Aid for food banks, outcry over NYPD video, a surprise for a Shoah survivor


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David Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, and Jilly Stephens, City Harvest’s CEO, praised New York State for providing $25 million in funding for food banks to help meet the increased need during the coronavirus crisis.

“New York’s food pantries were on the brink of collapse, which is why the $25 million in funding from Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature that matched the $25 million from Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio was absolutely necessary for their continued survival and operation,” the leaders said in a statement. “Simply put, without the $50 million in total city and state funding, many more food pantries would cease to exist today – exacerbating a major food crisis on top of a major public health emergency.”

It’s Giving Tuesday, and UJA-Federation announced that all new gifts to the 2020 Annual Campaign made for #GivingTuesdayNow will be tripled. The offer extends through tonight at 11:59 p.m.

The matching offer will allow the philanthropy “to continue to stand on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis,” the philanthropy stated. “We’re delivering meals for seniors. Stocking food pantries for growing numbers of hungry people. Offering emergency aid. Providing protective gear. Giving struggling families the cash assistance they need. Supporting cornerstone institutions that are the heart and soul of Jewish life. And ensuring dignified Jewish burials.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is among several businesses suing the Chubb insurance firm to collect payments for losses incurred during the pandemic, Reuters reports. The center asserts that its Chubb policy offered protection in the event of a “civil authority shutdown.” Evan Greenberg, Chubb’s CEO, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that pandemic risks aren’t covered under its policies, and that “only the government has the financial resources to deal with this pandemic.” The center argues that its policy “does not contain a specific virus or pandemic exclusion.”

A liberal Jewish coalition joined the outcry over a video of an NYPD officer using physical force against African-American men to enforce social distancing rules on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Saturday. 

The New York Jewish Agenda and the African American Clergy and Elected Officials Coalition issued a joint statement saying that they are “profoundly disturbed” by news reports of the incident. “On the very same afternoon, New York’s parks were filled with individuals, mostly white, who disregarded social distancing rules without police intervention,” the statement said.

The statement called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD to address “the serious inequalities in enforcement of social distancing rules that are affecting both our communities and other minority communities in the city.”

Jewish Teens Thrive, a project of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, has called for “Collective Compassion” to mark National Mental Health Awareness Month. The pandemic “is leaving many teens and their families reeling by creating a heightened sense of uncertainty, confusion and loss,” said Sara Allen, executive director of the Collaborative. “We aim to both call attention to these challenges and offer teens and adults new self-care practices they can use all year long, and a deeper understanding of the many dimensions of mental health.”

A Hewlett, L.I., resident known as the “Kosher Guru” has launched a “Kosher Response Project” to thank men and women on the frontlines of the pandemic, the Long Island Herald reports. Gabriel Boxer’s project is donating meals to first responders around the tri-state area.

Boxer, who has a background in the kosher food industry, has donated to workers at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, NYU Winthrop and Mercy Hospital. Boxer and his team also donated roughly 3,400 food bags and 500 meals to members of the U.S. Navy Covid Medical Response Team stationed at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan during Passover. “We’re getting food requests every day,” he said. “Every day, we’re giving out 500 to 2,000 meals a day.”

A U.S. military band last week surprised a Holocaust survivor by playing Hatikvah to him via Zoom to mark the 75th anniversary of his liberation by U.S. forces from Dachau. Abba Naor, 92, was the youngest survivor of the concentration camp outside Munich. He was liberated at 17 after spending four years in the camp.

“Watching the Americans made me feel very good, and it gave me the opportunity to say thank you for liberating me, this was a big honor,” Naor told NBC News after the Zoom call in which U.S. service members played the Israeli national anthem alongside members of the Israeli Defense Forces.


The count of people in Israel who have died of the coronavirus reached 237 on Tuesday. A total of 16,246 men and women have been diagnosed with the disease.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials have announced a dramatic easing of the social distancing restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus, lifting limitations on movement and economic activity, according to the Times of Israel. “We achieved major success” in containing the virus, Netanyahu said during a press conference at his office in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu attributed the country’s success against the virus to early steps taken by the government, including the closure of borders, imposition of social distancing guidelines and digital tracking.

The Jerusalem Venture Partners investment firm launched a pilot program in support of technologies that could allow companies to return to work as safely as possible. JVP is backing a range of promising technologies and innovations, including Thermagate, which can measure body temperatures in large crowds, and a robot designed by TEMI Personal Robots that can transfer documents between offices.

The venture capital firm recently teamed with New York City to establish the city’s International Cyber Center, a downtown hub for promising tech startups.


Marnin Soltes, a resident at the Hebrew Association for Special Children in Brooklyn who entertained guests with his extensive, impeccably organized record recollection, died from Covid-19 on March 28. He was 76, JTA reported

Born at a time when children with developmental disabilities like him were often put in institutions, Soltes lived at home at his mother’s insistence. As he got older and his needs became too great, he moved through a series of residential programs, his mother always searching for the highest quality of care. At HASC, the staff were loving and treated everyone with dignity, his sister, Dafna Soltes Stein, wrote on Facebook.

“His favorite singer songwriter was Josh White, and his favorite song was ‘Foggy, Foggy Dew,’” she wrote. “That, and ‘Tambourine Man’ by Bob Dylan. Both songs express a lingering longing for someone, lost and found again through memory. Marnin loved to ask, ‘Do you remember?’ And then he would proceed through a litany of memories from years gone by.”


Jewish National Fund-USA is hosting a Zoom conversation with playwright and film director David Mamet today, May 5 at 3:00 p.m.  To watch on Facebook, click here. To watch on YouTube, click here.

PJ Library will host a public webinar, “Talking with Children about Death and Loss in the Age of the Coronavirus” on Wednesday, May 6 at 3:30 p.m.

The Israel Policy Forum will host a video briefing on Tuesday at 2 p.m. on the topic of “Where does the Israeli public stand on West Bank annexation? How are Palestinians responding?” The event will feature Gilad Hirschberger, a polling expert from IDC Herzliya and Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.

Experts from The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute of the Center for Jewish History will offer hints for conducting online family history research during “Genealogy Coffee Break” on Facebook Live at 3:30 pm on Tuesdays. This week’s topic is U.S. Census Records. For information:

Rabbi Jonathan Schwartz, clinical director of the Center for Anxiety Relief in Union, N.J., will take part in a Zoom seminar on “Alone Together III: Ascending the Marriage Mountain and Fortifying the Base” on Tuesday at 9 p.m. In the event, geared to young couples and families, the rabbi will discuss tips “for helping couples build a healthy relationship while living in an ever increasing social-media world; techniques to help couples discuss and establish a game plan for building a bond in the world of so many virtual friends and how to handle the challenges that these friendships may bring to a marriage especially in the COVID-19 isolation.”

The Reform movement has suggestions for “25 Jewish Things to Do Under Quarantine.” proposes some “Movies for Jews in Quarantine.” And the Alma webzine is offering “How to Make your Quarantine as Jewish as Possible.”

American Jewish University will sponsor a webinar on “Uncertain Waters: Relationships, Parenting and Staying (Mostly) Sane in Challenging Times” on Tuesday at 10 p.m. The event will feature a conversation between social worker Alison Shlomi and Rabbi Adam Greenwald, the university’s Vice-President for Jewish Engagement. For information: or

Israelis are taking to their balconies and streets at night to applaud health care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jewish Chronicle reports:

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.