News Briefs, the Week of March 23, 2017


Jake Tapper Awarded for ‘Relentlessness’

CNN’s Jake Tapper, who was raised in Queen Village and educated at Akiba Hebrew Academy (now Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy), won the 2017 Walter Cronkite Award.

The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California gives the award biannually for excellence in TV political journalism.

Tapper, who has emerged as a frequent critic of President Trump, was cited for being “relentless” and for his “tenacious commitment to sorting fact from fiction, a quality essential to journalism.”

Jewish Organizations Call for Awarenessof Food Insecurity on Campus

Both Challah for Hunger and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger responded to research from the Wisconsin HOPE Lab that reported that two-thirds of community college students experience food insecurity.

Challah for Hunger, which is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, called on Congress to address the issue.

“As an organization that works directly with college students to address hunger nationally and locally, we believe that no one should have to sacrifice food for an education,” said the Challah for Hunger letter to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the head of the Government Accountability Office.

In addition, Los Angeles-based MAZON called for holistic solutions.

“The vast and pervasive nature of college hunger exists at a scope and scale that requires an approach that is broader than charity and food pantries alone can provide,“ MAZON President and CEO Abby J. Leibman said in a statement. “In the short term, food assistance is vital. But we must create policy solutions that effectively address not only the symptoms of food insecurity among college students, but also the causes that allow these circumstances to persist.”

Latke-Hamantash Debate Debuts at Penn

The humorous Latke-Hamantash Debate debuted March 20 at the Chabad House at the University of Pennsylvania.

The debate was first held at the University of Chicago in 1946 and has been held annually at universities across the United States as academics debate whether the hamantash, a food associated with Purim, is better than the latke, of Chanukah fame.

At the first-ever Penn debate, Ian Lustick, a political science professor and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued for the latke, while Professor Theodore Ruger, the dean of Penn’s law school, argued for the hamantash.

Florida Girl PaintsRocks for Vandalized Mount Carmel Cemetery Tombstones

Six-year-old Parkland, Fla., resident Ayel Morgenstern painted several hundred rocks to be placed on vandalized tombstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia, as well as in vandalized cemeteries in St. Louis and Rochester, N.Y., the SunSentinel reported.

About 150 of those painted rocks were sent to Mount Carmel.

“I hope the rocks will uplift families whose family members were affected,” Ayel told the SunSentinel.

Ayel’s great-great grandmother, Rebecca Pearl, is buried in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, the desecrated St. Louis cemetery, and apparently her gravestone was knocked down.

Civil Discourse Forum Discontinued

The Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project, which was held annually at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park around the time of Passover, is being discontinued after four years.

While the organization will continue to raise awareness of key issues of concern through social media, it won’t hold a forum to explore sensitive topics.

The initial forum in 2013 explored national health care, with subsequent forums examining fracking, the funding of politics and gun control.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” said Dina Wolfman Baker, who organized the project in memory of her former University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University law professor father. “The forums provided a real value, but with the changes I see in the country, it’s more important to share information on civil discourse and improvements on developing public policy through social media. We need to reach out to the public on a broader scale.”

Baker did not rule out holding additional forums in the future.


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