Mike Pence in Israel, Sandy Hook 5 years later and Salma Hayek’s ‘monster’

Pence visit to Israel postponed 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel has been postponed by several days so that he can stay in Washington to promote the Trump administration’s tax reforms in Congress, according to Israel reports. The final vote on tax reform in the Senate is scheduled for Tuesday, and Pence has been intimately involved in shepherding the legislation through the Senate, according to Axios. Pence had been scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials and also was scheduled to speak to the Knesset and light the Hanukkah menorah at the Western Wall, before traveling to Egypt. He will be meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin separately at their offices in Jerusalem during his Israel visit. Earlier this week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Pence due to President Donald Trump’s announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Under a revised but not final schedule, according to reports in the Israeli media, Pence will arrive in Israel Wednesday evening from Egypt, and speak at the Knesset on Thursday. His visit also reportedly includes stops at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the Western Wall. Since he is no longer meeting with Abbas, the visit to Bethlehem reportedly has been removed from the schedule. Bethlehem has said it would not accept a visit from Pence, Haaretz reported. Pence, who is a devout Christian, reportedly does not have any churches on his schedule during his visit to Israel.—JTA

Sandy Hook 5 years later

CNN writes: “It remains among America’s most heinous nightmares: the lives of 20 little children — dancers and swimmers, pianists and painters, budding readers, little sisters and big brothers — extinguished in a flash of violence inside Sandy Hook Elementary. Taken with them on that chilly Friday in December — just 11 days before Christmas — were six adults felled by the same gunman as they refused to abandon their sacred trust to safeguard the smallest among them. Five years later, even those who have never set foot near Newtown, Conn., can conjure the scene painted by police of a first-grade classroom transformed into a killing field. Can see the faces of anguished parents desperate for proof of life, then later, tiny caskets overloaded with stuffed animals never to be named.”

See: 5 years after Sandy Hook, the victims have not been forgotten

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 12, 2017. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Salma Hayek’s ‘monster’

In an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Dec. 12, actress Salma Hayek writes: “Harvey Weinstein was a passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster. For years, he was my monster. … I had brainwashed myself into thinking that it was over and that I had survived; I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference. In reality, I was trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones: Why, when I had casually mentioned that I had been bullied like many others by Harvey, I had excluded a couple of details. And why, for so many years, we have been cordial to a man who hurt me so deeply. I had been proud of my capacity for forgiveness, but the mere fact that I was ashamed to describe the details of what I had forgiven made me wonder if that chapter of my life had really been resolved.”

Read Hayek’s article.

Nevermind on the Mazel Tov

A flagship liberal Orthodox synagogue in New York will stop congratulating same-sex couples on their weddings following a complaint by the Orthodox Union. The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx will no longer announce the weddings of its LGBT members in its newsletters in accordance with a policy dictated by the O.U., the largest association of Orthodox synagogues in the United States. The policy was set out this month in response to complaints from other member synagogues, which take a harder line on opposing same-sex marriage. Orthodox Jewish law, or halacha, prohibits same-sex marriage, and Orthodox rabbis are not permitted to officiate at same-sex weddings. The Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements permit same-sex marriage. The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, which has long served as a leader in pushing the bounds of traditional Jewish law to include women and LGBT Jews, has been friendlier to same-sex couples. It counts same-sex couples among its members and last year hosted a panel on LGBT Jews in Orthodoxy called “Building a Jewish Future Outside the Closet.” Its founding rabbi, Avi Weiss, was one of the signatories of a landmark 2010 statement of principles by Orthodox leaders affirming the need to “treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.”

Read more:  Liberal Orthodox synagogue will not announce LGBT weddings following complaint

New Jewish museum in Italy

The National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah, MEIS, opened Wednesday with an inaugural temporary exhibit called “Jews, an Italian Story: The First Thousand Years” that illustrates the history of Jewish presence in Italy from ancient Roman times until the Middle Ages. The exhibit, which will run until Sept. 16, 2018, is the first step in a multi-year program of exhibits and events that will culminate in the final form of the museum and its permanent core exhibit, expected in late 2020. MEIS is located in a complex of buildings that once housed a prison in Ferrara, a historic town in northeast Italy between Venice and Bologna that has a Jewish history dating back to early medieval times. Italian President Sergio Mattarella and other dignitaries attended the formal inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, including Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who is from Ferrara and has been a longtime supporter of the project. The Museum has been under development since 2003, when Parliament passed a law mandating its establishment. Construction to date has been fully funded by the state, which has allocated about $55 million. Further funding is now being sought to cover operations. So far, two buildings in the former prison complex have undergone reconstruction, and over the next three years modern structures inspired by the Torah and resembling giant, transparent books will be added to house the core exhibition, which is still in the early stages of development.–JTA

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