More Roy Moore, Golden Globe noms, the Word of the Year and Happy Chanukah/Hanukkah

Port Authority Bus Terminal

Police and other first responders at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City after an explosion, Dec. 11, 2017. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

Attempted terrorist attack

The suspect in a pipe bomb attack on New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal said he was motivated by Israeli actions in Gaza, CNN reported. Akayed Ullah spoke with authorities at Bellevue Hospital, where he was taken after the bomb went off prematurely. He was among four people injured in the attack when his homemade bomb partially detonated in a tunnel connecting the Times Square subway station with the Midtown Manhattan transit hub during Monday’s morning rush hour. New York Police identified Ullah, 27, as a resident of Brooklyn. He is said to be of Bangladeshi origin and has lived in the United States for the past seven years. CNN cited a “law enforcement source” who said Ullah said he was upset with an unspecified “incursion into Gaza.” “He detonated the bomb, the explosive chemical in the bomb went off, it did not have the desired effect of causing the pipe itself to shatter, which would’ve caused the more significant damage,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on MSNBC.

Read more: N.Y. Port Authority Suspect Blames Bombing on Israeli Actions in Gaza


President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump and Jerusalem

More than 130 Jewish studies scholars from U.S. colleges and universities signed a statement expressing “dismay” at President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The statement criticizes Trump’s “decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. policy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and authorizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, outside of a negotiated political framework that ends the legal state of occupation and ensures respect for the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to Jerusalem.” The statement cites information from the left-wing Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which documents that “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem endure systematic inequalities, including an inequitable distribution of the city’s budget and municipal services, routine denial of building permits that are granted to Jewish residents, home demolitions, and legal confiscation of property for Jewish settlement. In addition, Palestinians in the West Bank, unlike Jewish Israeli residents in that territory, require a special permit to visit Jerusalem’s holy sites.” President Donald Trump in a speech Wednesday from the White House recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and directed the State Department to prepare for moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv. His decision upended seven decades of U.S. foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

Read more: Over 130 U.S. Jewish Studies Scholars Criticize Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

Kayla Moore

Kayla Moore at a campaign event for her husband Roy Moore in Fairhope, Ala., Dec. 5, 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Roy Moore’s wife and her Jewish lawyer

Roy Moore’s wife said she and her husband, who is running for the Senate in Alabama, could not be anti-Semitic because they employ a Jewish lawyer. “Fake news will tell you that we don’t care for Jews,” Kayla Moore, her husband standing behind her, said Monday night at Moore’s final campaign rally in Midland City. “I tell you all this because I’ve seen it all so I just want to set the record straight while they’re here.” She waved at the media and grinned. “One of our attorneys is a Jew.” She did not name the attorney. She continued, “We have very close friends that are Jewish and are rabbis and we also fellowship with them.” “Fellowship” used as a verb generally refers to Christians joining together; it’s not clear what Kayla Moore, who is a Baptist, meant in applying the term to encounters with Jews. She also did not make clear what she was referring to when she said the media portrayed her and her husband as not caring for Jews, but the candidate came under liberal fire last week for attacking liberal philanthropist and hedge fund manager George Soros as “not our American culture” and suggesting that Soros was headed for hell because he did not accept God’s salvation. Soros is Jewish. Moore, the Republican candidate in the Alabama Senate race who is favored by President Donald Trump, is in an unexpectedly tight race with Doug Jones, a former prosecutor who is the Democratic candidate, in the special election Tuesday.

Read more: Roy Moore’s wife on anti-Semitism charge: ‘One of our attorneys is a Jew.’

Anti-Semitic post

An image posted on the Facebook page of Rutgers University professor Michael Chikindas.
(Screenshot from Facebook)

Rutgers professor isolated

Rutgers University took steps to ensure that students and faculty do not have to work with a professor it investigated for anti-Semitic and racist social media posts, but did not fire him. In a letter sent to faculty Friday morning, University President Robert Barchi and Chancellor Debasish Dutta announced that professor Michael Chikindas, who is a tenured, will be removed from teaching required courses so that students will not have to study with him. Chikindas will also be ousted as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health, to allow employees to avoid working for him, Barchi and Dutta wrote, and he will be required to go through a cultural sensitivity program. The university is seeking further disciplinary action under its collective bargaining agreement with the faculty union, and if and when Chikindas returns to the classroom, he will be monitored, according to the letter. Barchi and Dutta wrote that Chikindas had been informed of the university’s decisions. They condemned the material he posted, saying it “perpetuated toxic stereotypes,” and voiced solidarity with “Jewish students, faculty and staff” who found it “deeply upsetting.” Chikindas was found earlier this fall to have posted to social media caricatures of hook-nosed Jews and accusations that Israel is committing genocide and is a “terrorist country.” He blamed the Armenian genocide on Jewish Turks and republished claims that American Jews and Israel were responsible for the 9/11 attacks, among other anti-Semitic claims. In an interview at the time, Chikindas rejected accusations of anti-Semitism, saying he was previously married to a Jewish woman and is one-quarter Jewish. He also said he does not believe any of his postings violate Facebook policies. In an email to the New Jersey 101.5 radio station, Chikindas had said that his page had been hacked and that his personal information was exposed. His Facebook account was later deleted. Some 3,200 students signed a petition calling for Chikindas’ suspension from the university, the student newspaper The Daily Targum reported. Rutgers, the biggest state university in New Jersey, has among the largest Jewish student populations of any U.S. university.

Read more: Rutgers Isolates, Doesn’t Fire Professor for Anti-Semitic Social Media Posts

Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Muslim CFO

The chief financial officer of New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage said he was pushed out of his position because he is Muslim. Mohad Athar filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court alleging that he received false poor performance reviews after new CEO Michael Glickman took the helm of the museum in 2016. He said Glickman also made racial slurs, the New York Post reported. “I am a Muslim. This is a Jewish institution. I never discussed my religion with anyone at the museum,” Athar told the Post in an article published Saturday. Athar had been the chief financial officer of the museum for seven years when Glickman was hired. The lawsuit said that Glickman immediately created a new financial position and hired one of his friends and required Athar to report to her, the Post reported. Glickman also said that Athar did not know how to process payroll, according to the lawsuit, something Athar said he has been doing for 21 years, 11 of them at the museum. The museum did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment. —JTA

'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

Rachel Brosnahan stars as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, the titular character in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” (Amazon Studios)

Golden Globe nominations

Golden Globes 2018 nominations were announced on Dec. 11 and there were several Jewish nominees. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” earned a Golden Globe nomination for best television series, musical or comedy. The Amazon Studios sitcom created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the Jewish writer who is best known for the early 2000s hit “Gilmore Girls,” follows a 1950s Jewish housewife who becomes a standup comedian. JTA said back in March that the show “makes the characters’ Jewishness an integral — but not overdone — part of their identities.” Steven Spielberg was nominated for best director for “The Post,” James Franco was nominated for best performance by an actor in a motion picture drama for “The Disaster Artist” and Aaron Sorkin was nominated for best screenplay for “Molly’s Game.”

See all the other Jewish nominees here.


Merriam-Webster Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “feminism.” The dictionary tweeted: “2017 saw both a sustained rise in ‘feminism’ lookups and a number of event-driven spikes.” According to Peter Sokolowski, the company’s editor-at-large, searches for the term “feminism” on the dictionary’s site increased 70 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, Mashable reported. They spiked after key events such as the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., and other U.S. and international cities in January; Kellyanne Conway’s interview in which she said she doesn’t consider herself a feminist; the release of Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the film “Wonder Woman”; the rise of the #MeToo movement, which was the basis behind Time magazine’s Person of the Year.  Merriam-Webster defines “feminism” as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Runners-up included: Complicit, empathy and gaffe.

Read more: ‘Feminism’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017


Latkes (Flickr Commons)

It’s Chanukah!

How do you pronounce Chanukah? Is there a correct spelling for the holiday? Why does Chanukah last eight days? And what’s with the dreidel and the presents? These are just some of the most frequently asked questions about the Festival of Lights, which starts this year on Dec. 12 and ends on Dec. 20. Here are the answers to those questions and more: Answering Some Age-Old, Oft-Asked Questions About Chanukah

Go to every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. to watch Need to Know with Editor-in-Chief Alan Feiler. Join the discussion on the week’s news and current events.