Cops raid Brooklyn yeshiva, Abigael’s closes restaurant business, Billy Crystal to honor first responders


Police yesterday shut down an Orthodox yeshiva in Brooklyn for violations of social distancing, JTA reports. Approximately 60 students were present at the Nitra Yeshiva in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood when the police arrived, a New York Police Department spokesperson said. Many of the teenage students were not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing, though a message accompanying a photo circulating on the messaging platform WhatsApp claimed they were.

Officers instructed school leaders to close the yeshiva and the students dispersed. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about the incident Monday evening. “Earlier today the NYPD shut down a Yeshiva conducting classes with as many as 70 children. I can’t stress how dangerous this is for our young people,” he wrote.

Money will begin flowing from a $91 million relief fund put together by a coalition of eight Jewish philanthropies within the next month, JTA reports. The fund, launched last month by a group of seven major Jewish philanthropic foundations and the Jewish Federations of North America, will start accepting invitation-only applications for grants. The fund will provide both interest-free emergency loans to Jewish organizations and grants that do not need to be repaid.

Other questions remain unanswered, according to JTA. Chief among them: how much money will go to loans as opposed to grants, whether beneficiaries will be publicly identified, and how much the fund will be able to fill the gaping financial hole left by the coronavirus crisis.

The Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund is the largest collective Jewish response to the current economic crisis.

Abigael’s on Broadway, an upscale 25-year-old midtown kosher restaurant, will close. Jeffrey Nathan, the superstar chef and owner, said that between the expiring lease and Covid-19’s toll on restaurants, he was not able to keep the in-house seating part of the business viable, reports.

Abigael’s will continue to provide catering to hotels, restaurants, catering halls and offices, with new menus and delivery options, and will still be at Madison Square Garden once Knicks and Rangers games resume.

Eden Village Camp in Putnam Valley will not open this summer. “This is not a decision I’ve come to lightly,” Yoni Stadlin, founding director of the environmentally focused Jewish camp, said in a message he sent to camp supporters.

Read how Camp Modin in Maine will open despite the pandemic.

Billy Crystal will be hosting as the Secure Community Network, the security advisory body to U.S. Jewish community, raises a glass on Wednesday evening, 8:00-8:20 p.m., to the first responders who have been on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. FBI Director Christopher Wray and the chiefs of the Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles police departments will be among the top law enforcement officers joining Crystal in an event dubbed “Virtual L’Chaim.”

L.A. environmentalist Dave Chamiedes has started a crowdfunding appeal to raise money to provide face shields to health care providers dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. “Sustainable Dave” writes that he bought a 3D printer and is raising funds to set up three more.

And a cinematographer in Houston is also printing face shields for the medical community, Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice reports. Kevin Stiller, who says he is related to Ben Stiller and the late Jerry Stiller, said he and colleagues have provided 16,400 shields to hospitals and clinics and have 101 3-D printers fired up.

The Crown Heights JCC Food Pantry is seeking volunteers. For information:

Recommended reading: “Coronavirus Exposes Hamas Disregard for Gaza Human Rights.” The  article documents ongoing violations in Gaza.


The total of people in Israel who have died of coronavirus stands at 277; 16,650 people have been diagnosed with the disease.

The Health Ministry was reportedly set yesterday to suspend a requirement for schoolchildren to wear face masks in class, after facing growing criticism from the Education Ministry, municipalities, schoolkids and parents, who all said the demand was impossible, particularly amid an intense heatwave gripping the country, the Times of Israel reports.  

Three states in the Arab Gulf are “actively engaged in cooperation with Israel’s health system, with one having recently asked for help installing an advanced telemedicine system to confront the coronavirus pandemic,” the Times of Israel quoted a senior official at one of Israel’s leading hospitals as saying. The online newspaper said top representatives from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have been in regular touch with the Sheba Medical Center since before the current health crisis, according to Yoel Hareven, who heads the hospital’s international division.

Related reading: “A Quiet Revolution is Changing the Middle East,”  by World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. Reprinted in the Arab News, the largest English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia, the article emphasizes recent advancements in Muslim-Jewish relations across the Middle East.

A new method of testing for the coronavirus that produces results in under a minute and has a success rate of 90 percent has been developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Professor Gabby Sarusi, according to the Jerusalem Post. In clinical trials done in conjunction with the Defense Ministry on more than 120 Israelis, results showed a success rate greater than 90 percent in comparison to the more common Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) used in coronavirus testing.

Israel’s Bonus BioGroup firm has completed a preliminary study of a new drug it developed to treat acute and life-threatening respiratory distress in COVID-19 patients, CEO Dr. Shai Meretzki told The Jerusalem Post. The drug MesenCure was found to reduce inflammation, promote the regeneration of the diseased lung tissue and alleviate respiratory and other symptoms in laboratory and animal models.

Israel’s professional cycling team, Israel Start-Up Nation, has announced the start of its training camp, in preparation for the team’s first ever appearance in the Tour de France later this year. The move makes it the first team at the sport’s highest level, the World Tour, to return to training since the Covid-19 pandemic brought the season to a halt. The training camp is being conducted under strict coronavirus restrictions.

The Tour, originally scheduled to start on June 27, has been pushed back until August 29 due to the pandemic, and may be staged without fans.


The Zioness Movement will host a “Social Differencing” webinar with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who will be interviewed by her granddaughter and Zioness Programs Manager Leora Einleger, on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Israel Policy Forum will hold a video briefing about Israel’s planned West Bank annexation on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Steve Manin, a filmmaker/sports marketer/internet sales director, has started to work with several JCC’s to offer a Zoom-based “TV show” called “Crossword Coach.” The show, which grew out of his volunteer work teaching crossword solving at assisted living facilities, is designed to raise the spirits of people “stuck at home.”  He does not charge for his service. To contact Manin: STEVEMANIN@YAHOO.COM.

The Tzohar rabbinical organization in Israel is offering to recite Kaddish for “communities that do not have an active minyan due to the Covid-19 crisis.” For information:

The Drisha Institute for Jewish Education has announced that its Summer Kollel, June 29-July 24, “ will take place entirely on our online platform.” The offerings include morning Talmud classes (June 29-July 24), afternoon elective classes (two 2-week sessions, June 29-July 9, July 13-23), and a series of lectures.

Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan will hold its 2020/5780 Paul Feig z”l Tikkun Leil Shavuot overnight learning program, “entirely online,” on May 28 from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Sharsheret will sponsor an online Shavuot Babka Bake with Naomi Elberg on Tuesday at 8 p.m. She will demonstrate “how to make the perfect babka (choose from chocolate, vanilla or strawberry cheesecake!)”

The Jewish Education Project will sponsor a Town Hall webinar for educators on “Webinar: Inclusion in Online Jewish Education,” on Tuesday at 3 p.m. It is open to educators working in all Jewish educational settings with learners 5-18 years old.

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.