I have long felt the holiest Jews are members of the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces. At countless rallies I’ve called out from the heart, “Blessed is the nation that has as its army the Israel Defense Forces.”
For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.
It’s beautiful how much emphasis there is on Shabbat and holiday celebration in the Orthodox community. However, celebration of the values of health and exercise is sorely lacking. Parents often don’t stress health and exercise for their children, and day schools fall short when it comes to creating rigorous health programs.
Benzion Netanyahu – historian, one-time political activist and father of Israel's prime minister – died Monday in Jerusalem at 102. An accomplished scholar and the patriarch of one of Israel's most important political families, he also played a surprising and little-known role in American political history.
For me, Israel is personal. I was born as Israel’s War of Independence raged, just weeks after the state’s miraculous birth. As I lay in the hospital room with my mother, the windows shattered with the relentless attacks of those who sought, once again, to destroy us – this time not on their bloodstained soil but on our own sacred land. Once again, by God’s hand, we prevailed. The few against the many. The weak against the so-called strong.
It was a few days before Passover when I first heard the horrific cackling. “What,” I asked family members, is that? It sounded just like the longtime leftist agitator Shulamit Aloni. But it wasn’t.
Many supporters of Israel are bedeviled by a glaring contradiction in Israeli political life. How can it be that, regardless of which party wins an election, leftist policies are invariably implemented?
The recent shooting of four police officers in the normally tranquil Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn (bringing the total to eight cops shot so far this year) has confirmed a dangerous double standard that threatens the safety of police officers and all New Yorkers throughout New York. It must be confronted.
This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.
In recent months, I’ve been contacted repeatedly regarding news reports that Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical response and national blood service, is removing its logo from ambulances in Judea and Samaria, or ending all operations there entirely. It’s been a frustrating time because the reports haven’t been accurate, and the misrepresentations have created a backlash that’s bad for Israel – and for all Israelis. As an Israeli living in the Judean mountain region of Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, I want to set the record straight.
In his April 4th New York Times column, Thomas Friedman endorsed what he designated to be “non-violent resistance by Palestinians” against Israel. He added that Palestinians need to “accompany every boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel with a detailed map” delineating their territorial demands.
Muhammad Abu Shahala, a former intelligence agent for the Palestinian Authority, has been sentenced to death, following a hurried trial. His crime: selling property to Jews in Hebron. What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews?
As rav of the Brooklyn Jewish Experience, a local kiruv organization devoted to reaching out to Brooklyn’s almost 70 percent non-observant Jewish population, I also teach and counsel young adults (18-33 years old) from the frum community. These students are often indistinguishable from their frum peers. Outwardly they may appear frum, but inwardly they’re disenchanted, jaded, and alienated. Their exterior appearance is largely a façade and their feeling of disenfranchisement from frumkeit is frighteningly real. There are others that are part of our program who, tragically, already took the next step and are no longer observant.
Last month the IDF responded to rockets being launched from Gaza into southern Israel by bombing Gazan targets. It took little time for some media outlets to equate the Palestinian aggressor with the Israeli aggressed. It took only slightly longer for many other media outlets to highlight Israel’s actions while shoving continued Palestinian aggression into the background.
As a vascular surgeon for over 20 years I care for wounds daily. As an occasional mohel for 30 years I am familiar with all aspects of milah. I thus feel obligated to share my perspective on this most important topic. If I don't, who will? In order to decide halachic matters, rabbis need accurate and representative medical input. This is my only goal.
I do not want the stain of Pollard's ugly death in prison to be on my conscience. I do not want his death to be on my nation's conscience. I do not want it on the conscience of PM Netanyahu or President Peres. I do not want it on the conscience of Israel's gentile friends, or even the US administration. I do not want the ugly stain to be a permanent scar on the historical record and the collective memory of this generation. But it's all about to happen. Unless something changes, Jonathan Pollard will die in Butler prison in the next few weeks, days, or hours.
When the storm-troopers crashed the party early Wednesday afternoon, very few people were home. Most were at their "other homes," getting ready for Passover. It only took a few minutes for the hundreds of police, border police, soldiers and riot squad to round up a few women and kids, and see them to the door. Quiet, peaceful, almost pastoral. Almost. But not quite.
Stories of the heroes of our Jewish nation are heartwarming, eye opening, encouraging, and sometimes even frightening. When we hear such stories, we salute those people (most of whom we have never met) for their courage and perseverance, but most of all for their commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.
Nearly all fans of baseball history have heard of Hank Greenberg. Most have heard of Al Rosen. But fewer have heard of Cal Abrams, and hardly any, it’s safe to say, have heard of Lou Limmer. All four are members of a compelling team – American Jews who played Major League Baseball.
Three years ago on the 8th of Nisan, 5769, an Arab terrorist with an axe ran into the center of our community of Bat Ayin and killed a 13 year old Shlomo Nativ. Every year before the anniversary of this terrible event, our community comes together to remember and honor Shlomo and his family and to connect with one another.
The Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 18:12) describes “leil shimurim,” the “night of watching,” the night before the redemption, as one of the glorious nights in Jewish history.
Often, upon returning home to Israel after a speaking tour in North America, I am asked by Israeli friends, "Nu, did you get people to make aliyah?"
Saudi Arabia is, to use a term the royals would, “greatly displeased” with the United States. Displeased with U.S. foreign policy regarding Iran and equally displeased with the decisions the White House is making about Syria.
In July 1993, I joined a group of Jewish leaders on a visit to Israel with then-Mayor David N. Dinkins. One morning as we had breakfast at the King David Hotel terrace overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, Dinkins confided, “I wish Ray Kelly were in charge before Crown Heights blew up.” By this time, Ray Kelly had become police commissioner and had made a clear impact on the mayor.
The study of Jewish history teaches us that throughout the ages, numerous edicts and decrees have prevented the practice of Jewish traditions and religious observance. Yet it has gone almost completely unnoticed that in recent weeks, Jewish rights and freedoms in the Land of Israel, of all places, have once again come under attack.