AIPAC goes after Ocasio-Cortez • HIAS seeks to aid Afghanis • Memoir revisits kidnapping of a Bronfman


Good morning, New York. This week’s update comes to you from the Berkshires, where Jews from New York and Boston put aside their bitter rivalry to enjoy the fine arts, picnics and walks in the woods.


Dozens of progressive Jewish leaders have signed a letter condemning AIPAC for social media ads targeting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) and other members of “the Squad.”

  • The ad about Ocasio-Cortez said that by leading an effort to oppose an arms sale to Israel, she was “reward[ing] Hamas.” Hamas and Israel recently fought an 11-day conflict, the fourth since 2008.
  • The American Israel Public Affairs Committee “seems to be declaring war on progressive Democrats with incendiary ads falsely accusing Congresswomen of color of supporting terror & hate,” J Street, which initiated the progressives’ response, tweeted about the ads. “This isn’t ‘bipartisan.’ It doesn’t help Israel. It doesn’t speak for American Jews.”


Jewish aid organizations are trying to address humanitarian crises in Haiti and Afghanistan.

  • HIAS wrote on Facebook Sunday night that it would work to help Afghans who make it to the U.S. through a special program designed to protect people who aided the U.S. mission there. But there is little more to do at this time, JTA reports, as the Taliban complete a takeover of the nation.
  • The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Jewish World Service are raising funds to support relief aid for Haiti, where the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake is already nearing 1,300.


The 1975 kidnapping of Samuel Bronfman II, the son of the late Jewish philanthropist Edgar Bronfman, is back in the news.

  • The two men who snatched the 21-year-old Bronfman from his father’s Westchester mansion were acquitted in a 1976 trial after lawyer Peter DeBlasio convinced a jury that Sam had engineered his own kidnapping.
  • Forty-five years later, DeBlasio says their defense was based on a lie, and he knew it. “I want it to be clear to all who may ever read these pages that Samuel Bronfman was not a part of the kidnapping,” Peter DeBlasio wrote in a memoir published shortly after his death last December, The New York Times reports.
  • Today, Bronfman, who was passed over as head of Seagram, his family’s wine and spirits empire, is managing partner of  a capital management firm in San Francisco.


How local synagogues are adapting High Holiday services to the COVID-19 surge:

Lincoln Square Synagogue, the Modern Orthodox congregation on the Upper West Side, has updated its COVID guidelines, and they are strict.

  • All attendees at the indoor services will need to wear masks and, according to Rabbi Shaul Robinson,  people who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to attend any service. “By far, by many times, the greatest risk of catching Covid is from an unvaccinated person,” Rabbi Robinson writes on Facebook. “So a person who has chosen not to get vaccinated in order to be ‘safe’ from side effects from the vaccine has chosen their safety over that of others. And not just one person, they potentially pose a danger to many people.”

Lab/Shul, the “God-optional experimental Jewish community,” plans to meet in person at the Manhattan Center with some changes to its initial protocol.

  • It will require proof of vaccination, masking at all times and “may choose” to require a negative COVID test as well, according to Executive Director Sarah Sokolic. All programming for children under the age of 12 will be held outdoors or fully online. It will also offer live streams.


American Jewish Committee has launched “Disrupt Antisemitism,” an incubator for young American Jews focused solely on developing bold ideas to combat antisemitism. Inspired by the incubators of Silicon Valley, AJC is calling on young Jews from around the country to submit ideas to take on antisemitism locally, nationally, or virtually. Winning proposals will receive up to $10,000 in seed funding from AJC, along with access to AJC expertise and mentorship from leaders in the fields of advocacy, finance, and tech as they bring their ideas into reality.

The Helen Diller Foundation’s 2021 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards Virtual Celebration will celebrate 15 teens from across the nation for their leadership in a project that’s aimed at making the world a better place. The awardees receive $36,000 each to further their initiative or education. Today, 11:00 a.m.

  • Local honoree Jerry Orans, 16, of Mamaroneck, N.Y., co-founded a website that enabled people with home tools, such as 3D printers, to manufacture PPE for first responders, and matched these suppliers to hospitals in need.


Georgetown University’s Jonathan Ray explores the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and its significance in Jewish history. Register for this Jewish Theological Seminary event here. 2:00 pm.

Photo, top:  Black and Jewish leaders take part in the One Crown Heights Festival, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2021, marking the 30th anniversary of the riots that roiled the Brooklyn neighborhood. (One Crown Heights)