Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed remorse over the tone of his tweets warning “the Jewish community” about the need for social distancing, but did little to assuage critics who said his remarks singled out Jews at a time when many others are flouting social distancing rules.
On Wednesday, de Blasio stood by his warnings of police action against social distancing violators but added, “I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people the feeling of being treated the wrong way.”
On Tuesday night, hundreds of Orthodox Jews gathered for a rabbi’s funeral in Brooklyn, showing apparent disregard of public social distancing guidelines. De Blasio issued a tweet in which he addressed “the Jewish community,” saying “the time for warnings has passed” and announcing that the police would be arresting or issuing summonses to those who gather in large groups. The backlash was swift.
And some are questioning whether the police could have done more to stop the public procession before the crowd grew into the hundreds or thousands. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea acknowledged at a news conference Wednesday that members of his department were in contact with chasidic community leaders ahead of the funeral to discuss “what to expect at that location.” That contact, he said, came “within minutes” of the rabbi’s death.
In a statement, Jacob Mertz, a spokesman for the congregation that organized the funeral, apologized that the gathering got out of hand. “[W]e thought that the procession will be in accordance with the rules, and we apologize that it turned out otherwise,” he wrote.
The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, Andrew Silow-Carroll, writes that de Blasio probably didn’t intend to implicate all Jews, but that his tweets were sloppy at best: “De Blasio’s challenge was both to express the seriousness of the need for social distancing – which he did well – and not give ammunition to those looking to find scapegoats – in which he failed miserably.”
An Israeli man living in the United States has reportedly duped New York State out of $69 million after promising to supply ventilators and then not providing them, Buzzfeed reports.
Yaron Oren-Pines, a Silicon Valley electrical engineer with no medical experience, tweeted in reply to President Donald Trump that “we can supply ICU ventilators” and added: “Have someone call me URGENT.”
Three days later, the report says, he had signed a contract to supply New York with 1,450 ventilators at $47,656 apiece, more than triple the standard price. No ventilators ever arrived.
The report cites an unnamed state official saying the contract was signed at the direct recommendation of the White House.
The contract has now been terminated, and the state is trying to recover the money it has paid.
Australia is seeing rising anti-Semitism related to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Accusations that Jews created coronavirus, that affected Jews are being punished, and calling COVID-19 the ‘Jew flu’ are just some examples of antisemitism expressed online by Australians during the current pandemic,” the Australian Jewish News reports. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said this week that anti-Semitism, which was already on the rise, “has gotten another boost.”
The Boro Park Jewish Community Council has developed a variety of resources and programs to assist members of the Jewish community who have lost their jobs. The BPJCC’s COVID-19 Info-site offers information on filing unemployment claims, financial assistance, small business assistance, health insurance assistance, food assistance and mental health assistance.
The Atran Foundation has announced $216,000 in grants to several organizations that work with immigrants and undocumented workers, many of whom are ineligible for government assistance during the coronavirus crisis. The private foundation principally makes contributions to New York/New Jersey-area Jewish causes and labor movement interests. Recipients of the current grants include Union Settlement, in East Harlem; the Bergen Family center in Englewood, N.J.; the New York City Car Wash Worker Support Fund; Jewish Community Services in Baltimore, and Johns Hopkins Medicine for the Greater Good. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Health Ministry reports 15,870 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, and a death toll of 219.
For the first time in a decade, a teenage girl won the International Bible Quiz yesterday. Ruth Cohen, 16, a student at the Barahan Ulpana school in Mercaz Shapira, took first prize in the annual competition in Jerusalem that is held every year on Independence Day, the Times of Israel reports. Because of social distancing limitations brought on by the coronavirus crisis, the competition was held for the first time with no audience and with participants from outside Israel taking part via video link. More than 70 teens from 39 different countries on six continents participated.
Respirators developed by a special IDF team that use exiting machines are being deployed at the Sheba Medical center in Tel Aviv, boosting Israel’s efforts to save patients severely affected by Covid-19, according to the Jewish Press. During the past month, a team of soldiers and officers from Unit 81, the Intelligence Division’s technological unit, collaborated with doctors at the hospital to develop a system that enables the conversion of home respiratory assistance units to respirators for treating anesthetized coronavirus patients in severe condition.
Alex Klein, a native of present-day Ukraine who settled in the United States a decade after the end of World War II and built a successful kosher catering business in Brooklyn, died here of Covid-19 on March 28. He was 70.
Born in 1949 to Holocaust survivors in the city of Mukachevo, Mr. Klein fled to Israel soon after his college graduation in order to avoid being drafted into the Red Army and ended up working in the hotel industry for several years, JTA reports.
He is survived by his wife, Miriam Gutwein-Klein, three children and four grandchildren.
Burton “Bud” Rose, a highly regarded kidney specialist and professor at Harvard Medical School, died on April 24 from Alzheimer’s disease complicated by Covid-19. He was 77.
Dubbed the “Steve Jobs of medicine,” he launched UptoDate, a massive repository of clinical information for medical professionals that boasts nearly 2 million users around the world.
“For clinicians around the world, UpToDate is essentially Google for medicine, but smarter and based on evidence,” three of Dr. Rose’s colleagues wrote in an article published in his memory.
Dr. Rose was born in Brooklyn in 1942 and went to medical school at New York University, where he met his wife, Gloria, who was studying social work. After he served in the Navy for two years, the couple moved to Massachusetts, where they raised three children.
Rose was a regular at Shabbat services at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, where Gloria once served as president.
Shaare Zedek Hospital will hold a virtual briefing, “A Zoom Corona – Update,” Thursday at noon. Participants will be Prof. Ofer Merin, the medical center’s director general, and Prof. Jonathan Halevy, president. Questions must be submitted in advance to email@example.com.
The Jewish Education Project will hold a webinar on Thursday at 2 p.m. Participants will include Rabbi Samantha Frank and rabbinical student Rena Singer, founders of the Modern Ritual organization; Sarah Rosenblum, a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania’s Masters in Applied Positive Psychology program; and Phreddy Nosanwisch, a graduate student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Young Pioneer Award Recipient.
IsraAid and Stand With Us will hold a series of self-care seminars with a trauma expert in the next few weeks about dealing with stress and anxiety.
Jews for a Secular Democracy will sponsor a virtual Town Hall on “Separation of Church and State During a Time of Crisis,” featuring Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, on Friday at 11 a.m.
A popular video in Israel features Arab Israeli healthcare workers on the front lines of the country’s coronavirus response. It concludes: “Tens of thousands of Arab Israelis are partners in the war against Corona. They are also an inseparable part of the State of Israel. Partners in fate. Partners in government.”
YIVO is extending online enrollment for this summer’s Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture until May 29. Dates of the summer session are June 29-August 7.
The Refresher Course taught by Academic Director Dovid Braun, scheduled for the week before the program (June 22-26), and “Yiddish: The Next Level,” taught by Miriam Trinh and Eliezer Niborski, which is scheduled for the two weeks after the program (August 10-21), will also be taught online. The Yiddish Civilization Lecture Series starts on July 2.
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.