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Once the eating was over, the host would briefly discuss the week’s Torah portion. Professor Zlotnick would then shift the agenda to politics – not politics in a generic sense, but more specifically the past week’s events as they related to the well-being of the Jewish people, particularly in Israel.
Professor Zlotnick followed the news closely. He saw news through an ideological prism – Jewish survival depended on political strength. He reserved special ire for secular Jewish liberals for what he considered their self-destructive illusions.
Similarly, he objected to relativism in religious standards, complaining about the leftward drift in Conservative Judaism, at whose seminary he taught, especially its decision to ordain women rabbis.
Though most members of the shiur seemed at least tacitly to agree with his politics, he was not unchallenged. One retired professor and bibliophile strongly stood his New Deal ground. When the amiability of the previous two hours seemed threatened, shiur participants could be counted on to wisely drown out debate by spontaneously singing the introductory verses to the benching (Grace after Meals), thereby bringing the meal to a close.
Now that the shiur belongs to the ages, I pursue my Talmud study most Saturday afternoons by attending the Daf Yomi class at the Riverdale Jewish Center. Since a lot of text must be covered each day in order to fulfill this group’s seven-year cycle of completing the Talmud, I feel a sense of nostalgia for the graceful rigor with which Professor Zlotnick guided us in grappling with complicated concepts (quite a few of which were over my head), and for the camaraderie provided by those in the shiur who accompanied me on an unforgettable four-decade Shabbos journey.
About the Author: Ron Rubin is professor of political science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. He is the author of several books including “The Unredeemed” and “Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World's Greatest Footrace.”
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The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.
The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.
The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.
In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities
Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.
But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.
While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.
We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .
Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.
For two thousand years, Jews exiled from their homeland and lacking political sovereignty were easy targets for elitist rulers on the right and the pseudo-egalitarian mob on the left. When Emancipation came and Jews exited the ghettos, Jewish self-made pitfalls were no less horrific, as many embraced the trendy “isms” of secular society only to spiritually assimilate and disappear from history. Yet despite the persecutions, on the one hand, and the enticements of some host countries’ cultures, on the other, the Jewish nation lives.
Though the ranks of single-issue pro-Israel Jewish voters (they comprise perhaps one-fourth of the Jewish electorate) have contracted as a result of mounting assimilation, those voters have nonetheless learned a lot over the past sixteen years.
Given his swaggered walk and ineloquent delivery, George W. Bush is an easy one to underestimate. But pundits and politicians do so at their own peril, cases in point being Al Gore and John Kerry, two gentlemen who like to think of themselves as high cultivated and erudite.
Having spent earlier sabbaticals here in Israel, I knew the subject of aliyah loomed as a background issue but hardly expected the untold ways it would recast itself.
At the restaurant farewell dinner, Professor Dov Zlotnick asked the dozen or so students of his forty-year-running Saturday afternoon Talmud shiur to continue their learning despite his approaching retirement to Jerusalem.
Thanks to Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon, some 500,000 Americans will run in marathons this year. In my book Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World’s Greatest Footrace (Syracuse University Press, 2004), I show how Lebow, a Holocaust survivor, changed the notion of this 26.2 mile race, which this year will be held on Sunday, Nov. 5, from a grueling, sweaty showcase for elite runners into a people’s competition.
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