$10m for summer camps, Alex Bregman focuses on charity, German shuls prepare for reopening


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The Harold Grinspoon Foundation has issued a new $10 million matching grant opportunity for approximately 100 Jewish overnight camps across North America as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many camps may not open this summer, and few of them have endowments or reserves sufficient to make up for lost revenue if summer 2020 is cancelled.

If camps don’t open this summer, it will cost the Jewish community around $150 million to keep them solvent, according to the Jewish Funders Network. Individual donors or foundations can make gifts directly to the camp of their choice, or to camps in a particular region or to a particular camping movement. Grinspoon will match donations dollar for dollar.

For information, contact Tamar Frydman of the Jewish Funders Network, tamar@jfunders.org, or Sarah Eisenger, Director of JCamp180, seisinger@hgf.org.

Synagogues are preparing to reopen in Germany in the coming weeks, but there will be no handshakes, no hugs and no parading with the Torah, a mainstay of Shabbat services, JTA reports.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany released the rules Friday after government officials said that with new coronavirus cases waning in the country, synagogues and other houses of worship could reopen — perhaps as soon as May 5.

Thousands of members of New York City’s Orthodox community who have recovered from the coronavirus have donated potentially life-saving blood plasma to help fight the illness, the Forward reports. Dr. David Reich, president of the Mount Sinai hospital system, said more than half of the donors to the system’s plasma collection have been Orthodox Jews.

The community-wide effort began in late March when Dr. Samuel Shoham, an expert on infectious diseases in transplant patients at Johns Hopkins University, reached out to his friend Chaim Lebovits, an Orthodox Jewish shoe wholesaler from Monsey. The community had been hit hard by the virus, and Dr. Shoham figured that many had the antibodies needed to be used to treat current patients.

The Borough Park branch of the Masbia kosher soup kitchen network has partnered with Eichler’s, a Judaica bookstore in that Brooklyn neighborhood, to support newly widowed parents whose spouses died from the coronavirus. Any living spouse with children of a breadwinner who was a victim of Covid-19 since Purim will have a free “tap” in a Borough Park grocery store until Rosh Hashanah, which begins on Sept. 18. Masbia is also seeking sponsors to expand the project into other neighborhoods.

Alex Bregman, the Houston Astros’ star third baseman, recently launched a campaign called FEEDHOU to raise $1 million in support of the Houston Food Bank. “The coronavirus pandemic is a global battle, and we in Houston are not immune to the problems facing our world,” Bregman told members of Houston’s Congregation Beth Yeshurun, the largest Conservative synagogue in the country, at its virtual Shabbat service last Friday evening. “I would be honored if you would join my army of donors to provide assistance to those that need it most. After Shabbat concludes, please text FEEDHOU to 41444 or click on my image on the Houston Foodbank website and donate whatever you can. Keep in mind that each dollar you donate equals three meals we can provide.”


The Health Ministry announces that one person had died of the coronavirus overnight, bringing the total death toll in the country to 202, and the number of confirmed cases is up to 14,466.


Avrohom Pinter, a prominent rabbi in the United Kingdom and the first British rabbi to serve as a town council member, has died of the coronavirus, the Jewish News reports. The rabbi, who was in his early 70s, died April 13 in a London hospital.

Rabbi Pinter served on the Town Council in London’s Hackney Borough, and was the principal of the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in London. In recent years, he spoke against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, where he had many friends, and he built bridges across denominational and religious lines.

Michael Sorkin, a prominent architect who wrote “The Next Jerusalem: Sharing the Divided City,” an examination of how urban planning could facilitate peace between Arabs and Jews, died on March 29 of Covid-19. He was 71.

Mr. Sorkin spent decades advocating for social change through urban design — first as an architecture critic for New York’s alt-weekly newspaper The Village Voice in the 1980s, and later through the Michael Sorkin Studio and the Terreform Center for Advanced Urban Research, according to JTA.

He also influenced generations of students as the head of City College of New York’s urban design program and through a series of academic positions he held at institutions across the United States and Europe. “He was probably our most impassioned advocate of architecture as a means toward social justice,” said critic Paul Goldberger. “He believed passionately in public space and the city. He believed in equality. He believed, I think it’s fair to say, that architecture was inherently political and reflected social power.”


The Consulate General of Israel will commemorate Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, on Monday at 6 p.m. on Facebook and Zoom. Participants will include Consul General Dani Dayan, Rabbi Joshua Davidson of Congregation Emanu – El, and Sarri Singer, survivor of a 2003 terrorist attack.

The Virtual JCC will commemorate Yom Hazikaron during a virtual ceremony on Monday at 12:50 p.m. Guest speaker will be Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel, whose son was murdered by terrorists in 2014.

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, founder of Hadar, will deliver livestreamed lectures on “Praying Anew: Rediscovering Tefillah in a Time of Crisis,” on Mondays April 27, May 4 and 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Torah Umesorah will offer a series of remote learning sessions this week for educators on strategies for conducting effective livestreamed education. The schedule: Monday, 9 p.m. (for men), tele-conference dial in  978-990-5000, Access Code: 407335; Tues., 9 p.m. (for women) , Dial In: 978-990-5099, Access Code: 407335#, Reference 14#; Wednesday, 9 p.m. (for men), ZOOM Meeting, Meeting ID: 302-661-4125; Thursday, 9 p.m. (for men), ZOOM Meeting

Meeting ID: 302-661-4125.

The Orthodox Union will sponsor a series of webinar mental health briefings, “Calm and Corona,” on Mondays and Thursdays through May. Participants will be mental health professionals and rabbis.

Masa will conduct a virtual Yom HaZikaron ceremony on Monday at 1 p.m.

Faculty members of the Jewish Theological Seminary will take part in a webinar on “Beyond the Flag: The Religious Dimensions of Yom Ha’atzma’ut” on Monday at 1 p.m.

The Strength to Strength organization and Jewish International Connection will hold an online Yom HaZikaron program on Monday at 12:40 p.m.

J Street, the New Israel Fund and T’ruah will hold an online Yom HaZikaron-Yom HaAtzma’ut ceremony, featuring poetry and artwork done by Israeli and Palestinian artists, on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

UJA-Federation of New York has compiled a guide to help the Jewish community find advice, resources and volunteer opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak. UJA and the Jewish Board also have listings of volunteer opportunities.