The one hundred and thirty children and young adults share two things. They are all Jewish, and they all contend daily with serious and debilitating illness. Many of them have done so all of their lives. You would think spending time with them would provide the ultimate mussar ride for Elul, an in-your-face confrontation with your own mortality, and the need to be grateful to God for life itself and the parts of it we take for granted.
Speaking in the basement of Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC) in Minneapolis on July 3, 2010, Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, offered a relentless denunciation of Israel to a group of Presbyterians.
I am an equal opportunity critic. Critique is one of the tools I use to ferret out the truth. I monitor the actions and pay close attention to the words, the deeds and the decrees of world leaders and when I find fault with them, I point it out to the public.
There are those who view an authentic Jewish life as confining and repressive - pessimistic even. So many restrictions. Countless obligations. So much "observance" rather than "celebration." Yom Kippur fasts. Tzom Gedaliah. Tisha B'Av. The Seventeenth of Tammuz. So much sadness. So much pain. And then there is the emphasis on the in-depth study of mussar - ethics - emblematic of the Jewish need to continually rise to higher moral and spiritual levels.
How embarrassing.Last Sunday the Los Angeles Times ran an article about extravagant Jewish Iranian weddings in California that portrayed our community as a bunch of shallow, boastful materialists who think the purpose of a marriage ceremony is to tell our friends how much money we have.
A great human tragedy is taking place before our eyes, yet few can see it. A singles event in Jerusalem, co-sponsored by no fewer than five groups or organizations, advertised the following: "Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to get married? If the answer is NO, then carry on having a good time going to all those parties, Shabbat meals, lectures, supermarket aisles . If the answer is YES, then we'll see you at the MEGA EVENT."
Opponents of President Obama do not lack for reasons to criticize him or his administration. Not justifiably among them, however, would be the contention that Obama the candidate had misled the country regarding his intentions.
This month Social Security, the most successful domestic program in our nation's history, celebrates its 75th anniversary. On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. With one pen stroke he laid the foundation of modern American social policy. Today, millions of retirees live in dignity thanks to their monthly Social Security benefit payment.
Our beloved, miraculous Jewish state is under siege. It was assumed that the ceaseless persecution of the Jews in exile would cease once we again had our own sovereign homeland, our own army, navy, and air force.
A recent news item shed piercing light on the reason for the intractability of the Arab war on Israel. The well-known 1970s disco group Boney M, invited by the Palestine International Festival to give a concert in Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah, was pressured to drop performing one of its signature hit songs, "Rivers of Babylon."
With so much recent debate in Israel about academic freedom, I thought it would be constructive to describe the current politically correct ideas about academic freedom held and proliferated by the academic left:
"Officer, what's your badge number?" I've been asked that question countless times over the last 26 years. Almost always, it followed an unpopular decision. Always, it was accompanied by an unspoken message: "I'm letting you know I will hold you accountable for this decision." And always, I answer that question in a direct, simple way: I give my badge number.
"Ani l'dodi v'dodi li (I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine)" - Song of Songs 6:3). This is the acronym of Elul. Since Elul is the last month of the year and immediately precedes Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment for all the world's inhabitants, it was established as a time for teshuvah/repentance. We therefore recite selichos and penitential prayers to [Hashem]. [Book of Our Heritage]
If I am granted the years and strength, in three years (and during my eightieth year) I will conduct another census of Jewish day schools in the United States, following up on my previous research conducted at five-year intervals.
The Claims Conference (as reported in last week's Jewish Press) discovered a fraud perpetrated against the organization. In a sophisticated criminal scheme, falsified and phony documents were submitted to programs that make payments to Jewish victims of Nazism. These programs, funded by the German government, have been targeted by persons seeking to extract payments to which they were not entitled.
The federal government just announced that the nation's unemployment rate is still hovering around 10 percent. Voters have seized on this news by demanding that their leaders find a way to drive that number down.
A little more than seven years ago, on June 11, 2003, an 18-year-old Palestinian, Abdel Mahdi Shabneh, cradled a Kalashnikov and proclaimed violence to be the only means by which his people could combat Israeli occupation. Shabneh's target would be Jerusalem's busiest street, at the busiest time - Jaffa Road at 5 p.m.
Since the 1960s, Our Way, a program of the Orthodox Union, has been establishing initiatives on behalf of Jewish deaf throughout North America. Participants...
J Street, the leftist lobbying organization that claims to be pro-Israel, is running a television ad that divides the world into two groups: the good guys who support the two-state solution, the end of the occupation and peace; and the bad guys who oppose these results and instead favor a continuation of violence.
Islam, which has been described as an ideology wrapped in a religion, will never allow its adherents to accept a non-Muslim state in land previously conquered in the name of Allah.
There is a country in the Middle East accused of conducting a brutal decades-long occupation. A country where a blockade causes starvation among a civilian refugee population. A country that violently cracks down on all opposition and shoots into crowds of protestors but receives substantial financial aid from the United States as an ally in the War on Terror even as it undermines our war efforts by pursuing its own agenda.
I've been reading Newsweek since 1975, when, as a yeshiva student in Israel, I subscribed in order to keep abreast of world events when otherwise not ensconced in the study of Torah. It's been three and a half decades, and my subscription, which lapses next month, will not be renewed. The reasons are reflective of the current state of American culture and mainstream journalism.
Up in the Catskills, a man named Yossi Zablocki is trying to save the last blintz palace of my generation's youth. The place is called Kutsher's Country Club. The man who made it all work was Milton Kutsher.
If there is one thing the overwhelming majority of Jews agree on, it's that we are friends of Israel. We know Israel is in peril and we want to do something to help.
Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, died recently. The other day I saw a clip of him singing "Amazing Grace." The sincerity in his voice was unmistakable. And why not? That hymn is his only saving grace. For Byrd found his faith in the Baptist church, which teaches that all sin can be washed away "in the blood of Christ." It is divine grace and not good works that rights the wrongs perpetrated against one's fellow human beings.