👋 Good Tuesday morning!
It’s primary day in Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Vermont. Here are the races we’re watching:
In Wisconsin, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes appears poised to win the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), after Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlewski both ended their campaigns in the final weeks before today’s primary. Political activist Steven Olikara remains in the race.
In Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is facing a primary challenge from former Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels, who notched an endorsement over the weekend from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
And in Connecticut, Republican Leora Levy is hoping an endorsement from former President Donald Trump will push her campaign over the finish line in her primary battle to take on Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in November.
In federal court in New York yesterday, Ben & Jerry’s sought to stop its parent company, Unilever, from transferring its Israel-based ice cream operations to the company’s longtime Israeli franchisee, American Quality Products — a deal that was finalized in June — over concerns that the Israeli operation could undermine the ice cream company’s social mission. Ben & Jerry’s latest effort may be too little, too late, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law President Alyza Lewin tells us. “All the steps that needed to be taken have been taken,” Lewin told JI. “The trademark licenses have been transferred. It’s a done deal.”
Following the resumption of nuclear talks with Iran last week, E.U. officials on Monday circulated a draft of the final deal — which was accepted by U.S. officials but has not yet been agreed to by Iranian diplomats. Previously, one sticking point had been Washington’s refusal to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of Foreign Terror Organizations. It is unclear whether Iran dropped this demand, or how it fits into the text of the deal being distributed by E.U. diplomats.
A spokesperson for Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) told JI, “As Senator Rosen has repeatedly stated, Iran can never be allowed to have a nuclear weapons capability. This means any future agreement should be longer and stronger.”
Robert Satloff, the executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, referred to recent headlines about a revived nuclear deal as “theater.”
“We have been close to — and far from — a deal for a long time; that is to say, the only thing standing in the way of a deal is Iran’s preference for the status quo. If that changes, we have a deal; if it doesn’t, no deal,” Satloff told JI.
DMFI PAC endorses Sean Patrick Maloney in NY-17 House primary
Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee is endorsing Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) as he seeks to fend off a primary challenge from his left in New York’s redrawn 17th Congressional District, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports. The announcement on Monday came just weeks ahead of the Aug. 23 primary, where Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is competing against state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a progressive political scion making her first bid for federal office.
Unusual alignment: Both candidates have occupied a mainstream Democratic lane on Middle East policy, even as Biaggi has gained backing from some far-left lawmakers who have supported measures that are critical of Israel, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Biaggi, meanwhile, has clarified that she disagrees with Ocasio-Cortez on such issues, advocating for continued U.S. military aid to Israel as well as supplemental Iron Dome funding, among other policies DMFI supports.
Bypassing Biaggi: A spokesperson for DMFI PAC, Jake McClory, had no comment on Biaggi’s positions or her recent endorsements, focusing instead on Maloney’s record in an email to JI on Monday. “We’re endorsing strong pro-Israel incumbent champions in Congress, including Congressman Maloney,” McClory said.
Two more endorsements: In a statement to JI, the pro-Israel group said it is throwing its support behind two additional members of New York’s Democratic House delegation: Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who chairs the House Democratic caucus. According to McClory, DMFI PAC, which has invested significant resources in a number of recent primary battles, will be “spending on behalf of some of” the three candidates it is now backing in New York. He declined to provide further details, however, regarding “how much or for whom.”
Question marks: DMFI PAC has yet to weigh in on two high-profile New York races, including a hotly contested matchup between longtime Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in the new 12th District. The other race, in New York’s redrawn 10th, features a dozen Democrats who are jockeying for the rare open seat. Among the leading candidates is state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who drew criticism last month when she expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. “We have no plans to endorse in those races at the moment,” McClory told JI.
In the kitchen with Michael Twitty’s Koshersoul
Sit down at author Michael Twitty’s Shabbat dinner table, and you might be served old-school kasha varnishkes reminiscent of the Pale of Settlement, his signature collard greens (made with schmaltz — chicken fat — rather than lard or bacon grease) and brisket flavored with berbere, an Ethiopian spice. For the James Beard Award-winning food writer and recipe developer, this is standard holiday fare, even if it’s a combination that has probably never been replicated at another Jewish table. This mix of cuisines and cultures is Twitty’s calling card: He calls it “Koshersoul,” which is also the name of his latest book. He talked to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch about his unique culinary style, his experience with racism in the Jewish community and what it means to be a “community scholar.”
Around the table: “Recipes are nothing compared to the real story of why the dishes came to be and why people enjoy them, why people pass them and people share them, why people incorporate them into their hospitality and generosity,” Twitty told JI. He gets into all of this in Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew, out today. The book features an exploration of Twitty’s own background and his attempts to understand how Black Jews fit into both the Jewish tradition and the African American tradition — told through long conversations with friends, thought partners and mentors.
Fusing identities: Twitty, who grew up (and still lives) in the suburbs outside of Washington, D.C., converted to Judaism at 22. He has spent the past two decades navigating those two once-separate identities — Black and Jewish — that he has fused in his life. “When I go into the kitchen to make my unique brand of koshersoul food, all of it goes with me,” he writes. “Food has been my primary lens for navigating my citizenship within the Jewish people and my birthright as a Black man in America.”
Mixed reactions: The Jewish response to his koshersoul style has mostly been positive, Twitty noted. People are excited “to try something new,” or to finally get to taste a dish that is usually not prepared in a kosher manner. But not everyone buys into it. His book tells the story of the wife of a friend for whom he cooked his kosher collard greens, who berated him for bringing what she viewed as a dirty, unhealthy dish into her home.
all in the family
A family reunion decades in the making
When more than 70 members of the massive Kuklya clan gather today in New York City, it won’t be a normal family reunion: The gathering is part of a roots journey nearly 30 years in the making, one undertaken by an amateur genealogist that spans from Lithuania in the 1800s to England to Minnesota, reports Jewish Insider’s Nava Katz. This extensive family tree includes many celebrities, including Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Bob Dylan, and connects back to medieval French commentator Rashi.
Getting started: British record producer Ian Levine began the project in 1995, long before the internet made such searches commonplace, after the death of his grandmother, Golda Cooklin. “I was very fond of her,” Levine told JI. “I never took the opportunity to talk to her about the Cooklins. She used to say, ‘It’s a wonderful family I come from; we’re the Jewish royal family,’ and when she died I decided I wanted to trace the family.” Levine began interviewing several of his grandmother’s cousins to find as much family information as he could before he began his search. “If I had started now, with the internet, I wouldn’t have known how to trace them.” Levine reflected. “I had a pen and wrote down everything that [they] said on scraps of paper.”
Midwest branch: Dan Singer, a New York City cantor originally from Superior, Minn., discovered his Kuklya roots through a Facebook group dedicated to genealogy. Singer’s father was orphaned at a young age and had been raised by cousins. He knew little about his father’s branch of the family. As an adult, he became a librarian and began doing family research with the help of a supervisor at the Superior Public Library. After his father’s death, Singer continued to research his ancestry. With the help of a genealogist, he was able to identify family members going back to the 1800s. He put his information on ancestry websites and joined genealogy Facebook groups, where people shared their findings and supported one another. One day, a group member saw his family tree and reached out. “She said to me, ‘Dan, you need to be in touch with Ian Levine.’ I said, ‘Why?’ She says, ‘Because you’re related to Bob Dylan.’”
Fit to print: Levine has compiled all of his research into two 1,000-page books, a family tree and an encyclopedia. He has also written a 2,000-page historical novel — “Kuklya” — that follows 18 generations of his family, based on his extensive research, with some gaps filled in with fiction. “It’s a mix between ‘Roots’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” Levine said of his novel.
🗳️ All Politics is Local: Politico’s Zack Stanton looks at the local dynamics that shaped last week’s member-on-member primary in Michigan between Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Andy Levin (D-MI). “Oakland County, Mich., is ground zero for a shift reshaping suburban politics throughout the nation, as affluent onetime Republican strongholds have shifted from red to purple to blue. The race illustrates the changing nature of the Democratic coalition nationally, but also how important and hard it is to predict local dynamics, even as politics becomes more nationalized. Rather than a national-style ideological fight, it was a race in which the two candidates agreed on almost all the issues… ‘You’ve got generational dynamics, you’ve got gender dynamics, and then it’s a math problem,’ says [Oakland County Commission head Dave] Woodward. ‘I get that it’s incredibly sexy to focus on all these national resources and kind of play out what AIPAC’s [role] was. But I think the fundamentals in this race did not change.’” [Politico]
🚀 Halting Fire: The New York Times’ Patrick Kingsley explores the rationale behind Hamas’ decision not to take part in the recent flare-up between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “Though not unprecedented, Hamas’s decision confirmed the complex and shifting role that the movement has assumed since seizing control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It also showcased the frictions among Palestinian Islamist militants about how best to fight Israel, and highlighted both the influence of Iran — which backs both Hamas and Islamic Jihad — and the limits of that support… ‘Hamas doesn’t want war at this moment,’ said Hugh Lovatt, an expert on Palestinian politics at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a research group. ‘There is a more pragmatic relationship between Hamas and Israel that has developed. To a certain extent, it might be mutual.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
📙 Trump Revelation: In an excerpt from their new book, The New York Times’ Peter Baker and The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser detail a conversation in which former President Donald Trump wished for generals as loyal as the ones who reported to Adolf Hitler.
📰 Blast from the Past: The New York Daily News endorsed former Rep. Liz Holtzman in the Democratic primary in New York’s new 10th Congressional District.
🙏 Rabbi Record: Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff will give today’s House prayer on Capitol Hill. C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman notes that today will mark Resnicoff’s 19th appearance in Congress, the most times a rabbi has given the daily prayer.
⚠️ Ominous Warning: Former Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who is living in self-exile in Israel, warned that Russia’s Jewish community is facing pressure from the government to publicly support its war in Ukraine.
💰 Million-Dollar Merger: Cox Enterprises Inc. is set to buy Axios Media Inc. in a $525 million deal.
🤖 Rude Robot: Meta’s newly launched AI chatbot is raising concerns among testers who warn that the technology appears to reject the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and perpetuate antisemitic tropes.
💸 Funding for Feeding: Ofek Lavian’s food stamp fintech Forage, which works to get online food delivery services to accept SNAP benefits, raised $22 million in its latest round of funding.
🚓 Vile Vandalism: Antisemitic graffiti was painted along the Bethesda Trolley Trail in Bethesda, Md., over the weekend.
🛰️ Satellite Concerns: Russia launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan, the first collaboration between the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Roscosmos space agency.
🕯️ Remembering: Author David McCullough, who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for his biographies of Presidents John Adams and Harry Truman, died at 89. Actress Olivia Newton-John died at 73. Hollywood attorney Burt Fields, who represented celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and the Beatles, died at 93.
Pic of the Day
U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley and his family hang a mezuzah on the ambassador’s residence in Buenos Aires. The Bosch Palace has served as the ambassador’s residence since 1929, and this is the first time it bears a mezuzah. From left are Marshall Sosland, Daryl Stanley Sosland, Jed August Sosland, Wendy Stanley, Amb. Stanley, Rabbi Mendy Grunblatt and Faigie Grunblatt.
Comedian, actor, writer, director and author, David Steinberg turns 80…
Prominent Sephardic rabbi in Tel Aviv, former member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Rabbi Moshe Maya turns 84… Physicist and venture capitalist, co-founder and general partner emeritus of New Markets Venture Partners, Donald M. “Don” Spero, Ph.D. turns 83… Romance novelist with 22 books on the NYT bestseller lists, Barbara Delinsky turns 77… Author of 36 Jewish-themed books, Seymour Rossel turns 77… Telecommunications consultant based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mark Shapiro turns 76… Psychologist and bestselling suspense novelist, Jonathan Kellerman turns 73… Southern California resident, Faith Schames… Brigadier general (IDF reserves) in the Israeli Air Force, Amir Abraham Haskel turns 69… Director of the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Israel and deputy chair of WZO, Tova Dorfman… U.S. senator (R-KS), Roger Marshall, M.D. turns 62… Member of the Minnesota State Senate, Ronald Steven “Ron” Latz turns 59… Professor of French at Yale University, he is the inaugural director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, Maurice Samuels turns 54… Chief of staff for the House Judiciary Committee, Amy B. Rutkin… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates from Montgomery County, Kirill Reznik turns 48… Reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel turns 47… Founding partner of New Deal Strategies, Rebecca Kirszner Katz… Chair of JEWELS (Jewish Education Where Every Level Student Succeeds), Jules Friedman turns 47… Executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Jacob Baime… Real estate investor based in Cleveland, Amanda Isaacson… Associate at Ropes & Gray LLP, Isaac Lederman… Israeli actor, best known for his role as Yanky Shapiro in the 2020 Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox,” Amit Rahav turns 27… South Pasadena, Calif., resident, Giovanna Fradkin… VP at Dezenhall Resources, Fred Brown… Elise Aronson… Dan Zimerman…