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Did Yeshiva University mislead New York state to obtain $230 million? The university bases its legal argument for refusing to recognize an LGBTQ student club on the fact that it is a religious institution. But the school has also accepted government funding. And on Wednesday, a group of state lawmakers said Y.U. may have misrepresented itself as a secular institution in order to qualify for public funds to build and renovate its facilities and restructure its debts. Read the story ➤
Bernie Madoff is the original scammer. Why did it take so long to get a Netflix show about him? We’ve had shows about sex cults, a miniseries about a fake heiress and a “Tinder Swindler.” Now, finally, Netflix has taken on the king of scams. “The thing about financial crimes, especially ones that turn on Wall Street-style machinations, is that they’re just not that sexy,” writes our digital culture reporter, Mira Fox. Yet Madoff’s scam, which lost billions of dollars and destroyed both institutions and individuals, continues to inspire fascination. Read the story ➤
Opinion | I was fired from CNN for antisemitic tweets. How do I make amends? When Idris Muktar was a teenager in Kenya, he posted a tweet that mentioned Hitler and another that described Hamas as “modern day freedom fighters.” He blames the lack of education he received in the poor slums of Nairobi. Now, he says, he finds these posts “completely abhorrent and unacceptable,” and complains that they have “been weaponized” by his critics. “I am clear on what my path of teshuvah looks like,” he writes, using the Hebrew word for repentance. But he wonders if those who caused him to lose his job will seek forgiveness as well. Read his essay ➤
Opinion | My aunt died in the Holocaust. A Munich high school made sure she was never forgotten: Michael Felsen’s Aunt Johanna was deported from Germany in the late 1930s for the crime of having a relationship with a non-Jewish man. She and 19 of her classmates, all of whom died during the war, were recently honored with bronze plaques at their old high school. City officials and current students at the school researched the victims in preparation. Gazing at Johanna’s photo, her nephew writes, “felt as if she was very much there, looking out at us, the family she never knew.” Read his essay ➤
Rep. George Santos roaming the grounds of the Capitol. (Getty)
New York Republican officials call on Santos to step down: More than a dozen elected officials in Nassau County, including several Jewish ones, called on Rep. George Santos Wednesday to submit his resignation over a web of lies about his background and finances. It was the strongest call yet from members of his own party. Meanwhile, an artist who specializes in Holocaust-themed paintings and worked for the Santos campaign as a fundraising consultant, said she suspects he based his false claim that his grandparents fled antisemitism in Europe during World War II from their encounters. Read the story ➤
But wait, there’s more…
- The office of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff released more details about his upcoming trip to Auschwitz for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
- Fresh water could be in extremely short supply in Israel in just a few decades, according to a new study. A possible solution: Making the sea drinkable.
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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Throngs of people lined up on Wednesday for the opening of Israel’s first 7-Eleven, where they could taste an actual Slurpee. An additional eight stores are planned to open throughout Tel Aviv this year. (Twitter)
📈 More than half of American Jews said in a new survey that they had experienced antisemitism at work. A smaller study found that nearly a quarter of hiring managers were less likely to advance Jewish applicants, though polling experts said that study was based on shaky data. An ADL official said the studies confirm the group’s concern “that the growing antisemitism in our society is also spilling over into the workplace.” (Bloomberg)
🎨 A graffiti artist in Chicago painted Kanye West on the side of a building last summer, before the rapper went on a string of antisemitic tirades. Once that happened, the owner of the building wanted the mural gone. Then a rabbi showed up with an idea. (Washington Post)
🇮🇱 An anti-Zionist group at the University of Chicago has called for a boycott of a course taught by retired Israeli Defense Forces General Meir Elran. The general faced similar complaints when he taught at the school in 2019. (Algemeiner)
🇧🇷 Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira has fired his country’s ambassador to Israel, apparently as part of a wider shake-up following the defeat of president Jair Bolsonaro and the subsequent storming of parliament by his supporters. Vieira also removed Brazil’s ambassador to the U.S. and the consul-general in New York from their posts. (Times of Israel)
🚶 Mel Gibson was disinvited as co-grand marshal of a February parade in New Orleans after local Jewish groups complained, given his history of antisemitic remarks. (People)
🙏 A death row inmate in Oklahoma who filed a lawsuit to fight for his priest to be present during his execution today will get his final wish. The priest had been barred because he was arrested multiple times protesting the death penalty, which the state’s corrections department said demonstrated “a blatant disregard for the experiences of victims’ families and the solemnity of the process.” The inmate claimed this violated his First Amendment rights, and the state reversed its decision on Wednesday. (Washington Post, ABC 5)
🏅 The Genesis Prize, whose organizers sometimes refer to it as the “Jewish Nobel,” usually honors an individual for a lifetime of achievements. This year’s prize was awarded Wednesday to a nameless group whose work is ongoing: Jewish activists in war-ravaged Ukraine. (JTA)
🐐 Residents of a Detroit-area community with a large Muslim population can now sacrifice animals at home for religious reasons. The city council approved the practice Tuesday in a 3-2 vote. Residents must notify the city, pay a fee and make their property available for inspection. (AP)
👏 Colorado’s first Jewish governor was about to be sworn in this week when he realized he forgot to bring a Hebrew Bible to the ceremony. A conference of Jewish educators meeting two blocks away came to the rescue. (JTA)
Shiva call ➤ Israel Levin, who was 11 years old when he escaped the Warsaw Ghetto through the sewer system with his father, died at 90.
What else we’re reading ➤ New lawsuit reveals former President Donald Trump can’t stand being compared to Hitler … These women in Israel are risking their lives to obtain abortions … A self-described “New York goy” mulls whether to keep the mezuzah up at his new apartment.
The synagogue in Turku, one of a few synagogues in Finland. (Wikimedia)
On this day in history (1918): The “Mosaic Confessors” laws, which granted citizenship to all Finnish Jews, went into effect. The laws, passed after Finland declared independence from Russia, applied to some 1,000 Jews. In the following years, Finland’s Jewish population doubled, and when the country joined Russia in the fight against Nazi Germany, the 300 Finnish Jewish soldiers in the country’s ranks set up a field synagogue next to a Nazi encampment.
On the Hebrew calendar, it’s the 19th of Tevet, the yahrtzeit of Judah Touro, an American Jewish philanthropist, who died in 1854.
In honor of National Marzipan Day, check out this recipe for Persian marzipan mulberries.
Dept. of corrections: Victor Noir, whom we highlighted yesterday, died in 1870, not 1970.
Agnes Keleti, the world’s oldest living Olympic athlete and a Holocaust survivor, celebrated her 102nd birthday this week. Born in Hungary, she emigrated to Israel in the 1950s and won 10 Olympic medals as a gymnast for Team Israel. She returned to Hungary in 2015 and is seen here with Sandor Altorjai, the Secretary-General of the Hungarian Gymnastics Federation, left, and Krisztian Berki, an Olympic medalist in gymnastics.
Thanks to Nora Berman, Mira Fox and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter.
You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].