👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act compromise between the House and Senate — which the House passed last night — includes a U.S.-Israel cybersecurity grant program and a condemnation of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The $1 billion in supplemental Iron Dome funding is not included.
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brushed off a question from Jewish Insider about the confirmation process for antisemitism envoy nominee Deborah Lipstadt, saying that Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is responsible for scheduling hearings.
While Menendez can schedule a hearing unilaterally, he has said he wants to avoid doing so without Republican consent. Republicans, including Risch, have raised concerns about Lipstadt’s past tweets, some of which have criticized committee members, and have requested more time to review them.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Carson v. Makin, a case involving parochial schools’ ability to receive public funding. JI’s Marc Rod spoke to organizations that filed amicus briefs in the case earlier this fall — read more here.
A Jewish woman was wounded in a stabbing attack at the entrance to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem today. Police arrested a teenage girl on suspicion of carrying out the attack and are treating the incident as a suspected terror attack, the latest in a string of similar attacks over the past few weeks.
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai is in Washington, D.C., today, continuing his tour of the U.S. He is scheduled to meet with a group of legislators brought together by Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), as well as representatives from AIPAC, The Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the State Department’s deputy envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Aaron Keyak, and the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community, Chanan Weissman.
Earlier this week, Shai met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield in New York. Shai will wrap up his trip at the Israeli-American Council’s annual conference, which is being held from Thursday to Saturday in South Florida.
the buck stops here
The ball’s in Alex Lasry’s court in Wisconsin
Alex Lasry was easy to miss as he hovered near the counter at Colectivo Coffee on a recent afternoon in downtown Madison, Wis. The 34-year-old basketball executive could easily have been mistaken for a professor at the nearby university or a government employee in the Capitol building across the street. It can be difficult standing out as one of a dozen candidates running in Wisconsin’s Democratic Senate primary. But Lasry believes his campaign is catching on. “We feel great about the prospects of the race,” he told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassellast week, slinking into a table near the back of the café. “We’re seeing a ton of momentum and enthusiasm.”
Big bucks: Since launching his campaign, Lasry, a former Obama White House aide on leave from his position as senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks — owned by his father, the billionaire hedge fund manager Marc Lasry — has earned endorsements from several statewide labor groups while raising more than $2.3 million, according to the latest FEC filings. He has also loaned himself $800,000, despite a somewhat ambiguous claim, in an interview with JI last March, that he had no plans to “self-fund” but instead would “invest” in his candidacy.
Core issues: Lasry has benefited from relationships within both Democratic politics and professional basketball. But he argues that his candidacy is resonating because he has been speaking directly to voter concerns, at this point, for the better part of a year. “This race is too important to not be talking to voters right now and defining what this race is going to be about,” he told JI, “which is, how do we create jobs, raise wages and bring more investment back to the state?”
China watch: Lasry says he has often heard from voters about China’s increasing prominence on the international stage. Still, he was reticent regarding the NBA’s highly profitable business relationship with China — a subject of renewed controversy since China pulled Boston Celtics games from the internet after the team’s center called out Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator.” Lasry seemed eager to sidestep the matter. “When, I think, we’re talking about how we combat the rise of China, that’s the U.S. government’s role,” he reasoned, adding: “As a senator, you have the ability to influence and make change in how we’re dealing with and working with other countries.”
Eye on Israel: J Street, the left-leaning Israel advocacy group, is supporting Lasry as well as three of his competitors in the race. “I’m proud to have the J Street stamp of approval, and that’s because we agree that a two-state solution is the solution, and I can be very pro-Israel while also saying I believe very much in a Palestinian state,” Lasry, who says he is against Israeli settlement expansion, told JI. “I don’t think those two issues are at odds, and I think that’s where J Street and I both see very much eye to eye.”
on the hill
Senate shuts down effort to block arms sale to Saudi Arabia
The Senate voted on Tuesday night against an effort to block a sale of $650 million in air-to-air missiles and related equipment to Saudi Arabia, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. Thirty senators, nearly all of them Democrats, voted in support of efforts to block the sale.
Playing defense: Both the White House — which supports the sale despite President Joe Biden’s past criticisms of the Saudi regime and his campaign trail pledge not to support further arms sales — and the sale’s supporters in Congress framed the package as a defensive measure to counter drone and missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote comes as the Saudi government calls for additional U.S. support, beyond the arms sale, against regional threats.
Offering support: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), one of the Senate Democrats who voted in support of the sale, echoed the Biden administration’s justifications. “The weapons up for discussion today are being used in this context to defend against these aerial attacks. As air-to-air missiles, they are largely incapable of attacking civilian targets or infrastructure, a critical factor in my decision to support this sale,” he said during debate on the measure. “And while some have argued they could be used to support the Saudi blockade, the fact is that most humanitarian aid is delivered via land and sea.”
Roadblock: The effort to block the sale was led by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The other 27 senators who opposed the sale were Democrats. “The United States must do everything in our power to bring this brutal and horrific war to an end. Exporting more missiles to Saudi Arabia does nothing but further this conflict and pour more gasoline on [an] already raging fire,” Sanders said. “My simple question is, Why in the world would the United States reward such a regime, which has caused such pain in Yemen, with more weapons?”
Mixing camps: Paul, a frequent opponent of foreign arms sales, has also been the only senator standing in the way of a bill providing an additional $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile- defense system. Sanders attempted earlier this year to stop a $735 million sale of arms to Israel. Opponents of the Saudi arms sale also included some vocal supporters of military assistance to Israel, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Bonus: Former Trump administration Mideast advisor Jason Greenblatt hosts Fahad Nazer, the spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, on the latest episode of his podcast, “The Diplomat.”
food for thought
A new cooking app has roots in Upper West Side Jewish cuisine
For people with dietary restrictions looking for suitable recipes online, finding the right ones is like manna from culinary — and swipe-and-click — heaven. A close-knit group of Jewish day school alums-turned-startup founders say they have the solution for this problem and others with Manna Cooking, a new app that launched on the iOS app store on Tuesday. In a Zoom interview with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutchfrom their separate Brooklyn apartments, Manna co-founders Josh and Rachel Abady — wearing matching Manna sweatshirts — shared an ambitious vision for their new startup, hoping to become something like the Goodreads or Spotify of food.
Day school connection: “The goal of Manna is to make food easy for real people,” said Josh Abady, the company’s CEO. His sister, Rachel Abady, is the chief marketing officer, and Josh’s childhood best friend from Solomon Schechter of Westchester (now the Leffell School), Guy Greenstein, is Manna’s chief technology officer. The trio has spent the past several months in an incubator program run by Interplay Ventures, a VC firm that has invested in successful companies including Coinbase and Warby Parker. They raised $400,000 to launch the app, which they began working on in 2019, and they aim to raise $3 million in a seed round in the spring.
Swipe right: The main interface of the app is based on dating apps like Tinder, with users able to swipe through recipe cards as one does for potential romantic partners. “People love swiping on stuff. It’s fun, it’s addictive. It’s like food porn; even if you’re not looking for something to actually cook, you just want to look at something that looks delicious,” said Josh.“Half the battle with recipes is, like, ‘What the hell do I cook tonight?’ You need some beautiful, passive inspiration.”
Family of foodies: For Rachel, 32, and Josh, 27, “food was a big part of our lives because of all the Jewish holidays,” recalled Rachel. The family always had Shabbat dinner together, and also enjoyed the thriving food scene in their Manhattan neighborhood. “Outside our doors on the Upper West Side, beyond Jews being strong in numbers, you have every deli, every bodega, every restaurant you could possibly want. And so it was just like always integral [to us].”
Stay away: Manna users can input foods they are allergic or sensitive to or simply want to avoid, and those ingredients will then be highlighted in recipes so users know to avoid them. Down the road, the app’s creators plan to add a feature to search by a specific type of diet or restriction — kosher, Keto, vegan, gluten-free, halal, etc.
Read more here.
🌆 Lower East Side Story: The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott, Lo Bénichou, Shikha Subramaniam and Kolin Pope create an interactive story that looks at the history of 97 Orchard St. on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the site of the present-day Tenement Museum. “Millions of Americans can trace their ancestry back to buildings like this one, and collective memory frequently softens the narrative. Conditions were often dire, and disease rampant, and tenement laws were driven as much by xenophobia as by genuine concern for the poor. The fear of outsiders, often associated with actual and metaphorical disease, continues to shape Americans’ views of their own identity and security. Today, these buildings are part of a thriving neighborhood, with many apartments joined to create larger, more habitable spaces.” [WashPost]
💸 Soaring Shekel: In Tablet, Matti Friedman explores the evolution of the shekel and how it has risen from a weak and mistrusted currency to its current dizzying heights. “Those watching Israel from the outside are condemned to mistake political news for the life of the country. Insiders understand that over the past two decades something deep has come together here in culture and economics, and that modern Israeli society is only tenuously connected to the government. That’s the answer to a perplexing question — namely, how on earth the economy managed to boom through the past two years of political deadlock and infighting, with no national budget. ‘It’s a reflection of the fact that to some extent our economy isn’t dependent on the government,’ [economist Paul] Rivlin [of Tel Aviv University] said.” [Tablet]
💃 Model Behavior: The Wall Street Journal‘s Elisa Lipsky-Karasz profiles supermodel and philanthropist Karlie Kloss, sister-in-law of Jared Kushner, and her efforts to evolve her career beyond the fashion world. “So, 16 years, at least 43 Vogue covers worldwide and countless campaigns for brands including Versace, Dior and Louis Vuitton later, Kloss has recast her career strategy, seizing the reins of content production and not simply waiting to appear as booked talent. It’s something akin to being an actor who produces films. This summer, Kloss switched modeling agencies, joining The Society, which also represents Amber Valletta, Adut Akech and personalities such as musician Willow Smith and reality star–turned-model Kendall Jenner. In recent years, Kloss has invested in W magazine, alongside Jason Blum and Lewis Hamilton, as well as in companies including Therabody, Mirror and Reformation.” [WSJ]
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Around the Web
👩 Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Senate voted 68-31 to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel’s reappointment to the Federal Communications Commission, making her its first permanent female chair.
✍️ Hot Seat: Dozens of foreign policy professionals and Jewish community activists penned a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee members urging them to confirm Sarah Margon, whom was nominated to be an assistant secretary of state.
🛰️ Drone On: On the heels of the November drone attack on the official residence of the Iraqi prime minister, The Washington Post delves into the increasing threat of the proliferation of attack drones in the Middle East, particularly among paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran.
🥯 Bagel Bites: Two Los Angeles bagel shops are battling in the press and on social media over the best way to mass-produce the bready breakfast staple.
⚽ Goooooal!: New York’s Crotona Park Soccer Field in the Bronx will undergo a $363,000 refurbishment courtesy of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates and the New York City Football Club, in a collaboration facilitated by Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
🎞️ Silver Screen: Global Screen ordered “Munich: 72,” a three-part documentary that recounts the deadly attack on Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
📈 Going Public: Intel intends to list public shares of Mobileye by mid-2022, which could value the self-driving car subsidiary at more than $50 billion.
🎰 Big Bet: The Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. will sell and lease back its three casino properties in a deal valued as high as $1.8 billion.
📜 Rare Bid: The Verge’s Nilay Patel talks to software engineer Jonah Erlich about how a meme on Twitter evolved into a genuine bid by a crypto collection to buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution in an auction, raising some $47 million in Ethereum.
📺 In Hindsight: British actress Tamsin Greig, a practicing Christian who starred as the family matriarch in the popular U.K. show “Friday Night Dinner,” which focuses on a middle-class Jewish family’s Shabbat gatherings, said she should not have been cast in the role.
🏫 School Board Scuffle: The Toronto District School Board recommended the censure of a Jewish trustee who flagged that one of their official manuals endorsed Palestinian terrorism, because they said her opposition to the materials could be construed as “discrimination” against Muslims.
🖼️ Arresting Art: The Polish Association Aberdeen and Aberdeen University in Scotland will host “I Opened My Eyes, There’s No One,” an art exhibit featuring the work of Jews imprisoned in the Białystok ghetto who were forced to replicate artwork.
🚕 Cabs Without Cabbies: Israel is aiming to have 400 self-driving electric taxis on the road by early next year, according to a draft law put forward by the country’s Transportation Ministry.
📱 Contactless Convenience: Google Pay launched in Israel on Tuesday, allowing Android mobile phone users to pay for products in stores accepting contactless payments.
Pic of the Day
France’s ambassador to the United States, Phillippe Etienne, hosted a reception at his Kalorama residence in Washington, D.C., last night celebrating the French television series “Un Village Français.” The show was awarded the 9th Annual American Abroad Media Award at the reception.
The show’s producer, Emmanuel Daucé, along with actresses Marie Kremer and Constance Dollé, were on hand to accept the award.
Other notable attendees included former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), former Ambassador James Jeffrey, Aaron Lobel, Esin Erkan, Danielle Crittenden, David Frum, Rob Satloff, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Steve Clemons, Josh Dawsey, Eugene Daniels, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, Sarah Longwell, Tim Cohen, Ben Wittes, Peter Ackerman, Joanne Leedom Ackerman, Zalmay Khalilzad, Cheryl Benard, Mary Beth Long, Leslie Schapira, Huda Farouki, Samia Farouki, Shaista Mahmoud, John Hannah, Pascal Confavreux, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Paula Dobriansky, Jeff Gedmin, Jules Naudet, Adrienne Jamieson and Patrick Chamorel.
Actor, composer and son of concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein, John Rubinstein turns 75…
Founder and CEO of Las Vegas boxing promotion company Top Rank, Bob Arum turns 90… Israeli folk singer and lyricist, winner of the Kinor David Prize, Chava Alberstein turns 74… Astrophysicist and senior scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Margaret Geller turns 74… Film director and screenwriter, including box office successes such as “The Parent Trap” and “What Women Want,” Nancy Meyers turns 72… Professor of human development at Cornell University, Robert J. Sternberg turns 72… Founder of the Honey Sharp Gallery and Ganesh Café in the Berkshires, Honey Sharp turns 71… Bedford, Texas resident, Doug Bohannon turns 70… Senior executive producer of special events at ABC News, Marc Burstein turns 68… Emmy Award-winning sports commentator and journalist, Roy Firestone turns 68… Chairman of a nationwide insurance brokerage, Bruce P. Gendelman turns 67…
Author of Toward a Meaningful Life, and chairman of The Algemeiner Journal, Rabbi Simon Jacobson turns 65… Retired administrative law judge at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Nadine Lewis turns 64… Rabbi, speaker and musician known as Rav Shmuel, he is the head of the Yeshiva program run by the IDT Corporation in Newark, N.J., Shmuel Skaist turns 57… Co-founder of Office Tiger, CloudBlue and Xometry, Randy Altschuler turns 51… Co-founder of TheLi.st, Rachel Sklar turns 49… EVP of Dow Jones and general manager of The Wall Street Journal, Aaron Kissel turns 47… Founder of the “Popular Information” newsletter, Judd Legum turns 43… Actress, comedian and television writer, Joanna “Jo” Firestone turns 35… Venture capitalist in Israel, Alex Oppenheimer turns 33… Senior associate at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Ali Krimmer turns 30…