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.
Music played loudly while the men danced. On the women’s side of the mechitzah, we tried to speak over the sounds. I leaned over the table to hear what my co-worker’s wife was saying.
The main title of my new book, From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel, may raise a few eyebrows. To what “betrayal” am I referring? Surely neither anti-Semitism nor hostility to Israel can be seen as prerogatives of leftism; and if they do exist in some quarters of the Left, is that not an example of “legitimate criticism” of Israel, a country regularly pilloried in international forums as one of the last remaining bastions of Western colonialism?
For 15 years, Egyptian-Jewish businessman Refael Bigio has been battling a goliath corporate adversary, the Coca-Cola Company. Bigio charges that Coke has been profiting from his family’s stolen property just outside Cairo.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
Shavuos. How unremarkable a name for a Yom Tov that celebrates the very foundation of our existence. Actually, Shavuos is one of five names designated for this holiday, the others being Atzeres, Yom HaBikurim, Chag HaKatzir and Z’man Mattan Toraseinu.
Israel had no intention of capturing Jerusalem’s Old City when the Six-Day War began 45 years ago. Many of its government ministers, especially the religious ones, opposed the idea, warning that the world would never accept Jewish rule over Christianity’s holiest places. Although the army had numerous contingency plans regarding targets in the region, a plan for taking the Old City was not among them.
The victory of the Jewish idea is celebrated on Lag B'Omer. It fits neatly between Israeli Independence Day and Yom Yerushalayim. These three days are all driven by the same spirit: the liberation of Jewish peoplehood, the return to the land, and the reemergence of authentic Jewish culture.
Half a year after our marriage in 1997, my parents called and said they couldn’t attend the Agudath Israel of America convention and had extra tickets. Would my wife and I want to go in their place? We were newlyweds in every sense of the word and cherished the opportunity of a new experience. “Certainly,” we said and made the trek from Lakewood to Parsippany in the state of New Jersey.