Synagogues respond to COVID surge • Redistricting could hurt West Side’s Jewish clout • Israelis hike for inclusion in NYC


Good morning, New York. Starting today, due to the surge of COVID cases with the Delta variant, we are going to provide regular updates on how local synagogues and other institutions are adapting, especially in their High Holidays planning. Let us know how your congregation is doing: Send an email to 


Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks at the renaming of a Coney Island hospital building in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, today at 12:30 p.m.

  • Quotable: “Justice Ginsburg fought tirelessly for justice and equality, giving voices to the voiceless, and as patients walk into the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital at NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health, they will do so knowing they will receive high quality health services with compassion, dignity, and respect, regardless of their income, gender identity, or immigration status.” — NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz

A Twitter account called “This Used to Be a Synagogue” is mapping every Manhattan address that, well, used to be a synagogue.

Matt Nosanchuk, president and co-founder of New York Jewish Agenda, testified against a redistricting plan that he says would dilute Jewish voting clout on the West Side of Manhattan.

    • On the table: One proposal would redraw the 10th Congressional District, which now includes the West Side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, to a district that includes parts of Manhattan’s East and West Sides.
    • The new configuration, Nosanchuk told the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission, “would wipe out a district that makes geographic and political sense, and is an easily identifiable, historical, social, and political entity.” Watch his testimony here.

A Gilded Era mansion in midtown that used to house two kosher restaurants — Great American Health Bar and Café Classico — is set to be demolished. 

  • The restaurants failed to stop the late billionaire developer Sheldon Solow from kicking them out in 2019, reports.
  • Fancy, shmancy: The French-style townhouse at 35 West 57th St. was the home until 1898 of Mary Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard, great-granddaughter of the magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt.

An Israeli organization that promotes access for people with disabilities is in the midst of a hiking expedition in Central Park and Westchester County.

  • Teams representing Friends of Access Israel (FAISR) and the company Paratrek will be hiking in Rockefeller State Park in Pleasantville and Central Park between now and Aug. 11. The treks are promoting the need for “universal design,” which ensures access to the outdoors for individuals with disabilities, the Jerusalem Post reports.
  • Israeli Consul General Israel Nitzan and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer met the team in Central Park Wednesday.
  • Organizers are also showing off the Paratrek Trekker, an off-road wheelchair designed by Israeli inventor Omer Zur.


Passengers on an El Al  flight from New York to Tel Aviv today will be tested for the coronavirus on the plane itself or before boarding.

  • How come: The process is meant to speed up procedures upon arrival in Israel, where infections are on the rise, Reuters reports.

High Holidays update:

  • Lab/Shul, the experimental congregation, will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test within 72 hours of attendance at its services, according to Executive Director Sarah Sokolic. “We are tracking the Delta variant closely and will likely decide to tighten our COVID-19 policies and/or shift the way we are doing our programming within the next week or sooner,” she wrote in an email.


Nelson Marans, a retired chemist, was the master of perhaps a dying art: writing letters to the editor. Over his 97 years, the long-time resident of Silver Spring, Md., wrote perhaps thousands of letters to the Washington Post, the Washington Jewish Week, the New York Jewish Week and other papers. He died July 17 in New York City, where he and his wife moved in 2016 to be closer to their children.


Gov. Cuomo should resign, after a report “found at least 11 credible accusations of sexual harassment against the governor,” writes David Suissa, editor and publisher of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. “At a time when confidence in politicians is already near rock bottom, he’s sending a message that personal political survival comes before everything,” writes Suissa.


Commonpoint Queens hosts a virtual conversation with Donald Nobles, an Air Force veteran, retired teacher and activist. Nobles will speak about his career, his personal experiences with racism, and his thoughts on how we can all play a part in making our own society a more welcoming place for people of all backgrounds. The event will be broadcast over Facebook live. 6:00 pm.

Photo, top: Israel Nitzan, Consul General of Israel in New York, greets a team from Friends of Access Israel during their trek in Central Park to demonstrate the need for improved access for people with disabilities, Aug. 4, 2021. (Howard Blas)

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