Day camps reopen, Benny Gantz in quarantine, Brooklyn’s Jews get back to normal


Join Jewish Week cultural editor Sandee Brawarsky today, July 9, at 6 p.m. for the next event in The Jewish Week Folio series, presented with UJA-Federation of NY, featuring a virtual conversation with Sanford D. Greenberg, author of the new book “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.” This is the remarkable story of a Columbia U. undergrad from a poor Jewish family who, after losing his eyesight to disease during his junior year, finds the power to break through the darkness and fulfill his vision for a life of great professional success and distinguished public service. The event is free but you must register.

While sleepaway camps in the state have been closed, Jewish day camps have been cautiously opening with a combination of coronavirus testing, temperature checks and activities meant to enforce social distancing. Enrollment is down, but the camps and their funders think it is important to offer children and their parents as normal a summer as they can. Jewish Week’s Stewart Ain reports.

In Brooklyn’s chasidic communities, nearly four months after the virus first arrived, synagogues and camps are open, yeshivas resumed classes before closing for summer break and wedding halls are packed again, sometimes in violation of city and state rules designed to slow the spread of disease. Inside the communities, JTA reports, the overwhelming perception is that most people have had the virus and may now be immune.

As many as 70% of the community has had Covid-19 and recovered, and new cases have slowed or stopped entirely in their neighborhoods, despite a near total return to normal behavior, including large gatherings.

As case numbers skyrocket in many parts of the United States, Brooklyn’s Hasidic communities offers a compelling case study for those trying to understand this virus — and the costs that come with experiencing its proliferation.

Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister and prime minister designate, entered quarantine on Wednesday after he came into contact with a family member with Covid-19.

Israel recorded more than 1,300 new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours ending on Wednesday morning, its highest total since the start of the pandemic.

The Cabinet met to discuss whether to declare some areas with high numbers of cases restricted areas. Jerusalem is among the cities where restricted zones could be declared, Israel’s Channel 12 reported Wednesday night. The restrictions would differ in each area, including up to a complete closure.

Jewish foodies — chefs, cookbook authors, food writers and food manufacturers — have been pitching in as the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network mobilizes a $2 million crowdfunding effortCelebrity chefs like Susie Fishbein and Naomi Nachman are offering their cookbooks, personal cooking demos and personally catered meals for donors who make large donations. Kosher food vendors like Gefen and Haddar offered to match donations.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the demand for food at Masbia spiked 500%. Masbia went from distributing 2-3 trailer loads of food a week to over a dozen.

Masbia operates soup kitchens and food pantries out of three locations – two in Brooklyn and one in Queens. Masbia currently serves close to 7,000 families with raw food on a weekly basis and about 5,000 people ready-to-eat dinners every day.

Recommended Reading

Higher Education Needs to Be Both Personal and Moral.” Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz,  chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, asks what’s next for universities like hers during the pandemic and after.


United with Israel presents  a talk by Rabbi Ari Enkin, “Jewish Zealots: Is Everything Permitted for the Sake of Heaven?” on Thursday July 9 at 10:00 a.m.

Jewish Federations of North America hosts a talk by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David Makovsky, as he explains the role of the U.S. Mapping Committee, the story behind the napkin map and more. Today, Thursday, July 9, 3:00 p.m.

Zehava Tesfay, Director of the Jewish Agency Schlichut Initiative, will discuss From Ethiopia to Israel: Our Journey, My Story, on Thursday, July 9 at 5:00 pm.  She will tell her personal story, including how her family made aliya from Ethiopia and made a life in Israel.

Moving Traditions is offering a webinar for clergy who are interested in implementing its B’nai Mitzvah family education program, which will include online curriculum in the coming year. Monday, July 22, from 1:00 pm-2:00 pm.

America-Israel Friendship League is offering a virtual tour of the Galilee, in the fourth of its monthly Virtual Israel Travel series with tour guide Reuven Solomon. Sunday, July 12, 12 p.m.