Schools and shuls back to online only • Israeli Consulate walloped by COVID • Death of a sex therapist


Good Monday morning, New York! A big thank you to our managing editor, Lisa Keys, for taking over the newsletter during your regular correspondent’s four-day “staycation” in Manhattan.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, the city went from a semblance of normal to Code Red. (Read the Health Commissioner’s advisory on COVID prevention here.) Manhattan was a study in anxious contrasts. Long lines at urgent care clinics and pharmacies for boosters and COVID tests, and closures on Broadway and at Radio City. We heard Rabbi Neil Zuckerman of Park Avenue Synagogue announce Friday night that weekday and Sunday morning services will once again take place only via Zoom and livestream. 

And yet a visitor could join large crowds for the Edmund de Waal exhibit at the Jewish Museum, the Jasper Johns show at the Whitney and the Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection of views of New York City at the New-York Historical Society. Alex Edelman’s wise and funny one-man show, “Just for Us” (see our review below), packed in more Jews than most synagogues these days.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: More than a dozen staff members of the Israeli Consulate in New York tested positive for the coronavirus, leading Israel’s Health Ministry to recommend barring Israelis from traveling to the United States. (JTA)

AND AGAIN: Several Jewish day schools have switched to virtual learning until winter break, and multiple synagogues announced Friday that they would go back to holding Shabbat services online only. Ben Sales reports on what feels like a replay of the beginning of the pandemic. (New York Jewish Week)

PREMIER ADDRESS: Shimon Peres may have never lived on the Upper West Side, but the intersection of West 95th Street and Riverside Drive will be renamed “Shimon Peres Place” after the City Council approved nearly 200 new honorary street names. (JTA)

REMEMBERING: Shirley Zussman, a pioneering sex therapist who inspired fellow New Yorker Dr. Ruth Westheimer to talk about orgasms, died at her home in Manhattan earlier this month. She was 107. (JTA)

WHITE LIE: Comedian Alex Edelman accepted an invitation for a meeting of white supremacists in Queens, and turned it into a one-man show at the Cherry Lane Theatre, “Just for Us.” Andrew Silow-Carroll calls the show “a smart exploration of Jewishness and whiteness that goes down easy thanks to gorilla jokes, great puns and a young comedian’s willingness to expose his own needy personality.” (New York Jewish Week)

NOT TO BE MISSED: You must read this profile of New York native and World War II veteran Si Spiegel, 97, known as “the king of the artificial Christmas tree.” (New York Times)


The Jewish Education Project added nine new board members, including four New Yorkers, to its lay leadership team. Scott Harris of Manhattan is the founder of the Harris Residential Team at Brown Harris Stevens. Dammara Kovnats Hall of Israel and New York is a fellow in The Jewish Education Project’s B’Yachad fellowship for Jewish Educators of Colour. Emily Caslow Gindi of Manhattan oversees the customer service department at her family’s business, the Acme Smoked Fish Corporation, and is co-chair of the Manhattan Division of UJA-Federation of New York. Jami Moore of Manhattan is a kindergarten teacher at Avenues: The World School and is co-vice chair of UJA’s Young Leader Collective Board.


Join the Workers Circle on Facebook Live for “Answering The Call,” a look at some of the most important issues of the 20th century as covered in the pages of the Workers Circle in-house publication, “The Call.” Anthony Russell and social justice organizer Jonathan Taubes will explore how Jewish assimilation was covered in “The Call” from the ’30s into the ’60s. Learn more here. 3:00 p.m.

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Photo, top: A view of the Manhattan skyline from The Ramble in Central Park, Dec. 18, 2021. As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spread, the city was a study in anxious contrasts. (New York Jewish Week)