👋 Good Friday morning!
Ed. note: In observance of President’s Day, the next Daily Kickoff will arrive on Tuesday morning. Enjoy the long weekend!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to Rep. Adam Schiff following his entry into the California Senate race, and bring you on-the-ground coverage of the opening of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi as well as a preview of the Munich Security Forum, which kicked off this morning. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Susan Wojcicki and Michael Ratney.
The Abrahamic Family House — the new multifaith center in the United Arab Emirates that comprises a mosque, church and synagogue — officially opened yesterday in Abu Dhabi in a moving ceremony that featured leaders and children of the three Abrahamic faiths.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi and president of the Abrahamic Family House, opened the ceremony with an extended moment of silence for those affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria before welcoming the several hundred guests who gathered for the historic occasion. “We hope that the Abrahamic Family House will inspire youth everywhere, as we highlight our common humanity and work towards the creation of a more peaceful world for generations to come,” Al Mubarak shared.
Attendees from the UAE’s royal family included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. UAE Minister of State Noura Al Kaabi also attended the event.
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom who first visited the UAE last November, was on hand at the Abrahamic Family House to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. Mirvis noted the verse Olam Chesed Yibaneh and how the House is a symbol of how God will build the world with kindness. Earlier in the day, Mirvis attached the mezuzah to the door of the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue alongside synagogue leaders Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Rabbi Ben de Toledo and Yael de Toledo.
The Emirates News Agency released a video of the opening ceremonies, available here.
At a forumcelebrating the Abrahamic Family House earlier today, Rabbi Sarna remarked that he believes this is the first synagogue inaugurated in the Gulf since the Bahrain Synagogue was built in Manama in 1931.
Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the UAE’s minister of tolerance, addressed the forum today and remarked that “we hope to work with our brothers and sisters around the globe… and together we hope to help our communities to move away from suspicion and fear to mutual trust and acceptance… Our goal is to encourage, empower and enable people from different religious backgrounds to work together for the benefit of us all.”
Our team is on the ground in Abu Dhabi this weekend and we will have more interviews and photos from the festivities for you in the next few days.
The Munich Security Conference kicked off this morning in Germany. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant addressed the conference earlier today, and later spoke on a panel organized by the Abraham Accords Institute and the Conference of European Rabbis. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Chris Coons (D-DE) are speaking this afternoon, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will participate in a Ukraine-focused panel later today. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is also scheduled to speak today.
Israeli Labor MK Merav Michaeli will speak tonight on a panel titled “Protecting the Core: Refueling Democratic Resilience.”
Later this evening, Vice President Kamala Harris will host a reception for Secretary of State Tony Blinken and the congressional delegation to the conference.
Tomorrow morning, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will speak on a panel titled “Women, Life, Freedom: Visions for Iran.” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will speak tomorrow morning before Harris takes the stage. Later in the day, Blinken will speak on a panel about the future of Ukraine. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will speak on a panel later in the day, just before U.S. climate envoy John Kerry takes the stage.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who until last month served as speaker of the House, will speak alongside the head of Ukraine’s parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, in a session focusing on the role of parliaments in wartime. Also in Munich is New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who will speak on the conference’s final morning.
Also on Sunday morning, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will speak alongside the foreign ministers of Jordan and Norway and Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s undersecretary for political affairs, on a panel titled “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.”
Schumer’s trip to Israel, Germany to include stop at Dachau
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will lead a bipartisan delegation of senators on an international delegation that will include stops in Israel and at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, Schumer spokesperson Angelo Roefaro confirmed to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. The news of Schumer’s visit to Israel, reportedly taking place at the end of next week, was first reported by Axios, but had not been confirmed by Schumer’s office. His stop at Dachau, and the other senators joining the visit, have not been previously reported.
On deck: Citing security concerns, Roefaro said he was unable to detail a full itinerary for the senator, but said that Schumer plans to lay a wreath and sign the guest book at Dachau as his first stop on the trip, which coincides with the Munich Security Conference.
Shining a light: Roefaro said the Senate majority leader, the highest-ranking Jewish official in the country, has made Holocaust remembrance and education a “personal mission.”
Read more here.
golden state goals
With Feinstein’s retirement, Adam Schiff seeks to carry the torch of Jewish values
With the long-awaited announcement of her retirement earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 89, marked the official conclusion of a historic era of Jewish representation in California. It wasn’t so long ago that the country’s most populous state had two Jewish senators, Feinstein and former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who stepped down in 2017. The Democratic duo had served together for almost a quarter of a century. But as that period now comes to a close, the lone Jewish Democrat vying to claim Feinstein’s seat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), sees a chance for some continuity after Feinstein, the longest-serving senator from California, leaves office at the end of her fifth and current term in 2024, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Shared values: “Her Jewish values are ones that I deeply share,” Schiff, 62, told JI on Tuesday, shortly after Feinstein had revealed she would not seek reelection. “One of the passages that I use to guide my life and my politics comes out of Micah: ‘What is required of us but to do justice, to love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.’ This is what Sen. Feinstein has done. She was a trailblazer,” he added, citing her past activism on gay rights and gun control, among other issues. “Is a trailblazer.” The 11-term congressman, a former state senator who represents a Los Angeles-area House district, launched his first bid for the upper chamber in late January, weeks before Feinstein went public with her plans. He emphasized at the time of his announcement that he had sought her blessing in advance, even as she had been widely expected to retire.
Growing field: His competitor, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), a Democrat from Orange County, became the first challenger to enter the race last month, adding early pressure on Feinstein, who in recent years has faced mounting scrutiny over her mental acuity and fitness to serve. In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Porter, 49, thanked Feinstein “for her leadership” and said she “has had a remarkable career” as a former mayor of San Francisco who would later become the first Jewish woman sworn into the U.S. Senate. “She created a path for women in politics that I am proud to follow.” The field is almost certain to grow in the coming days as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a veteran Bay Area congressman, filed paperwork on Wednesday to run for the seat. The 76-year-old Democrat, who would be the first Black woman to join the primary, intends to formally announce her campaign before the end of the month, according to a spokesperson.
Backing Schiff: Speaking with JI, Schiff, a prolific fundraiser who rose to national prominence as the manager of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, expressed confidence about his position in the race, which is shaping up to be among the most hotly contested of the next election cycle. “I think I have the strongest track record of actually making progress on issues that people care about: championing democracy, fighting for an economy that works for everyone, bringing back resources to my home state of California,” he explained. “It sets me apart.” Earlier this month, Schiff, until recently the chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, notched a conditional endorsement from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who said she would back him if Feinstein chose not to run. In addition to Pelosi, several members of California’s Democratic congressional delegation, including Reps. Mike Levin, Ted Lieu and Eric Swalwell, have lined up behind Schiff’s campaign.
Jewish community: During a meeting in Sacramento on Tuesday, Schiff found a largely receptive audience while meeting with state lawmakers of varying Democratic persuasions, according to Jesse Gabriel, a Democratic state assemblyman in Encino, who has endorsed Schiff’s campaign and who helped organize the event. The assemblyman expects that Schiff will receive “broad support” from California’s Legislative Jewish Caucus, which Gabriel chairs, in addition to the wider Jewish community, which represents an estimated population of nearly 700,000 Jewish adults, the majority of whom identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, according to the American Jewish Population Project. Schiff, who details his family’s Jewish-immigrant roots in his memoir, Midnight in Washington, published in 2021, “has a very strong base in the Jewish community,” said Raphael Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.
Ron Wyden continues hold on U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod yesterday that he is still in discussions with the Biden administration over the nomination of Michael Ratney to be U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Wyden has placed a procedural hold on Ratney’s confirmation vote seeking guarantees that Ratney and the administration will address the alleged killing of an Oregon resident by a Saudi national, whom the Saudi government reportedly helped leave the U.S.
Wyden’s reasoning: Pressed on whether having an ambassador in place would help the U.S. address such issues, Wyden said, “The people that I’m honored to represent, have seen, for example, not far from my house, a foreign national be charged with manslaughter and a young woman died, and all the evidence suggests that the Saudis helped him evade justice. So we’re going to get her justice.”
Flashback: During the campaign and in the early months of the Biden administration, Biden officials sought to draw a contrast with the State Department policies of the Trump administration. On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to put American diplomacy in the “hands of genuine professionals.” But efforts to dispatch diplomats to key allies have been hampered in part by the Biden administration’s slow pace in nominating individuals and a Senate backlog. In addition to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India are among more than a dozen countries that are still without an ambassador in place.
Elsewhere on the Hill: Richard Verma, the nominee to be deputy secretary of state for management and resources, affirmed yesterday at his confirmation hearing that the U.S. cannot reopen its consulate in Jerusalem serving Palestinians without Israel’s approval. During the hearing, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) announced plans to reintroduce legislation aiming to block the reopening of the consulate. Also during the hearing, Verma committed to working with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to develop a mechanism to track whether Americans of different faiths and ethnicities are being treated differently while traveling abroad under the Visa Waiver Program.
talk of turtle bay
U.N. resolution on settlements is ‘unhelpful,’ State Department says
A proposed United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank is “unhelpful,” State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters on Thursday, but he did not say whether the U.S. would veto the resolution. “I’m not going to get ahead of the process,” he said. “We are coordinating closely with our partners in New York and are assessing our next steps.”
View from Foggy Bottom: “We have been fairly consistent, over the course of this administration, that we don’t view the U.N. as the most practical or useful forum for discussing this issue,” Patel said, “and that this is something that the two sides need to discuss and engage and negotiate and work on among themselves.” “What I will reiterate is that our view is that the introduction of this resolution was unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations of a two-state solution, just like we believe that the news out of Israel on Sunday was unhelpful and something that would further incite tensions as well,” explained Patel, referring to the Israeli cabinet’s decision to legalize nine outposts in the West Bank.
Details: The proposed resolution, which was drafted by the United Arab Emirates in conjunction with the Palestinians, is set to be debated on Monday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Thursday that the White House is “deeply dismayed” by Israel’s decision to legalize the settlement outposts, and called the move a “unilateral” action that “exacerbates tensions, harms trust between the parties, and undermines the geographic viability of the two-state solution.”
Also upcoming: The wider U.N. body is expected to vote next week on a resolution calling for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace” in Ukraine.
🏫 Word Salad: Washington Post columnist Matt Bai addresses a recent incident at a Maryland high school in which debate team leaders were accused of making antisemitic comments. “According to a letter from Robert Dodd, the high school’s capable and constantly besieged principal, the Montgomery County school system initially moved to ‘implement restorative practices’ with members of the debate team, through the convening of ‘restorative circles.’ Which sounds like something you’d do at a spa for 300 bucks an hour. Then, given the uproar at school, the county’s ‘restorative justice facilitators’ decided to pause the restorative circles, so they could meet with students to determine what would be required to make them ‘further heal and feel safe.’ The letter went on to assure us that the school would ‘partner with MCPS leaders in equity and well-being’ to have ‘critical discussions.’ I don’t know exactly what a leader in equity and well-being does, but I’d assume it involves a bunch of acronyms and maybe some other restorative shapes, like a triangle or a rhombus… You can’t tell students, on one hand, that the words you use matter and have consequences, and then turn around and unleash a meaningless barrage of faux-academic mad-libs to make your case. If we’re going to take the language of intolerance seriously, and we should, then we also have to take seriously the language we use in response.” [WashPost]
📺 Tough Reception: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board weighs in on DirecTV’s carriage dispute with the conservative outlet Newsmax. “Newsmax says DirecTV won’t compensate it fairly for content and is paying more to carry liberal news channels. But DirecTV claims Newsmax is demanding tens of millions of dollars to license content that the network makes available for free on the web and via streaming devices like Roku. The pay-TV industry is declining, DirecTV says, as content costs are rising, while ‘more networks, like Newsmax, go straight to consumers through “over-the-top” services.’ Newsmax ranks 12th among news channels in viewership behind many small liberal channels, DirecTV says. The channel’s average nationwide audience is 101,000 households — less than 0.1% of those with TVs — according to Nielsen ratings. DirecTV believes Newsmax’s value doesn’t justify the fees it’s demanding.” [WSJ]
🛏️ Healing Hopes:The New York Times’ Sarah Wildman details her family’s travails as her teenage daughter undergoes treatment for liver cancer. “After spending the first 19 days of 2023 in the hospital, Orli is in her own bed now; ramps now half encircle our home. We exercise her legs every few hours, and are working with a physical therapist. We cheer her on when she moves her feet or toes or bends her knees herself. (She has always proved naysayers wrong.)… It is not the first time we have been in what rabbis call the meitzar, the biblical narrow place — a place of compression. The meitzar is an expression of all the things that can make life impossibly hard. It appears in Psalm 118: From the narrow place I called to God, the psalm says; I was answered, it continues, from expansiveness. We are constantly seeking moments of that expansiveness, to take a deeper breath. A colleague of Ian’s flew from South Carolina, to lay on of hands for Orli, as powerful a prayer as I have ever seen. ‘What if it doesn’t work?’ Orli asked. ‘And she is sad?’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
📄 Lankford’s Legislation: Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced two bills aimed at ramping up sanctions on Iran — one targeting entities that provide military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and preventing the lifting of sanctions without verification that the individuals and Iran’s government are no longer involved in terrorism, and another placing export controls on Iranian individuals and entities that support terrorist activity.
🧑✈️ In Plane Sight: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill seeking to train Israeli pilots to operate KC-46 refueling aircraft before Israel receives its order of the airborne tankers in 2025, and to station a U.S. KC-46 presence in Israel in the meantime. The refueling planes are considered necessary for an Israeli strike on Iran.
🗳️ Arizona Intrigue: A new poll shows Rep Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) leading Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and a number of Republicans in different matchups ahead of the 2024 Senate race in the Grand Canyon State.
👋 Signing Off: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is stepping down from the platform’s top role, and will be succeeded by Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan.
🎓 Campus Beat: A motion before the University of California, Berkeley’s student government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism was tabled indefinitely following a Thursday morning vote.
🚓 Safe Streets: Police in Los Angeles apprehended a man the local Jewish federation described as having “a history of animus toward the Jewish community,” who is believed to be responsible for two incidents in which individuals leaving synagogues in the city’s Pico Robertson neighborhood were shot.
⚽ Out of Bounds: Two religious private schools in South Florida — including Scheck Hillel Community School — are investigating a physical altercation between members of the schools’ soccer teams following a match on Wednesday, in which some students reportedly made antisemitic comments.
👨 All Politics is Local: Avi Schnall, a Lakewood, N.J., resident who heads the New Jersey office of Agudath Israel of America, is considering a bid for New Jersey’s state assembly.
🖼️ Art Auction: A Wassily Kandinsky painting that had been owned by a woman who was killed at Auschwitz is expected to fetch $45 million at an auction last month, with the proceeds to be split between the woman’s 13 heirs, after a Dutch museum restituted the painting to the family last year.
🤝 Closer Ties: Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who visited Ukraine this week, said that Jerusalem and Kyiv will step up cooperation, but declined to provide further details on what the cooperation would look like.
🚀 Gulf Growth: Rafael, the Israeli defense company behind the Iron Dome missile-defense system, will open an office in the United Arab Emirates.
🪧 Protest Push: A new round of protests swept through Iran on Friday, marking 40 days since the execution of two protestors by the Iranian regime.
Pic of the Day
Following the opening ceremony of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jewish leaders posed for a photo outside the new Moses Maimon Synagogue. From left are, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rabbi Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation’s rabbi emeritus; Rabbi Ben de Toledo, rabbi in residence at the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue; William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, chief rabbi of the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue; Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Rabbi Levi Duchman, the first rabbi of the Jewish community of the UAE.
Assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Samantha Erin Vinograd turns 40…
FRIDAY: Real estate developer and former co-owner and president of the New York Mets, Saul Katz turns 84… Former president of AIPAC, Steven Grossman turns 77… Executive director of American Jewish Archives and professor of Reform Jewish History, both at HUC-JIR, Gary Phillip Zola turns 71… One of the most popular Israeli basketball players of all time, Miki Berkovich turns 69… Owner of Lynn’s Photography in Beachwood, Ohio, Lynn Katz Danzig… Professor of mathematics at Princeton University, Noga Alon turns 67… Chairman of Israel’s Shas party, Aryeh Deri turns 64… Partner in the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis specializing in international trade and national security, Ivan A. Schlager turns 62… Rabbi of Khal Ahavas Yisroel Tzemach Tzedek and kashrus administrator at the Star-K, Rabbi Dovid Heber… Filmmaker known for directing and producing big-budget action films including the many Transformers films, Michael Benjamin Bay turns 58… President and CEO of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Derrick Hall turns 54… Executive director of American University’s Women and Politics Institute, Betsy Fischer Martin turns 53… Professor of international relations at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sharon Pardo turns 52… Brigadier general in the IDF, he served as the chief of the Combat Engineering Corps, Oshri Lugasi turns 51… Chief content officer at McClatchy, Kristin Roberts… Executive director of the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life (the Columbia / Barnard Hillel), Brian Cohen… Israeli actress and beauty queen who won the Miss World beauty pageant in 1998, she has since become observant and completed law school, Linor Abargil turns 43… Actor and filmmaker, with multiple roles as a child actor continuing to the present, Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns 42… Assistant managing editor for CNN Politics until a few months ago, Dianna Heitz… Professional ice hockey defenseman for the NHL’s New York Rangers, Adam Fox turns 25… Miriam Schulman…
SATURDAY: Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Hershel Reichman turns 79… Former U.S. representative from New York for 32 years and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eliot Engel turns 76… Former national and Washington correspondent for The New York Times for 24 years, Michael Janofsky… Russian pharmaceutical oligarch, Boris Spiegel turns 70… Principal at NYC-based Liebman Advisors, Scott Liebman… Israeli singer and actress, Ilana Avital turns 63… Portfolio manager at Capital Group, Hilda Lea Applbaum… Co-principal of the Institute for Wise Philanthropy, Mirele B. Goldsmith… Director of development for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Lori Tessel… Director of the digital diplomacy bureau at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, David Saranga turns 59… Author and school safety activist, Andrew Scot Pollack turns 57… Chair of the chemistry department at Stony Brook University, Nancy Sarah Goroff turns 55… CEO of an eponymous Baltimore-based branding, marketing, PR, advertising and design firm, David F. Warschawski turns 52… Actor, comedian, writer, director and producer, Isaac “Ike” Barinholtz turns 46… Co-founder of StockX, Joshua Eliot “Josh” Luber turns 45… Singer-songwriter and pianist, Regina Spektor turns 43… SVP of development for J Street, Adee Telem… Instagram celebrity known commonly as The Fat Jewish, Josh Ostrovsky turns 41… President of baseball operations and general manager of MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers, David Stearns turns 38… Editorial writer and opinion columnist for The Washington Post, James P. Hohmann… Senior program manager at NYC’s Housing Authority, Dylan Sandler… Political reporter at CBS Interactive, Rebecca R. Kaplan… French movie actress, Esther Garrel turns 32…
SUNDAY: 2004 Nobel Prize laureate in physics, he is a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, David Jonathan Gross turns 82… Former chairman of the board and CEO of Sony Corporation, chairman of the board of trustees of the American Film Institute, Sir Howard Stringer turns 81… Retired co-founder of integrated digital marketing agency Hawkeye / Mosaic, now known as Publicis Hawkeye, Sharon Edelman… Founder and president of the eponymous Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, she is on the boards of the NFL’s NY Giants, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Aspen Institute, Laurie M. Tisch… and also the birthday of her first cousin once removed, co-founder and CEO of Atria (a private medical institute in NYC), Alan Tisch… Real estate investor, managing partner of Encino, Calif.-based Hager Pacific Properties, Adam Tuvia Milstein turns 71… Former Goldman Sachs partner and senior executive at JPMorgan Chase, he now serves on various corporate and non-profit boards, Barry L. Zubrow turns 70… International CEO of Taglit Birthright Israel since 2008, Gidi Mark turns 67… Novelist, essayist and short story writer, he was a winner of a 2005 MacArthur genius fellowship, Jonathan Allen Lethem turns 59… Recently retired U.S. District Court Judge, Gary Scott Feinerman turns 58…
SVP of government relations at Las Vegas Sands Corp., Andy Abboud… Co-founder of the band Phish where he was the lead drummer and frequent song-writer, Jon Fishman turns 58… Communications director since 1997 for Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kevin D. Bishop… Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, Yaakov Hagoel turns 52… Canadian media personality, conservative political activist, writer and broadcaster, Ezra Levant turns 51… Managing principal at InfraStrategies and senior fellow at the UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies, Joshua Levi Schank, Ph.D…. Founder of NYT’s DealBook and co-creator of Showtime’s “Billions,” Andrew Ross Sorkin turns 46… Hollywood writer and producer, Gideon Yago turns 45… Jewish rapper, part of the alternative hip hop group Darshan, better known by his stage name Eprhyme (pronounced “E-Prime”), Eden Daniel Pearlstein turns 43… Writer of the “In the Know” gossip column for The Hill, Judy Kurtz Altscher… Founder of a Middle East NGO, Regional Organization for Peace, Economics & Security (ROPES), Ben Birnbaum… Former MLB pitcher for the Phillies, he now runs Big League Advance, a company that invests in minor league players in exchange for a percentage of their future MLB earnings, Michael Schwimer turns 37… Samantha Zalaznick… Tight end for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Anthony Firkser turns 28… Actor who played the young autistic Jacob “Jake” Bohm in the Fox TV series “Touch,” later portraying a young Bruce Wayne in another Fox series “Gotham,” David Mazouz turns 22… Daniel Blum…