President Bush’s legacy, Trump’s Chanukah message and Tim Cook’s Hebrew message

Police ID student banned from Goucher College for allegedly drawing racist graffiti

Baltimore County police have arrested a Goucher College student who they say drew swastikas and racist graffiti and wrote the names or dorm numbers of black students–including his own–in bathroom stalls on two different occasions this past month, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. The liberal arts college announced the latest vandalism incident on Nov. 29. It happened in a bathroom on the second floor of Jefferey House, one of four dorms included in the larger Heubeck Hall building. The tags made with permanent marker, which college administrators said included a backward swastika and “hateful, threatening, and racist graffiti, which was specifically anti-Black and anti-Latinx,” were found just before 2 a.m. Nov. 29, according to a letter signed by college president Jose Bowen, dean of students Bryan Coker, interim associate dean of students Nicole Johnson and public safety director David Heffer. Police said Nov. 30 that the graffiti also included “KKK” and the last names of four black students.

Read more: Police ID student arrested, banned from Goucher College for allegedly drawing swastikas, racist graffiti

Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art (Photo by Amanda Krotki, Jmore)

BMA announces historic gift

The BMA announced on Nov. 30 a major new biennial commission made possible by a historic endowment gift from local philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker. As the first named public art commission for a U.S. museum, the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission fosters the creation of new works by international contemporary artists, cultivates aspiring curators through a parallel fellowship, and activates the BMA’s East Lobby with publicly accessible art. A priority for the selection of both the artist and the curatorial fellow is to strengthen the diversity of the museum. Internationally renowned contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas was chosen for the inaugural commission, and applications for the first curatorial fellow will open in December.

Read more: Baltimore Museum of Art Announces Historic Gift

Towson Chabad

The Chabad of Towson center is set to be demolished, but its leadership and supporters are fighting back. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Towson Chabad house fight

For the past couple of years, a Chabad house near Towson University has been fighting with neighbors who say the center expanded its building illegally. Now, the battle is heating up after a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge recently affirmed an order to demolish the complex. The Chabad brought on high-profile Washington, D.C.,-based attorney Nathan Lewin, who has argued numerous religious liberty cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Lewin said the Chabad is exploring its next steps in fighting the demolition. Chabad of Towson opened in 2008 when Rabbi Mendy Rivkin and his wife, Sheiny, bought the property at 14 Aigburth Road in the Aigburth Manor neighborhood of southeast Towson. Members of their Chasidic outreach movement operate Chabad houses in cities around the world, offering Jewish programming and hosting people for Shabbat meals and religious services. Four years ago, the couple — who serve nearby residents and students at Towson University and Goucher College — decided they wanted to expand. In 2016, the $800,000 addition was built, tripling the building’s size from 2,200 to 6,614 square feet, according to Chabad. Their neighbors were not happy. In a lawsuit against the Chabad house, Robin and David Zoll, who live next door to the center, and others cited two separate issues with the Chabad house: They said the building was set too close to the curb and it breached residential zoning laws for a residence. In 2017, a judge ordered Chabad to tear down the addition. Chabad appealed, but the latest ruling reaffirmed that order.

Read more: Battle Heats Up Over Chabad Center in Towson

George H.W. Bush

George H.W. Bush addressing the Rally For Soviet Jewry in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 1987. (Robert A. Cumins)

George H. W. Bush’s complicated legacy

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died on Nov. 30 at age 94 at his home in Houston, grappled publicly with national Jewish leaders while his private interventions helped bring tens of thousands of Jews out of danger. Bush’s failed 1992 re-election bid marked a low point in relations between Republicans and the Jewish community. Bush scored just 11 percent of the Jewish vote in that contest, one-third of what he garnered four years earlier in his 1988 victory over Democratic rival Michael Dukakis. The Bush presidency was marked by tensions both with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and the American Jewish leadership. In 1991, Bush lashed out at pro-Israel activists who had flooded Congress in response to the president’s reluctance to approve loan guarantees requested by Israel to help absorb hundreds of thousands of Jews from the just-collapsed Soviet Union.

Read more: George H.W. Bush Leaves Behind A Mixed Legacy With the Jewish Community

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Trump’s Chanukah message

President Donald Trump remembered the Pittsburgh synagogue victims in his message for Chanukah and said “Light will always break through the darkness.” “Melania and I send our warmest greetings to our Jewish brothers and sisters in the United States, in Israel, and around the world celebrating Chanukah,” Trump said in the message released Dec. 2, hours before the first candle was lit in the United States. The holiday ends on Dec. 10. The president noted that the tradition of lighting the Chanukah menorah came after Jews were persecuted for practicing their faith. “Unfortunately, Jews today continue to face many different forms of violence, hatred, and bigotry around the globe. We remember all those from the Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha Congregation — whose lives were tragically taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this past October,” the statement said. “As one Nation, we pledge our continued love and support for the victims, their families, and the community, and we pray that the victims’ families find some measure of peace and comfort during this holiday season. “Over the coming days, may the warming glow of each candle on the menorah help fill homes and hearts with love and happiness. Together, we reaffirm the truth that light will always break through the darkness.” The White House had been scheduled to hold two Chanukah receptions on Dec. 5, but a national day of mourning for former president George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30, has been scheduled for that day. Federal government agencies and the New York Stock Exchange will be closed Dec. 5 in honor of Bush.

Read more: Trump’s Chanukah message pledges support for Pittsburgh synagogue victims

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the Anti-Defamation League’s Never Is Now summit in New York City, Dec. 3, 2018. (ADL)

Apple’s Tim Cook speaks Hebrew

Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated the company’s commitment to fighting hate and used a Hebrew phrase to do so. Cook invoked a phrase from Leviticus 19:16 in its original language on Dec. 3 at the Anti-Defamation League’s Never Is Now summit on anti-Semitism and hate. “‘Lo ta’amod al dam re’eikha.’ Do not be indifferent to the bloodshed of your fellow man,” Cook said after receiving the ADL’s Courage Against Hate Award. Cook, who is not Jewish, said in his address that the biblical mandate moves Apple to speak out on behalf of the rights of targeted groups, including immigrants and the LGBTQ community. “It moves us not to be bystanders as hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world,” he said. Cook has slammed President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies as “inhumane” and spoken publicly about being proud to be gay.

Read more: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks Hebrew in address at anti-Semitism conference


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