(New York Jewish Week) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams missed one appointment to eat Israeli food Thursday night. He’ll have another chance next week when he travels to Israel for the first time since taking office last year.
Adams was a no-show Thursday at the grand opening of Shawarma Shabazi, a new kosher restaurant serving Israeli street food on the Upper West Side that’s named for an iconic street in Tel Aviv. His senior Jewish liaison, Moshe Davis, was on hand instead for the ribbon-cutting that was held the same day that Adams’ office announced his three-day trip to Israel.
Sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the trip will include visits to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. (UJA is a funder of 70 Faces Media, New York Jewish Week’s parent company.) Adams “will meet with local and national leaders, learn about Israeli technology, and discuss combined efforts to combat antisemitism,” a statement from the mayor’s office said. The visit will also “showcase innovative programs and initiatives supported by the New York Jewish community.”
The statement from Adams’ office did not include further details about who Adams will meet or what other cities he will visit, if any. But some Israeli media reports suggested that could meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been kept at arm’s length by other officials from the United States because of his government’s push to sap the power of Israel’s judiciary. Neither Adams’ office nor Netanyahu’s responded to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s questions.
Responding to the announcement of the trip, a Jewish progressive group in New York City urged Adams to use the opportunity to lobby against Netanyahu’s judiciary changes.
The New York Jewish Agenda “encourages the mayor to take time on this trip to meet with pro-democracy leaders, and hopes that he’ll represent the majority of New Yorkers who are deeply concerned about the anti-democratic actions of this government.” its executive director, Phylisa Wisdom, said in a statement.
“As the mayor spends time learning about Israeli technological advancements and work to end antisemitism around the globe, so too should he engage with the pro-democracy movement that so many New Yorkers support,” Wisdom added.
Another progressive group condemned the trip altogether. Jews for Racial and Economic Justice tweeted Thursday afternoon, “We can think of only 2 reasons @NYCMayor might find it appropriate to visit Israel right now: either he is unaware the current government represents the most extremist & racist coalition in the nation’s history … or he finds it acceptable to signal support for such leadership.”
While this will be Adams’ first trip to Israel as mayor, he has visited before, most recently as Brooklyn borough president in 2016, when he led a delegation of law enforcement officials focused on public safety partnerships between the United States and Israel.
Adams met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog when Herzog visited New York late last month and called him a “steadfast friend of our city.”
“I want to be clear that New York City and Israel share an unbreakable bond,” Adams said in a statement after the visit.
Adams frequently uses Israel as a reference point in praising New York City, telling Mishpacha Magazine in 2021 that “Brooklyn is the Tel Aviv of America.” He made the same analogy for the entire city during Herzog’s visit.
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“I love the people of Israel, the food, the culture, the dance, everything about Israel,” he told Mishpacha. He even said he wanted to one day retire in Israel – possibly in the Golan Heights.