Sen.-Deputy Maj. Leader Michael Gianaris (r), Chaskel Bennett (l), Agudah's BOT member & Shlomo Werdiger (c), Agudah's BOT chairman, photos by Moshe Gershbaum

The end of the New York State Legislative session each June is traditionally a frenzy of activity, often with hundreds of bills getting passed, three way deals between the Senate, Assembly and Executive being consummated, and often large omnibus bills consisting of dozens of items combined into one big bill often derisively referred to as the “big ugly”.
This year was no different. After working four long days and parts of nights the Senate gaveled to a close after midnight on Thursday night while the Assembly adjourned at 7:20 Friday morning after working almost 22 consecutive hours. In the midst of all this activity an omnibus bill was introduced late Thursday evening that contained, among other items, capital budget allocations. Deep among those allocations was a pleasant surprise for our community. An additional $20 million was awarded for nonpublic school and day camp safety and security. This comes on top of the $40 million allocated in the state budget which passed earlier this year. At that time $25 million was set aside for securing communities against hate crimes, while $15 million was designated for nonpublic school safety and security.
Agudath Israel, along with its coalition partners, have been long time advocates for this security funding , and especially in light of the recent attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway, these funds are even more crucial. Agudath Israel thanks Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins along with Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for recognizing the heightened security needs of our community. Particular thanks go to Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein who played a major role in securing these additional grants. He devoted tremendous effort earlier this year to including summer camps among the categories eligible for securing against hate crime grants. Adding summer camps was an initiative originally proposed by Bobov activist Rabbi Joel Rosenfeld, and was a major focus of Agudath Israel’s Albany Day last March.

“More than almost any other issue, security is on the mind of every parent who sends their child to school and summer camps,” said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Director of New York Government Relations for Agudath Israel, who spent many days in Albany over the past six months advocating for this and other issues . “We are grateful to the Governor and Legislature for increasing this important funding as the session came to a close.”

"This new allocation of an additional $20 million will go a long way towards ensuring New Yorkers stay safe no matter where they are," said Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein. "I thank Assembly Speaker Heastie and Governor Cuomo for securing this long overdue funding. The safety and security of our children must be our number one concern. As a member of the Assembly, I have been advocating for security funding since the day I took office and I am grateful that the Governor and my Assembly colleagues recognize the significance of this funding and the difference it will make in keeping thousands of New Yorkers safe."


TEL AVIV, Israel -- Canadian-Israeli businessman Sylvan Adams last week returned home to Tel Aviv following his participation in the Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Workshop, including his meeting with fellow cycling enthusiast, His Highness Sheikh Nasser, Minister of Youth and Sport of Bahrain.  

"I came to the Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Workshop with relatively low expectations.  After the opening session Tuesday night, I realized how wrong my preconceptions [were], and that this conference would be an important starting point in the “Deal of the Century” peace process,” Adams said.

He continued, the room was packed, with about a third of the group being Arabs in traditional dress, and also included some kippah sporting Jews, both American and Israeli.

Jared Kushner opened the conference with a presentation of his detailed framework to invest $50B in the region, with $28B directed to the Palestinian territories and the balance divided between neighboring Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

After Kushner’s presentation, we had a discussion by two of the world’s largest property developers, American Steven Schwartzman of Blackstone Group and Emirati Mohamed Allabar, who developed much of Dubai, and has an extensive portfolio of projects worldwide. They were asked what would it take to invest in Palestine. Both indicated two pre-conditions: Rule of Law and Proper Governance conditions. They challenged the Palestinians to reform and indicated that they would be eager investors. Serbia was used as a test case, with Allabar indicating that he had invested in major projects there, once the government provided the necessary investment conditions, following a devastating period of war and instability in the Balkans.

“At dinner, I joined a group of Israelis that sat down with the Palestinian businessmen who had defied the PA’s boycott and came to encourage investment in their communities,” Adams continued, adding that the next day, the conference proceeded with many presentations from a world class line-up including IMF Chair Christine Lagarde, former UK PM Tony Blair, and US Commerce Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

“I had the personal privilege of a private meeting with the King’s third son, His Highness Sheikh Nasser, Minister of Youth and Sport,” Adams sid. “He sent a car to drive me to the Palace, where we met in his office and discussed our mutual interest in youth sports.”

“The prince is the owner of the Bahrain-Merida professional cycling team which participated in last year’s Giro d’Italia, which began in Israel. I co-own the Israel Cycling Academy, the first professional team in my country,” Adams said. “We discussed potential joint projects, as it would send a strong message that Israelis and Bahrainis can work together to promote sportsmanship.”

“I mentioned that I had built the first velodrome in the Middle East and invited him to send his young cyclists to train on our track with our youth development program. He told me that his aspiration was to have Bahraini cyclists on his professional team; I replied that I am proud that our Israeli team already boasts five Israeli riders,” Adams said.

Finally, Adams said the two talked about our respective personal bike racing careers (Sheikh Nasser is an accomplished cyclist, and I am a two time world Master’s champion), and we pledged to go on a ride together, either in Israel or Bahrain (or both). It was a very warm meeting, and we pledged to seek areas of mutual interest to cooperate. I invited him to visit Israel, and even offered to be his personal tour guide."


SHEFAYIM, Israel -- Some 5,000 Lone Soldiers – Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers with no immediate family in Israel – recently gathered at Shefayim Water Park - Israel’s largest waterpark -- just outside of Tel Aviv, for a day of rest and recuperation. The “Fun Day” was hosted by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) in partnership with the IDF and Yachad Le’maan Ha’chayal (The Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers and The LIBI Fund).

There are some 6,116 Lone Soldiers from 80 countries serving in the IDF today. About 810 came from the United States, 546 from Ukraine, 459 from Russia, and 412 from France. 66% of Lone Soldiers are men, while 34% are women. Some 55% of Lone Soldiers serve in combat or combat-support roles. FIDF cares for all Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF through the Lone Soldiers Program, which supports them financially, socially, and emotionally during and after their challenging military service. FIDF also sponsors flights for Lone Soldiers to visit their families and friends in their countries of origin.

The FIDF “Fun Day” at the Shefayim Water Park benefitted Lone Soldiers from all IDF units. In addition to the park’s many attractions, the “Fun Day” featured a pool party with leading Israeli DJ Eran Barnea, game and fitness areas, an all-day smorgasbord of barbeque and desserts. The Lone Soldiers also received essential information about life after their military service, including about the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants college scholarships to Israeli combat veterans of modest means.

The FIDF “Fun Day” kicked off the second annual “IDF Appreciation Week,” June 26 - July 7, which will benefit more than 50,000 soldiers.

In addition to the Lone Soldiers, IDF unit commanders, non-commissioned officers, high-ranking military officials, and FIDF supporters also attended the “Fun Day” festivities to meet and personally thank these brave men and women in uniform for serving despite numerous challenges.
 FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C) (3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational, and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide. .


Leaders of Jewish community groups will meet with a Labour MP to explain why social media posts "liked" by her promoted anti-Semitism. Lisa Forbes won a by-election in Peterborough on 7 June but had been criticised during her campaign for her online activity. In response to an apology from Ms Forbes four leading Jewish organisations said they would meet her.

The MP has said she "mistakenly" engaged with the content. She will meet with representatives from the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, Community Security Trust and Antisemitism Policy Trust.

Ms Forbes won the by-election, called after Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was forced out after being jailed for lying about speeding, with 31% of the votes - 683 votes ahead of the Brexit Party.

During the campaign she liked a post which said Theresa May had a "Zionist slave masters agenda" but Labour said Ms Forbes had liked the video expressing solidarity with the victim's of March's terror attacks in News Zealand "without reading the accompanying text".

However, there had been calls for her to be suspended from the party or have the whip removed.  In her apology Ms Forbes wrote: "I am aware that the kind of content I mistakenly engaged with online was deeply offensive and contained anti-Semitic language and tropes which harm the Jewish community.

"I know it is not good enough to simply say I am anti-racist; I know I need to demonstrate to you that I will take action to gain your trust and I hope you will agree to meet with me."

Gillian Merron, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, wrote: "We will set out why the messages that you approved promote Jew-hatred and contain anti-Semitic conspiracy theories."  She added they would explain about anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and the nature of modern anti-Semitism.

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                            5-11 Tammuz, 5779                                     July 8-14, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  625th Web Ed.



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