community members and former Hastings’s staffers to get a fuller picture of the longtime congressman.
Bar mitzvah boy: “Half the time you thought he was Jewish, with his jokes and different things,” said Mitch Ceasar, the former longtime chairman of the Broward Democratic Party, who knew Hastings for 47 years. When Ceasar’s daughter had her bat mitzvah nearly 20 years ago, Hastings was inevitably there in the audience. “He started chanting,” Ceasar said, recalling that the congressman displayed a firm command of the Hebrew prayers. “Everybody noticed he knew the words and didn’t need a book.” The rabbi was so impressed that he asked him to come up to the bimah and speak. Despite his penchant for sermonizing, Hastings declined, mindful not to steal the spotlight.
Speaking the language: David Goldenberg, who worked as chief of staff for Hastings in Washington, recalled walking into his old boss’s office one day and encountering a mystifying utterance. “He was frustrated about something, and he said something to me in Yiddish,” said Goldenberg, now Midwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League. “I gave him this blank stare, and he said, ‘Goldenberg, how is it that I know Yiddish and you don’t?’” Hastings wasn’t exactly fluent, Goldenberg said, but his command of the language was hardly superficial. On a separate occasion, Goldberg remembered watching with a mix of awe and fascination when, after introducing Hastings to his future wife’s 80-year-old grandmother in Chicago, he began conversing with her in broken Yiddish. The encounter was a lasting source of amusement between Hastings and Goldberg. “What would bubbe say?” Hastings liked to tease his former staffer when Yiddish came up in conversation.
Reliable ally: For Hastings, engendering relationships with the Jewish community went hand in hand with his staunch support for Israel. The congressman was among the Jewish state’s fiercest defenders in Congress and visited Israel an estimated 20 times. In 2007, he helped grow a forest in the northern Galilee — named after the civil rights leader Coretta Scott King — that had been destroyed the year prior during the war with Hezbollah. In 2015, Hastings voted against the Iran nuclear deal. “I never had to worry about his vote,” said Rabbi Leonid Feldman of Temple Beth El, a Conservative synagogue in West Palm Beach. Luis Fleischman, the former longtime vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Palm Beach County, agreed. “He stood with us, I would say, 100%,” Fleischman said of Hastings, “even at times when I thought he wouldn’t.”
Leaving a legacy: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), one of three Jewish Democratic House members in Florida, said Hastings’s foreign policy views went well beyond mere political calculation. “Alcee was a proud defender of the U.S.-Israel relationship because he understood the history of Israel, he understood Israel’s place in the Middle East and he understood why Israel is such a vital ally and good friend of the United States,” Deutch told JI. “Most importantly, in the Democratic Party, he understood why supporting Israel was entirely consistent with his progressive view of the world, and that’s a really important legacy that he left for all of us.”
Build Back Better bill includes $100 million boost for Nonprofit Security Grant Program
Tucked within Democrats’ $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” budget proposal announced on Thursday is an additional $100 million boost for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), a partial victory for lawmakers and community activists who have called current funding levels insufficient, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
In the bill: Both the House and Senate have proposed holding funding 2022 for the NSGP — which provides grants for nonprofits and religious institutions to upgrade their security — steady at its 2021 level of $180 million, despite a spike in hate crimes and a significant 2021 shortfall. If passed, the new budget would bring the total for 2022 funding up to $280 million. That’s still $80 million short of the $360 million funding level that Jewish community organizations and the program’s most vocal backers on Capitol Hill have said is necessary, but represents progress for NSGP’s supporters.
Behind the scenes: Some lawmakers had been working to include a $180 million boost to the NSGP in the Build Back Better bill, a source familiar with the matter told JI. Negotiations settled on the $100 million level some time ago, the individual added. JIhas learned that Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) spearheaded the negotiations for the NSGP boost in the bill, first raising the proposal in a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chair Gary Peters (D-MI) in August, which was obtained by JI.
Quotable: “I’m pleased that the new framework for the reconciliation package includes my request to allocate significantly increased resources for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program,” Rosen said in a statement to JI. “The alarming uptick in antisemitic incidents has highlighted a clear and urgent need to provide vulnerable Jewish institutions with physical security enhancements, and that’s exactly what this robust investment of an additional $100 million for the program will do.”
Not done yet: Advocates are not yet calling it quits on pushing for the full $360 million funding level. While neither the House nor Senate offered increased funding for the NSGP in their proposed appropriations bills, activists remain hopeful that could change. “The appropriations bills are still yet to [be finalized],” a source told JI. “If we end up in this bill getting the full amount, then we won’t need to do it in the appropriations bill. But that’s going to be another opportunity.”
Virginia’s education culture wars could decide its next governor
In the closing days of a dead-heat race for governor, Virginia is looking less like a blue state than a black-and-blue one. Demographic changes that have altered the makeup — and the politics — of the Old Dominion have touched off emotional, and sometimes violent, battles in America’s culture wars, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Culture clash: Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who once occupied the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, are having to step through minefields on charged issues like critical race theory, parents’ roles in what their children are taught in school, transgender rights and even school calendars. Pocketbook issues have taken a back seat. Much of the divisiveness is being fueled by an increasingly diverse electorate in Northern Virginia that is calling for greater equity, and is coming to define the final days of a race that is being seen as a bellwether for 2022 and even 2024.
Backlash to blue: “People used to refer to [Northern Virginia] as purple. Then they started referring to it as solidly blue,” said Guila Franklin Siegel, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. “But in reality, there is a significant backlash in Virginia to these changing demographics, which is why you’re seeing these culture wars being instigated as part of the campaigns across the Commonwealth.”
Equitable education: William Kilberg, a retired partner at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher who served as solicitor for the U.S. Department of Labor in the Nixon administration, told JI that the recent debate around critical race theory, and a controversial decision to get rid of an entrance exam at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson for Science and Technology in Alexandria to increase diversity at the school, have concerned him. “Jews in Virginia, like Jews everywhere, care about education. They want a merit system,” Kilberg said. “They don’t want a system which is based on somebody else’s notion of equity.”
Both sides: Jewish Democrats have their own concerns about education, particularly after a Texas school district advised educators to teach “both sides of the Holocaust” to be compliant with an anti-critical race theory bill passed by Republican legislators. “The implications of this strategy for education mean that a Texas community now has to teach both sides on the Holocaust. They have to teach that it was good and it was bad,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who grew up in Richmond. “Jewish voters believe that there should be a role for parents in education, but not that there should be a role for white supremacists to write curriculums.”
Senators, experts coalesce around transparency regulations for social media companies
Hours ahead of Facebook’s announcement that it would be rebranding itself as “Meta” and shifting its company focus toward the so-called “metaverse,” the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee contemplated strategies for cracking down on extremism on social media platforms, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Call for reform: Dave Sifry, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society, summarized the frustrations of many of the members of the expert panel and the committee in his opening statement. “Self-regulation is clearly not working,” Sifry said. “Without regulation and reform, they will continue to focus on generating record profits at the expense of our safety and the security of our republic.
Private vs. public: Several of the panelists proposed new regulations that would force social media companies to open their internal systems and data — particularly their recommendation algorithms that push content into users’ feeds — to private researchers and scholars who could conduct oversight and publish their findings, while keeping private user data out of government hands. “They have lost their right to secrecy,” Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor who leads the school’s Cyber Policy Center, said. “We are at a critical moment when we need to know exactly what is happening on these platforms.”
Presented by Sapir
Today’s SAPIR releases advocate for a return to fundamental principles to ensure the future of pluralistic and meaningful Jewish life.
Content is King: Daniel Gordis observes that “a thick sense of Jewish peoplehood is dissolving. It is our fault, because we have robbed the Jewish tradition of the power to enrich its people. When we failed to teach the texts and rituals that had been its foundation, we weakened our connection to a great civilization — and also to one another.” Arguing that a return to shared religious knowledge is necessary, Gordis is careful to “jettison the prevailing assumption that an embrace of tradition has to be theologically driven,” offering reflections on a shared curriculum and leadership that could drive such change. Read here.
Culture is Not Enough: Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove imagines a world in which Jews spend as much energy on their religion as they do on politics. “We are more at home debating the Iran deal and the grades of uranium that can be weaponized than we are opening a prayer book. We make every effort to understand the opportunity and challenge of critical race theory, but we are flat-footed when asked to consider what it means to stand in a covenantal relationship with God… It is only by way of mitzvot, the positive acts of Jewish identification, the language and behaviors of the Jewish religion, that Judaism will survive. Mitzvot are the mystic chords, the commitments and commandments by which one Jew connects to another — and, belief permitting, to God.” Read here.
🔥 Combating Corruption: In The New York Times Magazine, Rania Abouzeid speaks to Lebanese government officials who are working — against corrupt authorities and without support — to bring the country out of crisis more than a year after an explosion at the Port of Beirut decimated part of the city. “The Beirut explosion was one of the ugliest manifestations of everything that has gone wrong with Lebanon since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, an indictment of a postwar system that has enabled a handful of politicians to dominate and exploit every facet of the state. The country has collapsed under the burden of concurrent crises that were decades in the making: a financial and economic implosion, grinding political deadlock, the Aug. 4 blast.” [NYTimes]
🏘️ Settlement Squabble: In The Washington Post, Steve Hendrix and Shira Rubin describe new friction between the Bennett government and the Biden administration following the recent batch of settlement approvals, coupled with the designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. “A diplomat in the region familiar with the situation confirmed reports that the Biden administration had conveyed to Israeli officials its anger over the planned construction. The administration was displeased not only that Israel had ignored President Biden’s explicit opposition to settlement expansion, but also that many of the new homes would be in outposts deep in the West Bank and not just in established settlements close to Jerusalem.” [WashPost]
🤝 Positive President: In the Khaleej Times, Israeli President Isaac Herzog paints an optimistic picture for the future of the Middle East, one year after Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized relations via the Abraham Accords. “Together, Israel and the UAE can prove to the whole Middle East that peace pays off. Our region is full of people who quietly realize that it is time for normal relations with Israel. I believe that the success of our partnership will inspire and embolden them to speak up and make peace. But more than that, Israel and the UAE have a genuine opportunity to spearhead change in this troubled region, by leading by the power of example. Together, we can lead innovative efforts to address environmental, water, and sustainability challenges, for the benefit of our whole region.” [KhaleejTimes]
🚪 Mezuza Dilemma: John J. Miller writes in TheWall Street Journal about his dilemma of what to do with the mezuzas left in his father’s house by the home’s previous Jewish owner. “When I asked my dad what he planned to do with the mezuzas, he said he was thinking about taking them down. I wondered about this. Would removing them be an act of disrespect to the faith that is the forerunner of my own? Would keeping them up in a non-Jewish home be its own kind of desecration? I urged him to let me do a little research. As I studied, I came to appreciate the long history of mezuzas as well as the complexity that surrounds their use. [WSJ]
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Around the Web
🍦 Boycott Backlash: New York State’s pension fund is pulling $111 million in investments out of Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, over the ice cream maker’s decision to stop selling its products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
📃 Caucusing: Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced a resolution condemning Israel for designating six Palestinian organizations as terrorist groups. The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as well as the other seven Democrats who voted against the Iron Dome supplement.
👨⚖️ Debris Debate: The fate of the debris from the collapsed Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Fla., is being contested in court, as victims’ families press for an additional search of the rubble, while officials question whether a fifth search is worth the cost.
🍔 Animal-friendly Funds: Impossible Foods Inc, which produces plant-based alternatives to meat, is in discussions for $500 million in fundraising at a valuation of $7 billion.
🥯 Bagels and Luxe: While authentic New York delis are an endangered species, chic “designer delis” have popped up around the city, using the traditional Jewish deli as inspiration for a luxury eating experience.
💲 An Offer They Could Refuse: Zebulon Simentov, who fled Afghanistan last month and is now living in Turkey, is said to be refusing to go to Israel unless he is paid $10 million.
🧙♀️ Wild Witchcraft: RNS spotlights a movement that combines Judaism and witchcraft, using ancient medical rituals described in Jewish texts to justify the unique practice.
⚾ Moneyball: MLB manager Bob Melvin is leaving the Oakland A’s for the San Diego Padres.
📹 Candid Camera: High-resolution photos of Israel’s most sensitive sites are now available to view, due to a U.S. amendment updated by the Trump administration that changed the level of resolution allowed by satellite images of Israel.
🇸🇦 Returning to Riyadh: The Saudi investment forum known as “Davos in the Desert,” which featured speakers including BlackRock’s Larry Fink and Goldman Sachs’ CEO David Solomon, concluded on Thursday.
👀 Absence Alert: Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, was conspicuously missing from the investment conference in Riyadh, which he usually hosts.
🪖 Law of War: The IDF complied with international law during the May conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, according to a report published on Thursday by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.
🚫 Terrorist Talk: Hezbollah condemned Saudi Arabia’s decision to designate the Al-Qard Al-Hasan Association a terrorist organization.
📺 Shots Fired: ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called on Fox Corporation not to air Tucker Carlson’s new documentary about the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, calling the series an “abject, indisputable lie.”
Pic of the Day
Former Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who represented Westchester County for more than 30 years, poses in front of her official portrait hanging in the House Appropriations Committee’s main chamber this week.
Chief innovation officer of Ralph Lauren, David Lauren turns 50 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Haifa-born director and screenwriter of films including “The Lord of the Rings,” Ralph Bakshi turns 83… Dean emeritus of the Yale School of Management, Jeffrey E. Garten turns 75… Academy Award-winning actor, he played Yoni Netanyahu in the 1976 film “Victory at Entebbe,” Richard Dreyfuss turns 74… CEO of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of its namesake foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, Dimitri Simes turns 74… Director of the social justice organizing program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Mordechai E. Liebling turns 73… Pulitzer Prize-winning author and editor of The New Yorker since 1998, David Remnick turns 63… Bernard Greenberg turns 62… Rabbi of Phoenix, Arizona’s Temple Beth Shalom, Dana Evan Kaplan turns 61… Author, satirist and public speaker, Evan Sayet turns 61… Classical pianist, Susan Merdinger turns 59… Sports agent who has negotiated over $7 billion of player contracts, Drew Rosenhaus turns 55… Actor who appeared in 612 episodes of daytime soap opera “As the World Turns,” Grayson McCouch turns 53… Screenwriter and film director based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Andrea Dorfman turns 53… Mathematician, cryptologist and computer programmer, Daniel J. Bernstein turns 50… Emmy Award-winning television producer, writer and actor, Michael Schur turns 46… VP for strategic communications and business development at Anchorage-based Northern Compass Group, Rachel Barinbaum… Leigh Shirvan Helfenbein… Senior manager at Audible, Inc., Samantha Zeldin… Regional communications director at The White House, Seth Schuster turns 23… Senior educational consultant at Hermiona Education, now a PhD. candidate at Harvard, Leora Eisenberg turns 23… Editorial producer at CNN, David Siegel…
SATURDAY: Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Caro turns 86… Former president of the University of Minnesota, chancellor of the University of Texas System and president of the University of California, Mark Yudof turns 77… Actor, best known for his portrayal of “The Fonz” in the “Happy Days” sitcom, Henry Winkler turns 76… NBC’s anchor, reporter and commentator, Andrea Mitchell turns 75… Israeli violinist, violist and conductor, Shlomo Mintz turns 64… Meat-packing executive whose 27-year prison sentence for fraud was commuted in 2017, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin turns 62… Former CEO of Qualcomm, he is a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Paul E. Jacobs, Ph.D. turns 59… Partner in the DC office of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, former attorney general of Maryland, Douglas F. “Doug” Gansler turns 59… Partner and co-founder of the Irvine, Calif., law firm of Wolfe & Wyman, Stuart B. Wolfe turns 56… Global head of public policy at Apollo Global Management, David Krone turns 55… White House correspondent for The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN, Maggie Haberman turns 48… President of The Gold Standard, LLC., Jeremy Seth Gold turns 46… Partner in the LA and DC offices of Crowell & Moring, Paul M. Rosen turns 43… Communications officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts, Joshua Eric Rosenblum turns 43… Ivanka Yael Trump turns 40… Founding director at Tech Tribe and director of social media for Chabad, Mordechai Lightstone turns 37… Politico reporter covering U.S. House races, Ally Mutnick turns 29… Director at DC-based Targeted Victory, Rebecca Schieber turns 29…
SUNDAY: Actor Ron Rifkin turns 82… British historian, born in Baghdad, emeritus professor of international relations at Oxford, Avraham “Avi” Shlaim turns 76… Author, historian and writer-at-large for the U.K.-based Prospect Magazine, Sam Tanenhaus turns 66… Staff writer for The New Yorker, Susan Orlean turns 66… Owner of both the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and professional soccer team Real Mallorca, Robert Sarver turns 60… Managing partner of Arel Capital, Richard G. Leibovitch turns 58… National director for progressive engagement at AIPAC, Marilyn Rosenthal… British lawyer who previously served as CEO of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marc Jonathan “Jon” Benjamin turns 57… Founding partner at Lanx Management, former president of AIPAC and past chairman of the Orthodox Union, Howard E. Tzvi Friedman turns 56… Director of development for Foundation for Jewish Camp, Corey Cutler turns 54… Member of the California State Assembly, Marc Berman turns 41… Entrepreneur, best-selling author and the founder of Pencils of Promise, Adam Braun turns 38… Rabbi-in-residence at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, she is the founder of Midrash Manicures, combining Jewish education and creative nail art, Yael Buechler… Senior manager for insights, analytics and global thought leadership at PwC, Spencer Herbst turns 30… Director of institutional advancement at Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, Masha Shollar…