👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on the atmosphere at the Ohel on the 29th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and cover yesterday’s House hearing on antisemitism. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Matthew Continetti, Ness Mugrabi and Beanie Feldstein.
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 Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Krafting a new angle on Anne Frank; Ramaswamy alleges ‘open questions’ over Zelensky’s ‘treatment of religious minorities,’ including Jews; and Entering House race in Maryland, Lesley Lopez seeks to ‘build on’ Trone’s work. Print the latest edition here.
The start of summer, which officially began yesterday, means the start of Israel’s busiest tourist season, and with it, hundreds of Birthright buses and synagogue trips — and delegations of U.S. lawmakers.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, kicked off the official visits to Israel with a trip to the country last month, his first, alongside his wife and their daughters.
“It was amazing from just the cultural aspect of being Christian, but also seeing just other impacts on obviously the people of Jewish faith, and also learning about how many people of [the] Muslim faith come to Jerusalem,” Kemp told Jewish Insider. Georgia has a trade office in the region, and Kemp’s delegation visited several Israeli companies that have large presences in Georgia. “It was very important for our future relationships, but also for a lot of our constituency here in the state of Georgia that is very pro-Israel, as I am.”
The trip was the long-delayed culmination of a2018 promise, on the campaign trail, to visit Israel. The COVID-19 pandemic and his reelection campaign last year led him to push it back. “It’s a commitment that I made, and I wanted to make sure I fulfilled that,” said Kemp.
Kemp also traveled to Davos, Switzerland, this year, leading some to speculate that he is looking to cement his foreign policy credentials ahead of a possible long-shot presidential bid in 2024. In a recent tweet, Kemp — who earned the ire of former President Donald Trump in 2020 when he refused to say that Georgia’s election was fraudulent — attacked Trump for praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“We have to have a candidate that can win,” Kemp told JI of the 2024 Republican field. “You can’t govern if you don’t win. Those points are the things that I’ve said that apply to Donald Trump, but they also, in my opinion, apply to anybody else who is running right now for president.” When asked whether Kemp could win a presidential election, his spokesperson ended the interview before Kemp could answer.
Kemp’s trip came weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to Israel. Next week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is slated to visit the Jewish state.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act is set to wrap up today. An individual familiar with the proceedings told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod that the Senate bill will include the MARITIME Act, a project of the Abraham Accords Caucus pursuing greater naval collaboration among Abraham Accords members to combat Iranian threats.
The White House hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a vegetarian state dinner last night. Among the nearly 400 invited guests were: Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Evan Ryan; Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Tanya Mayorkas; Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Charlene Austin; CIA Director Bill Burns and Lisa Carty; U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti and Sean Burton; U.S. Chief of Protocol Rufus Gifford; Attorney General Merrick Garland and Lynn Rosenman Garland; Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and David Davighi; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and Drew Nuland; White House Chief of Staff Jeffrey D. Zients, and Jonny Zients; U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Lafayette Greenfield; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Weiland; House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Emily Norris McCarthy; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Paul Pelosi; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jonathan Gillibrand; Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Nadine Menendez; Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Lisa Collis; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Gayle Manchin; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Bessler; House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA); Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Simone Meeks; Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA) and her grandfather, Dr. Irwin Jacobs; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Dr. Priya Krishnamoorthi; Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Steven Williamson; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Ritu Khanna; Huma Abedin; Sam Altman and Oliver Mulherin; Josh Bekenstein and Anita Bekenstein; violinist Joshua Bell; Tom Friedman and Ann Friedman; Michael Froman and Nancy Goodman; David Ignatius and Dr. Eve Ignatius; Ralph Lauren and Ricky Lauren; James Murdoch and Kathryn Murdoch; and Casey Wasserman and Jenny Chandler.
A big tent at the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s tent
Veronica Motiram-Mizrahi and her family were in a hurry when they arrived at the Ohel in Queens, N.Y., on Thursday. The Boca Raton, Fla., resident, her husband and their adult children had to get to a daughter’s medical graduation. But first, they wanted to pay their respects at what Chabad adherents call “The Ohel,” or tent, the structure where the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his father-in-law, Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, are buried. The Mizrahis’ visit would prove to be anything but quick: Thursday was the anniversary of Schneerson’s death, and tens of thousands of people had come to the Ohel to pray, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Special day: People visit year-round (24/6, as Chabad puts it: everyday except for Shabbat, when Jews typically do not visit cemeteries) to pay their respects to the two Jewish giants. But Schneerson’s yahrzeit — the anniversary of his death in 1994 — holds a special power, drawing religious pilgrims from around the world each year on the third day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz. They lined up to wait for hours to read handwritten prayers in the presence of the souls of these two rabbis.
Prayers from around the world: One Chabad rabbi who flew in from Boulder, Colo., scrolled through dozens of texts on his phone from friends and congregants back home who had sent him the names of sick family members and friends. Before he went to the Ohel, he would print out a piece of paper with all of their names to remember to pray for each of them.
Hearing on antisemitism in international orgs highlights divides over combating antisemitism
A panel of expert witnesses testified yesterday at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee on addressing antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in the United Nations, Palestinian Authority and nongovernmental organizations. Despite its premise, the hearing ultimately touched on broader questions about growing partisan divides over how best to address antisemitism writ large, in addition to policy recommendations regarding the international community, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Strategy concerns: In their opening statements, two witnesses raised concerns about the Biden administration’s decision, in its national strategy on antisemitism, to praise the Nexus definition of antisemitism — which critics say allows for antisemitic critiques of Israel – while embracing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition. Former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, who previously headed the Jewish Agency for Israel, praised the “comprehensive” plan, but said the section on definitions of antisemitism “caused confusion or mixed reactions.” Eugene Kontorovich, the head of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum and a law professor at George Mason University, went further, accusing the administration of “harm[ing] efforts to respond to [antisemitism] by referring to two different and fundamentally contradictory definitions of it.”
Wider scope: While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle raised concerns about a range of issues relating to antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in the international community, some Democrats on the panel encouraged a focus on the broader scope of antisemitism, in addition to addressing antisemitism within the international community. They highlighted links between antisemitism at home and abroad, as well as strains of white nationalist antisemitism emanating from the far right.
Continetti considers the future of the Republican Party
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s podcast, co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by author and journalist Matthew Continetti, whose most recent book, The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism, discusses the history of conservatism in America. Continetti, the founder and former editor of the Washington Free Beacon, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. During the conversation, Continetti touched upon former President Donald Trump, American conservatism and where the Republican Party stands today.
On Trump’s legal woes: “Pretty much every conservative, every Republican, viewed the indictment [brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg] over the payments to Stormy Daniels as a reach, as a pretty weak case by a clearly political prosecutor in New York City, and so Republicans and conservatives rallied around Trump; he saw a boost in the polls, he saw a lot of fundraising, and that kind of carried him through the spring. So with this indictment [the federal documents case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith alleging mishandling of classified documents and obstruction of justice], the players are different. Jack Smith is a career prosecutor, special counsel, is coming [with] federal charges, and anyone who reads the indictment with an open mind and closely, sees that it contains a lot of evidence, including recordings of Trump himself, and that the documents in question were of a fairly serious nature. So while there was an initial rallying behind Trump, you’ve seen recently a few Republicans begin to create some space between themselves and the former president.”
On the Republican Party today: “I think the first thing to do is to distinguish between real politics, like we see in institutions and elections and campaigns, and then the intellectual debates that increasingly take place online… If you just look at the Republican Party today, say, you see it dominated by the attitudes and positions associated with MAGA [Make America Great Again] with Donald Trump. Populist, which is to say, anti-liberal elite, anti-expert, kind of what we call, “folk libertarian,” you know, “get the government off our backs, but also don’t mess up with the benefits that we’ve been promised.” You see a real preference for cultural battles over economic policy, so a real interest in fighting the culture war in all its dimensions, you know, Bud Light boycott, Target boycott, taking precedence over say, getting into the details of how Republicans will fight inflation.”
Gideon Taylor steps down from JCRC-NY after 2 years, returns to WJRO
Gideon Taylor will step down from his role as executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council-New York at the end of this summer after just over two years in the role, the organization announced on Thursday. JCRC-NY said Taylor was leaving to take a “leading role” at the World Jewish Restitution Organization, where he served as chief operations officer until 2021. JCRC-NY’s current chief operating officer, Noam Gilboord, was chosen to lead JCRC-NY until a new CEO is found. Taylor will remain involved in the organization by serving as a consultant until his successor comes on board. The selection process has not yet begun, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports.
Parting words: Taylor’s relatively short stint as CEO of JCRC-NY came after his predecessor, Michael Miller, served in the role for 35 years, helping grow the organization to a prominent place in the city’s politics. “It has been a profound honor to serve as executive vice president and CEO of JCRC-NY. I have had the opportunity to work with remarkable partners, a truly outstanding staff, and a dedicated and committed lay leadership,” Taylor said in a statement.
Sense of duty: Taylor, who also serves as president of the Claims Conference, indicated that he was leaving out of a sense of duty to Holocaust survivors. “I believe that securing a measure of justice for Holocaust survivors and making sure that the lessons that they still have to impart reach a younger generation is a critical priority for the Jewish people,” Taylor told the New York Jewish Week after his resignation was announced. “I think the opportunity to do that is compelling. We just don’t have long left to have an opportunity to make that difference.”
🕍 Threat Assessment: Vanity Fairspotlights the work of the Community Security Initiative to monitor and evaluate potential security threats to the Jewish community in greater New York City. “All day long, Paulette — a risk analyst working for a private Jewish security group — hunts through obscure pockets of the web in search of the next potential antisemitic assault. Sometimes working remotely, other times seated in a command center in Manhattan, she finds herself bombarded with a word salad of hate: ‘kike church,’ ‘Jew church,’ ‘bombing,’ and the MAGA bête noire — ‘George Soros’ — among scores of other red-flag terms. Her electronic scraping tools vacuum Facebook and Twitter, and also the darker online rabbit holes such as Gab, Telegram, 4chan, and 8chan, in attempts to identify and assess any mention of ‘Jewish,’ ‘New York,’ ‘kill,’ ‘shoot,’ ‘die.’ Paulette’s mission — in her role scanning for hints of would-be threats in and around New York City — is to parse the truly poisonous wheat from the hate stream of chaff. That Friday, the phrase “this time I’m really gonna do it” struck her as particularly urgent. ‘Can you have eyes on what I just sent?’ Paulette’s colleague, a veteran of one of Israel’s intelligence services, asked her on the phone. ‘Ari, what are we looking at?’ The alert had also tripped a monitoring network an ocean away — a similar early warning system operated by analysts working for England’s largest private Jewish security service.” [VanityFair]
🏈 Keep the Faith: The Athletic’s Zach Rosenblatt profiles 24-year-old Ness Mugrabi, the NFL’s youngest agent. “Mugrabi doesn’t sleep much, but he does rest on Shabbat. He needs it. Every Friday morning, he picks up flowers for his grandmothers, mother and wife, Lauren. At sundown, he puts his phone away. His family prays together, eats — Mugrabi always has the same meal, simple: breaded chicken and bread — and together they catch up, for hours, often past midnight… That recharge, he said, is crucial. His clients all understand and respect him for sticking with it, even as his agent profile has increased and his responsibilities have become more vital to the operation of [NFL agent David] Canter’s agency. Canter, also Jewish, marvels at Mugrabi’s commitment to his faith. ‘He has had hundreds of excuses to not be a practicing Orthodox Jew, to use an excuse to say: “Just this one time, it’s just too important, I got to skip Shabbos.” He never, ever, ever, ever, has taken the easy way out. He has never not kept kosher. He never has just crossed into the gray zone once. And that’s the greatest compliment of the man that Ness has become that I can give.’ For Mugrabi, it’s not a difficult calculus. ‘My faith is my faith, and it honestly helps me,’ Mugrabi said. ‘That’s what makes me what I am. Shutting my mind off for 24 hours is such a blessing to me — that I’m able to work my f—ing ass off during the week, then Friday to Saturday, it gives me the time to communicate with my family, to be around everybody, to tell stories and get that time I don’t get on a random Tuesday night because I’m on the phone all the time.’” [TheAthletic]
🧕 Dress Code: In The Hill, Tzvi Kahn looks at the history of Iran’s crackdowns on women’s dress. “The ongoing protests in Iran began last September as a feminist mutiny against a misogynistic theocracy after Iran’s morality police killed 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. The unrest then evolved into a full-fledged challenge to the government’s right to rule, complete with crowds calling for regime change and chanting, ‘women, life, freedom.’ Yet the regime’s larger battle with Iran’s women started not in 2022 but in 1979, the year the Islamic Republic was founded. Since then, Tehran has waged an unremitting fight to enforce its Islamist creed, which entails [a] resolute battle against Western influence and ideas, particularly as they relate to women and sexuality. The protests are merely the latest front in this struggle.” [TheHill]
Around the Web
📰 DeSantis Today: Israel Hayompublished a wide-ranging interview with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that touched on DeSantis’ views on Ukraine, Israeli sovereignty and nuclear talks with Iran.
👪 Family Matters: Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) father and aunt were named as the guarantors of the $500,000 bond that secured Santos’ release from federal custody last month.
⛳ Fore!: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman were invited to testify before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations next month.
☀️ Sunshine State Strategy: Surfside, Fla., Mayor Shlomo Danzinger and political advisor Jonathan Kilman are launching 1000 Jews of Florida, a Tallahassee-based political committee that aims to tackle growing antisemitism in the Sunshine State.
🏦 Solomon’s Sway: The recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has reportedly added to the concerns of the Goldman Sachs board regarding David Solomon’s leadership of the investment company, which had been hired to advise SVB.
🏰 Disney Doldrums: The Financial Timesexplores Walt Disney’s recent run of underperformance under CEO Bob Iger’s leadership, most recently with poor box office numbers for Pixar’s “Elemental.”
🎭 Across the Pond: “Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Pig,” which is being billed at the U.K.’s first professional Jewish pantomime, will debut at London’s JW3 culture center over Hanukkah.
🏫 Berlin Beginnings: The Pears Jewish Campus, the largest Jewish educational and cultural complex in Germany since the Holocaust, will open on Sunday in Berlin.
🛬 Gulf Tour: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, part of a three-day swing through the region that included stops in Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
🏀 Qatari Bid: Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is making a bid to purchase a 5% stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics.
🛢️ Gas Growth: A new report found that Israeli gas reserves have grown by 40% in the last decade, citing stepped-up efforts in drilling and exploration as the drivers of the increase.
🇮🇱 Ban’s Bleak Outlook: Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, visiting the Middle East this week, cautioned that the viability of a two-state solution is “fading away” and that recent Israeli actions and policies “may constitute apartheid.”
➡️ Transition: Former Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata is joining the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as the first senior fellow in its new International Fellows Program.
🕯️ Remembering: Leon Trotsky’s grandson Esteban Volkov, born Vsevolod Volkov Platonovich Bronstein, died at 97.
Pic of the Day
Congregation Shaarey Zedek of Southfield, Mich., was featured in the final clue in the first round of a “Jeopardy!” episode that aired this week.
Actress and singer, Elizabeth Greer (“Beanie”) Feldstein turns 30 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Professor emeritus of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, he was previously president of Brandeis University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Samuel O. Thier, M.D. turns 86… Real estate developer and co-founder of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer turns 83… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Clarence Thomas turns 75… Senior advisor at Eurasia Group and author of 21 books, Robert D. Kaplan turns 71… Novelist and journalist, Roy Hoffman turns 70… Los Angeles-based activist, restaurateur and breast cancer fundraiser, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz turns 70… Klezmer expert, violinist and composer, Yale Strom turns 66… Senior director of the National Consumers League, Robin Strongin… President of the Harrington Discovery Institute at Case Western Reserve, Jonathan Solomon Stamler turns 64… Sports memorabilia marketer, Brandon Steiner turns 64… Member of the Pennsylvania State Senate until 2020, now president of Cannabis GPO, Daylin Leach turns 62… Former teacher at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Stephanie Z. Bonder… Israeli-American professor, journalist and filmmaker, Boaz Dvir turns 56… Film and television actress, her Hebrew name is Bat-Sheva, Selma Blair Beitner turns 51… EVP and general manager of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman turns 48… President of D1 Capital Partners and former deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz… Founder of Innovation Africa, Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari turns 45… Actress and comedian, best known for playing Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Melissa Rauch turns 43… Actress, singer and model, Marielle Jaffe turns 34… Gila Bublick… Ethiopian-born Israeli model who won the title of Miss Israel in 2013, Yityish Aynaw turns 32… Director of major gifts at OneTable, Ely Benhamo… Business development and marketing official at Indagare, Josh Lauder…
SATURDAY: Former congressman (D-NJ) and active real estate investor, Herbert C. Klein turns 93… Ruth Weinstein… Co-founder of Trian Fund Management, Nelson Peltz turns 81… Professor emeritus in the College of Business at San Francisco State University, Sam S. Gill turns 81… Former chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, Seymour “Sy” Sternberg turns 80… Professor of Jewish philosophy at American Jewish University and founding dean of its rabbinical program, Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff turns 80… Founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Rabbi Avi Weiss turns 79… Former secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, Robert Reich turns 77… Former member of Knesset and former chief of staff of the IDF, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon turns 73… Early childhood specialist at Columbus City Schools and Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio, Carol Glassman… EVP at Edelman, Kevin Goldman… Circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Sandra Segal Ikuta turns 69… President and CEO of public relations firm Steinreich Communications, Stanley Steinreich… U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida, Beth Bloom turns 61… Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi James Kennard turns 59…
The first on-air talent of the NFL Network when it debuted in 2003, he has become the face of the network ever since, Rich Eisen turns 54… Israeli businesswoman and owner of the soccer team, Hapoel Beer Sheva, Alona Barkat turns 54… Author and columnist, Shulem Deen turns 49… Singer and songwriter professionally known as Ariel Pink, Ariel Marcus Rosenberg turns 45… Film director Todd Strauss-Schulson turns 43… Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Matthew Continetti turns 42… Senior social media content manager at Equifax, Brett Rosner… One-half of the husband-and-wife duo known for their YouTube channel h3h3Productions, Ethan Edward Klein turns 38… VP of Houston-based RIDA Development, Steven C. Mitzner… A 2015 contestant on “Jeopardy!” who won 13 consecutive episodes, Matt Jackson turns 31… Tax manager at Mazars USA, Moshe Gruber, CPA… College basketball player for the Harvard Crimson and a graduate transfer player for NYU, Spencer Freedman turns 25… Lois Charles…
SUNDAY: New Jersey-based criminal defense attorney, Miles Feinstein turns 82… Music publicist and author, Howard Bloom turns 80… Founder and CEO of Bel Air Partners, Sheldon J. Sandler turns 79… Real estate developer and founder of The Continuum Company, Ian Bruce Eichner turns 78… Lake Worth, Fla., resident, Joseph C. Goldberg… Woodland Hills, Calif.-based mentor, coach and consultant for business executives through Vistage International, Gary Brennglass… Chairman and CEO of his family’s Chicago-based investment firm, Henry Crown and Company, he is a director of JPMorgan Chase and General Dynamics and the managing partner of the Aspen Skiing Company, James Crown turns 70… Former member of the Knesset for the Meretz party, Michal Rozin turns 54… Founder and CEO of The Agency real estate brokerage, Mauricio Umansky turns 53… Managing director of A-Street, Mora Segal… Senior consultant at West End Strategy Team, Helen Chernikoff… Founder and director of The Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, popularly known as the “Zoo Rabbi,” Natan Slifkin turns 48… Fashion model and television presenter, Michele Merkin turns 48… Congressional liaison at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Zachary Silberman… Vice president of public affairs at J Street, Kevin Rachlin turns 39… President of Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa., Zev Eleff turns 38… Manager of strategic content at Leidos, Isaac Snyder… VP of strategy at Saint Paul Commodities and co-founder of Veriflux, Daniel “Dani” Charles turns 36… Avital Mintz-Morgenthau… Producer and reporter covering the White House for CNN, Betsy Klein… Center fielder in the San Francisco Giants organization, Hunter David Bishop turns 25…