In the introduction to their recently published Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy hyperbolically describe American basketball between the world wars as a “majority-owned subsidiary of New York Jewish culture.”
In 1964 the eminent sociologist Marshall Sklare declared Orthodoxy to be irrelevant. His view was that Conservative Judaism was the wave of the future in America.
I’ve always wondered what factors determine whether one gets a z”l suffix (zichrono leverachah) or a zt”l (zecher tzaddik leverachah) after he’s passed on. I know of no objective standard, or of any official sanctioning board that makes these decisions. In my understanding, the term zt”l is exclusively reserved for luminaries who have benefited their generation with their exemplary deeds and accomplishments.
Whatever the state of world affairs or shift in political winds, one thing remains a constant in our lives: the quest for shidduchim. There is no family or individual among us who does not know at any given time of someone in search of his or her destined life partner; yet too often the hunt is fraught with complexities and accompanied by sleepless nights and a furrowed brow.
“Israel has bad public relations.” This is the perennial cry. “Israel must improve its image to convince the world of the justness of its cause.”
As Israeli air strikes and naval shells bombarded Gaza last week, the world asked the question that perennially frustrates, confuses and enrages so many people across the planet: Why aren’t the Americans hating on Israel more?
In the wake of the presidential election, American Jews must once again ask a fundamental question that seems to defy both societal trends and a clear resolution: why do Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, year after year, election after election?
As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.
The marriage is ending. Let’s start with some facts. In the general population, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce within 10 years. Sixty percent of divorces occur among couples between the ages of 25-39. More than a million children are affected by divorce per year. Half of these children will grow up in families where the parents stay angry and resentful toward each other.
An incumbent American president who is perceived by many to be indifferent or even hostile to Israel, who makes opposition to Israeli settlements a centerpiece of his Mideast policy, and who seems to share a mutual dislike with the Israeli prime minister faces a tough reelection challenge from an opponent vowing to heal the breach.
Despite public surveys that show the general public largely opposed to negative campaigning, the overwhelming majority of candidates in contested races have refined this strategy almost to an art form.
Seven years ago, I was approached by a group of friends with an unexpected request. Would I be interested in running for trustee of my local public school district?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently continued a long tradition of attempting to question a Jewish link to Jerusalem by expressing his mendacious notion that “Jerusalem’s identity is Arab, and the city’s and Christian holy sites must be protected from Israeli threats.”
Sukkos comes to us as a beautifully wrapped gift from Hashem, right when we can use some pampering. Having just completed an exhaustive round of appeals to our Father in heaven to forgive our iniquities and grant us yet another chance to prove ourselves worthy of His beneficence and mercy, we emerge as newborns – clean and pure and free of the stain of sin.
Let’s face it: this is not going to be an ordinary year. We are praying very seriously this year because we are praying for our lives. Yes, I know: every year we pray for our lives. But how many feel it? This year, whether we want to or not, I think we are beginning to feel it.
One cold December evening, I walked into my father’s book-lined study to light the Chanukah candles, which were placed beside the window that overlooked a high street in North London.
Bob Weintraub chuckled appreciatively the first time he heard that Barack Obama described his job before he went into politics as “community organizer.” Bob knows a thing or two about community organizing: during the late 1940s, he helped organize a series of remarkable grassroots election campaigns in New York City that sent a powerful warning to President Harry Truman about the Jewish community’s unhappiness over his administration’s waffling on Zionism.
Earlier this month the London Games were all the rage. Tens of thousands descended upon Great Britain’s crown jewel to witness the Olympics and cheer for their respective countrymen.
It’s important to acknowledge this right from the beginning: I love Batman. In fact, no one loves him more than I do. He and I have a history that goes back over four decades.
A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.
To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land. The Jewish people persisted through one of the most monstrous crimes in human history, and now this nation has come to take its place among the most impressive democracies on earth. Israel’s achievements are a wonder of the modern world.
While the Supreme Court recently invalidated the Stolen Valor Act, which imposed criminal penalties on Americans who falsely claim medals for combat bravery, prominent Democrats – including Jesse Jackson, Charles Rangel, Robert Morgenthau and Eric Holder – have repeatedly distorted World War II and Holocaust history for purposes of ethnic politics.
He was having trouble getting up from the platform and into the cattle car. After all, he was only twelve years old and there was no ramp leading inside. An SS thug saw him “dawdling” in front of the car and aimed a boot at the boy’s posterior. The boy jumped out of the way just in time and the SS man fell to his face from the violence of his own kick.
“Let me be honest with you,” the rosh yeshiva began. It was not a good sign. I was sitting for a farher, an entrance interview, with the rosh yeshiva of a well-known yeshiva in Jerusalem, and it was about to go very badly. I was, to be fair, a very unusual applicant. I had just graduated from law school. My classmates and friends were headed off to prestigious clerkships or to seek their fortunes. I had other plans. My secular learning had now outpaced my Torah learning, and it was time, I believed, to catch up.
We all know we have to take the Three Weeks seriously. But at the same time we all just want the time between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av to pass already.