Reform seminary probes 30 years of harassment • Dani Dayan on Holocaust memory • Brooklyn Jews visit Syria

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Good morning New York. 

LASTING DAMAGE: The Reform movement’s rabbinical school named two of its former chancellors in a damning report about sexual harassment going back more than three decades. (JTA)

  • Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, who led Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion from 1971 to 1996, and his successor, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, who served until 2000, were among six prominent figures who harassed and/or assaulted women at the seminary, according to the report.
  • Bottom line: The inquiry concludes that while conditions at the seminary have improved in recent years, a “good old boys’ mindset” existed for decades across the school’s five campuses, including Manhattan and Israel, harming generations of Reform rabbis and professionals.

NEVER AGAIN: Dani Dayan, the former settler leader who served as Israel’s envoy in New York from 2016-2020, says he will keep politics out of his new role as chair of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust authority. (Jewish Week via JTA)

  • “The moment that I was appointed chairman of Yad Vashem, I created a virtual firewall between me and politics,” Dayan told the Jewish Week’s Andrew Silow-Carroll in a wide-ranging interview.
  • Dayan also vowed to fight the “distortion and trivialization” of the Holocaust that he says has come to replace outright Holocaust denial as the biggest threat to Shoah memory.
  • Dayan will be part of a Kristallnacht commemoration this Saturday at The Hampton Synagogue on Eastern Long Island. David Gill, Germany’s Consul General in New York, will also take part.

MISSION STATEMENT: Read more about Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s trip to Israel as part of a J Street delegation. (JTA)

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  • Ron Kampeas explains that the Bronx/Westchester Democrat’s inclusion in the trip, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials, separates him from other members of “the Squad,” who support reducing or ending defense assistance to Israel. He is also the only Squad member to vote for extra Iron Dome funding.

HOMECOMING: A group of Syrian Jews from Brooklyn recently visited Damascus with the apparent support of the Assad regime. (Times of Israel)

  • The trip was partly humanitarian and partly personal, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported. One group member said the visit was partially to receive dental care, which is far cheaper in Syria than in the United States.
  • Why it matters: Following years of brutal civil war, Syria appears to be courting expatriates in a bid to improve its image abroad.

AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD, WITH JTA

NYC ARTS

“Charm Circle,” Nira Burstein’s documentary about growing up in the Kew Garden Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York, and her attempts to repair frayed family ties, is showing as part of DOC NYC film festival, which begins today. (Courtesy DOC NYC)

REEL LIFE: DOC NYC, the largest documentary festival in the world, includes features on Israel, the Palestinians, the Pittsburgh shooting and a filmmaker’s complicated Jewish childhood in Queens. (Jewish Week via JTA)

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will commemorate Israel’s national holiday, Ben-Gurion Day, with a behind-the-scenes look at the Negev home of Israel’s first prime minister. Click here to register for the webinar. 12:00 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Debby Applegate tells the story of Polly Adler, the Jazz Age madam whose Manhattan brothels were key gathering places for high society and  underworld figures. Register here for this Center for Jewish History event. 6:00 p.m.

Join the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Worker’s Circle for the first of two conversations between historian Hasia Diner and writer and Yiddish performer Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell. The two will discuss Diner’s  1977  book “In the Almost Promised Land: American Jews and Blacks, 1915-1935,” and reflect back critical themes that shape the search for racial justice today. Register here. 7:00 p.m.

CCAR Press celebrates the publication of its newest book, “Because My Soul Longs for You: Integrating Theology into Our Lives.” The volume explores how Jews experience God through means both conventional and unexpected. The editors, Rabbis Edwin C. Goldberg and Elaine S. Zecher, will discuss the book’s lessons, and contributors will share insights on their chapters. Register here. 7:30 p.m.

Temple Gates of Prayer presents a Veterans Day program, featuring Army veteran Richard Weinberg in conversation with three retired chaplains of the U.S. Armed Forces: Rabbi Brad Hoffman, retired Navy Chaplain; Rabbi Bonnie Koppell, retired Army Chaplain, and Rabbi Brett Oxman, retired Air Force Chaplain. Request Zoom information at dina@templegates.org. 8:00 p.m.

Photo, top: Dani Dayan, chair of the Yad Vashem Directorate, accompanies Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde on a visit to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, Oct. 18, 2021. Dayan arrives in New York this week for his first visit as chair of the Holocaust museum and authority. (Courtesy Yad Vashem)

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