First Read For Feb. 10


Warmth For Syrian Refugees – From Israelis

Refugees in Syria will soon receive donated winter supplies — but they won’t know that the coats and boots keeping them warm “came from Israel, an enemy state,” reports JTA in an article about an “Operation Human Warmth” campaign being conducted by a coalition of Israeli humanitarian organizations.

The Zionist youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed, its alumni group Dror Israel and the Combat Genocide Association have collected about 3,000 boxes of blankets, coats, sleeping bags, gloves, boots and other winter supplies, from which “any logos or tags featuring Hebrew writing has been removed,” according to the article.

A “partner aid organization” is facilitating the delivery of the goods to the refugees; the delivery date and method could not be revealed due to the “sensitive nature of the situation.”

Swastikas In Borough Park Snow

Anti-Semitic vandals in Brooklyn’s heavily chasidic Borough Park neighborhood found swastikas drawn in the snow on several cars on a side street following yesterday’s heavy snowfall, the Yeshiva World website reports.

The article features several photographs of the swastikas.

Happy Tu b’Shvat! Now Donate Your Surplus Food!

The Leket national food bank is marking Tu b’Shvat, the Jewish new year of trees that starts tonight, by launching a “Sayeret Tapuz” (orange reconnaissance unit) to “rescue” surplus produce off trees in private yards all over the country. The food will be distributed to Israelis in need, according to the Jewish Press.

A spokeswoman for the organization said, “This Tu b’Shvat, we have a record number of 500 volunteers for Sayeret Tapuz, in an effort to grow this important initiative to rescue the surplus produce.”

Apology For Anti-Semitic Valentine’s Day Card

The College Republicans at Central Michigan University has apologized for a Valentine’s Day card that features a photo of Adolf Hitler, JTA reports.

On Wednesday, a student at the public college in Mount Pleasant posted a photo to Facebook of the card she received at a College Republicans Valentine’s Day party. The card had the caption “my love 4 u burns like 6,000 Jews.”

The student group later apologized with a message on its Facebook page, saying the “very inappropriate card” was distributed without its knowledge. “We in no way condone this type of rhetoric or anti-Semitism,” the group said. “We apologize for any offense, and want students to know that we do not tolerate this sort of behavior.”

Chasidic Film Shines At Sundance

A short film based largely on the life of a resident of New Square, a chasidic village in Rockland County, premiered to “rave reviews” at the Sundance Film Festival last week, offering “a rare and authentic glimpse into the Chasidic world,” according to vosizneias.

“Menashe” tells the story of a chasidic widower who reluctantly comes to terms with community rules that prohibit a single father from raising his son on his own. Scripted almost entirely in Yiddish, and shot mostly in Borough Park, the film won praises from the Los Angeles Times, which described it as “a heartfelt gem.”

“Menashe” closely parallels the life of its star, 38-year-old Menashe Lustig of New Square, who lost his wife nine years ago and faced similar circumstances with his own son. Lustig caught the attention of director Joshua Weinstein who had already shot several films exploring different cultures.

Threats Against Jewish Blogger

Marc Yellin, a retired technical writer who blogs about Jewish life in Albuquerque, N.M., has been subject to “threatening” anti-Semitic attacks online, according to a New York Times story about “hate crimes and harassment around the country since the election of President Trump.”

“If you try to get the U.S. involved in another war for Israel there are thousands of sleepers in the U.S. who will shoot up your synagogues,” one of the messages on Yellin’s website warned.

The FBI and Albuquerque police are investigating the report, the Times reports.

Can French Jews Remain Israeli Citizens?

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, from the far-right Front National party, said yesterday that if she is elected, people holding dual French and Israeli citizenship would have to give up one of their nationalities, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Le Pen, during an interview with France 2 TV, said she would not allow French citizens to hold dual citizenship in non-European countries. “I am opposed to a policy allowing dual citizenship in [non-European] countries,” she said. “Israel is not a European Union country.”

She said such a policy would not be about Jews but rather about French Israelis, “to whom I ask to choose their nationality.”

Israeli Firm Needs New Prescription

Bad news is piling up for one of Israel’s most successful — until now — businesses.

Bloomberg News reports that a U.S. court ruling has invalidated four patents on the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, a top seller of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The ruling may open the door to generic competition for a drug that generates a fifth of Teva’s $20 billion in annual sales.

Shares of Teva, Israel’s largest company, have dropped precipitously in New York trading this week, an almost 50 percent rout in the stock since the end of 2015.

Earlier this month, Teva said some new products would be unexpectedly delayed. Two weeks before that, Teva agreed to pay $519 million to U.S. authorities after admitting to paying bribes in some countries to boost sales. Earlier, in December, the company was sued by 20 states over its alleged pricing conduct.

And this week, more bad news. CEO Erez Vigodman said he would resign, effective immediately. Teva’s will now search for its fifth CEO in 15 years.