Israel reinstates yeshiva ban, Auschwitz Museum needs money, Arab and Jew team up in lab


Tonight, June 4, join The Jewish Week and UJA-Federation for a powerful virtual evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 p.m. Friedman and Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, will discuss and take questions on the domestic and global ramifications of the coronavirus crisis and other international affairs challenges. The event is free, but you must register here.

The memorial and museum at the former Auschwitz concentration camp has lost so much income due to the coronavirus pandemic that it is now asking for public donations, JTA reports. In a plea issue yesterday, the museum administration called on “everyone for whom the preservation of memory is important” to chip in to keep programs going, even while the memorial site itself remains empty of visitors.

Last year, the site of the former Nazi death camp had more than 2.3 million visitors. This year, it drew some 300,000 people before it was shut on March 12, its first closure since its first exhibit opened in 1947.

There is no admission fee, but about 80 percent of visitors hire guides who are trained and paid by the memorial, said Paweł Sawicki, a spokesman for the memorial and museum. This income has been lost, and programs and jobs are at risk.

Most affected by the loss will be on-site and online education and research projects, publishing and exhibition projects.

The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage still covers basic operating costs, and there has been extra government help for cultural institutions affected by pandemic-related shutdowns. Nor is conservation work at risk, thanks to external funds from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

Israel reinstated a ban on yeshiva students from abroad in view of the resurgence of the coronavirus in recent days, according to a statement yesterday from Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, Hamodia reports. Rabbi Deri said the restriction applies to unmarried yeshiva students, but not to married ones, who may continue their studies in compliance with the existing social distancing rules.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consulted with Education Minister Yoav Galant about the health situation in the schools. While a general re-lockdown was decided against, it was decided, according to Galant, that any educational institution in which a case of coronavirus infection is detected would be closed immediately.

The number of cases in the education system has risen by 19 in the last 24 hours and stands at 244 people. The Education Ministry announced earlier in the day that some 42 educational institutions are currently closed due to the coronavirus infections.

“Researchers from diverse cultural backgrounds are coming together to work on the response” to Covid-19, the Times of Israel reports. According to the news site, Jewish-American Jonathan Gootenberg and Palestinian-American Omar Abudayyeh, researchers at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are collaborating with MIT’s Broad Institute-based laboratory of MIT neuroscience professor Feng Zhang, who has released a protocol of an at-home coronavirus test.

“I think it speaks to one of the many ways science can transcend cultural boundaries,” Gootenberg said in a Zoom call.

In a close collaboration over the last five years, Gootenberg and Abudayyeh achievements have developed a viral detection technique called SHERLOCK, which uses a nose swab or saliva sample in detecting whether a person has the coronavirus.

Recommended reading: “Disability Leader Discovers New Role During COVID-19 Crisis.” Matan Koch, an attorney with cerebral palsy who works as an advocate for people with disabilities in Los Angeles, has assumed a stronger role during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jewish Journal reports. “Given their underlying health issues, ongoing economic struggles and unique living circumstances,” writes Ryan Torok, “people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.”

Recommended reading: “Rabbi: Finding hope in a hopeless America.” With all the things going wrong in the country, is there reason for optimism? Rabbi Shai Held of the Hadar Institute says yes in an essay on


Knesset member Samy Abu Shehadeh of the Joint List announced on Thursday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, days after being photographed in crowds not wearing a mask, forcing the Knesset to suspend most activities, according to the Times of Israel. Some 700 workers at the Knesset were told to not come to work, and committee meetings and other activities planned for Thursday were canceled.

Abu Shehadeh, 44, entered quarantine two days ago following his driver’s diagnosis with the pathogen. Authorities were checking who Abu Shehadeh may have come into contact with while he was at the Knesset.

Some 70,000 Israelis will be tested to see if they are immune to Covid-19 beginning next week, the Health Ministry said yesterday, the Jerusalem Post reports. People will be tested through their health funds.

Already, a serological survey is being conducted in the haredi Orthodox city of Bnei Brak.

By sampling a portion of society, health officials will be able to gauge around what percentage of total Israelis had the disease. Said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein: “This way, we will be able to better cope with another wave of coronavirus, God forbid.”

Scientists from the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) have announced that analogues of two drugs designed to treat Gaucher’s disease, a disease that largely strikes in the Jewish community, are effective against coronavirus and can potentially serve as a broad-spectrum antiviral therapy in a future outbreak, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The FDA has already approved Cerdelga and has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19. Scientists found that antiviral treatment using both drugs led to a significant reduction in the replication capacity of the coronavirus and to the destruction of the infected cell. This decrease in virus replication prevents further cell damage following infection.


The American Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will sponsor a Virtual Happy Hour & Heavenly Sex with Dr. Ruth, featuring Dr. Ruth Westheimer discussing her book “Heavenly Sex: Sexuality and the Jewish Tradition,” on June 10 at 5 p.m. is sponsoring a series of free Live-Streamed Wine Events for rookie and veteran oenophiles through July 5. Upcoming highlights include a live cooking class with celebrity chef Avner Guzman, an introduction to the art of blending wines, a cocktail class featuring Morad wines, a walking tour of Jerusalem as it prepares for the Sabbath, and tasting notes with Shiloh winemaker Amichai Lourie. Viewers will be able to purchase Sampler Sets from each winery at a discount price to taste along with the experts or enjoy afterwards.

The Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity will hold a webinar on Dear White People, Please Listen, suggestions on how to be in partnership during these difficult times,” on Thursday at 2 p.m.

Yad Vashem has announced a series of upcoming online programs.

The schedule includes: Theological Responses to the Holocaust, Thursday at 2 p.m. and Do No Harm – Medical Ethics and the Holocaust, June 11 at 1 p.m.

The Drisha Jewish educational organization will sponsor an introductory webinar on Becoming a Bat-Mitzvah on Sunday at 10 a.m. The four-part class, led by Dr. Shana Strauch Schick, is open to girls in both the US and Israel. Fees apply.