In the summer of 1993, shortly before I was to participate in an international conference on the concept of the hero in Jewish history, I began researching how Israeli society had perpetuated the memory of the Yishuv (Jewish community in pre-state Israel) parachutists from World War II.
Lo Signov - You Shall Not Steal. On the surface, it sounds quite uncomplicated. (Aren't even young children taught not to help themselves to something - anything - that is not theirs?) If we are honest with ourselves, however, we'd have to agree the myriad ways this commandment is breached render it less straightforward than the two simple words might at first glance imply.
Jews have been accused of harming and murdering of non-Jews since the 12th century in England, when the Jewish convert to Catholicism Theobald of Cambridge proclaimed that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.
Shame wells up in me as I thread my way through the cluster of young wives standing near my home, animatedly talking with one another as their children play at their feet. Four shopping bags dangle from one arm, five from another, and I shift them uncomfortably as I carry them from my car, practically bent over from their weight.
Thirty years ago - Friday evening, May 2, 1980 - in Hebron. Inside Me'arat HaMachpelah, the massive 2,000-year-old Herodian edifice above the tombs of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people, the Shabbat service had just concluded.
"There is a thin line between love and hate," the saying goes. Two opposite emotions, yet one can so easily transmute into the other.
Editor's Note: Monday, April 19 (5 Iyar), is Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. To mark the occasion, we've excerpted portions of an address by then-Israeli Ambassador Abba Eban to the UN General Assembly's Special Political Committee on November 17, 1958.
It was evident, in the years preceding World War II, that humanity had no desire to throw a saving rope to the drowning Jewish people.
Late last year, I was flying from Los Angeles to San Jose - a trip I have made many times in the course of my professional career. Over the years, I have watched the San Jose airport transform itself - from a one-building terminal with rental cars parked on the curb to an international airport with rental car facilities much larger than the entire airport I first visited many years ago.
A few months ago, football's New York Jets willingly accommodated Jewish fans by moving their home opener from the evening to the early afternoon of the same day. That evening - Yom Kippur - would have presumably found thousands of the Jets faithful in synagogue and not at the Meadowlands or glued to their television sets.
The city of Haifa is still recovering from the trauma of the summer of 2006, when it, along with the rest of northern Israel, was targeted by thousands of Katyusha rockets, fired from southern Lebanon by Hizbullah terrorists. Haifa has also been targeted by several suicide bombers who carried out mass murders against civilians in buses and restaurants.
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha scream the colorfully illustrated posters hanging in Jewish homes and synagogues all over the globe during the month of Adar, in literal affirmation of our escalating sense of joy.
It sounds like a contradiction in terms. An oxymoron. If only it were. Jewish anti-Semitism is a modern disease. The world is experiencing an explosion of it. Among the most malicious and venomous of all bigots, Jewish anti-Semites are at the forefront of just about every smear campaign against Israel and other Jews.
There are only a handful of mitzvot about which the Torah hints to their reward and even fewer about which we are told precisely what the reward will be. One of these is kibbud av va'em, honoring our parents, the fifth of the Ten Commandments given at Sinai.
I see him now in my mind's eye. He is sitting at his desk in his office at The Jewish Press, a Gemara open before him, other scholarly tomes on the side, engaged in what he loved best: learning Torah.
No Jews are as relentlessly reviled as the Jews of Hebron. Vilified as the pariahs of the Jewish people - "zealots," "fanatics" and "fundamentalists" who illegally "occupy" someone else's land - they are the militant Jewish settlers whom legions of critics in Israel, the United States and throughout the world love to hate. It is seldom noticed that their most serious transgression, settlement in the biblical Land of Israel, defines Zionism: the return of Jews to their historic homeland.
The term "Renaissance man" is used to describe a person who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's biography of his father, Rav Dr. Yoseph (Joseph) Tzvi Carlebach (1883-1942), provides fascinating information about the life of a man who deserves to be described as a Renaissance rabbi.
When the sons of Jacob went to Egypt for food they became victims of a cruel ruse. As we recently read in the weekly Torah portion, when the provisions the brothers had acquired were loaded on horse and wagon for the return trip to Canaan, the Egyptian viceroy's cup was stealthily planted into the sack of the youngest, Benjamin.
For all the undoubted statesmanship implicit in Arthur Balfour's Declaration of November 1917, promising "a National Home for the Jewish People," Britain has never been much more than a fair-weather friend to Jewish national aspirations.
On Rosh Hashanah it is a mitzvah to assume a bowed posture as we offer tearful prayer to God and beg for His mercy and forgiveness. We are hopeful that our humility and remorsefulness will earn us a favorable verdict, but should we, Heaven forbid, fall short, Hashem in His infinite kindness extends our time of teshuvah through the duration of Chanukah, when it is a mitzvah to light the Chanukah candles that give rise (literally) to the flames that shoot straight upward, in affirmation of our spiritual ascent.
Various types of fruit cross our doorstep during the course of the Jewish year. But for me, the symbol of Judaism is the apple. Not the Rosh Hashanah apple dipped in honey but the one I learned about from my father, which began a chain of events that became a lesson of faith during the darkness of the Nazi years.
Once upon a time, your bubbie would have cooked up her flavorful masterpieces by throwing in a pinch of this, a handful of that, recreating recipes passed down from her own bubbie, which she had learned at her mother's side.
Between 1920 and 1944 there were nearly fifty attempts on the life of Adolf Hitler. Many of the would-be assassins sacrificed their own lives as a result of their determination to free the world of one of history's worst monsters.
Editor's Note: On Nov. 26, 2008 - the Hebrew date was Cheshvan 29, which this year fell on Monday, Nov. 16 - Islamic terrorists went on a savage killing spree in Mumbai, India, murdering 179 people including Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg. The following tribute to the Holtzbergs was written by Rabbi Holtzberg's sister.
With the history of twentieth-century science and technology largely a saga of Jewish accomplishment, in retrospect it might seem foreordained that after World War II the rising Jewish nation in the Middle East would emerge not only as a financial power but also as a scientiﬁc and technological leader.