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Congressman-elect admits lying about being Jewish, says he meant ‘Jew-ish’

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Kippah under his helmet, this yeshiva grad is a college football running back: Sam Salz’s white kippah – embroidered with a menorah in the colors of Texas A&M – makes him easy to spot on the sidelines. Some astute fans will also know that he chose his jersey number, 39, to remind him of the 39 types of work that are forbidden on Shabbat. That includes playing football: he sits out games that occur on Saturdays before sundown, choosing instead to study a volume of the Talmud he keeps in his locker. Though he’s the only Orthodox Jew on the roster, his teammates get it. “They all have a faith in God,” he said. Read the story ➤

A U.S. soldier took bones from Dachau in 1946. They’ve finally been buried in a Jewish cemetery: More than 77 years after American soldiers liberated Dachau, the unidentified remains of at least one of the German concentration camp’s victims were buried this month. Sgt. Willard N. Maddox had mailed the bones home to his wife in a package that also included perfume, a rosary, some Italian money and a postcard. When the soldier’s relatives recently discovered the bones, they contacted Jewish friends to help with a proper funeral. As described by the presiding rabbi, it involved “psalms, Torah, eulogies, El Malei, shoveling earth, kaddish, all of it.” Read the story ➤

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Some of our Forward 125 list of influential Jews from 1897-2022. (Illustration by Matthew Litman)

What do Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Albert Einstein and Sammy Davis Jr. have in common? They all made our “Forward 125” list of the American Jews who made headlines and history since 1897, when the Forward was born. In her latest column, our editor-in-chief imagines hosting all of them for a very crowded Shabbat dinner. Take a look at the list, and let us know who else you would have liked to see on it.

 

This Jewish fashion designer was more than the inventor of a topless bikini: Rudi Gernreich, who would’ve turned 100 this year, also created a leotard that allowed dancers to move more freely. He dressed Barbra Streisand for the cover of Vogue. And he helped fund the first organized U.S. efforts to promote LGBTQ rights. Later in life, he also attempted to formulate the perfect chicken broth-based soup. Read the story ➤

 

Time to play: Take our news quiz to see how well you kept up with last week’s Jewish headlines.

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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Congressman-elect George Santos at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in November. (Getty)

🤷  Congressman-elect George Santos, a New York Republican, admitted Monday that he had lied about being Jewish, as well as fabricating his college and work history. “I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos told The New York Post, adding that his grandmother told stories about converting from Judaism. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’” But Santos questioned reporting by the Forward that showed his grandparents had been born in Brazil, contrary to the claims on his campaign website that they fled anti-Jewish persecution in Ukraine and then Belgium during World War II. Asked in a radio interview if they were born in Brazil, he said: “To the best of my knowledge, to the best of my understanding, no they were not.” (New York Post, WABC)

 

🤦  Whoopi Goldberg, a co-host of The View, ended 2022 much the way she began it: with a controversial comment about the Holocaust. In an interview in The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, Goldberg repeated her statement that the Jews who were systematically killed during World War II were not targeted based on their race. (USA Today)

 

🇮🇱  Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to swear-in his governing coalition of far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties on Thursday. Fissures in the coalition have already begun: Netanyahu rebuked one of his allies on Sunday for saying she would try to change Israel’s anti-discrimination laws to permit, for example, individual doctors to refuse to treat LGBTQ patients because of their religious beliefs. (Times of Israel, AP)

 

⛪  For High Holiday services and other large events since the 2018 massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the congregation has been using the sanctuary of a nearby Episcopal church. To return the favor —and to promote interfaith dialogue — the congregation’s rabbi appeared as Moses in the church’s recent Christmas pageant. (Wall Street Journal)

 

😷  An Israeli-led team of international scientists has discovered some 100,000 new viruses previously unknown to science. They have increased ninefold the number of RNA viruses – a group that already included COVID-19, the common cold, influenza, SARS, MERS, hepatitis C, West Nile fever, Ebola and measles. (Times of Israel)

 

💸  An embezzlement scandal has rocked a small community in central Israel. Dozens of  families living on a moshav called Ahisamakh discovered they were millions of shekels in debt after money they’d deposited with the moshav’s farming cooperative disappeared. “I never imagined such a thing,” said one of the victims. “Not even in my nightmares.” (Haaretz)

 

📈 The Anti-Defamation League has created a list of the 10 most hateful moments of 2022 to showcase its responses. “There were brazen acts of hate, such as the Buffalo supermarket shooting, the Colleyville hostage crisis and the antisemitic Boston Mapping Project,” the group says, “and there were disappointing developments such as a rise in attacks against the LGBTQ+ community and the banning of a Holocaust story in Tennessee.” (ADL)

 

Shiva calls ➤  Miriam Paltiel-Gordon, who served for decades as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Worcester, Massachusetts, died at 87 … Rabbi Abraham Levy, the longtime spiritual leader of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation of Great Britain, died at 83 … Rabbi Chaim Druckman, a Holocaust survivor and a leader of Israel’s religious Zionist movement, died at 90. 

 

What else we’re reading ➤  Josh Shapiro’s gubernatorial win in Pennsylvania was a high note against a 2022 surge in antisemitism … In first, Palestinian female soccer referee selected for Women’s World Cup contest … An afternoon with Shayna Maydele, possibly the most Jewish dog in New York.

ON THE CALENDAR

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Jewish Rockette Megan Levinson, far left, lit the menorah backstage before the Christmas Spectacular. (Getty)

On this day in history (1932): Radio City Music Hall opened its doors. Its annual “Christmas Spectacular,” featuring the Rockettes, was conceived by a gaggle of Jewish men – including the son of a Brooklyn rabbi. Leon Leonidoff, a producer and choreographer, presided over every stage show at Radio City until his retirement in 1974, including the short-lived “Kol Nidre” performance for the High Holidays. Read the secret Jewish history of the Rockettes ➤

 

Last year on this day, we asked a handful of people to predict what would be the top Jewish headlines of 2022. See if any of them came to fruition.

On the Hebrew calendar, it’s the third of Tevet, the yahrtzeit of Jacob Frank, who claimed to be the reincarnation of the false messiah, Shabbetai Zvi. Learn more about Frank in a new book by Rabbi Jay Michaelson, a Forward contributor.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

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(Getty)

About 100 Ukrainian refugees making aliyah arrived in Israel during Hanukkah. “Even while these newest Israelis have had lives defined by pain and suffering for almost the entire past year, it is inspiring to see how they are so filled with hope,” said Yael Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, one of the groups that helped organize the flight.

 

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Thanks to Matthew Litman and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter.

You can reach the “Forwarding” team at editorial@forward.com. 

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