👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the New York State Health Department’s efforts to drive up polio vaccinations among Jewish New Yorkers and spotlight the challenges facing FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried as his crypto company nears collapse. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Twitter’s Yoel Roth, the State Department’s Yael Lempert and Adidas’ Rupert Campbell.
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, The Circuit and eJewishPhilanthropy stories, including: Meet the next Jewish Republican congressman from Long Island; Shapiro, citing Pirkei Avot, sails to victory in PA; Collins, prepping for top GOP Appropriations spot, pledges to fight efforts to condition aid to Israel; Koch’s Israeli investment chief aims to disrupt venture capital funding; A new $18,000 award hopes to retain top talent at D.C. Jewish nonprofits; Elluminate — formerly Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York — expands mission to focus on social entrepreneurs; and ADL acquires JLens, entering the impact investing space. Print the latest edition here.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog will give Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government on Sunday, after Herzog completed consultations this morning with representatives of all of the parties elected to the Knesset in last week’s general election.
Sixty-four Knesset members recommended that Netanyahu form the new government, 28 recommended incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid and the other 28 did not recommend anyone. Following the consultations, Eyal Shviki, the director-general of the Office of the President, called Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Tzachi Braverman, and invited Netanyahu to meet with Herzog at his residence on Sunday.
By law, once the president assigns an individual the task of government formation, they have 28 days to do so. If an extension is required, the president has the legal authority to grant one extension of up to 14 days.
Much concern has already been expressed over the government Netanyahu is likely to form, particularly its inclusion of the 14-seat-strong far-right Religious Zionism party and one of its leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is expected to receive a cabinet post. Without that party, Netanyahu looks unlikely to succeed in forming a coalition.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price yesterday addressed Ben-Gvir’s attendance at a memorial to Rabbi Meir Kahane, the slain Jewish supremacist and convicted terrorist, at a press briefing. An Israeli political party founded by Kahane’s son, called Kahane Chai, or Kahane Lives, was banned from the Knesset and deemed a terrorist organization by Washington.
“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent; there is no other word for it,” said Price, who did not refer to Ben-Gvir by name. “We remain concerned, as we said before, by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of rhetoric among violent, right-wing extremists.”
It didn’t take long after Twitter rolled out a scheme in which users pay an $8 fee for the “blue check” verification for troll accounts to wreak havoc on the platform by creating fake Twitter users claiming to be celebrities, companies and other people of interest. Among those targeted by hoaxers posting racist and antisemitic tweets were AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League, the latter of which was holding its annual summit at the same time a fake account claiming to be the nonprofit posted a tweet praising Musk as “the #HenryFord of our time.”
Musk’s takeover of the company and subsequent changes to the platform sparked a wave of high-level resignations, including Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of moderation and safety, who stepped down yesterday, a day after he appeared in a Twitter Spaces meeting to defend the company. Roth’s departure came hours after the publication of a Wall Street Journal article headlined “Twitter’s Moderation Boss Is an Unlikely Ally of Elon Musk” that described Roth as “a partner for achieving the goal [Musk] tweeted Sunday of making Twitter ‘by far the most accurate source of information about the world.’”
Inside the public health campaign to stop polio in New York’s Jewish community
Imagine you’re an epidemiologist, tasked with convincing a dubious public about the spread of a dangerous disease that could have devastating consequences for those who contract it — but so far, only one person has gotten seriously ill from it. In the meantime, it circulates undetected, a silent stalker. People forget about the disease. They move on to what feel like more immediate concerns in their lives. That’s the challenge public health experts and educators face in New York’s Rockland County, where this summer a young man contracted polio, leaving him paralyzed. It was the first paralytic polio case in the United States in nearly a decade. The patient was identified in local media reports as an unvaccinated Jewish man in his 20s, touching off a massive vaccination campaign in the area, where vaccination rates are far lower than state and national averages, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Course correction: At a time when distrust of public health officials is high, and people are tired of living through other public health emergencies, reaching a skeptical public is difficult. Public health officials are instead taking a bottom-up approach that engages local leaders and doctors, and intends to avoid stereotyping the Orthodox community, which is in part a corrective to how the public health apparatus handled recent measles outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Softer approach: “We’re trying to take, I think, a little more of a softer approach, but still benefiting from all the lessons learned,” acknowledged Eli Rosenberg, deputy director for science in the office of public health at the New York State Department of Health. He pointed out that when New York ended religious exemptions for vaccines in 2019, it did lead to an increase in vaccination rates. But it had negative consequences, too. “That was effective, but it has also sowed some distrust, or some resentment. No one likes being told what to do,” he added.
Vaxxed up: The most urgent need when it comes to stopping the spread of polio is increasing vaccination. The state ran vaccination clinics throughout the summer in conjunction with local authorities and local religious leaders and health centers. But a vaccination drive, even if effective, is not the only answer.
Getting creative: Shoshana Bernstein, a writer and health educator who lives in Monsey, a heavily Jewish city in Rockland County, worked with local, state and national public health authorities to create a booklet called “Tzim Gezint,” Yiddish for “to your health” (a phrase commonly used after a person sneezes). It offers a comprehensive, easy-to-digest overview of vaccines and why Orthodox families should vaccinate their children. An animated video Bernstein produced, called “Dovi and Rochel Stay Healthy,” shows two young Orthodox children learning about how vaccines keep us healthy. “Thank you Hashem, for giving us vaccines,” a young boy in tzitzit sings while riding around on a scooter.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week
Until recently, Sam Bankman-Fried had been viewed as a financial wunderkind who created one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, FTX, while amassing a multi-billionaire fortune he used to establish himself as a major player in politics and philanthropy. But over the past few days, a different narrative has emerged, as the now-beleaguered 30-year-old investor seeks to save his exchange from imminent collapse amid a sudden liquidity crunch that has reverberated across crypto markets, threatened to wipe out most of his personal wealth and left FTX on the verge of potential bankruptcy, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports. It is an extraordinary reversal of fortune for the once-powerful crypto king, whose net worth had been valued at $16 billion as recently as Monday. Now, even Bankman-Fried himself has acknowledged he may no longer be a billionaire, as some estimates have suggested. His exchange, meanwhile, was valued at just $1 on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.
What happened: The crisis began last week, when CoinDesk, a crypto news site, obtained a leaked document suggesting a highly risky and potentially improper financial connection between FTX and a hedge fund founded by Bankman-Fried, Alameda Research. The document revealed that a substantial amount of Alameda’s assets were made up of a digital token, FTT, created by FTX itself. “While there is nothing per se untoward or wrong about that, it shows Bankman-Fried’s trading giant Alameda rests on a foundation largely made up of a coin that a sister company invented,” wrote Ian Allison, a senior reporter at CoinDesk, “not an independent asset like a fiat currency or another crypto.”
Sam’s sorry: In an extensive Twitter thread on Thursday morning, Bankman-Fried claimed responsibility for what he described as a “shitshow,” writing: “I’m sorry. That’s the biggest thing. I fucked up, and should have done better.” He said he was “winding down trading” at Alameda and “spending the week doing everything we can to raise liquidity.” FTX announced on Thursday that it had “reached an agreement” with Tron, a blockchain network, that will “allow holders of” some tokens “to swap assets from” the exchange to “external wallets.”
Midterm money: Bankman-Fried, an eccentric idealist who subscribes to a movement known as “effective altruism,” had vowed to eventually give away all of his money. Before the collapse of FTX, he had spent around $40 million during the midterms to boost a range of candidates, most of whom were Democrats. His contributions made him one of the top donors of the election cycle, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign finance data. He gave a large portion of his donations to Protect Our Future PAC, which describes itself as a “an organization designed to help elect candidates who will be champions for pandemic prevention.” Many of the candidates Bankman-Fried supported were also backed by pro-Israel groups such as Democratic Majority for Israel and United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC. He gave $250,000 directly to DMFI PAC last May.
Adidas and ADL embark on four-year, seven-figure partnership in wake of Kanye controversy
Just weeks after Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt accused Adidas of an “appalling” lack of action against Kanye West’s antisemitism, the sportswear giant is donating more than $1 million to the Jewish organization, and embarking on a partnership to educate athletes against bigotry, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales has learned.
Summit speak: Greenblatt hinted at the partnership in a speech yesterday morning at the group’s daylong “Never is Now” conference in New York City. He detailed how the ADL had pushed Adidas in private, and then in public, to end its lucrative partnership with West’s fashion label, Yeezy, after West’s string of antisemitic remarks. After Adidas ended its Yeezy collaboration last month, following a precipitous drop in its stock price, Greenblatt praised the company.
Details: An ADL spokesperson told eJP that Adidas is giving the ADL a four-year, seven-figure donation, and that the two will embark on “a formal partnership to combat antisemitism and hate in sports.” The partnership will entail a new anti-bigotry curriculum for student athletes, and will enable the ADL to more widely disseminate its educational efforts. The partnership also aims to engage professional athletes in fighting hate.
Campbell’s comments: Adidas’ North America president, Rupert Campbell, said in a speech at the morning plenary that the company opposes antisemitism, but that “we at Adidas fully understand that this may not be apparent to many of you given the recent events.” “There is no place for antisemitism, racism and hatred in sport, within Adidas or within society,” Campbell said. “We acknowledge that we don’t always get things right. We are not perfect. But in this case, we know without a doubt we made the right decision. The racist and antisemitic hate speech by our former partner violated our values.”
Bonus:The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen looks at the differing approaches taken by Nike, which is likely to end its agreement with Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, and Adidas to address celebrity partnerships that attracted controversy. “A strange thing about both Nike and Adidas is that the very celebrities they pay to endorse their products can be found among the risks the companies disclose to their investors. Some of their greatest assets also happen to be potential liabilities.”
🐦 What Goes Up Must Come Down: In The Atlantic, Ian Bogost explores the rise and decline of social media. “Now that we’ve washed up on this unexpected shore, we can look back at the shipwreck that left us here with fresh eyes. Perhaps we can find some relief: Social media was never a natural way to work, play, and socialize, though it did become second nature. The practice evolved via a weird mutation, one so subtle that it was difficult to spot happening in the moment…A global broadcast network where anyone can say anything to anyone else as often as possible, and where such people have come to think they deserve such a capacity, or even that withholding it amounts to censorship or suppression — that’s just a terrible idea from the outset. And it’s a terrible idea that is entirely and completely bound up with the concept of social media itself: systems erected and used exclusively to deliver an endless stream of content.” [TheAtlantic]
⚽ Soccer Story: The Financial Times’ Andrew England dives into the origins of Qatar’s yearslong effort to host the World Cup. “The seeds of a Qatar-hosted World Cup may have been planted in England in the summer of 1966. The future emir, [Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa] al-Thani, and his friend Abdullah bin Hamed al-Attiyah, were teenagers attending summer school in the UK. Back home in Doha, they enjoyed playing football in al-Bidda, a downtown neighbourhood. Sheikh Hamad, whose al-Thani dynasty has ruled Qatar since the 1850s, was captain. While they were abroad, England won the World Cup, which it was hosting. Sheikh Hamad and Attiyah wandered around a delirious London, unable to find a taxi or get on the underground. ‘And all these hooligans!’ Attiyah recalls. ‘They are drunk . . . they are very happy and they mix happiness with destruction.’ It dawned on the young men what the World Cup meant.” [FT]
👀 Bibi’s Bind: In Foreign Affairs, Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the possible scenarios facing Israeli Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu as he appears poised to form a new government. “Israel, therefore, appears to be on the road to a “full right” coalition with four parties pulling Netanyahu further in their ideological direction. It could be Israel’s most extreme right-wing government ever. In two important areas — foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the two possible versions of Netanyahu’s next government will probably differ from each other only by degrees and might not even differ substantively from the outgoing government. But on essential domestic questions, including the nature of the country’s democratic institutions, the differences will be very consequential for Israeli society and the Israeli state.” [ForeignAffairs]
Around the Web
💻 Moving Forward: Yael Lempert, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, met virtually yesterday with the Negev Forum Steering Committee, which agreed to convene the forum’s six topical working groups in January.
🏃♂️ Chicago Challenge: Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL) announced his second bid for mayor of Chicago, two days after winning reelection to Congress.
👨 ‘Mediocre Hero’: In The Atlantic, Laura Kipnis reviewsRevenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics, the newest book by Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of Donald Trump.
🏈 Commander in Court: The attorney general for Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit against Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, the NFL and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, for allegedly deceiving fans to cover up sexual assault allegations and other misconduct in order to protect their image.
🖊️ Celebrity Call: Mila Kunis, Debra Messing and Mayim Bialik are among more than 200 celebrities and entertainment executives who signed a letter calling on Amazon and Barnes & Noble to remove the antisemitic film promoted by Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, as well as the book series it is based on, from their respective platforms.
✔️ Swoosh Shutdown: Nike’s relationship with Irving is likely over, Phil Knight, a co-founder of the footwear company, said after the announcement last Friday that the basketball star had been suspended in the backlash surrounding his social media posts promoting “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
🚨 New York State of Crime: One suspect in a gel pellet attack on a Jewish woman and her son in Brooklyn was held on bail while two others were freed on supervised released yesterday.
👮 Detained: Police on Thursday arrested an 18-year-old New Jersey man accused of threatening to attack a synagogue and Jewish people.
🧑⚖️ Guilty: A London court found a man guilty of carrying out antisemitic attacks against three Jewish people in Stamford Hill, where a large Orthodox Jewish community lives.
🛫 First Flights: Israeli and Qatari officials announced that direct flights between the two countries, which do not have formal diplomatic ties, will run during the FIFA World Cup.
☎️ Friendly Phone Call: Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is likely to regain the premiership in the coming weeks following his election victory earlier this month, said he spoke with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, whom Netanyahu said invited him to visit the Gulf nation.
🪖 Army Accountability: The Israeli army is considering filing indictments against two commanders for their actions on the night that a Palestinian-American man died after being detained at a West Bank checkpoint.
🚀 Hypersonic Missiles: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that Iran has built a hypersonic ballistic missile capable of penetrating any air-defense system.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Chateau Labegorce 2020:
“I often associate enjoying great bottles of wine as a Shabbat dinner experience. This week I ventured out of my comfort zone and dined with the Pixar family on a Thursday evening. The wine we poured was the newly released Chateau Labegorce 2020 from IDS. This wine is far too young to uncork, impetuous and inexperienced, but in a way, there was thrill in that, something almost forbidden. Ultimately, the wine was brilliantly structured and delicious.
“The 2020 Chateau Labegorce is a blend of cabernet, merlot, cab franc. The front palate is youthful and spry with a touch of light Cuban cigar smoke. The mid-palate took me out to the truffle fields of Bordeaux, and the finish had an earthiness typical of all great French wines. Enjoy this wine with a healthy helping of sable. Purchase at least two cases: one case to enjoy now and the other to start drinking in 10 years as the wine comes of age.”
U.S. attorney general, Merrick Garland turns 70 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Retired psychiatric nurse now living in Surprise, Ariz., Shula Kantor… Retired television and radio sports broadcaster, Warner Wolf turns 85… Former Democratic U.S. senator from California, Barbara Levy Boxer turns 82… Author, best known for her 1993 autobiographical memoir Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen turns 74… Television personality, Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz) turns 71… Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman turns 68… Founder and president of D.C.-based Plurus Strategies, David Leiter… President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman… Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman… Talk show host and president and founder of Talkline Communications, Zev Brenner turns 64… Founder of NYC-based alternative investment firm Portage Partners, Michael Leffell… Professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Steven M. Nadler turns 64… Former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, Amb. Norman Eisen turns 62… Russian-born venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner turns 61… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR, Melissa Balaban… Israel’s commissioner of police, Kobi Shabtai turns 58… Emmy Award- and People’s Choice Award-winning television producer, Jason Nidorf “Max” Mutchnick turns 57… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Orly Levy-Abekasis turns 49… Tel Aviv-born actor and screenwriter, Eyal Podell turns 47… Defender for the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, Daniel Steres turns 32… Deputy campaign manager in the Nevada attorney general race, Shelly Tsirulik… Advocate against gun violence, Cameron Kasky turns 22…
SATURDAY: Co-founder and rosh yeshiva of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky turns 98… Professor emerita of history at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck turns 81… Author and senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd turns 80… Accountant in Phoenix., Steven M. Scheiner, CPA… Board member of the New York State Thruway Authority and former state senator, he is a descendant of Rabbi Shmuel Salant, the former Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Stephen M. Saland turns 79… Sportscaster for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video after more than 50 years at NBC and ABC, Al Michaels turns 78… U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) turns 73… Attorney in Brooklyn, Bernard C. Wachsman… Member of the New York State Assembly, Linda B. Rosenthal turns 65… Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman turns 60… Author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Rebekah Wolf turns 60… University of Chicago professor, in 2019 he won the Nobel Prize in Economics, Michael Kremer turns 58… Mayor of Oakland, Calif., since 2015, Elizabeth Beckman “Libby” Schaaf turns 57… Rabbi of the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest, Róbert Frölich turns 57… Partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, Sanford E. (Sandy) Perl turns 57… COVID-19 response coordinator for the first 15 months of the Biden administration, Jeffrey Zients turns 56… British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne “Jo” Coburn turns 55… SVP and general manager of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine turns 51… Former member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov turns 51… Restaurant critic and food writer for the Boston Globe, Devra First turns 50… Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh turns 47… Former member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism party, Eliyahu Hasid turns 46… Actress and director, Jordana Ariel Spiro turns 45… Campus support director at Hillel International, Aviva Zucker Snyder… Actress best known for her roles on “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” Kelly Kruger turns 41… Visiting assistant professor of Jewish studies at Oberlin College, Matthew D. Berkman, Ph.D., turns 38… Director of strategic talent initiatives at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Spencer F. Lucker… New Jersey-based primary care physician known as Doctor Mike, he is an internet celebrity on YouTube and Instagram, Mikhail Varshavski, DO turns 33… Activist and law school student, Adela Cojab turns 26… Founder of Before[dot]dev, a job platform with the mission to end bias in the hiring process, Dave Weinberg…
SUNDAY: Israeli industrialist with holdings in energy, real estate and automobile distributorships, Gad Zeevi turns 83… Chief rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Shmuel Riccardo Di Segni turns 73… Publisher of the independent “Political Junkie” blog and podcast, Kenneth Rudin… Once the controlling stockholder of a large Israeli conglomerate, Nochi Dankner turns 68… Managing director of the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge, Sharon Freundel… Former editor-in-chief of British Vogue, she is a strategic advisor to Atterley, an Edinburgh-based fashion marketplace, Alexandra Shulman turns 65… U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) turns 58… San Jose, Calif., resident, Katherine (Katya) Palkin… Somali-born activist who has served in the Dutch parliament, she is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Ayaan Hirsi Ali turns 53… Former Israeli government minister for the Shas party, Ariel Atias turns 52… Founder of Pailet Financial Services, a predecessor agency of what is now the Dallas office of Marsh & McLennan, Kevin Pailet… Conservative rabbi and wife of former U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica S. Fitzgerald Haney, Andrea Dobrick Haney turns 49… President and CEO at the U.S. Travel Association, Geoffrey Freeman… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Meirav Ben-Ari turns 47… Television journalist employed by Hearst Television, Jeff Rossen turns 46… President of baseball operations for MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew Friedman turns 46… Israeli rapper and record producer, generally known by his stage name “Subliminal,” Yaakov (Kobi) Shimoni turns 43… Judoka who won three national titles, she competed for the U.S. at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Charlee Minkin turns 41… Senior director of policy and communications at Christians United For Israel, Ari Morgenstern… Political communications consultant, Jared Goldberg-Leopold… PR and communications consultant, Mark Botnick… Michael Schwab… Staff attorney for the ACLU’s voting rights project, Jonathan Topaz… Former relief pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, now an EMT in Los Angeles, Troy Neiman turns 32… Senior financial analyst at YieldX, Cole Deutch…