City opens playgrounds, Hadassah fights blood clots, stranded Israelis head home


Just days after Orthodox lawmakers cut the chains off New York City playgrounds in defiance of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s orders, the mayor announced yesterday that playgrounds will reopen in the city starting Monday, JTA reports. The decision comes as the city moves into its second phase of reopening after shutting down in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It follows contentious lobbying from Orthodox lawmakers, who charged that playgrounds were being used in other neighborhoods while Orthodox neighborhoods had their playgrounds chained and, in one case, welded shut. Orthodox lawmakers and community leaders on Sunday held a protest calling on the mayor to reopen the parks.

In fact, other parks were not open for business as usual: All playgrounds in the city remained officially shuttered on de Blasio’s orders, even after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that local mayors could decide to let children back onto playgrounds. The city never closed green spaces but cut off access to some that include playgrounds, whose climbing equipment can be a vector for coronavirus transmission.

State Sen. Simcha Felder had said he would go ahead and cut the chains off the playgrounds himself, along with state Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and City Councilman Kalman Yeger.

A research team at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood has discovered what they believe is the cause of a serious, sometimes fatal symptom of the novel coronavirus. They also say they have a way to treat the cause before it’s too late, according to the Jerusalem Post.

At least 30 percent of patients with coronavirus develop blood clots that block the flow of blood to their kidneys, heart and brain, as well as the lungs, international research has found. Hadassah researchers discovered that the patients who form these fatal clots have an increased level of alpha defensin protein in their blood, explained Dr. Abd Alrauf Higavi, who directs a lab at Hadassah and has been studying blood clots for 30 years.

“Patients with mild symptoms have a low concentration of alpha defensin,” he said. “Patients with strong disease symptoms have high levels. The people who die have very high levels.”

The Hadassah team studied more than 700 blood samples from 80 patients who were admitted to the medical center during the first peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel. The results show that alpha defensin speeds up blood clot formation, which can cause pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and stroke. Higavi said his team are en route to a solution: administering the drug colchicine to coronavirus patients.

Nearly 200 Israelis stranded in several Central American countries because of the coronavirus are going home, JTA reports. A special El Al flight left from Panama City yesterday, according to the Spanish-language Panama Star, in the first direct flight ever from Panama to Israel. The passengers came to Panama from Colombia and Costa Rica, among other countries. They were visiting Central America as tourists when the countries closed their borders due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Jewish Service Alliance (JSA), a new coalition of organizations, has launched a “Serve the Moment” initiative to engage Jewish young adults and college students in 100,000 acts of “meaningful service and learning addressing the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout, and the movement for racial justice.” The initiative aims to mobilize tens of thousands in virtual volunteering, in-person service, and national service campaigns around specific issues during the year.

Full-time stipended fellows, known as “Serve the Moment Corps Members,” will serve at nonprofit partners in cities across the country.

An Israeli-made microsatellite lab hitched a ride into space yesterday aboard the Vega missile launcher from French Guiana, the Sheba Medical Center announced. Researchers, from the hospital’s Unit of Infectious Diseases, seek to test their hypothesis that the near-zero gravity in space can affect the acquisition of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, considered a growing global threat.

Reported overuse and misuse of antibiotics during the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to mounting bacterial resistance to antibiotics – a threat seen as more daunting in the long run than the coronavirus itself.


Project Inspire will sponsor a Bring Shabbat Home livestream show on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Its theme is “The 3 Shabbat Meals.”

The America-Israel Friendship League will mark Father’s Day with a Krav Maga demonstration and instruction with Zeev Cohen from Tel Aviv and Danny Zelig from San Francisco on Sunday at noon.

Masorti Europe will hold an online regional conference, with the theme “Jewish Prayer in A Time of Coronavirus,” on Sunday at 7 a.m.

The American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra organization has announced a virtual gala on June 28, in partnership with Medici TV, to benefit the orchestra three months after Covid-19 forced indefinite concert cancellations. Featuring classical music’s “premier talent,” the concert will be available free of charge.

A webinar on A Time to Weep: The Power of Lament in Times of Crisis will be held by the Jewish Theological Seminary on June 22 at 1 p.m.

The New Travel Conference, an online gathering of hospitality industry leaders, will hold a webinar, Israel My Way: New Happenings, New Offerings, & A New Travel Landscape, June 22-26. It will bring together professionals in the travel industry (GMs, owners, F&B heads, travel advisors) and equip them with strategies to help support them for the next six months ahead.

HIAS will sponsor a webinar, In Search of Safety: LGBTQ Refugee Protection and HIAS, on June 24 at 4 p.m.

The Jewish National Fund Virtual Book Club has launched an online Summer Reading Series, which will feature conversations about books and authors, on June 24 , July 22  and August 19. The featured books are “The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List” by Alana Newhouse, “Jewish Comedy: A Serious History” by Jeremy Dauber, and “The Ten Commandments of Character: Essential Advice for Living an Honorable, Ethical, Honest Life” by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. The authors will take part.

The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center and Congregation Emanu-El will sponsor an online lecture on Overcoming Old Hatreds, with Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, author of “A German Life,” which describes how “a son of a Nazi” became “a son of Israel” on June 25 at 7 p.m.

Join The Jewish Week and UJA-Federation of New York for “On the Trail of Kafka’s Literary Afterlife with Benjamin Balint,” Thursday, June 25, 6:00 pm. Balint, winner of the 2020 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for his book “Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy,” will be in conversation with Sandee Brawarsky, culture editor of The Jewish Week. The event is free but you must register here.