Shutterstock photo/by Alexandru Chiriac

Agudath Israel is pained by the loss of life, destruction, and suffering brought about by Hurricane Ida. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected.

Agudath Israel thanks the governors of New York and New Jersey, Governors Kathy Hochul and Phil Murphy, as well as Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and supports them in urging President Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to approve a disaster declaration for New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding states, in the wake of Hurricane Ida. 

It is imperative that a federal disaster be declared because, until then, no FEMA funds can be released to assist shuls, organizations, or individuals. As soon as the destruction of Hurricane Ida became apparent, Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Director of New York government relations, and Agudah New Jersey Director, Rabbi Avi Schnall, urged that their states be declared disaster areas. 

The Agudah is proud to have been among a small group of organizations at the forefront of years-long advocacy at the White House, in Congress, and at FEMA to reverse the agency’s policy of denying disaster aid to houses of worship. Since early 2019, the eligibility of houses of worship has been enshrined into law.

Agudath Israel reminds those affected that a personal insurance claim is generally necessary to attain FEMA aid, even if one’s policy does not include flood insurance. Moreover, any damages incurred should be documented at this time.   

As an immediate step, the Agudah will be working with shuls and yeshivos in the communities of Brooklyn, Queens, and North Jersey to address their acute needs following this storm.




Jewish immigrants taste Gefilte Fish for first time in

advance  of the holiday

ACHZIV, Israel -- 525 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India, descendants of a lost tribe of Israel who made Aliya over the past year, are gearing up for their first Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish state. The immigrants, some of whom are currently residing in Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Achziv, moved to Israel from Manipur, India, thanks to the efforts of Pnina Tamano Shata, Minister of Aliyah and Integration, the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel, and the Jewish Agency.
Part of the Bnei Menashe’s preparations for the High Holidays included a Gefilte Fish tasting – a traditional dish associated with the Jewish New Year. Shavei Israel, which has lobbied for the Aliyah of the Bnei Menashe community for the past 20 years, presented the dish to the community members for the first time. Some loved the dish, while others politely declared it to be “an acquired taste.” 
“After 2,700 years of exile, the descendants of the Bnei Menashe are finally returning to their ancestral homeland,” says Michael Freund, Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. “There is no better time for them to begin their new lives in the land of their ancestors than the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The history of this special community, which preserved its connection to the people of Israel and the Land of Israel down through the generations, is exciting and inspiring, and I would like to wish each of them a Shanah Tova U'metuka, a good and sweet New Year, for the first time in their ancestral homeland.”
The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, which were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh. Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. They continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their forefathers, the Land of Israel.
Thus far, Shavei Israel has made the dream of Aliyah, immigration to Israel, possible for over 4,500 Bnei Menashe and plans to help bring more members of the community to Israel. Currently, there are 6,000 Bnei Menashe awaiting their return to the Jewish homeland.
Shavei Israel is a nonprofit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in more than a dozen countries and provides assistance to a variety of communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (whom historians refer to by the derogatory term “Marranos”) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others,


Asner voiced an elderly widower in animated hit Up

Ed Asner, best-known for playing fictional TV newsman Lou Grant, has died aged 91.

The actor, whose roles also included voicing the lead in the Pixar film Up, passed away "peacefully" on Sunday morning, his family said.

"Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head-Goodnight dad. We love you."

The character Lou Grant was first introduced as Mary Richards's boss on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s.

Grant, the irascible editor of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune, then became a character in a show in his own right from 1977 to 1982.

The role helped earn Asner seven Emmy awards across his career, the most for a male performer.

In 2009, he became known to a new generation of audiences by playing elderly widower Carl Fredricksen in the animated hit Up.

He also played Santa Claus in the 2003 Will Ferrell comedy Elf.

During his acting career Asner was an outspoken supporter of a number of humanitarian and political causes, including trade unionism and animal rights.

He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985, and was honoured in 2000 with the union's prestigious Ralph Morgan Award.

Asner was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1929, and began acting at school.

After serving two years in France in the US Army Signal Corps, Asner returned to theatre work in Chicago.

In 1955 he made his Broadway debut with Jack Lemmon in Face of A Hero, then performed with the American and New York Shakespeare festivals and appeared in numerous off-Broadway shows.

Asner moved to Hollywood in 1961 and began his acclaimed career in television and film.

He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1996.

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