Many years ago when I was helping my congregation write a new constitution, I submitted a first draft to an expert who had been involved in setting up new shuls. One paragraph read, “All matters of halacha (Jewish law) will be determined by the congregational rabbi.” Pretty straightforward, I thought.
The Washington Post trod over some familiar territory this past weekend with a 7,000-word retrospective on the Obama administration’s Middle East peace process misadventures.
There is an old rabbinic anecdote about a rabbi who was called on to deliver a eulogy for someone who had no redeeming social value whatsoever. The rabbi was hard pressed to think of anything positive to say about this person. So when he spoke he solemnly pronounced: “No matter how evil the deceased truly was, he was still a far better person than was his brother!”
No matter what, some people simply cannot face the brute fact that there is no possibility of peace with the Palestinian Arabs and the larger Arab world in the foreseeable future. They have convinced themselves that yet another partition of the land of Israel will end the conflict. It won’t. It will only damage Israel’s ability to defend herself while providing a platform for more demands. Soon we will be hearing about “Arab Haifa, Yafo and Acco,” and then perhaps “Tel Arabiyya.”
On July 11, 1947, the SS Exodus began its journey, but never reached its intended destination. Yesterday, another Exodus story occurred: 229 Jews left the U.S. on a special flight organized by Nefesh b'Nefesh and the State of Israel. Of those on board, 99 were children. There were 38 families - and 59 singles. The oldest person on the flight is 86 years old, the youngest, only 6 months old. But this time, no one stopped them before they could touch down on Israeli soil.
The concept of a ‘belligerent occupation’ does not apply here. What country owned the territory that Israel ‘occupied’? Not Jordan, which was there illegally, nor Britain, whose Mandate had ended, nor the Ottoman Empire, which no longer existed. The nation with the best claim was Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, who were the intended beneficiaries of the Mandate. Judea and Samaria are disputed, not occupied, and the Jewish people have a prima facie claim.
Here’s a list of something exciting to do in Jerusalem each night of the week. This doesn’t have to be taken literally – choose...
The day school tuition crisis is not new. It has been brewing for years. School costs continue to rise while unemployment and underemployment remain high. And one also needs money to live in a neighborhood with shuls and mikvehs, to buy kosher food, to make proper simchas, to cover Yom Tov expenses, etc.
A watershed moment took place in Brooklyn last month on primary night. Those who care about private school education should sit up and take notice.
A recent CNN Money article focused on how more students than ever are requesting need-based financial aid from the private schools they attend. “Private schools are getting flooded with financial aid applications, and a growing number of the parents seeking help are earning $150,000 or more a year,” the article stated. It also pointed out that “overall, the average cost of tuition at private schools across all grades is nearly $22,000 a year, up 4% from a year ago and 26% higher than it was in the 2006-07 academic year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools.”
“The Scream,” a unique and evocative painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944), sold recently at Sotheby's for nearly $120,000,000. The price was attributed to its being the last of four editions still in private hands and the fact that it has been an icon of Western culture for over a century. The colors are vivid, the mood is stark, and the being on the bridge is overwhelmed by his surroundings. It captures a man alone in a world awry.
It’s human nature to hide our heads in the sand. That may be because we are mostly optimistic. We believe everything will be all right even when we know we are taking a chance.
Unfortunately, Israeli governments have not taken the correct line from the beginning. By not vehemently opposing Arab claims, insisting that the territory was disputed rather than occupied, and asserting Israel’s own rights under the Mandate, they allowed the PLO — with the willing connivance of anti-Zionist forces throughout the world — to make its point of view part of the conventional wisdom.
It's strange that it took more than a week for State to notice, and that the statement was not made by Secretary of State Clinton. After all, since June 26, Ms Clinton had time to comment on the Solomon Islands’ and Venezuelan independence days, the national days of the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia and Burundi, and of course Canada day; speak at the Climate Clean Air and Green Embassy event in Helsinki, Finland; and much more.
Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir passed away last weekend. In the course of my career as a correspondent for The Jewish Press at the UN and in Israel, as well as a parliamentary aide and spokesman for Israel’s first science minister, Professor Yuval Ne’eman, I met with dozens of world leaders, ministers, high-ranking officials and ambassadors. None of them left as indelible a mark on me as did Shamir.
Ten years ago, If you had asked a victim of sexual abuse what he or she wanted most, the answer would have been, “I want my abuser to apologize, to acknowledge that it was his fault and not mine.” Today, if asked that same question, the victim would speak of prosecution and justice.
“If you put Google, Apple, and Microsoft together, it still doesn’t compare to the miracles of Jewish renaissance I have witnessed in this country,” I said to two reporters from The New York Times and Moscow Times.
The victory of the Zionist movement was won despite long odds, desperate hardships and grievous costs in blood. The men and women who battled those odds did so in the face of the conventional wisdom of their day that told them they had no chance of forcing the British Empire to make good on its promise to create a National Home for the Jews or to defeat an Arab and Muslim world determined to crush the newborn state of Israel. They needed not only courage but also an iron will and the patience to bear great suffering while never losing sight of their goal.
The Swedish rescuer Raoul Wallenberg was born 100 years ago this summer, and his centennial is being commemorated with events in many cities across Europe and North America. On July 26, a symposium in his memory will be held at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research in Jerusalem.
I don't need to tell you how important the upcoming US presidential elections are, and you can be a part of that! Don't look at the numbers. Don’t ask: "Will my vote really matter??" Simply register, with no cost involved, and let the powers in America see how many expats voted.