👋 Good Friday morning and chag sameach to those celebrating the remaining days of Sukkot!
Ed’s note: The Daily Kickoff will be back in your inbox on Tuesday after Isru Chag and Columbus Day.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to Jewish organizational officials about new California Sen. Laphonza Butler’s positions on issues of interest to the community, and take a look inside the newest kosher food trend. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Dani Klein, Avigdor Kahalani and Sen. Joni Ernst.
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: MBS’ open talk signals advance toward peace with Israel; From New York to Ramle – modern art in an ancient setting puts Israeli city on the map; Two Jewish Dems seek to capitalize on Georgia’s leftward tilt in 2024. Print the latest edition here.
Presidential and congressional candidates will need to file new fundraising reports by next Sunday, but already some of the biggest names in politics are previewing their results — and giving clues as to the political state of play in key races, Jewish Insider Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar writes.
Former President Donald Trump announced a massive fundraising haul of $45.5 million over the last three months, nearly all of which can be used in the presidential primary. His top rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, raised less than one-third as much ($15 million), and a significant share of DeSantis’ funds can only be used for a general election.
The two major GOP candidates who haven’t yet announced their fundraising totals: former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. If Haley is able to outraise DeSantis in primary campaign funds, it would be another sign of her campaign’s momentum.
On the congressional front, several candidates have raised formidable sums in preparation for tough races ahead. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), running for Senate in California, raised $6.4 million and has banked a whopping $32 million in his campaign account. Schiff is running against two other Democratic lawmakers in the primary: Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), the front-running Democratic Senate candidate in Michigan, raised nearly $3 million in the third quarter, and has over $5 million in her campaign account. She is facing the prospect of a tough election against former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, who entered the race last month.
As she prepares for a competitive reelection, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced raising $2.7 million — and ended September with $8.8 million in cash-on-hand.
In New Jersey, Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)raised nearly $1 million in just a week for his newly announced Senate campaign against indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). That impressive early haul suggests he’s emerging as a front-runner to succeed the scandal-plagued senator.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), the expected Democratic nominee in a potential three-way Arizona Senate race, raised a formidable $3 million in the third quarter for a tough race ahead. He announced having $5 million in his campaign account.
A few notable House race fundraising nuggets: Former Democratic congressman Mondaire Jones, who faced criticism from several Jewish Democrats over a controversial social media post this week, raised over $1 million in his comeback attempt against Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY). His leading Democratic primary opponent, Liz Gereghty (the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer), hasn’t released her latest numbers yet.
Adam Frisch, the top Democratic challenger to Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), raised about $3.4 million in the third fundraising quarter — an imposing sum in his efforts to oust the controversial right-wing lawmaker.
And progressive activist Sue Altman, seeking to run against Rep. Tom Kean (R-NJ) in a swing district, raised a respectable $283,000 in the third quarter, positioning her as an early front-runner for the nomination.
new in town
New California Sen. Laphonza Butler a cipher on Israel, other Jewish issues
Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA), the former EMILY’s List president, labor leader and advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris appointed to fill the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) Senate this week, is a largely unknown entity to the state’s organized Jewish community, and her positions on issues of interest to the community are a mystery, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
New face: Jewish organizational officials up and down the state, including the leaders in the American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California told JI this week that they’ve had little or no interaction with Butler in her previous roles.
Governor’s office: Butler’s views on Middle East policy are also apparently unknown to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who appointed Butler to the post, according to a source familiar with the governor’s thinking. The source, who spoke to Newsom about the appointment, said that Middle East policy did not come up in her vetting process, but that — based on their long relationship — Newsom expects that she’ll be an ally to the pro-Israel community.
Resume: One former EMILY’s List staffer who overlapped with Butler and requested anonymity to speak candidly, told JI that they expect Butler to be “very progressive” but that they “cannot imagine” she’ll join the ranks of anti-Israel Democrats; the former staffer said that Israel never came up during conversations at EMILY’s List. They said that Butler’s tenure at EMILY’s List was not without its issues. They described a difficult transition for Butler, whose background was not in fundraising, and clashing management styles. Butler took over EMILY’s List in 2021.
Fifty years on
Yom Kippur War hero: ‘You can’t replace a government by refusing to serve
Fifty years on, the Yom Kippur War is still an open wound in Israeli society. Around this time each year, journalists and historians dig into the archives to try to assign blame for Israel being unprepared, even as its leadership had the information it needed to know that war was looming. Israelis can seem so busy confessing the sins of the war as though it was part of the Yom Kippur prayers, that they seem to forget that the war was not an unmitigated disaster. Israel ultimately won, and the lessons Israel learned made its leadership more able to protect the country, Yom Kippur War hero Avigdor Kahalani argued in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov last month, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the conflict, which began on Oct. 6, 1973.
Battle over the Golan: “I commanded a tank battalion in the Sinai,” Kahalani recalled. “On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, we were moved to the Golan Heights. We were there 10 days before because we were told there may be a war.” Within the first day of the war, “two-thirds of the Golan already wasn’t in our hands,” Kahalani recounted. “There were 130 tanks against us, and we had 10-12 tanks.” But within a few days, the much smaller Israeli force stopped the Syrians and more IDF tank and infantry units joined Kahalani to push the Syrians out of the Golan. “Many of my people were injured, but what mattered, the bottom line, is that we could stop the Syrian Army from completing its mission of conquering the Golan,” he said.
Breaking point: The Yom Kippur War is often cited as a breaking point in the trust Israelis had in the government, the IDF and their ability to protect them. “We learned from this war that we can’t assume that we are strong, so we can do anything,” Kahalani said. “We are strong — but the enemy has his own plans.”
Fast forward: Today, IDF reservists protesting against the current government and its judicial overhaul plans argue that they cannot trust the government if it sends them to war because of its political policies. “This cannot happen,” Kahalani said. “If you don’t like the government, you have to replace them in an election. You cannot replace a government by saying ‘I won’t serve.’ When the moment comes, you have to go and fight,” he emphasized.
kosher food scene
Omakase obsession: Kosher sushi gets an upgrade
For a people that loves to eat — there’s a reason the adage “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!” is used to describe many a Jewish holiday — the early kosher food scene in the U.S. was dismal. For a time, matzah ball soup and corned beef sandwiches at the local deli accounted for the entire market (Sephardic-owned restaurants added a sprinkling of Spanish and Middle Eastern alternatives to the mix, but options, overall, were limited). These days, however, the kosher market has become a melting pot of nearly endless choices; observant foodies can enjoy authentic Indian tikka masala as easily as they can their mother’s homemade brisket. Yet, one dish has altered kosher dining more than any other: sushi. Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel explores the evolution of the sushi scene for kosher foodies.
Sushi staple: Once introduced in the late ’90s, sushi fever spread rapidly throughout the Jewish community, turning fast-casual kosher eateries into catch-all pizzerias serving spicy tuna and California rolls alongside pasta entrées and bagel sandwiches. “Within a few years you started seeing sushi everywhere, in every restaurant,” Dani Klein, who runs the “YeahThatsKosher” blog, told Jewish Insider in a recent interview. “You would see sushi at every Jewish affair, be it a bar mitzvah, a wedding and even like a regular Shabbat kiddush.”
Fine dining: Recently, another shift has taken place. Instead of maki rolls and sashimi platters perfect for working customers during their lunch break or families enjoying a night out, kosher restaurateurs are turning their focus toward fine dining and premium-quality Omakase experiences that rival their non-kosher competitors. Omakase, which translates to “I’ll leave it up to you,” is a style of Japanese cuisine in which the customer gives control of their meal over to the chef — trusting them to serve pieces that are both unique and of high quality. It’s a popular, and generally pricey, dining experience consisting of a number of courses, which the chef prepares in front of the waiting party.
A chef’s dream: “It was always my dream to open a sushi restaurant. I was always obsessed with sushi. I went to Japan for my honeymoon, that’s how much I love it. I went to culinary school for a few years, so that’s where I get my knowledge of cooking,” Masuda Omakase owner and founder Abraham Chetrit told JI. “I knew what kind of high-quality sushi was being served out there in the rest of the world and wanted to bring that to the Jewish community. A lot of the non-kosher restaurants know what kosher is and advertise that they do ‘kosher style,’ so I said to myself, why not make that actually kosher.”
Read the full story here.
Visa-free travel for Israelis removes barrier for ‘peoplehood’ programs
Israel’s entry into the United States’ Visa Waiver Program removes a significant barrier for Jewish groups involved in programs that bring Israelis to the U.S., allowing for cheaper, easier and greater exchanges. Israel’s inclusion in the program — it is the 41st country to join — is also bound to have major ramifications on tourism to the U.S. (Israelis are famously a people full of wanderlust), as well as for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the United States with family in Israel, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports.
Cumbersome process: Until now, Israelis have had to pay nearly $200 for a visa and endure a time-consuming application process, provided they were able to get appointments to do so — no small feat in the post-pandemic era. To get around this, some Israelis turn to “machers,” who can help get you an emergency appointment, for a price.
Opening doors: “You won’t find an Israeli-American family that doesn’t have a visa story, about a missed simcha (celebration) or some crisis,” said Scott Lasensky, a senior policy adviser on Israel to the Obama administration and a lecturer on Israel at the University of Maryland, who has written about and advocated for Israel’s entry to the Visa Waiver Program. Lasensky, senior adviser to Enter: The Jewish Peoplehood Alliance, said he hoped that because of Israel’s inclusion in the program, more Israelis would come to the U.S. — even just as tourists — instead of other popular destinations. “As a ‘Jewish peoplehood’ person, I would like them — when it’s a decision between Thailand and the U.S. — I’d like them to come to the U.S.,” Lasensky said. “They may stumble into Central Synagogue while they’re walking in Manhattan. They may meet American Jewish relatives.”
🏠 A House (Really!) Divided: In The Cook Political Report, David Wasserman outlines five initial takeaways from Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as House speaker. “The most surprising votes to evict McCarthy from the speakership came from those who had consistently backed him throughout the 15-vote ordeal in January: Reps. Ken Buck (CO-04), Tim Burchett (TN-02) and Nancy Mace (SC-01)… It’s going to take a while for the fog of the GOP civil war to clear (if it ever does) and the contours of new House leadership to emerge, but this earthquake is going to have major ramifications for the 2024 battle for the House.” [Cook Political Report]
🇺🇦 About the Aid:The New York Times’ Karoun Demirjian considers the opposition in the GOP to continue aid to Ukraine as a litmus test for the right. “Hard-line Republican critics have long espoused isolationist views about Ukraine’s war effort, arguing that sending tens of billions of dollars to Kyiv risks dragging the United States into a head-on conflict with Russia and siphons money away from domestic challenges. Former President Donald J. Trump popularized the argument with his ‘America First’ approach to foreign policy, but until recently, most lawmakers refrained from embracing it. But the drama that has played out in the House over the last week, as Republicans pushed the government to the brink of a shutdown and then deposed their own speaker, has made clear that the right-wing message is gaining momentum among Republicans.” [NYTimes]
🧕 Another Mahsa: In The New York Times, Farnaz Fassihi reports on allegations that agents enforcing Iran’s dress code injured 16-year-old Armita Geravand, who is in a coma after boarding a train without wearing a hijab, as seen in security footage broadcast by state media showed her; the incident has echoes of the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody last year. “The government’s lack of openness and the tight security at the air force hospital have contributed to the suspicions that the authorities had a hand in harming Armita. Anger has spilled out this week on social media, with people denouncing what they see as the government’s brutality.” [NYTimes]
❓What Shapiro Knew: In Politico, Holly Otterbein questions how much Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro knew about a member of his cabinet’s alleged sexual harassment of a former aide. “The woman’s claims raise questions about exactly how much Shapiro knew about [Mike] Vereb’s alleged behavior and why months elapsed between the complaint being made and his departure. They also threaten to cut at the heart of the governor’s political identity. In an interview with POLITICO, Shapiro said he could not respond directly to several questions, including when he first learned of the complaint and whether he asked Vereb to leave. But he pointed to his history of fighting sexual harassment and abuse. ‘I have a long and extensive track record of standing up for victims of sexual abuse, harassment. I led, I think, the most comprehensive investigation on behalf of victims of clergy sex abuse, prosecuted hundreds of sexual predators,’ he said. ‘I have done extensive work with victims, listening to their stories, investigating their stories, and standing up for them. So I’ll take a back seat to no one when it comes to standing up for victims.’” [Politico]
Around the Web
Trump Trouble: Former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with an Australian billionaire months after his term ended.
🗳️ What About Bob? Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) would lose badly to Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), according to a new poll commissioned for a progressive group. Only 14% of Democrats said they hold a favorable view of the indicted senator.
🗺️ Sweet Home Alabama: A federal court has picked a new congressional map for Alabama, which will likely allow Democrats to gain a seat in the delegation.
🇺🇦 Ukraine Fallout: Punchbowl’s Andrew Desiderio outlines the ramifications Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as House speaker will have for Ukraine.
💰 Seeking Funds: The White House is mulling using a State Department grant program as it searches for funding to continue its military support to Ukraine, two U.S. officials told Politico.
🤝 Meeting Matters: A meeting between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could occur at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November, Bloomberg reports.
➡️ Board Post: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, is joining the board of J Street.
🧑⚖️ Santos Saga: Nancy Marks, a former treasurer for Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) campaign, pleaded guilty in federal court to felony charges tied to the embattled congressman’s fraud and money-laundering indictment.
⚖️ SBF Trial: Adam Yedidia, a former FTX developer, testified that Sam Bankman-Fried was aware months before FTX’s November collapse that billions of dollars in customer funds were owed to the crypto exchange by its sister trading firm Alameda. Prosecutors have granted Yedida, a friend of Bankman-Fried’s from MIT, immunity for testifying.
✈️ Trip Talk: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) will lead a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates next week. The trip comes amid the Biden administration’s push for a Saudi-Israel deal within the next few months.
🛰️ Drone Strike: The U.S. shot down an armed Turkish drone in Syria near American forces, increasing strains between the two NATO allies.
🏅 Prize from Prison: Imprisoned Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”
📢 Shout-out in Abu Dhabi: At the NBA Global Games matchup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday evening between the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Omri Casspi was recognized on the jumbotron as “the first Israeli player in the NBA” and given a standing ovation by the crowd.
Pic of the Day
Jewish worshippers attend the Priestly Blessing during Sukkot at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Author of more than 330 horror fiction novels that have sold over 400 million copies, R. L. Stine turns 80…
FRIDAY: Owner of Lancaster, Pa.-based industrial supplier Samuel Miller & Son, Rosanne Selfon… Former Chairman and CEO of CBS, he is a great-nephew of David Ben-Gurion, Leslie Moonves turns 74… Awarded a Ph.D. at UCSD in space science, consultant to NASA and author of many science fiction novels, David Brin turns 73… Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Uzi Vogelman turns 69… Former CEO at Hillels of Georgia, serving 24 campuses throughout the state, Elliot B. Karp… Bexley, Ohio-based real estate agent, Jan Kanas… Correspondent on the networks of NBC and author of best-selling books on Presidents Obama, FDR and Jimmy Carter, Jonathan Alter turns 66… Spiritual leader of Congregation Ner Tamid in the Las Vegas suburbs since 1988, Rabbi Sanford Akselrad… Former member of the New Jersey General Assembly, he is now the managing director of Quest Associates, Joel M. Weingarten turns 64… Mayor of Jerusalem since 2018, Moshe Lion turns 62… Founder and CEO of Coalition Strategy Group, Jeffrey Mendelsohn… Attorney in Lakewood, N.J., Samuel Zev Brown… Member of the New York City Council representing Yorkville, Lenox Hill and Roosevelt Island, Julie Menin turns 56… Member of the Florida Senate until 2020, now an insurance agent in Boca Raton, Kevin J.G. Rader turns 55… Candidate for Governor of Arizona in 2022, he was a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, Aaron Lieberman turns 52… Director of sales at Convergence Workforce, Sean “Shmop” Weisbord… CEO of Community Security Service, Evan R. Bernstein turns 49… Actor and comedian, Brett Gelman turns 47… SVP of community strategy and external relations at UJA-Federation of New York, Hindy Poupko… Senior advisor for Israel Strategies at the William Davidson Foundation, Deena Eisenberg Pulitzer… Actress best known for her role in “Dredd” and more recently in “Oppenheimer,” Olivia Thirlby turns 37… Legislative director for the governor of Nevada, Madeline S. Burak…
SATURDAY: Retired chairman and CEO of Halco Lighting Technologies, Allan Nelkin… Highland Park, IL resident, Margery Nyberg… Senior advisor to the chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Jill Smith… Deputy director of community security at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Ron Vosatka… Founder and chair of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, Kenneth L. Marcus turns 57… President of Detroit’s Imperial Management and a board member of the William Davidson Foundation, Eli Saulson… Creator, host and producer of Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel, Gabriele Corcos turns 51… Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, N.J., Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner… Political fundraiser and strategist, Arie Lipnick… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party since 2016, now serving as the Minister of Religious Affairs, Michael Malchieli turns 41… Director of the leadership institute at AIPAC, Natalie Lascar Lefkowitz… Executive director at the Israel Action Network and AVP for public affairs at The Jewish Federations of North America, Adam Teitelbaum… CEO of Holbrook, NY-based MW Impressions, Daniel Mael… Executive assistant at WPP, Tayla Harris… An original Politico staffer, now a senior editor for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Magazine, Barbara E. Martinez… Senior associate on the real estate team at Korn Ferry, Samuel Schear… Co-founder and chief growth officer at Riseup Israel, Tamara Harel-Cohen…
SUNDAY: Leah Koenig turns 96… Founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, author and philanthropist, Isadore “Issy” Sharp turns 92… General surgeon in Tempe, Ariz., Agustin Estrada, MD… Columnist and businesswoman, Rona Barrett turns 87… Attorney General of Maryland until earlier this year, Brian E. Frosh turns 77… Academy Award-winning film producer and director, Edward Zwick turns 71… CEO of Heart of a Nation, Jonathan Kessler… Movie and theater director, writer and filmmaker, Shira Piven turns 62… One of two Jewish Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, he represents Tennessee’s 8th congressional district, David Kustoff turns 57… Scholar-in-residence at UJA-Federation of New York, Rabbi Menachem Creditor… Entertainment reporter and sports commentator, Ben Lyons turns 42… Magazine editor Ilana Michelle Blitzer Snider turns 42… Freelance communications specialist, Aliyana Traison… Founder of Knock Knock, Give a Sock, Adina Lichtman…