Under normal circumstances, the lifting of Jonathan Pollard’s parole on November 21 would have resulted in much celebration among Jews who spent the last 35 years engaging in the mitzvah of Pidyon Sh’vuyim on his behalf. One could imagine the packed seats in Five Towns when Rabbi Kenneth Hain of Congregation Beth Sholom and Rabbi Yaakov Trump of the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst hosted Eliot Lauer, who has been the attorney for Pollard for the past 20 years. Under the conditions of the pandemic, the two rabbis hosted Lauer on Zoom in a public lecture this past Sunday.

The annual event that provides spiritual inspiration for Chabad rabbis across the world for the coming year usually gathers thousands of them in hangar-sized meeting venues with world-renowned keynote speakers followed by a farbrengen, breakout sessions, and visits to Crown Heights and the Rebbe’s Ohel. This year’s Kinus HaShluchim, held this week, had more people in attendance than any of its previous conventions, on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the election earlier this month, there were many positions on the ballot, including a line for judge to the Queens Supreme Court, where a familiar last name appeared: Lancman. But this time, it was Mojgan Cohanim Lancman, who was elected to the bench, making her the first Persian Jew in this position. “In New York, the Supreme Court is a trial court, with two appellate levels after it. It is a court of general jurisdiction, and it hears all kinds of matters,” she said.

This past Saturday, November 14, the Democratic Socialists of America, via Zoom, endorsed six candidates for New York City Council seats in a daring bid to take over New York City. The NYC-DSA is a leading political force in both New York City and New York State politics. All five candidates on their New York State legislative slate won their respective races earlier this month. Jabari Brisport in the New York State Senate, and Phara Souffrant Forrest, Marcela Mitaynes, Zohran Mamdani, and Emily Gallagher in the New York State Assembly.