David Peyman has been tapped as the U.S. State Department’s deputy special envoy to combat anti-Semitism in Eurasia. He will also serve as the lead on strategic projects, including the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Led by Elan Carr, the Office of the Special Envoy also includes Ellie Cohanim, deputy special envoy to combat anti-Semitism in the Middle East and Latin America, and assistant special envoy Efraim Cohen, who addresses anti-Semitism on the Internet and social media.
Olympics swimmer Dara Torres has been inducted into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame. In 2008, the oldest-ever Olympic swimmer at age 41 won two silver medals for 100-meter medley relay and 50-meter freestyle, breaking the American freestyle record she had set at the age of 15.
Torres competed in five Olympic Games, winning 12 medals and overtaking American swimmer Mark Spitz, who is also Jewish, with 11 Olympic medals. In her first Olympic Games in 1984, Torres won a gold medal for the 100-meter relay. She went on to compete in 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008, winning five medals in 2000, more than anyone else on her team. Over the course of her career, Torres won four gold, four silver, and four bronze medals at the Olympics.
Her memoir, Age Is Just A Number: Achieve Your Dreams At Any Stage In Your Life, was published in April 2009 and became one of the top-selling business books. Her second book, Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program, was published in May.
American-Israeli linguistics professor Wendy Sandler of the University of Haifa was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sandler, who earned her PhD in linguistics from the University of Texas-Austin in 1987, has most recently focused her work on the emergence of new sign languages, developing models of sign-language phonology (speech sounds) and prosody (patterns and rhythms of sound), according to The Jerusalem Post.
She is founding director of the Northern Israeli Institution’s sign language research lab, and has also authored or co-authored three books.
The Jewish billionaire philanthropist and founder of the website Craigslist gave $1 million grant to the anti-Defamation League to support its efforts to detect, expose and counter online hate speech. The two-year grant from Craig Newmark, 67, who has an estimated $1.3 billion net worth, will directly aid the work of the ADL’s Center on Technology and Society, including its initiative called Online Hate Index (OHI).
The OHI uncovers and identifies trends and patterns in hate speech across different online platforms, using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and human coders.
“We know that the pandemic has had an outsized impact on vulnerable minority groups, including Asian Americans and Jewish Americans who are now being blamed and scapegoated online for creating and spreading the coronavirus” said Newmark. “Now more than ever, it is vital to invest in innovative approaches to detect and stop hate speech from spreading online.”
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed his rival, Joe Biden, for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential nominee, less than a week after suspending his campaign and dropping out of the running, making the former U.S. vice president the presumptive nominee.
The move by Sanders on April 8 to end his second bid to become the first Jewish president came in the aftermath of losing most primaries following South Carolina on Feb. 29, when Biden won over Sanders by more than 28 percentage points.
Lizabeth Cohen, the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University, has won the Bancroft Prize in American history and diplomacy. The 2020 honor is for her book, Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age.
Cohen’s work, published in October by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, probes the life of Yale-educated lawyer Ed Logue, whose career as a city planner helped reshape and revive a number of declining American cities, including Boston, New Haven, and New York in the decades after WWII. This is Cohen’s second Bancroft Prize.
Bancroft winners are judged by the “scope, depth of research, and richness of interpretation they present,” according to a statement by Columbia University, which administers the prize, which includes an award of $10,000.
Mathematicians Hillel Furstenberg and Gregory Margulis share this year’s Abel Prize, the mathematics equivalent of a Nobel. Furstenberg, 84, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Margulis, 74, of Yale University, are retired professors.
The citation for the prize, awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, lauds the two mathematicians “for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics.” The two will split the award money of 7.5 million Norwegian kroner, or more than $700,000.
This year’s Abel winners were trailblazers. François Labourie, a mathematician at the University of Côte d’Azur in France who served on the Abel committee, said that most mathematicians in the middle of the 20th century did not think much of probability, which was at the bottom in the hierarchy of mathematics, below number theory, algebra and differential geometry. “But Dr. Furstenberg and Dr. Margulis found ways to show how its methods could solve abstract problems,” Dr. Labourie said. “They were some of the first persons to show that probabilistic methods are central to mathematics.”