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Rafi Peretz. Photo: Getty

Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz is backing off his characterization of intermarriage by Jewish people in the U.S. as a "second Holocaust." In a letter, Peretz asked Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, to convey his regret to Jewish communities around the world.

Why it matters: Peretz's remarks came during an Israeli Cabinet meeting and sparked a wave of condemnations from Jewish organizations in the U.S. after they were reported by Axios. Peretz had claimed that due to intermarriages over the last 70 years, Judaism "lost 6 million people."

  • Peretz, an ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist politician, came under more criticism this week after expressing support for "conversion therapy" for gay men.

Peretz sent the letter in response to a request from Herzog and the Jewish Agency — the umbrella organization for Jewish organizations worldwide — that he clarify his remarks. The letter was translated into English and will be circulated to the leaders of many Jewish organizations in America.

He wrote: "Out of great anxiety to the fate of the Jewish people I used the word Holocaust — a term which was meant to describe the depth of my pain and might have been inappropriate. I had no intention to offend any Jew in the diaspora. I want to stress that I respect the entire Jewish people in Israel and in the diaspora."

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day One immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

10 hours ago - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucusColorado Governor and partner test positive.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday as crisis engulfs league, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.