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.