👋 Good Friday morning!
The conference circuit is in full swing this weekend. From the Halifax Security Forum in Nova Scotia to the IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain to Milken and Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi, and back stateside, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual weekend in Las Vegas and Chabad’s International Conference of Shluchim in New York, JI readers are out and about and on the circuit. If you hear or see anything of note, give us a holler! [email protected].
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we preview this weekend’s RJC leadership meeting and talk to former legislators and Jewish leaders about Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY) ascension to House leadership and his relationship with the Jewish community. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Harvard Chabad’s Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
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: U.K. Chief Rabbi Mirvis reflects on his historic trip to the UAE; Democratic senators speak out on Shireen Abu Akleh FBI investigation; A rabbi who has dedicated his career to Catholic-Jewish relations will be knighted by the Vatican; How Rufus Gifford, Washington’s chief of protocol, leverages the ‘power to convene’ to help advance foreign policy; Dani Shapiro’s ‘Signal Fires’ flickers between past and present bonds between Jewish families. Print the latest edition here.
Generational change is underway in the Democratic caucus following the announcements yesterday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) that they will not seek to remain in leadership in the next Congress, clearing the path for a new cohort of Democratic Party leaders, including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). Read more below.
The Republican Jewish Coalition is hosting its annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas this weekend. The forum — perennially a gathering for GOP politicians mulling future presidential campaigns — comes on the heels of last week’s midterm election results and former President Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential announcement earlier this week.
The meeting is set to feature a cavalcade of potential 2024 contenders, including Trump himself and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke privately to RJC members in a closed meeting on Thursday.
Trump had reportedly declinedan initial invitation to the gathering, but RJC announced Thursday afternoon that he will speak remotely.
Both within and outside of RJC, some former Trump supporters are abandoning the former president. Eric Levine — an RJC board member who spoke to Jewish Insider in a personal capacity — noted: “[They] are hoping that Trump will go away, and to the extent that he won’t go away, trying to rally around someone else that can displace him. I expect I’ll find a lot of that there,” he continued. Levine spoke to JI before Trump’s appearance was announced.
“I’m pretty pissed off, I’m very disappointed and very surprised, but upon reflection, not surprised,” said Levine, describing his mood following the midterms. Levine said he felt he had “underestimated the importance of the Trump factor going into the election.” He added that others he’s spoken to are likewise feeling “extreme disappointment.”
Levine said he hopes that RJC and its members will come away from the weekend in agreement that “we have to separate ourselves from the cult of Trump. If we can get past [that] hurdle… then we focus on what’s the best way to do that.” He said he did not anticipate that the group would have a consensus candidate by the end of the weekend, but said that opponents of Trump should try to narrow down the field to a small number of other candidates who can amass a competitive voter base.
Other speakers include Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who will deliver a virtual address, and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is currently working to marshal the support necessary to be the next House speaker.
Jewish Insider’s Capitol Hill reporter Marc Rod will be on the ground in Las Vegas all weekend covering the RJC conference. Follow him at @marcrod97 and reach out at [email protected] if you’ll be in town.
changing of the guard
Pro-Israel Democrats see Jeffries as a reliable successor to Pelosi, Hoyer
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent shockwaves through the political world with their announcements on Thursday that they will step down from Democratic leadership next year. But pro-Israel Democrats, who praised the two longtime Democratic leaders’ records on Israel and Jewish issues, said that the community is in safe hands with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as Pelosi’s anticipated successor, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Looking ahead: “The Democratic Party and the pro-Israel camp needs someone just like Hakeem to lead us into the future. In fact, I would say, if the pro-Israel community wanted to create a Democratic leader for the future, we would create Hakeem Jeffries,” former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) told JI. “Hakeem is not just interested in these issues, he’s devoted to them. He’s respectful of the American Jewish community. He identifies with it. And he’s just a really nice guy on top of it.”
In the mold: Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), who served as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when Jeffries was first elected in 2012, said that Jeffries is “completely consistent” with Pelosi and Hoyer on U.S.-Israel relations. “He came to Congress as a voice of pro-Israel activism. And he served with the same voice and he has an ability to organize coalitions across a very diverse spectrum that will support U.S.-Israeli relations,” Israel said on Thursday. “So his continued leadership, assuming that the caucus comes to agreement on his candidacy, is a very positive and heartening step in the right direction for U.S.-Israeli relations.”
Not on deck: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) will reportedly forgo seeking a spot in Democratic leadership as he mulls a possible Senate run.
Elsewhere on the Hill: FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas both said at a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing yesterday that they would support formulating an interagency national strategy for combating antisemitism. Wray described the current antisemitism threat as “pretty stark” and said that the Jewish community is “getting it from all sides,” including both foreign terrorist groups and domestic violent extremists.
At Harvard Chabad, a citywide Jewish empire — and a new endowment fund
Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi’s path to leading one of the largest campus Chabad operations in the country started like that of so many of his fellow Chabad emissaries: standing at a busy intersection on Friday afternoons, with tefillin and Shabbat candles, asking passersby if they were Jewish. Three decades ago, he would set up a table in the bustling Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., flagging down passing students. There was no Harvard Chabad at the time, but students would stop and chat with him, making a blessing and discussing plans for the Shabbat ahead. “These were very driven, ambitious Harvard students,” Zarchi told Jewish Insider‘s Gabby Deutch in a recent interview for eJewishPhilanthropy at the campus Chabad house. “There were kids wandering here, literally wandering, and not only open, but in some cases actually looking and hoping to develop Jewishly, and to learn more and to nurture a quest of some kind.”
Great gift: In September, 25 years after Zarchi and his wife Elkie established a Chabad center at Harvard, they received a $5 million donation that will become a rare endowment fund for a campus Chabad, called the Endowment for Jewish Leadership. The gift came from Omri Dahan, a Bay Area-based Harvard Business School alum who has held executive positions at several successful startups, and his wife Jackie. The donation will endow Zarchi’s position and establish the Dahan Fellowship for Leadership, a yearlong leadership and educational program for Jewish students. A pilot program this year will include up to six fellows, but Dahan hopes that in a decade, there will be “several hundred fellows who’ve gone through this program.”
Loud and proud: Dahan’s donation is the largest single one-time gift to Harvard Chabad, which has an annual operating budget of roughly $9 million. To formally announce the endowment, Dahan moderated a conversation with Harvard emeritus professors Alan Dershowitz and Ruth Wisse in September. “What I love about Chabad,” Dahan told eJP, ”is they’re loud and proud. You can’t mistake a Chabad rabbi, or any of his family members, when they’re dressed as Orthodox Jews, when they are singing and dancing and celebrating, and coming up to you with zero shame and asking you if you want to put on tefillin, asking if you want to light Shabbat candles, asking if you want to celebrate Hanukkah, asking if you want to come to Shabbat dinner. And I believe that’s the ethos that American Jews need more than anything now.”
Full Circle: Since they arrived in 1997, the Zarchis’ domain has grown from the classic campus Chabad house setup — a mom-and-pop operation that hosts Shabbat dinners and offers other religious and social events for students — to an empire of sorts, with three other Chabad centers for students, four preschools and a new Jewish day school that will soon run from kindergarten through second grade. “I don’t think that you can call us just a campus Chabad,” said Elkie Zarchi, who is the head of school at Preschool of the Arts, which has 215 students — many of them the children of Harvard graduate students, alumni or faculty — in day care through pre-K at locations across Cambridge. “It just feels like a full circle. It just feels like you’re dealing with the same community at different ages and stages in their life.”
Happening this weekend: Thousands of Chabad shluchimwill be in New York this weekend for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. On Sunday night, 6,500 guests will attend the annual gala banquet, a seated dinner. Philanthropist and businessman George Rohr, who has provided early funding to hundreds of Chabad houses around the world, will be the evening’s keynote speaker.
🏆 Controversial Cup: Ahead of the World Cup, The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer looks at the controversies around this year’s games, held in Qatar, which range from the physical toll of stadium construction to moving the events to avoid the Gulf’s summer heat, disrupting European football season. “By attaching themselves to the passion of their public, juntas, dictatorships, and aspiring oligarchs have always exploited the sport to win good will and insulate themselves from criticism. In the end, the soccer fan’s appetite for the game is far more robust than the craving for democracy. Qatar is the most extreme example of this phenomenon, which is why it has elicited an unusually strident backlash. With the Qatar World Cup, players aren’t just passive participants in a regime’s reputation laundering. They will be playing in stadiums built with imported labor, recruited on deceptive pretexts, and subjected to some of the most inhumane working conditions imaginable. More than 6,500 workers died to make this spectacle possible, according to The Guardian. To watch any game in this tournament is to be reminded of the body count. How can a goal be joyously celebrated when one knows of the graveyard required to build the pitch on which it was scored?” [TheAtlantic]
🌴Firm in Florida:Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox spotlights the post-Trump administration lives of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as they seek to put down roots in South Florida. “There is probably no amount of money or time — never mind concession or disavowal — to bring them back to where they were pre-circus. But Jared and Ivanka were never going to be the same people. Washington hardened them, both infinitely expanded and wildly contracted their world. They were both too toxic and loathsome for their old crew, and far beyond them in other ways. It’s hard to imagine they will ever be invited to the Met Ball again, but they will never again care about going. By virtue of their position, they were in palaces and situation rooms and oval offices instead of ballrooms and yachts on the Adriatic, involved in national security negotiations, and key members of internationally significant investigations instead of social seasons and fashion weeks. It is safe to assume that wherever they travel now, they are meeting with a billionaire or politically powerful person who lives there; and vice versa when those people visit Miami. As one person put it to me, once you’re in that circle, you’re in.” [VanityFair]
🧳 Living in Fear: The New York Times’ Jane Arraf interviews an Iranian man who fled the country for medical treatment — and safety — after being caught up in the country’s anti-regime protests. “When Masoud, a 27-year-old computer programmer, returned to his family home in Tehran, bleeding after being shot by security forces with dozens of metal pellets, his father urged him to go to the hospital. Going to the hospital, though, for protesters wounded at the antigovernment demonstrations that have been sweeping Iran, would mean almost certain arrest. ‘He said they will put you in prison for just a year and it would be over soon,’ Masoud said of his father’s advice. ‘But everyone knows that you don’t get put in prison in Iran for just one year.’… The demonstrations in Iran erupted after the death of a young Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, in custody in September. It is impossible to reliably estimate how many of those wounded in the protests have escaped the country because most have gone into hiding. Some, like Masoud, have managed to cross land borders into Iraq, including Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan Region, or were able to get onto flights leaving Iran.” [NYTimes]
🙏 Power of Prayer: In TheWall Street Journal, Armin Rosen visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where for several years a local rabbi has quietly moved the needle on Jewish prayer at the site, which is forbidden. “For a growing number of Israelis, the ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount epitomizes the state’s ambivalence toward Judaism itself, and a decadeslong indecision as to whether Jewish belief is a hazard in need of careful management or the reason for modern Israel’s existence. Like this month’s Knesset election, in which gleefully antiestablishment parties seeking a more Jewish national character made large gains, the quietly changing situation on the Temple Mount attests to which camp is winning and why. ‘You push to the point of resistance,’ Rabbi Levi said. The point hasn’t been met, so the pushing will continue.” [WSJ]
👴Out Out With the Old:The New York Times’ Lily Goldberg ventures to Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood for an intergenerational social event hosted by a popular social media account and podcast that has garnered a fan base for its portrayals of old Jewish men. “‘Many in Jewish establishments are concerned about younger Jews not believing in things or caring about things that older generations cared about,’ [Congregation Beth Elohim Assistant Rabbi Matt Green] said. In Mr. Rinsky and Mr. Seversky’s project, Rabbi Green saw a flipped script. Beneath the facade of its often sarcastic humor, O.J.M. — as Rabbi Green sees it — expresses a real desire to connect with and archive aspects of American Jewish culture that are disappearing with time and assimilation. ‘He’s preserving these voices and this aesthetic and this attitude toward life that won’t be here forever,’ Rabbi Green said. He added, ‘He’s also, I think, inviting us into it to figure out what of this do we want to take on beyond our generation.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
⚖️ Prince’s Privileges: The Biden administration said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity from charges related to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
🛬 On the Road: IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi will travel to Washington on Saturday for meetings with U.S. officials.
🏀 Kyrie Klatch?: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, in an interview with The New York Times, said he has not met with basketball player Kyrie Irving to discuss his recent social media posts promoting antisemitic content, but hopes to.
📅 Crossed Off the Calendar: The main school district in Farmington, Conn., voted to eliminate giving students days off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
📺 Bad Broadcast: The BBC aired a broadcast that included folk songs glorifying attacks on Jews and call for bloodshed.
🇦🇿 Coming Soon: Azerbaijan will open an embassy in Israel, following a vote by the country’s parliament.
⚽ Sober Soccer: World Cup attendees will not be able to purchase alcoholic beverages at this year’s games, which get underway Sunday in Qatar, following an about-face from Doha on beer sales at the stadiums during the tournament.
Inside D.C.: The Qatar-linked Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) and the Quincy Institute, which has ties to Tehran, are reportedly working together in Washington, reflecting growing alliances in the Mideast.
🚧 Security Warning: The head of the Shin Bet reportedly briefed Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu on the security situation in the West Bank, and warned that the Palestinian Authority could potentially collapse and lead to a further escalation of violence.
🖋️ Water Cooperation: Israel and Jordan signed a declaration of intent on Thursday at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt to conserve and protect their shared Jordan River from climate change, pollution and other threats.
🚒 Deadly Fire: At least 21 people died in a fire that broke out in a residential building in a refugee camp in northern Gaza on Thursday; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared a day of mourning for the victims.
➡️ Transition: Josh Raffel, who oversaw communications for the Trump administration’s Office of American Innovation and worked closely with Jared Kushner and more recently was the chief communications officer at Juul Labs, is joining Standard Industries as head of external affairs.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Harvard University Dean Henry Rosovsky, who during his tenure established programs in Black and Jewish studies, died at 95.
Pic of the Day
America Abroad Media hosted its 10th Anniversary Awards Event last night at REACH at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan served as master of ceremonies, and honorees included Bela Bajaria, head of global TV at Netflix; Sheikh Mohammed Al Issa, secretary general of the Muslim World League; and the critically acclaimed Turkish television series “Bir Baskadir.” American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch was on hand to present the award to Al Issa. Pictured from left to right: AAM Founder and President Aaron Lobel, U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce, Bajaria and AAM’s Esin Erkan.
Spotted in attendance: Rabbi Levi Shemtov and Nechama Shemtov, Jen and Chris Isham, Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Reema Bandar, Prince Musab Al Saud, former Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas, Charlie Rivkin and Susan Tolson, Lea and Elliot Ackerman, Gwen and Stuart Holliday, former Assistant Secretary Doug Wilson, Amb. James Jeffrey, Amb. Marc Ginsberg, Turkish Amb. Murat Mercan, Swiss Amb. Jacques Pitteloud, Tunisian Amb. Tagouri Balsassi, Azerbaijani Amb. Khazar Ibrahim, Omani Amb. Moosa Hamdan Al Tai, the State Department’s Aaron Keyak, philanthropist Vuslat Dogan Sabanci, former Deputy National Security Advisor Juan Zarate, U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Enoh T. Ebong, AJC’s David Berz, Hillel International’s Adam Lehman, Edward Luttwak, Linda Lourie, FDD’s Toby Dershowitz and Reuel Marc Gerecht, CAP’s Alan Makovsky.
Pianist, composer and author, Robin Spielberg turns 60…
FRIDAY: Roberta “Bobbie” Goldstein… Israeli theoretical physicist, who at age 27 became a professor and then later president of the Weizmann Institute, Haim Harari turns 82… Potomac, Md., resident, Richard Gorman… National director of major gifts for the American Committee for the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Paul Jeser… Lecturer at Boston University School of Law, Eric D. Roiter turns 74… Atlanta resident, Lynda Wolfe… Israeli cantor and actor, known for his Broadway performance as Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables,” David “Dudu” Fisher turns 71… Professor of immunology at Columbia University, Walter Ian Lipkin turns 70… Former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, she is a luxury handbag designer, Lana J. Marks turns 69… Singer-songwriter, he is also the author of a popular Passover Haggadah, Barry Louis Polisar turns 68… Longtime former play-by-play sportscaster for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, Marc Zumoff turns 67… Former mayor of Dallas, Laura Miller turns 64… SVP and general counsel of HSP Group and ARF Financial, Robert Bruce Lapidus… Moroccan-born, member of the Knesset since 2003 for the Shas party, Yaakov Margi turns 62… NYC-based writer, activist and performer, Shira Dicker… Washington correspondent for The New York Times covering health policy, Sheryl Gay Stolberg turns 61… Retired Baltimore attorney who devotes her time to philanthropic and pro-Israel activities, Laurie Luskin… Rabbi of Burbank Temple Emanu El and national coordinator of Rabbis Without Borders, Tsafreer “Tsafi” Lev turns 51… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Michal Shir Segman turns 43… Real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties in the Catskills, Talia Fadis… Israeli singer-songwriter and music producer, Elisha Banai turns 34…
SATURDAY: Retired New York State Supreme Court judge, whose tenure on the television program “The People’s Court” was far shorter than that of his wife “Judge Judy,” Jerry Sheindlin turns 89… Attorney, investment banker and former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis B. Susman turns 85… Professor of chemistry at Stanford University, Richard Neil Zare turns 83… Fifteen-term member in the U.S. House of Representatives (D-NY), since 2018 he is a partner in Gotham Government Relations, Gary Ackerman turns 80… Fashion designer Calvin Klein turns 80… Founder and president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, James J. Zogby turns 77… U.S. ambassador to Germany after 18 years as president of the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann turns 73… Los Angeles-based real estate investor, Sydney Ilene Cetner… Owner of Patty’s Piano Studio in Santa Monica, Calif., Patricia Fiden… Cosmetic dentist and chairman of Akelos, Inc., Steven Fox, DDS… California State senator, Robert Myles “Bob” Hertzberg turns 68… Dean and professor of Jewish history, literature and law at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel turns 67… Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director and lyricist, best known as the writer of “Being John Malkovich,” Charlie Kaufman turns 64… Angel investor and president of Sunrise Financial Group, Nathan Low… Retired member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party, he served as Israel’s minister of finance, Moshe Kahlon turns 62… Co-president of NORPAC New York and a partner in a Brooklyn-based law firm, Trudy Stern… Co-president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Lisa Eisen… Founder of World Values Network, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach turns 56… Director of state and local government affairs for SAIC, Eric Finkbeiner… Director of Forbes Impact Lab and assistant managing editor at Forbes, Seth Cohen… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2005, Andrew D. Hevesi turns 49… New York Times best-selling novelist, she is also a professor at Rutgers University-Camden, Lauren Grodstein turns 47… Digital director and executive editor of Time Magazine, Samuel P. Jacobs… Associate director at Northwestern University Hillel, Rachel Hillman… Senior account director at Sunshine Sachs, Michael Dale-Stein… Managing director at Climate Power, John D. Axelrod… BloombergNews correspondent until earlier this month, Ivan Levingston…
SUNDAY: Art dealer and former owner of MLB’s Miami Marlins, Jeffrey Loria turns 82… President of the United States, Joe Biden turns 80… Singer and songwriter best known for writing and performing the song “Spirit in the Sky,” Norman Greenbaum turns 80… Former National Security Advisor in the Trump administration, John R. Bolton turns 74… Major-general (reserves) in the IDF, he is a former combat pilot and head of Aman, Amos Yadlin turns 71… Long-time spokesman (now emeritus) to the foreign press at the Jewish Agency for Israel, Michael Jankelowitz turns 70… Pulitzer Prize-winning national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal, Ronald Steven “Ron” Suskind turns 63… White House official in both the Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, Jay P. Lefkowitz turns 60… Fashion designer, hotelier and real estate developer, active in his native Buenos Aires and Miami Beach, Alan Faena turns 59… Vice chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a trustee of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Heidi Monkarsh… Deputy assistant director at the National Science Foundation, Graciela Narcho… American-born former member of Knesset for the Likud party, Yehudah Glick turns 57… Rapper and founding member of the hip hop group the Beastie Boys, Michael Louis Diamond, better known as Mike D, turns 57… Founder and president of Greenlight Capital, David Einhorn turns 54… Boston-based real estate attorney at Goulston & Storrs, Zev D. Gewurz… Anchor for Yahoo Finance, Julie Hyman… Opposition research specialist and founder of Beehive Research, Devorah Adler… Executive director at Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Benjamin Gonsher… Outfielder for four MLB teams, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he is now the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Sam Fuld turns 41… Director for North America at the Saban Family Foundation and the Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women & Girls, Jesse Bronner… Actress and writer, Margo Stilley turns 40… Actress and playwright, Halley Feiffer turns 38… Deputy health care editor for Politico, Dan Goldberg… Alexis Weiss…