👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to Democrat Adam Frisch about his effort to oust Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) in Colorado, and look at how the House’s passage of the NDAA affects Jewish communal priorities. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Amb. Enrique Mora, Bari Weiss and Stephen Sondheim.
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 and eJP stories, including: National strategy and campus antisemitism feature at White House roundtable; The Pennsylvania Democrat hoping to succeed Summer Lee in the Statehouse; Jared Moskowitz eyes Foreign Affairs, Judiciary committees; At J Street confab, attendees grapple with what it means to be ‘pro-Israel’; A small rabbinical school that caters to Deaf students is growing, with help from a Jewish coworking space; A Jewish-funded mobile clinic in Ukraine will focus on women’s health; and PJ Library launches fellowship for artists in bid to attract adolescent readers. Print the latest edition here.
The Senate Democrats’ anticipated incoming 51-49 majority was dealt a blow with the news this morning that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is switching her party affiliation to Independent. “Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” Sinema told Politico’s Burgess Everett.
A bipartisan group of 40 House lawmakers signed onto a resolution “condemning antisemitism by public figures,” Jewish Insider has learned. The resolution is being led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Don Bacon (R-NE).
The resolution asserts that “with increasing frequency, influential public figures, celebrities, and foreign government officials use social media platforms to spread their antisemitic, hateful views, including Holocaust denial and praise for Adolf Hitler” and that “there has been a marked increase in prominent public figures using hate speech online.”
The resolution goes on to condemn rising antisemitism and “calls on national faith leaders of all denominations and Americans of influence to join with current and former elected leaders to use their platforms to speak out against antisemitism.” Read more here and view the full text of the resolution here.
Adam Frisch weighs rematch with Boebert as House recount nears conclusion
For the past few weeks, Adam Frisch, a Democrat who came close to unseating Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) last month in a Colorado House race, has occupied something of a curious position. Even as he conceded defeat on Nov. 18, saying he was unlikely to overcome a tantalizingly slim deficit of around 500 votes, the matchup remains too close to call amid a mandatory recount that is expected to conclude by Tuesday. Frisch, however, has no expectations that the updated tally will deliver the result he needs to best his Republican opponent, an incendiary freshman lawmaker who proved surprisingly vulnerable. “We’re the only race that hasn’t been decided, but it’s pretty much decided,” Frisch, 55, said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Thursday. “Unless there’s a 500-vote county, nothing’s going to happen.”
Staying Zen: Fixed in a sort of electoral limbo until next week, the former Aspen city councilman has resisted temptations to second-guess his first campaign for federal office. “I try to stay pretty Zen throughout my life,” Frisch noted. “There’s not much I can do about it now.” In the meantime, Frisch has been actively weighing a rematch, particularly after a robust showing that catapulted his campaign onto the national stage. “I’ve just got to check in with, a, my body, b, the family, and listening to those who were involved before to make sure they agree that we still think there’s a path,” he explained. “I only want to go if we think there’s a path.”
Listening and learning: With the election now all but behind him, Frisch said he has been traveling the state in recent weeks, meeting with donors, county leaders and other supporters to assess his prospects in 2024. “I spent some time in Denver with some of the people proactive in the business community who were either small supporters, big supporters or not supporting and kicking themselves that they didn’t support more,” he said. The purpose of such conversations, Frisch clarified, has not been to engage in an “‘I told you so’ tour” or to point fingers at those who snubbed him. “Holding grudges,” he said, “ is just not a way to go.” “I’m going to listen, and mostly what we’re hearing is people are very confident that we could make another go of it,” he claimed. “We’re going to digest all of that stuff. It’s not even 2023, so I think we have some time.”
Opponent’s strategy: Frisch, who is Jewish, had also expressed personal reservations over Boebert’s conduct amid an uptick in antisemitic hate crimes. Still, Frisch emphasized that he had not experienced any anti-Jewish prejudice from Boebert’s campaign or from voters on the campaign trail. “I think there was this view beating me up about being from a mountain town, let alone from Aspen,” Frisch added, noting that Boebert had aggressively sought to cast him as an out-of-touch elite in a predominantly rural district populated by ranchers and farmers. “My takeaway,” he said, “is our opponents spent so much time focusing on the whole ‘being from Aspen’ thing that there was enough there for them to run with.” “That was the focus,” he said, “not that I was a Jew.”
EU diplomat: ‘Absolutely obvious’ that now is not the time for nuclear negotiations with Iran
It is “absolutely obvious that this is not the moment to go for the nuclear agreement,” despite a deep-seated belief in Brussels that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is still the best way to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, senior European Union diplomat Enrique Mora said Thursday at a panel at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington, D.C., reports Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch.
Hard choices: It’s not just the unprecedented protests in the country or Iran’s support for Russia in its war on Ukraine that led Mora to air this view. “It’s fundamentally because the Iranians themselves, they have not taken the decision to go for JCPOA,” said Mora, deputy secretary general of the European External Action Service, which sets EU foreign policy. Twice this year, in March and in August, Iran rejected two negotiated offers. “To all those who say the JCPOA is a dead horse, my question is very simple: What’s the alternative? What do you want to do with the Iranian nuclear program, which by the way is advancing?”
Deciding deterrence: Longtime American diplomat Dennis Ross, who was also a panelist, suggested that Washington needs to enact a “strategy of deterrence” to counter Iran’s recent advances in its nuclear program, which have continued even amid the widespread protests in the country. ‘We need to be able to demonstrate to them that the path they’re on is ultimately going to be even more costly to them,” said Ross, now the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “We cannot be in a position where we are providing a kind of fuel to the regime to sustain itself at a time [where] what we’re seeing is really unprecedented.”
Don’t send money: Abbas Milani, the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, noted that he had supported the original deal in 2015, but that he now felt differently given the drastic change in circumstances among the Iranian people. “I cannot believe that the international community can at this moment think about signing a deal with this regime and giving it billions of dollars that it will only use to suppress the Iranian people, agitate against U.S. allies, and further consolidate its ties to Russia,” said Milani.
Jersey City commemorates 2019 shooting while noting rising levels of antisemitism
More than 100 people gathered at the steps of City Hall in Jersey City on a chilly Thursday evening to pay tribute to the four victims of the shooting at a kosher supermarket three years ago. But along with serving as a memorial to the fallen, the event functioned as a warning that, when it comes to threats against Jews, matters do not seem to have improved, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales reports from New Jersey.
Officially speaking: “I have the privilege of welcoming you to Jersey City City Hall today, unfortunately not under the best of circumstances,” Mayor Steven Fulop, who is Jewish, said, though it was unclear if he was referring to the 2019 shooting or the rising numbers of antisemitic incidents since. Speaking later in the evening, state Attorney General Matt Platkin said, “I continue to see that fear in communities across our state, because the reality is, hate hasn’t gone away in the three years since that awful day.” In addition to Fulop and Platkin, the hour-long service featured New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, Israeli Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan and a senior official from the Newark FBI office. The event was organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and the Israeli-American Council.
Mishna moment: The one Hasidic rabbi to speak from the podium was Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, who heads Chabad of Hoboken and Jersey City, and read a passage from the Mishna before reciting the Rabbi’s Kaddish, the form of the prayer that is recited following Jewish learning. The passage he chose, from the final chapter of Tractate Oktzin, says God “found no vessel that could contain blessing for Israel save that of peace.” “We may look alike, we may act alike, we may vote different, we may think different,” he said. “The success of our blessings is if we know how to do so in peace.”
Hanukkah hope: Speakers throughout the night honored the victims by name: Mindy Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez and Detective Joseph Seals. “Together, we must find the courage, through enduring pain, to end the twin evils of gun violence and bigotry,” Murphy said, and invoked the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah in her “hope for the future that light will always overcome darkness.”
What’s next for Jewish community priorities that didn’t make it into the NDAA?
The House’s passage, by a wide margin, of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act yesterday advanced several key domestic and foreign national security policy priorities for advocates in the Jewish community. But other provisions that Jewish groups had supported were left on the cutting-room floor amid negotiations between legislators in the House and Senate, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Pray Safe Act: One major priority that was excluded from the bill was the Pray Safe Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at establishing a centralized resource for nonprofits to find information on security best practices and grant opportunities. “The decision regarding the PSA was made at the leadership level and apparently wasn’t tied to the substance of the bill itself,” Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president of government affairs for Agudath Israel, told Jewish Insider. “The PSA was paired with an unrelated provision, and the two were supposed to move together. Once the unrelated provision was blocked by leadership, the PSA fell with it.”
Positive notes: Cohen added that advocates “should be very pleased” that other priorities, like the Nonprofit Security Grant Program Improvement Act, were included. Elana Broitman, senior vice president of public affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America, emphasized that she does not see Congress’ failure to include the legislation in the NDAA as an indication of a lack of commitment to protecting the Jewish community.
Mixed success: The Anti-Defamation League also supported the Pray Safe Act, as well as pushed to preserve the Pentagon’s current programs for combating extremism within military ranks and a range of House amendments requiring reports on antisemitism and other extremist and domestic terrorist threats. It saw mixed success in these goals — Senate-proposed language eliminating the extremism programming was cut from the bill, but most of the reporting requirements were also excluded. The ADL’s director for national security, Ryan Greer, told JI that it is “important” that language demanding the Pentagon stop its counter-extremism efforts was omitted from the bill.
✡️ Community Concern: The Associated Press‘ Josef Federman explores concerns among U.S. Jews about a clash of values with the new Israeli government that could further widen a partisan divide over support for Israel. “Halie Soifer, chief executive of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said it is premature to judge a government that hasn’t yet taken office. But she acknowledged the concerns about issues like LGBTQ rights, Palestinian rights and respect for democracy – particularly with memories of the Trump administration still fresh. ‘Many of those concerns are based on our own experience with an administration that didn’t share our values,’ said Soifer. Whether U.S. policy will be affected is unclear. The Biden administration has said it will wait to see policies, not personalities, of the new government.” [AP]
🌟 Washington Wunderkind:The New York Times’ Stephanie Lai tails Rep.-elect Maxwell Frost (D-FL) around Washington during freshman orientation as the 25-year-old takes up the mantle of the youngest member of the next Congress. “On Capitol Hill, he has sometimes felt like a kid trying to get to know a new school. He got lost in the Capitol Visitor Center — as the soundtrack of the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ blared in his headphones — and had the dizzying experience of meeting new and current members during informational sessions throughout the Capitol complex. Representative Val B. Demings, the Florida Democrat whom he will succeed, has offered him mentorship and described him in an interview as “beyond his years.’ ‘He takes the job seriously, but I don’t think he takes himself too seriously,’ Ms. Demings said. ‘If he can keep that kind of spirit, even on the rough days and nights here, he’ll be OK.’” [NYTimes]
😬 Hateful Humor: In Bloomberg, Andreas Kluth traces the evolution of what he dubs “Hitler kitsch” — in which the Nazi leader has become a source of jokes and memes, and the tragedy of the Holocaust has taken a backseat. “What began as funny (to some) has become perverse. It’s unbearable to watch Russian President Vladimir Putin hop on the meme bandwagon while simultaneously adopting Hitler’s own propaganda style — by reversing the roles of victims and perpetrators, for example. Thus Putin would have you believe that it’s the Ukrainians who are Nazis, and that he’s defending Russians from them. Confronted by the cognitive dissonance that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is Jewish, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has mused that ‘Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood too.’ So here we are, with everyone from rappers in ski masks to genocidal autocrats holding forth about Hitler and the Nazis, unburdened by fact, proportion or decency. And the rest of us, especially Millennials and Zoomers, are left groping through a postmodern fog, where nothing is true and everything is possible — and, when in doubt, hilarious.” [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
🗳️ Progressive Players: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) will remain chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus following a vote yesterday. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was elected deputy chair, and Rep.-elect Greg Casar (D-TX) will serve as whip.
🔎 Eye on AOC: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which did not release the reason for the probe.
📰 Hot Off the Presses: Bari Weiss, who released the second installment of “The Twitter Files” last night, turned her “Common Sense” newsletter into a full-fledged media company called The Free Press. New hires include staff writers Olivia Reingold from Grid and Rupa Subramanya from The National Post.
📜 Lobbyist List: The Anti-Defamation League’s Carmiel Arbit and Dan Granot were included in The Hill’s annual Top Lobbyists list for 2022.
🎼 Sondheim’s Song: The New York Timesinterviews the stars and director of Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” as they prepare for the revival’s off-Broadway debut in New York.
⚾ For the Love of the Game: The New York Post spotlights MLB analyst Sarah Langs, who was diagnosed with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the Yankees first baseman — at age 29.
🗣️ Marking the Day: In a speech marking 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, former President Barack Obama said, “I still get angry. Every time I read about the latest senseless shooting, whether it is in a church or synagogue, in a grocery store on a college campus or in a home or on a city street, I still feel anger.”
🆓 Helping Hand: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates issued a joint statement that said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed led negotiations that resulted in a U.S.-Russian prisoner exchange that freed American basketball player Brittney Griner.
🛢️ Oil Foil: The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a Turkish businessman accused of facilitating the sale of oil on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
🇶🇦 Doha’s Drive: The New York Timeslooks at how Qatar is poised to benefit both politically and financially from the pivot away from global dependence on Russian energy sources.
💼 Moving Up: Mubadala senior executive Waleed Al Mokarrab will take over the company’s unit that handles interests in the UAE, including projects with Israel, The Circuit reports.
❓ Commission Conundrum: The U.S. is facing some resistance — including from allies — in its push to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women, with a vote on the issue scheduled for next Wednesday.
🇮🇷 Tehran Troubles: Iran executed a prisoner arrested during the county’s protests, the first time the regime has carried out an execution of an individual tied to the protests.
🗓️ Extension Ask: Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu formally asked President Isaac Herzog for a two-week extension to complete the task of forming the next government; Herzog gave him a 10-day extension.
🤝 New Guard: Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl met with incoming Chief of the Israeli General Staff Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi this week and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault:
“Most of my London experiences revolve around single-malt Scotch. I was pleasantly surprised when, at a recent dinner with my dear friend Bennett in Tony Page’s new restaurant, it was wine that stole the show. We enjoyed a wonderful bottle of kosher Meursault made in a very classical style. The 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault is a flavor bomb. The front palate calls to mind lemon curd, the mid-palate has both the viscosity and taste of creamy peach tart and the finish lingers with the sweetness of a fine Malaga. Drink this wine with chicken sausage and enjoy half the bottle very cold and the other half at room temperature for two completely unique experiences. This bottle will last for approximately five more years.”
Pic of the Day
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan, who brought a group of 13 diplomats to the United Arab Emirates and Israel, meets with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi.
Senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum and former deputy special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism at the State Department, Ellie Cohanim turns 50 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Recently retired diplomat who served as Israel’s ambassador to Russia, China and the U.K., Zvi Heifetz turns 66… Founder of CaregiversDirect and Beverly Hills Egg Donation, and a past president of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Lisa Greer… Former senior White House aide and deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Clinton and Obama administrations, now CEO of the Brunswick Group, Neal S. Wolin turns 61… EVP of Sterling Equities and former COO of the New York Mets, Jeffrey Scott Wilpon turns 61… General counsel to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Daniel “Dan” Greenberg turns 57… Israel’s minister of justice until a new government is formed, Gideon Sa’ar turns 56… U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) turns 56… Singer-songwriter, music producer and founder of StaeFit workout apparel, Stacey Liane Levy Jackson turns 54… U.S. State Department official while her nomination is still pending Senate confirmation to be assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Tamara Cofman Wittes turns 53… Singer-songwriter and son of Bob Dylan, he rose to fame as the lead singer and primary songwriter for the rock band the Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan turns 53… Senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg turns 48… Managing director at Finsbury/FGS Global and a board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Eric Wachter… Actor, comedian and musician, best known for his role as Howard Wolowitz in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Simon Helberg turns 42… Staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s juvenile rights practice, Daniella Esther Rohr Adelsberg… Digital director for the R Street Institute, Shoshana Weissmann… Israeli fashion model Dorit Revelis turns 21…
SATURDAY: Baltimore-based dairy cattle dealer, Abraham Gutman turns 78… Founder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, he served as rabbi (now emeritus) of Congregation B’nai Israel in Galveston, Texas, James Lee Kessler turns 77… Board director at Perella Weinberg Partners, Ivan Seidenberg turns 76… Owner of Judaica House and Cool Kippahs, Reuben Nayowitz… Progressive political activist, Margery Tabankin turns 74… Founding rabbi of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md., Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt turns 70… Founder and CEO at Seppy’s Kosher Baked Goods in Pueblo, Colo., Elishevah Sepulveda… Real estate entrepreneur in Palm Beach, Fla., Jeff Greene turns 68… U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) turns 67… New York real estate investor and developer, Joseph Chetrit turns 65… Former rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, he was held hostage in the synagogue in January 2022 and then rescued, Charlie Cytron-Walker turns 47… Head of Bloomberg Beta, a venture fund backed by Bloomberg L.P., Roy Bahat turns 46… Actress known for her roles in HBO’s “Entourage” and CBS’s “The Mentalist,” Emmanuelle Chriqui turns 45… Managing director for private-equity firm TPG, Marc Mezvinsky turns 45… General partner at Andreessen Horowitz, David A. Ulevitch turns 41… Screenwriter, best known for co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel and Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Nicole Perlman turns 41… Former managing editor for CNN Business, Alex Koppelman… Co-founder of single-origin spice company Burlap & Barrel, Ethan Frisch… Disability rights activist who co-founded the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, he is a Ph.D. candidate in health policy at Harvard, Ari Daniel Ne’eman… R&B, jazz and soul singer and songwriter, she performs as “Mishéll,” Irina Rosenfeld turns 34… Senior manager of corporate communications at Capital One, Mitchell Rubenstein… Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Metairie, La., Philip Kaplan… Co-founder at Dojo, helping companies design healthier workplaces, Daniel Goldstern… Actress, musician, model and talk show host, Rachel Trachtenburg turns 29…
SUNDAY: The first-ever U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry turns 79… Lumber and wood products executive in Bethany, Conn., Stuart Paley… University professor of Jewish history and Jewish thought at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter turns 72… Professor of international economics at Princeton University, Gene Grossman turns 67… Senior attorney in the environmental and natural resources division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Perry Rosen turns 67… Speech language pathologist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Joanne Ring… Best-selling author, Ayelet Waldman turns 58… Partner in Pomerantz LLP where he leads the corporate governance litigation practice, Gustavo F. Bruckner… Former member of the Knesset for the Labor party and then the Independence party, Einat Wilf turns 52… Senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, Shira Efron, Ph.D…. Israeli poet and founder of the cultural group Ars Poetica, Adi Keissar turns 42… Hasidic rapper from Boston, known as Nosson, Nathan Isaac Zand turns 41… Director of public affairs and marketing at Englewood (NJ) Hospital and Medical Center, Michael Chananie… CEO at D.C.-based Brown Strategy Group, Josh Brown… Personal trainer at F45 Training, Kelly Cohen… Reporter at Politico who covers the U.S. Senate, Marianne LeVine… Director of alternative investments at CAIS, Judah Schulman… Senior editor at Apple News, Gideon Resnick…