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Are American Jews the most loved and hated religious group at the same time?

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Opinion | How do we square antisemitic attacks with Jewish popularity?

 

Among all religious groups, Americans like Jews the most. That’s according to a Pew Research Center survey out this month. “You’d think in these dark times,” writes our columnist Rob Eshman, “this bit of good news would be worth spreading. You’d be wrong.”

 

Why don’t Jewish organizations tell this story? “It could be that it contradicts a dominant narrative of victimhood,” Rob argues. “A cynic might say no Jewish defense organization ever raised a dime telling donors that Jews are well-liked. But we may also take our good standing for granted, forgetting the past generations of American Jews that had to struggle against institutional discrimination in order for us to gain such widespread acceptance.”

 

Jewish Americans are subject to the same problems as all Americans. “Hate crimes are up for everyone. Mass shootings are up for everyone,” Rob writes. “There is less tolerance and civility across the board.” An ADL report from last month had this headline: “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2022.” None of the victims were Jews.

 

The troubles are not ours alone, neither is the fight. “Instead of acting as if the world hates us and we are all alone, we should be seeking coalitions with other groups facing the same problems,” Rob argues. “That’s what Temple Sinai in Cranston, Rhode Island, did last Sunday, joining with a Korean church and a Congregational church for a joint service, billed as ‘Hate Has No Home Here.’”

 

Read his essay ➤

ALSO IN THE FORWARD

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Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Nov. 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Getty)

Lawsuit claims Tucker Carlson’s senior producer repeatedly made antisemitic comments: Our senior political reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, sifted through the court documents and has more details on a story we first shared here yesterday. The producer ridiculed people who took time off for the High Holidays, the suit alleges, and made fun of an Israeli employee for bringing a babka back from a “Jew bakery.” A Fox News spokesperson said the babka incident “is patently false and never happened.” Read the story ➤

 

‘Not a time to be silent’ | Reform Israeli rabbi and lawmaker urges American Jews to take a stand on Israel’s constitutional crisis: The lawmaker, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, flew to the U.S. to make his case that Israelis fighting to defend democracy and religious pluralism need our help. Some of his Haredi colleagues have ridiculed Kariv as a “priest” and a “goy,” and compared him to a pig. Read the story ➤

 

How marshmallows became a kosher-for-Passover tradition: Our Mira Fox did not grow up eating marshmallows on Passover, so she was curious about how it became a thing. Diving into cultural history, she discovered a journey framed by immigration and innovation that, appropriately, involves its own exodus from Egypt. Read the story ➤

And speaking of Passover: A Seder host is annoyed that some guests still want to wear masks and eat outside. Our Bintel Brief column offers advice on what just might be the perfect kerfuffle for a holiday about plagues.

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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting Sunday with his cabinet. (Getty)

In Israel: The Knesset moved one step closer today to advancing a plan that would give the government control over most judicial appointments … A leading Orthodox rabbi called on Israelis to fast today because “Israeli society, the State of Israel, is sliding toward a precipice” … Bezalel Smotrich, the far-right finance minister, said the first part of the judicial overhaul should pass next week … Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be met by protesters when he arrives in London Friday for a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

 

💩  The number of antisemitic tweets more than doubled after Elon Musk took over the company, according to a new report. Twitter replied to a request for comment with an email containing a poop emoji. (Washington Post, The Conversation)

 

🌍  And speaking of which: Antisemitism envoys from around the world – including Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt of the United States – met in Madrid Tuesday at a conference hosted by the World Jewish Congress. The group was formed four years ago, and meets twice a year. (Jewish Insider)

 

🏠  Two suspects who spray-painted Nashville homes with swastikas and hate messages on Sunday are still at large. Video of the incident captured by doorbell cameras was released to the public by the police. (CBS News

 

👮  More on swastikas: The city of Torrance, California, agreed to a $750,000 settlement with a Jewish man who accused the police of spray-painting one in his car. An investigation found that local officers had also talked about gassing Jews. (Guardian)

 

⚖️  After a six-week trial, an Australian jury began deliberating on Wednesday on the fate of Malka Leifer, a former principal of an Orthodox school for girls and director of a camp. Leifer is accused of molesting three sisters between 2003 and 2007, and has pleaded not guilty. (AP)

 

🏃  A St. John’s University law professor announced his intention to run against Rep. George Santos of New York if he seeks reelection in 2024. The professor, William Murphy, said: “The one thing we don’t need is someone who can’t utter a true statement if his life depended on it.” (New York Post)

 

🗞️  Avi Mayer, a pro-Israel activist with 142,000 Twitter followers, was named editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. Mayer, 38, has served as spokesman for the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel, and worked for the Jewish student newspaper at the University of Maryland. (JTA)

 

😲  As Shtisel is set to leave Netflix this weekend, there’s news that the Israeli studio behind the popular series is producing a spinoff. Called Kugel, it will follow Uncle Nuchem and his daughter Libby, and is set to premiere later this year. (Walla, Kveller, Twitter)

Mazel Tov ➤  To retired U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence on her new role as executive director of Spill the Honey, a nonprofit that highlights the historic alliances between the African American and Jewish communities.

ON THE CALENDAR

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Stephen Sondheim at the 2019 American Songbook Gala at Lincoln Center. (Getty)

On this day in history (1930): Stephen Sondheim was born. The composer and lyricist, whom President Barack Obama credited with “reinventing the American musical,” won more than 40 awards for his lifetime of work in the theater, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Writing for the Forward upon Sondheim’s death, Talya Zax said: “If the great goal of art is to make the experience of life more — more beautiful, more painful, more surprising, more intimate and immediate — he realized it about as well as anyone ever has.”

 

Today would’ve been the 1o0th birthday of the French mime Marcel Marceau. A 2020 film starring Jesse Eisenberg focused on Marceau’s efforts to help orphaned Jewish children during World War II.

 

In honor of National West Virginia Day, check out this story about an Israeli astronomer looking for aliens in the hills of Appalachia.

This weekend: If you’re near Bergen County, New Jersey, there’s a new production of The Diary of Anne Frank playing at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades on March 23 and 26. Get your tickets here, and prep for the show by listening to our Playing Anne Frank podcast.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

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Stephanie Davis searches for yahrzeit plaques bearing her grandparents’ names. (Adam Reinherz)

Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue has remained closed since Oct. 27, 2018, when it was the site of the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history. This Sunday, its doors reopened for 90 minutes, so congregants could pick up yahrzeit plaques, art and other remaining items.

 

Adam Reinherz of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle described the scene: “Assembled within the social hall were photos, books, discarded prayer shawls, old Torah covers, cassettes, VHS tapes, T-shirts, a bowling trophy, paintings, posters, bags of garbage, bookcases, menorahs, ceiling tiles, tools and furniture.” There was so much stuff that the shul announced three additional windows of time for people to come out.

 

Significant portions of the building are set to be razed and rebuilt as a 45,000-square-foot complex housing Tree of Life, a new nonprofit dedicated to ending antisemitism, and the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.

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Thanks to Jay Ehrlich, Mira Fox, Beth Harpaz, Tani Levitt and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at editorial@forward.com.

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The post Are American Jews the most loved and hated religious group at the same time? appeared first on The Forward.

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