Delta resuming Israel flights, NY family violates quarantine, the future of sports


The Jewish Future Pledge (JFP)—a non-profit initiative that calls on Jewish donors to earmark at least 50 percent of the charitable giving in their estate plan to Jewish or Israel-related causes — has announced its national launch today during Jewish Heritage Month. The initiative’s leaders said they decided to proceed with their national launch despite the current Covid-19 crisis. “We must navigate this crisis without losing sight of the future. The challenges of this moment illustrate the importance of planning for the unknown,” said JFP co-Founder Amy Holtz.

Donors are estimated to transfer $1.26 trillion to charitable causes in the next 25 years, and JFP hopes to direct half of that, or $630 billion, to Jewish causes. The Pledge—which was inspired in-part by Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge”—was co-founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Michael Leven and longtime Jewish executive Holtz to ensure a vibrant Jewish future and inspire the next generation of Jews to give Jewishly. “We have an historic opportunity to write the next chapter of the Jewish story. By acting now, we can ensure that more than $600 billion is set aside for Jewish causes as wealth is transferred from this generation to the next, said Leven.

Seven members of a Jewish family from New York reportedly violated Israel’s Covid-19 restrictions when they arrived there earlier this week from the United States in a private jet, along with the body of a family member who died of Covid-19, and immediately attended her funeral along with a hundred people, the Times of Israel reports. The unnamed family then continued to a synagogue in Holon where they met dozens of other relatives and friends, according the newspaper.

All arrivals to Israel are required to isolate for two weeks before they are allowed to come into contact with other people.

The relatives of the deceased 70-year-old woman arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport after renting a private plane for almost $200,000, and the woman was buried in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot cemetery, alongside the family father. The funeral was attended by 100 people, including the new arrivals from abroad who defied government restrictions.

Delta Airlines will resume flights between New York and Israel next month, with face masks mandatory for staff and travelers.

The flights will be “less than daily,” Delta announced on its website.

The airline’s first flight to Israel since mid-March will depart from New York’s JFK international Airport on June 3, with a return scheduled for June 6. The flights will operate on Saturday nights, Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.

Along with the masks requirement, only 50 percent to 60 percent of the seats will be filled to ensure proper spacing during flights.

Jewish food pantries are in high demand during the outbreak. The Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey is distributing groceries to about 300 households per month through its food pantries, up from 200 pre-outbreak. In New York City, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty increased its Passover food aid by 40 percent this year, and is serving thousands more clients per week than it did before the disease struck.

“The pandemic and accompanying social distancing requirements are presenting new logistical challenges to delivering food aid, suspending certain kinds of in-person aid programs and limiting the ability of those in high-risk age groups to venture outside to receive food assistance,” JTA reports.

Temple Sholom in Vancouver, Canada, has established a “MITZVAH MASKS” initiative whose goal is to make 1,000 homemade masks and distribute them throughout the community to “any and all who need them.

Recommended reading: “Like Yarmulkes, Face Masks Have Become Simple and Profound.” Ron Wolfson writes in The Jewish Journal that the debate over wearing a medical mask parallels similar debates in some Jewish circles over wearing a skullcap.

“College Student Spends 11 Hours a Day Shopping for Groceries.” profiles a college student in Chicago, Kaila Zimmerman-Moscovitch, 20, who shops for people stuck in their homes because of the pandemic. 

Two chasidic cantors recently serenaded medical workers outside of the NYU Langone Medical CenterSinging the national anthem were Aron Gerstel and Yaakov Lemmer, standing on top of Gerstel’s car.

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra entertained elderly residents of the city’s Beit Hakerem neighborhood confined to their homes due to Covid-19, with a concert that the residents could watch “from the comfort of their own porches.”


Worshippers returned to synagogues, mosques and churches for the first time in almost two months Wednesday morningas houses of prayer across the country reopened under new coronavirus guidelines. Israel decided Tuesday night to reopen places of worship, which were major vectors of coronavirus infection, amid mounting pressure. According to the decision, houses of worship are able to operate at 50 percent capacity with worshipers keeping at least 2 meters’ distance from one another and wearing masks. 

The government on Wednesday morning eased restrictions on social distancing and gathering in public spaces, after Health Minister Yuli Edelstein formally assumed his new role.

Parents, students and workers will have an easier time on their morning and afternoon commute, and if they want, they can also stop at the beach.

Beginning on Wednesday, coronavirus restrictions on the number of passengers on buses will be lifted during peak hours, in the first decision made by new Transportation Minister Miri Regev together with Edelstein. The move is meant to benefit the education system, the Transportation Ministry said in a statement.


Rafael Kugielsky, a Buenos Aires dentist who was instrumental in advancing the interests of Orthodox Jews in Argentina, died of COVID-19 on April 25, JTA reports. He was 90.

Mr. Kugielsky established the Argentina branch of the haredi Orthodox organization Agudath Israel in 1966, and served as the first Orthodox representative on the executive of AMIA, the Buenos Aires Jewish association that operates the largest Jewish cemeteries in the country and oversees economic subsidies to Jewish schools. He was also the owner of the Jewish newspaper La Voz Judia (“The Jewish Voice”).

The seeds of Orthodox participation in Jewish communal life that Kugielsky planted blossomed three decades later, when in 2008, religious Jews won the election to lead AMIA for the first time. Last year, he was recognized for his dedication to the organization, in particular his work help to rebuild the AMIA headquarters after the 1994 bombing that killed 85 people.


The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services  will sponsor a webinar on “Responding to Change and Loss” on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Arts therapists Crystal Gauen and Erin Huntley will participate.

The Jewish Council on Public Affairs will host a webinar on “Israel’s Race for the Cure: A conversation on public health policy, testing, and vaccine” on Wednesday at 2 p.m. will present a webinar on “Practical Solutions in Times of Emotional Turmoil” on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

The America-Israel Friendship League will sponsor a webinar on Wednesday at noon on “Historical Tel Aviv” as seen through the work of two prominent artists, Nachum Gutman and Reuven Rubin. Included will be a virtual tour of the artists’ museums.

UJA-Federation will host a webinar on “The Future of Sports” on Wedesday at 1 p.m. Participants will ask “How has the sports industry adapted to serve an at-home audience? Are there plans in place for live events once they are deemed safe?”

Nefesh B’Nefesh and Humans of JNF will sponsor a webinar on “A Day in the Life of Medical Olim” during the coronavirus crisis on Wednesday at noon.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will present a virtual book launch and talk for “I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir” on Thursday at 2 p.m. Author Esther Safran Foer will be joined by her author son Jonathan Safran Foer.

METNY USY will hold a “Scholarship Virtual Gala” on June 2 at 6 p.m.  The event will raise funds for youth group scholarships and “celebrate five extraordinary USY alumni for their hard work and dedication.”

The Jewish Education Project will hold an online discussion on Wednesday at 2 p.m. between CEO David Bryfman and Meredith Lewis of PJ Library. The topic will be “The Future of Jewish Education.”

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.