Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs

 


Hasidic school in upstate New York found operating with ‘hundreds of students inside’

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A school in the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel in New York was ordered to close after it was found operating with hundreds of students in its building.

Orange County said in a statement that officials visiting the school last week “found what appeared to be hundreds of students inside, not wearing personal protective equipment, not social distancing, and plainly in violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders,” the Times Herald-Record reported. The county health department issued a cease-and-desist order to the school the following day.

In March, the state of New York issued an order mandating the closure of all schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an order that remains in effect.

If the school continues to operate, officials said that it could face criminal prosecution, including criminal negligence for individuals, the order said, according to the Daily Voice.

Ron Coleman, an attorney for the United Talmudical Academy system, told the Times Herald-Record that “the school was not operating as a school,” but administrators had allowed the boys to study independently in the building, which school officials believed was permitted under the state executive order.

Chris Ericson, a deputy county health commissioner who visited the school, told the newspaper that the classrooms were full, teachers were in the rooms, and few wore masks.

The United Talmudical Academy is a Hasidic school system for about 14,500 children in and around Kiryas Joel.

Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring sells for $1.025 million in online fundraiser

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) — One of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl rings sold for $1.025 million in an online fundraiser to help address food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ring, which includes 283 diamonds and weighs 5.1 carats, was among the most expensive items to be sold in the All In Challenge, which had raised $45.6 million as of Thursday night. The money from the sale of the ring is earmarked for Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen, and No Kid Hungry. The All In Challenge was created by Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin.

Also included in the purchase of the ring is a trip on the Patriots’ team plane to Gillette Stadium in suburban Boston, where the buyer will be presented with the ring by Kraft.

Kraft said earlier this month that he picked the ring from the 2017 Super Bowl because the Patriots had come back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in that game. “I thought about what is going on at this time and wanted to give something of extreme value in support of our health care workers.” Kraft told Yahoo Sports. “So I thought it would be good to give this ring, our fifth Super Bowl win, because it showed how we came back.”

There were a total of 35 bids for Kraft’s ring, beginning at $75,000.

Kraft, a winner of the Genesis Prize, has earned six Super Bowl rings as owner of the Patriots.

Global Jewish leaders meet in videoconference to address community needs after coronavirus

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — As many Jewish communities struggle to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Jewish leaders from around the world convened a videoconference on Tuesday to prepare for when the crisis ends.

The leaders of 30 regional umbrella organizations held a roundtable forum convened by The Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to assess the devastating implications of the coronavirus on the communities and the steps to address their most pressing needs.

The discussion included the need for assistance to weather the crisis; how to effectively collect and distribute aid; promoting unity and understanding; meeting the current and future needs of Jewish education; and preparation for future outbreaks of anti-Semitism.

Each organization was asked to be represented solely by a president and/or CEO to ensure that the forum includes those with the authority to make meaningful policy decisions.

“For the first time in the history of the State of Israel, we established a formal forum to assist Jewish communities around the world,” Jewish Agency Chairman Issac Herzog said in a statement. “This is not meant to be an ad hoc emergency response to a specific community, but rather to understand, to map, and to assist communities through a rehabilitation period that is expected to be long and, in some cases, grueling.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar says Israel and Saudi Arabia both have too much influence on Trump administration

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Rep. Ilhan Omar likened Saudi Arabia’s influence on the Trump administration to Israel’s, saying both countries relied in part on money to bring about their preferred outcomes.

An interview with the London-based Sunday Times ahead of the publication of her book “This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman” was likely to fuel tensions between Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, and supporters of Israel.

“We know the amount of money and influence and connection that the Saudis have with the administration is really the reason that everything destructive they do is nullified,” she told the newspaper. “And that really is no different to what’s happening with Israel.”

The story said that Omar’s “new approach is to pivot to Saudi Arabia so she isn’t singling out the Jews.”

“There’s an alarming connection to the really destructive policies Israel is proposing and how much of it is being rubber stamped by this administration,” she said. “And how much of it is being urged by Americans who have connection and influence with this administration.”

Omar apologized last year for a tweet in which she said “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to the pro-Israel lobby’s influence on lawmakers. Critics from both parties accused her of indulging an anti-Semitic trope that Jews buy influence.

Omar in the interview said she has a better understanding now of why such expressions are hurtful, and suggested that invoking the Saudis should protect her from charges of bigotry.

“I talk about Saudi blood money and them being bloodsuckers and no one says ‘This is Islamophobic,’” said Omar, who is Muslim.

Bride and groom arrested at Jewish wedding in Buenos Aires

By JTA Staff

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The bride and groom, along with their officiating rabbi, were among eight people arrested by Buenos Aires police for gathering at a wedding and violating the public coronavirus lockdown that bans public and religious events.

It was the third Jewish wedding in less than a week in the Balvanera area of the city, which is home to a large Orthodox population that skirted the regulations. (It’s also nicknamed Once for its proximity to the large Once de Septiembre train station.)

The first took place on May 20 with some 150 participants. The second, on Sunday, prompted some neighbors to call authorities but no police action was taken.

But authorities were alerted about the third ceremony and police raided the building on private property. The incident was covered on Argentine TV channels.

A source close to the community said the largest of the weddings involved people from the Shuba Israel congregation, which has lost at least two members to COVID-19, father and son Roberto and Gabril Yabra. Roberto’s wife Teresa, 79, was also hospitalized with the virus but has since recovered.

The AMIA Jewish organization, the Buenos Aires-based Latin American Rabbinical Seminary and the local chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement all condemned the weddings.

“Participating in these weddings or meetings is prohibited, and if a person has already been in one of these activities, they must be isolated from our community for at least 35 days and must quarantine at home,” the Chabad chapter said in a statement.

This wasn’t the first run-in with police that Buenos Aires Jews have had during the lockdown. Three days in, a rabbi and two others were detained for operating a mikvah, or ritual bath.

Iran law to ban the use of Israeli technology

By Marcy Ostser

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Iran has lowered the boom on Israeli high-tech.

A bill passed last week on “confronting the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security” prevents any cooperation with Israel. That means the purchase and use of Israeli technology such as computer hardware and software, the Iranian Fars News Agency reported.

President Hassan Rouhani issued the implementation order on Tuesday, according to Fars, the semi-official news agency of the Iranian government.

The Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, said earlier this month that “any cooperation or spying for the Zionist regime is equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth,” Fars reported.

The law calls for action against Israel’s “warmongering and terrorist moves, siege (of Gaza), settlement construction, displacing the Palestinian people, and occupation of countries’ lands, including Golan.”

In March, the Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said it would be permissible to use a future vaccine against the coronavirus developed by Israel if “there is no substitute.” But he also said that, in general, “It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel.”

Iran law to ban the use of Israeli technology

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Iran has lowered the boom on Israeli high-tech.

A bill passed last week on “confronting the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security” prevents any cooperation with Israel. That means the purchase and use of Israeli technology such as computer hardware and software, the Iranian Fars News Agency reported.

President Hassan Rouhani issued the implementation order on Tuesday, according to Fars, the semi-official news agency of the Iranian government.

The Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, said earlier this month that “any cooperation or spying for the Zionist regime is equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth,” Fars reported.

The law calls for action against Israel’s “warmongering and terrorist moves, siege (of Gaza), settlement construction, displacing the Palestinian people, and occupation of countries’ lands, including Golan.”

In March, the Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said it would be permissible to use a future vaccine against the coronavirus developed by Israel if “there is no substitute.” But he also said that, in general, “It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel.”

Palestinians begin easing coronavirus restrictions

(JNS) — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced on Monday that mosques, churches and businesses would reopen on Tuesday in the P.A.-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

Shtayyeh said it was time to “cautiously return life to normal” as the coronavirus infection rate has decreased, reported Reuters.

The P.A. locked down the territories in March after the first case of the virus was detected in Bethlehem.

Shtayyeh also said that P.A. ministries and offices would reopen on Wednesday and checkpoints that restrict intercity travel would be removed.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed 423 cases of the virus and two deaths, according to the report, which added that the crisis led to a 50 percent drop in commercial revenues in the West Bank and a 17.6 percent unemployment rate.

The Palestinian Health Ministry announced the first coronavirus-related death in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Masa participants will be able to enter Israel despite border closure due to the coronavirus

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Participants in the Masa Israel Journey program, an umbrella organization for gap-year experiences in Israel, will be able to enter Israel from other countries despite Israel’s closure due to the coronavirus crisis.

The program announced Wednesday that  Israel’s Ministry of the Interior confirmed it will approve entry for travelers with Masa visas, including those who were in Israel and left during the coronavirus pandemic and those who will enter Israel as new participants.

Thousands of Masa Fellows chose to remain in Israel when it closed its borders at the start of the pandemic.

Fellows who arrive in Israel will be required to remain in quarantine for 14 days, during which they will receive orientations, Hebrew-language course and educational seminars.

The organization, founded by The Jewish Agency and the government of Israel, has 7,000 Fellows registered for the coming year.

2 Jewish news websites launch in Canada with demise of national Jewish newspaper

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The coronavirus crisis closed a door on Jewish journalism in Canada but opened a window.

When the Canadian Jewish News stopped publishing last month after 60 years, observers worried that the country’s Jewish population of some 400,000 would be underserved without a news outlet geared toward the community.

Now two new websites are trying to fill the void.

The former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, and Ron Csillag, a former reporter at the CJN, founded The Canadian Jewish Record, an online Jewish newspaper. Its editors and reporters are volunteers, and the venture does not plan to seek advertising, according to The Times of Israel.

Meanwhile, TheJ.ca news website, once a local outlet that focused on the Jewish community of Winnipeg, in western Canada, is going national, The Times of Israel reported. The loss of the CJN spurred the new site’s publisher, Ron East, and editor in chief, Marty Gold, to go that route.

The writers and editors also are unpaid. East has been funding the operation, but he told The Times of Israel that he has advertisers lined up and is certain he can generate the necessary income to stay afloat.

Israel relaxes more COVID-19 restrictions

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Restaurants and bars, hotels and wedding halls, and swimming pools reopened as Israel continues to relax restrictions that had been put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, museums, amusement parks and tourist attractions also were allowed to reopen Wednesday after the final go-ahead on Tuesday evening from the Cabinet.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an announcement Tuesday evening called it “happy news.”

“First, we want to help the economy – the business owners and the self-employed who have hoped for this moment,” he said. “Second, we want to make your lives easier, to allow you to go out and get some air, to go back to routine as much as possible, to drink a cup a coffee, and to have a beer as well.

“So, first of all, enjoy yourselves, but we are monitoring developments, including the trends in morbidity; we are prepared accordingly. I hope that we will not have to make changes.”

The loosening of regulations also allows an increased number of people in malls and retail stores and working in offices, though still wearing masks and keeping a social distance of about 6 feet between people.  The number of people who will be allowed to ride a public bus also has increased, though trains have not started running again.

The number of worshippers allowed in a synagogue was increased to 70.

Israel has had a total of 16,757 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 281 deaths. There were 23 new cases reported on Wednesday.

 

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