Why CUNY’s mystery donor might be Jewish • The case for Muslim-Jewish dialogue • Holiday happenings

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Good morning, New York. Before heading into the long weekend, we want to wish you a good and healthy Shabbat. And remind you that you can catch up on the best of the week’s reporting with our printable, downloadable “Jewish Week/end” email, which will arrive every Friday. Sign up here.

We’re still a little verklempt after last night’s broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors, which featured tributes to two iconic Jewish New Yorkers — Bette Midler and Lorne Michaels — and a performance by Paul Simon. It was a brief but happy respite from our Omicron anxiety.

JEW’S CLUES: Officials at City College were unable to identify the donor who sent them an anonymous gift of $180,000, but we’re going to go out on a limb and guess it was a grateful Jewish alum. Who else gives gifts in multiples of $18? (New York Jewish Week)

PARTY OF ONE: Danny Tenenbaum, an NYU School of Law grad, left the big city for Montana, where he is a rare breed in the state’s House of Representatives: a Jew and a Democratic Socialist. (JTA)

This story is part of JTA's coverage of New York through the New York Jewish Week. To read more stories like this, sign up for our daily New York newsletter here.

AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD, WITH JTA

TODAY’S BIG IDEA

A Bay Area Muslim leader said “polite Zionist” groups can’t be trusted as allies on human and civil rights issues. Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Manhattan-based Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, explains why such ideological litmus texts are toxic for interfaith relations, whether applied to Jews or Muslims. (JTA)

SHABBAT SHALOM

Why did God choose Moses? Because the adopted Egyptian prince was able to look past the surface of the natural world to see the miraculous possibilities beneath, writes Freema Gottlieb in a Jewish Week essay.

  • More wisdom: Jewish communities couldn’t exist without the workers and volunteers who toil tirelessly behind the scenes, writes Rabbi David Wolpe.

IT’S CHRISTMASTIME FOR THE JEWS*

Even with the spread of Omicron this year, there are plenty of things to do and see this weekend. The Jewish Week’s Julia Gergely pulled together a list of activities (call ahead in case of cancellations):

  • LAUGH TRACKS: On Friday night, Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea is putting on A Very Jewish Christmas in Chelsea, 9:30 p.m., and Comic Strip Live! on the Upper East Side is presenting Merry Shtickmas: Jewish Christmas Eve at 7:00 p.m.
  • MEET SOMEONE: The 35th annual Matzo Ball, a party for Jewish singles, will take place this Friday at 9:00 p.m. at Nebula, a nightclub at 135 W. 41st St. Like every other venue in New York, the club requires proof of vaccination. Organizers are also conducting a virtual speed dating event.
  • GO YENTL: The Museum of Jewish Heritage is offering virtual screenings of “Yentl,” Barbra Streisand’s 1983 musical, along with a talkback with Neal Gabler, author of “Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power,” and Mattie Kahn, culture director at Glamour. The film and talk will be available to stream from Friday, Dec. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 26.
  • WALK IT OUT: A Christmas tradition, Big Onion Walking Tours is hosting their Annual Christmas Day Lower East Side Walking Tour on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. $30; details and info here. (Prefer to DIY it? Find a self-guided, food-focused Jewish Lower East Side tour here.)
  • ONE FROM COLUMN A: Instead of takeout, join Tablet Magazine for a “five-star caliber” Chinese food feast on Saturday, Dec. 25, at 7:00 p.m. at the Wall Street Grill in the Financial District. Chefs Eric Huang and Joey Paulino are cooking up five kosher courses full of 1970s nostalgia for Midtown’s iconic Moshe Peking restaurant. $150. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Masbia soup kitchen network.

*We’re just quoting what is perhaps the best Christmas song ever.

WHAT’S ON TONIGHT

Join Congregation B’nai Jeshurun via livestream for a concert with Jewish musician Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble. The concert, originally in person but moved to streaming due to the COVID spike, can be watched on B’nai Jeshurun’s Facebook page or register for the Zoom here. 7:30 p.m.

Photo, top: People wait in a long line in Manhattan to get tested for COVID-19, Dec. 22, 2021. City officials are passing out at-home tests at public hospital testing sites, but supply is still outstripping demand as the Omicron variant spreads and New Yorkers make holiday plans. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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