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For Jewish Republicans, DeSantis enters race with bona fides – and baggage
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is expected to officially enter the Republican presidential primary this week, the most formidable challenge to former President Donald Trump. Our senior political reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, kicks things off this morning with a look at five issues Jewish Republicans care about.
To Israel, with love: DeSantis has been an outspoken defender of Israel since he was elected to Congress in 2013. In recent years, DeSantis has taken credit for the Trump administration’s move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Other GOP contenders including Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, and ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, have also highlighted their roles in the historic move.
Invoking stereotypes: DeSantis has mocked Jewish billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros, attacks that Amb. Deborah Lipstadt last week called antisemitic. The governor’s crackdown on what he calls “woke” education has also led to the removal of some Holocaust literature from school libraries.
Other Republican contenders…
- Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, is a star in the pro-Israel community.
- Pence, the former VP and an evangelical Christian, said that much of his life prepared him for the moment to stand next to Trump when the Israeli embassy was moved to Jerusalem.
- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, is set to have the financial backing of Steve Cohen, owner of the N.Y. Mets, if he makes a second run for the White House, as reported last week.
- Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a co-founder of the Senate’s Black-Jewish caucus, is also expected to join the GOP presidential primary this week.
Rep. Ed Stafman delivering a blessing at a 2019 service for Pride Month in Helena, Montana. (Courtesy)
The politics of prayer: At the start of each day’s session in the Montana House of Representatives, one of the 100 lawmakers offers a prayer. But Rep. Ed Stafman, a Democrat who is also a rabbi, was not allowed to take his turn earlier this month. Many in Montana’s small Jewish community are upset there has been no explanation of why Stafman was replaced with a Christian. Read the story ➤
The fabulist: U.S. Rep George Santos fabricated his life story. The person he pretended to be – someone with nonprofit experience, business acumen and Jewish roots – will likely defeat him in 2024, two student activists argue in a new OpEd.
Speaking of Santos: We chatted with the author of a forthcoming book about him on That Jewish News Show. Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Actress India Amarteifio stars as a young Queen Charlotte in the new ‘Bridgerton’ spinoff. (Liam Daniel/Netflix)
She’s the mastermind behind Netflix’s Bridgerton. She also makes a mean matzo ball: “I come from a family of Eastern European Jewish immigrants,” author Julia Quinn told our contributor Stav Ziv. “We were not dukes and duchesses. I mean, not even close.” Quinn said that outsider’s perspective helped her write the latest romance novel in the Bridgerton universe, which features Queen Charlotte as a woman of color. The book and its Netflix adaptation both debuted this month. Read the story ➤
Something’s not quite kosher here: The website kashrut.com is warning consumers that food products from India may carry phony kosher symbols. Rabbi Menachem Genack of OU Kosher said that it’s impossible to trademark the word “kosher” and it’s up to consumers to verify that the organization behind a certification is legitimate. Read the story ➤
Join us at JCRC-NY’s 58th annual CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE on Sunday, June 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 57th – 74th St. along NY’s Fifth Ave.
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
A Palestinian woman checks for damage on her building following an Israeli army raid early this morning. (Getty)
?? Three Palestinian militants were killed and three terror suspects arrested during overnight raids by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, according to news reports. (Times of Israel)
?? The U.S. State Department condemned the Sunday visit to the Temple Mount by Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right Israeli minister, who declared “we are in charge.” The site in the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be where the biblical temples stood, is also the third-holiest site in Islam, known as Al Aqsa. (Haaretz, AP)
?? Russia’s embassy in Egypt accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of leading a Nazi regime with “blood ties to Israel” in a Saturday tweet. The post was replaced the next day with one that did not mention Israel. The Nazi part remained. (Times of Israel)
? The 93-year-old rabbi at Manhattan’s venerable Park East Synagogue has taken the lead on finding his own replacement after none of the prospective candidates sought by the member-led search committee panned out. Meanwhile, multiple assistant rabbis have left the congregation. (NY Jewish Week)
?? The Capitol Jewish Museum will open in June. “The story of Jews in D.C. is quite different than the other urban centers,” said its executive director. “Immigrants didn’t come here first, they went someplace else, and then came to D.C. because of the incredible opportunities here, especially around the federal government.” (WTOP)
? An Asian-Jewish superhero will make her comic book debut in June. Leah Ai Tian, who runs a kosher Chinese restaurant in 1970s New York, travels back to her native China to bring her parents and the other Jews of Kaifeng to the U.S., where they can freely practice their religion. (JTA)
Quotable ➤ “Antisemitism is not a niche issue. It is an existential threat to democracy.” – Amb. Deborah Lipstadt, in an interview with The New York Times.
What else we’re reading ➤ When Hitler tried to take over Hollywood … Saudi Arabia’s first female astronaut blasts off … Kat Graham celebrated Jewish American Heritage Month on Sesame Street.
Bob Dylan on stage circa 1978 in New York City. (Getty)
On this day in history (1954): Bob Dylan, nee Robert Allen Zimmerman, was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. The Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter, whose Hebrew name is Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham, is best known for his poetic, folk-influenced hits like “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “Tangled Up in Blue.” Here’s Dylan’s 10 most Jewish songs.
Explore all of our Bob Dylan coverage ➤
The New York Times Opinion section produced a short documentary about the vulnerability of being a queer Orthodox Jew. One person interviewed described being tied up with duct tape during a conversion therapy session on Shabbat. Watch the nine-minute video above.
Thanks to Rebecca Salzhauer and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].