Naftali Bennett in New York • Afghanistan’s last Jew has eyes on Queens • AOC explains her Iron Dome tears


Good morning, New York! Coming tonight at the conclusion of Sukkot are the two holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (celebrated in Israel and among liberal Jews as one combined holiday). Our friends at My Jewish Learning explain all.

WARNING SHOT: Speaking this morning at the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett blamed Iran for funding, training and arming groups that “seek to dominate the Middle East and spread radical Islam across the world.” (Haaretz)

  • Bennett met with officials from the UAE and Bahraini last night. (Times of Israel)
  • He’s scheduled to address the Jewish Federations of North America today.

QUEENS BOUND: The last Jew living in Afghanistan reportedly granted his wife a Jewish ritual divorce and wants to start a new life in Queens. (JTA)

  • Zebulon Simantov left Afghanistan earlier this month, following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, after at first rebuffing efforts to get him out. For years he resisted giving his wife, who is living in Israel with their children, a Jewish divorce, according to reports in Israeli publications.
  • Simantov’s escape to “a neighboring country” in September was arranged by Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, a Brooklyn-based activist.
  • As for Queens, “I am a businessman, I’ll do business there,” Simantov told the New York Post on Saturday.

“YES, I WEPT”: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-Bronx/Queens, responded to followers who were disappointed that she voted “present” on supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system — rather than the “no” progressives expected. (JTA)

  • In a letter posted to Twitter Friday, Ocasio-Cortez did not explain what caused her to switch her vote to “present.” But she said she was inclined to vote “no” at first — and shed tears on the House floor — because she opposes giving “unconditional” aid to Israel, and because she objected to how the Democratic leadership seemed to rush the legislation.
  • She was one of 11 representatives, including the other members of “the Squad” of progressives, who did not vote to support the $1 billion in Iron Dome funding.
  • Fallout: “With her vote, Ocasio-Cortez managed to anger people on both sides of the issue. Supporters of Israel criticized her for not supporting the funding that they say helps save lives and pro-Palestinian activists blasted her for not opposing the measure.” (Slate)

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, the Jewish Republican from Long Island, is raising antisemitism in education as a campaign issue. (Jewish Insider)

BREATHING EASIER: The Health Department said key measures for tracking COVID-19 — including new cases, hospitalizations and deaths — are all headed in the right direction. (amNY)

  • However: Several Brooklyn neighborhoods where vaccination refusal is relatively high — including the Orthodox Jewish enclaves of Williamsburg, Borough Park and Midwood — dominated the top 10 list of new COVID-19 cases.

Abigail Pogrebin, left, speaks with “Fauda” creator Lior Raz at an event sponsored by The Jewish Week, UJA-Federation of NY and 70 Faces Media, Sept. 23, 2021.

MAGIC BUBBLE: More than 1.300 people joined The Jewish Week, UJA-Federation of New York and 70 Faces Media for a conversation Thursday with Lior Raz, the co-creator and star of “Fauda” and “Hit & Run.” (UJA-Federation)

  • Quotable: Raz told moderator Abigail Pogrebin that working on “Fauda” helped actors of many backgrounds humanize one another: “The cast is made up of Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs…. You find yourself working for six months with people you haven’t worked with all your life. And it’s a bubble of love. A bubble of caring for each other.”



The new Slovakian film “The Auschwitz Report,” about escaped prisoners who informed the world about was happening at the death camp, wrestles with a central dilemma: How do you convince people of something so shocking that it defies belief? Andrew Lapin has a review.

Photo, top: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, center, meets with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa al-Marar, right, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani at his hotel in New York on Sunday evening. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)