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New Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris says buying NFL team was ‘bashert’

(JTA) — Josh Harris already owned parts of professional sports teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL and the English Premier League.

But when the opportunity arose to purchase his hometown Washington Commanders, the Chevy Chase, Maryland, native said it was “bashert,” using the Yiddish word for fate.

Harris, a co-founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which manages over $500 billion in assets globally, bought the Commanders earlier this year from embattled Jewish owner Daniel Snyder for $6.05 billion — a record for a North American sports franchise. The sale was approved by the NFL last week. Snyder, who is under multiple investigations over sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture allegations, was fined $60 million as part of the sale.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer published on Monday, Harris opened up about the experience of buying the Commanders.

“NFL teams come up once in a generation,” Harris said. “So it really got real for me when the process was announced. I’m a man of faith, I’m Jewish, and I would call this bashert. The fact that I was able to end up owning, being part of and stewarding for this city, my hometown franchise, in the NFL, is something I never could’ve imagined in my wildest dreams. I’m humbled. It’s like I’m on some greater mission that I don’t understand.”

Harris, whose net worth is estimated at $6 billion, is also a co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. He is also a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a general partner of the Crystal Palace Premier League soccer club in Great Britain.

Harris has supported charitable efforts in Israel, including a project that focused on integrating Ethiopian immigrants to Israel through sports, and a more recent effort to combat socioeconomic inequality in Israel through youth sports in underprivileged areas.

In addition to Harris, the investment group buying the Commanders includes Jewish businessman Mitchell Rales, whose parents are the namesakes of the Ruth & Normal Rales Jewish Family Services in Boca Raton, Florida. NBA legend Magic Johnson, who is part of the ownership groups of the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, is also involved.

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Israelis on Edge as Iranian Threat to Attack Looms

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses a Hamas solidarity rally in Tehran. Photo: Reuters/Sobhan Farajvan

Israelis nationwide are preparing for an imminent attack by Iran and wider escalation in the north with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization based in Lebanon.

While much attention has been focused on the Israeli government’s actions to brace for a military strike, regular families are in many cases being forced to alter their plans due to fear of an attack.

Israeli youth movements, for example, are weighing the possibility of calling off their annual Passover trips. Many parents have already cancelled their trips for the upcoming Jewish holiday later this month as they continue to monitor the situation, according to some groups.

“All activities and trips in the Bnei Akiva movement take place according to the guidelines and with the approval of the Ministry of Education, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], and the security forces in the State of Israel,” said Bnei Akiva, one of the largest youth movements in Israel with more than 80,000 total campers.

“Over 30,000 campers will go on a Passover trip next week,” the group noted. “At the same time, we understand parents who are more worried these days, and because of this we have decided that this year the Passover trip will take place only one day without overnight accommodation.”

The Hebrew Scouts, the largest youth movement in Israel with over 100,000 kids, is also taking precautions and ready to change plans if needed.

“Tens of thousands of campers and guides of the Scout movement have signed up for the trips in the coming weeks. Since we learned of the situation that has arisen, the movement is acting responsibly as it has always acted in full coordination with all the relevant parties, including the IDF,” the group said. “The movement is prepared accordingly and will make all the necessary adjustments according to the instructions of the authorized parties.”

Youth movements in Israel are extraordinarily popular, with around 250,000 youth active across the country. Many have credited the skills learned in the movements to Israel’s excellence in areas such as military operations and hi-tech innovation.

The concern among Israeli parents and youth groups comes as Israel prepares for a potential attack from Iran, whose leaders routinely call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Top Iranian officials have been publicly threatening to attack Israel as revenge for an airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria last week that Iranian officials have attributed to Israel. The strike killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist organization, including two senior commanders. One of the commanders allegedly helped plan the Hamas terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the incident. However, Israel has been bracing for a retaliatory strike amid a flurry of public threats from Iran to attack Israel.

The White House said this week that it considered the Iranian threats of reprisals to be legitimate. “We still deem the potential threat by Iran here to be real, to be viable,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Due to the threat, the US Embassy in Israel announced it is restricting government employees and their families from personal travels outside the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Iran could launch an attack on Israeli soil within the next 24 to 48 hours, quoting a US official who cited American intelligence reports.

Israeli officials have said they are prepared to respond to an attack — warning that such a response could target Iran directly.

“We are prepared to defend ourselves on the ground and in the air, in close cooperation with our partners, and we will know how to respond,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said after a meeting with the head of US Central Command, General Michael Kurilla.

On Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote on X/Twitter that “if Iran attacks from its own territory, Israel will respond and attack in Iran.”

Less than an hour later, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted what appeared to be a response to Katz. “When the Zionist regime attacks an Iranian consulate in Syria, it is as if it has attacked Iranian soil,” he wrote. “That malicious regime has made a wrong move. It should be punished, and it will be punished.”

Countries including India, France, Russia, and Poland have warned their citizens against travel to the region, which is already on edge over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which began with the Palestinian terrorist group’s Oct. 7 invasion of the Jewish state. Iran provides Hamas with weapons, funding, and training.

Despite the expected attack, Israeli officials have not forbidden travel to the Galilee area in northern Israel, where an Iranian attack could reportedly take place.

“Currently, as far as the Home Front Command is concerned, there is no crowd restriction in the area of Tiberias and the shores of the Sea of Galilee, but there is no doubt that an aircraft or a missile that penetrates this space constitutes a threat to us and a big challenge,” Commander Yigal Ben Lulu of the Tiberias Police said on Friday morning. “In such a situation, you must lie down on the ground and put your hands on your head.”

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‘The Nazis Did Not Win!’: 100-Year-Old Auschwitz Survivor Becomes Great-Great-Grandmother

Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert. Photo: Matti Zoman

Lily Ebert, an author and a survivor of the Nazis’ Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, became a great-great-grandmother this week at the age of 100.

Ebert’s great-grandson, Dov Forman, announced on X/Twitter the birth of a baby boy in the family, which he said marks “five generations of Jewish life” for Ebert. He also posted photos of Ebert holding her new great-great-grandchild.

“I never expected to survive the Holocaust. Now I have five beautiful generations,” said Ebert, who turned 100 on Dec. 29. “The Nazis did not win!”

— Dov Forman (@DovForman) April 11, 2024

Ebert is a native of Bonyhád, Hungary, and now lives in London. In 2020, Ebert began posting videos on TikTok, with help from Forman, to teach social media users about the Holocaust. Her account, which her great-grandson helps run, currently has 2 million followers.

In 2022, Forman and Ebert co-wrote a memoir about her life titled Lily’s Promise and it became a New York Times bestseller. The memoir includes a foreword by King Charles, who recognized Ebert as a Member of the Order of the British Empire last year for her contributions to Holocaust education.

Ebert was 20 when she was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp with her mother Nina, one of her brothers, Bela, and three sisters — Berta, Renee, and Piri. Upon their arrival, Ebert’s mother, brother, and sister Berta were immediately sent to the gas chambers and killed. Ebert and her remaining sisters were later transported to a munitions factory near Leipzig, Germany, where they worked until they were liberated by Allied forces in 1945. The sisters reunited with their eldest brother, who had also survived the Holocaust, in 1953 and together the siblings relocated to Israel. Ebert and her husband moved to London with their three children in 1967.

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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opens Permanent Exhibit About Jewish Founders of Hollywood

From left: Sam Warner, Harry M. Warner, Jack L. Warner, and Albert Warner, undated. Photo: Courtesy Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is set next month to debut its first permanent exhibition, which will examine the start of the American studio film industry in the early 20th century in Los Angeles and the impact predominately Jewish filmmakers had on turning the California city into “a global epicenter of cinema,” the museum announced on Thursday.

Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital will open on May 19 in the LAIKA Gallery of the museum, which is located in Los Angeles. “It details how the American movie industry — built predominately by Jewish immigrants — transformed Los Angeles into the mythological concept of ‘Hollywood’ that prevails today, as well as the complex legacy that the studio system leaves behind,” the museum explained.

“The American film industry began developing amid an influx of immigration to the United States by Jewish émigrés escaping European pogroms and poverty,” said Dara Jaffe, the exhibit’s associate curator. “Most of Hollywood’s founders were among this wave of Jewish immigrants and recognized that the infant movie business presented an opportunity to raise their marginalized status in an industry that didn’t enforce the same antisemitic barriers as many other professions. Hollywoodland also posits the question: how and why did Los Angeles bloom into a world-renowned cinema capital? The goal of our exhibition is to show the inextricable dovetailing of these histories.”

The exhibition is divided into three sections that visitors can view in any order. “Studio Origins” explores the founding of Hollywood’s original eight “major” film studios, which are often referred to as “the majors” — Universal, Fox (later Twentieth Century-Fox), Paramount, United Artists, Warner Bros., Columbia, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and RKO — and their studio heads.

The section of the exhibit titled “Los Angeles: From Film Frontier to Industry Town, 1902–1929” follows the evolution and advancement of the movie industry in Los Angeles. A third section — “From the Shtetl to the Studio: The Jewish Story of Hollywood” — features an original short documentary that “delves into the nuances of Hollywood’s Jewish history, exploring how the shared backgrounds of the industry founders weave together a complex immigrant story characterized by both oppression and innovation.”

The documentary further “examines how antisemitism shaped the founders’ trajectories throughout their careers and how their projected vision of an immigrant’s American Dream came to define America itself on movie screens around the world.”

Academy Museum Director and President Jacqueline Stewart said the stories shared in Hollywoodland “bring the intertwined histories of Los Angeles and the Hollywood studio system to life and resonate with stories of immigrants from around the world.”

The exhibition’s opening day will feature a conversation with Jaffe and book signing with Neal Gabler, a film critic who advised on the exhibit and wrote An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.

The Academy Museum is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to the arts, sciences, and artists of filmmaking.

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