News Sparks: HaRav David Lau Lights First Candle in Kosel Menorah, Biden Hosts Chanukah Party; UK Bans Hamas; and More
by Yehudit Garmaise
HaRav David Lau, shlita, Lights the First Candle in the Kosel Menorah
HaRav David Lau, who is the chief rabbi of Israel, HaRav Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rav of the Kosel and Mekomos HaKedoshim, and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz came together to light the first Chanukah candle in the menorah in the Kosel Plaza.
The menorah, which weighs one ton and is 6-feet wide and 6-feet tall, took seven months to be constructed.
On Wednesday, workers in Yerushaylim installed the large menorah in the Kosel plaza.
Every night of Chanukah, rabbanim and public figures will light the candles during hadlakahs.
President Joe Biden to Host Chanukah Party on Wednesday Night
President Joe Biden sent out invitations last week for a Chanukah party he will be hosting on Wednesday, the fourth night of Chanukah, after a menorah lighting takes place at the White House.
Former President George W. Bush initiated the White House Chanukah Party tradition in 2001, when he and First Lady Laura Bush hosted the first one.
Last year, however, when former President Donald Trump invited many Orthodox Jews to celebrate Chanukah, the normally bipartisan meet-and-mingle event became politically polarized in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
UK Officially Bans Hamas as a Terrorist Group
Britain, which officially named Hamas as an Islamist terrorist group on Friday, warned that the violent group’s members and supporters could face up to 14 years in jail.
“The Islamist terrorist group Hamas, which commits, participates in, prepares for, and promotes and encourages terrorism, has today become a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK in its entirety following parliament’s approval,” London’s Home Office said last week.
Hamas, which was founded in 1987 and wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, calls for, in its charter, the obliteration of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in its place.
Hamas responded by calling the UK’s move “a crime against our Palestinian people and all their history of struggle,” however, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Benefit has praised the UK’s statement, and tweeted, “Hamas is a terror organization, plain and simple.
“This is an important and significant decision that gives British security bodies additional tools to prevent the continued buildup of the Hamas terror organization, including in Britain,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who thanked UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who added, “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic.”
Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi Declines Adams’ Offer to Serve as his Deputy Mayor
After considering Mayor-elect Eric Adam’s advance to his longtime political ally US Rep Tom Suozzi to serve as New York City’s deputy mayor, the Long Island congressman declined the offer, a move that further fueled speculation that he plans to run for governor.
“After discussing it with my family, I believe the best way for me to help him and NYC is in elected office,” tweeted Rep. Suozzi. “I will announce my plans for the future in the coming days. [Thank you] Eric!
“I will do everything I can to help my friend Mayor-elect @ericadamsfornyc & the people of NYC succeed.
Law Professor Zephyr Teachout Announces Bid for NY Attorney General
Zephyr Teachout, who is an associate professor of law at Fordham University and has long held political aspirations, has announced that she is running for attorney general.
“The attorney general’s office is the largest public interest law firm in the country. And We have a real opportunity and responsibility to hold power accountable and get things done for people,” said Teachout, who in 2018, won 31% of the vote against current AG Letitia James.
In 2016, Teachout won the Democratic primary as a candidate for the 19th Congressional district of the US House of Representative before losing to Republican John Faso.
Prior to that election, in 2014, Teachout ran for governor and garnered 34% of the vote in the Democratic Primary against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Queens Assembly member Clyde Vanel has also declared his candidacy for NY attorney general.
Other candidates who are considering jumping into the AG race are: Deputy State Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris of Queens, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Photo by Flicker / by Sima Shimansky