News Briefs: Israeli Organization Offers Assistance on California Wildfires, William Goldman Dies and More


Mural Remembering Pittsburgh Victims Vandalized With Swastika at Duke University

A mural at Duke University honoring the 11 victims of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue shooting was found vandalized Nov. 18 with a swastika, reported.

University officials and campus organizations condemned the act.

“That such a craven and cowardly act of vandalism — a desecration of a memorial to individuals who were killed because they were Jewish and practicing their faith — should happen anywhere is extremely distressing,” Duke President Vincent Price wrote in a letter to the school community.

“The people who committed these acts did so in order to spread hate and to make Jewish students feel unwelcome and unsafe on campus,” said Rabbi Nossen Fellig, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center.

Earlier in November, a swastika-carved pumpkin was found near a campus dormitory, and flyers with the words “it’s okay to be white” were found.

Florida to Have Jewish Governor for Five Days

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera will become the state’s first Jewish governor — for five days — when he fills in for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who will be sworn into the Senate on Jan. 3, reported.

Lopez-Cantera, who also will become the state’s first Cuban-American governor, will serve until fellow Republican Ron DeSantis is sworn in on Jan. 8.

DeSantis, a former congressman, won a closely contested race against Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“Now, you may not have known this from my name, Lopez-Cantera, but I’m Jewish,” he said at a ceremonial signing of Florida’s anti-BDS bill in 2016. “My father came from Cuba, but he married a nice Jewish girl in Miami, and I followed suit and married a nice Jewish girl in Miami as well. … We keep a Jewish household and are raising our daughters Jewish.”

Lopez-Cantera had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Western Wall in 2016.

Israeli Organization Offers to Help California Recover From Deadly and Destructive Wildfires

Keren Kayemet L’Israel-Jewish National Fund, an Israeli environmental organization, has offered to help the U.S. Forest Service with recovery efforts related to the California wildfires, JTA reported.

JNF said the organizations have worked together for 30 years.

“We have been following the situation with the horrific wildfires in California, including the unprecedented destruction of communities and the devastation to surrounding forests … and want to express our solidarity, encouragement and support and offer our assistance if there’s anything we can do to help,” KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.

In 2006 and 2010, the Forest Service helped KKL-JNF battle forest fires in Northern Israel.

Jewish Novelist, Screenwriter William Goldman Dies

William Goldman, who won screenwriting Oscars for All the President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, died Nov. 15, JTA reported. He was 87.

He started his career as a novelist — writing Marathon Man and The Princess Bride, among others — and later became a script writer. Those novels were adapted into movie scripts and became box-office hits, as did adaptions of Misery and The Stepford Wives. l


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