Elul is here, the month of teshuvah, of repentance. I had the privilege recently of visiting the gadol Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch in Yerushalayim. He said the following: “What is in the newspapers is of no importance, and what is of importance is not in the newspapers. We have nothing to fear from the president of Iran; God watches over His children. The only matter of importance, the only thing that affects us, is the relationship between the Ribbono Shel Olam and the children of Israel.”
While most American Christians, especially evangelicals, support Israel, there has for some time now been a trend among European churches and their liberal counterparts in the U.S. such as the World Council of Churches, to criticize Israel, pass divestment motions and support Palestinian extremism.
We were in Jerusalem on our annual visit to Israel when ugly street demonstrations erupted in the wake of charges that a haredi mother had nearly starved her child to death. Those demonstrations, which turned into full-blown riots, constitute a brand new chapter in the annals of chillul Hashem.
After running into a dead-end in its efforts to jump-start Middle East peace talks, the Obama administration has signaled that it has evaluated the situation and understands that all is not well. But instead of a course correction, senior administration officials have decided what they need to do is deploy their most effective weapon – the rhetorical brilliance of the president himself – on a recalcitrant state of Israel.
When radio host Don Imus crudely insulted the young African-American ladies on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, then-Senator Barack Obama called for Imus to be fired.
The recent arrests of several New Jersey rabbis, coming on the heels of a variety of other scandals in Jewish life that also resulted in prominent arrests, have led many to conclude that Orthodoxy is in crisis and its entire worldview under siege and perhaps unsustainable.
When Barack Obama was elected president, many around the world saw it as the culmination of decades of successful efforts by the American civil rights movement. How ironic, then, that the Obama administration has been conducting a campaign against Jews who wish to live in certain Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Walk into any shul in almost any neighborhood on Shabbos and you can be forgiven for thinking you have mistakenly stepped into a nursery. The same goes for almost any Jewish wedding hall, where it takes as much skill to navigate the obstacle course of baby strollers as it does to look good on the dance floor.
Do we ever learn from our past? We have just lived through the saddest time of the Jewish year, when our collective thoughts turned to the destruction of our Holy Temple, and the root causes for that destruction.
Two of my four children live in places defined as “settlements” and are therefore characterized by most of the secular press as “obstacles to peace.” But if the journalists who use such terminology ever spent time there, among those idealistic and brave Jews, they might have to rethink their definition.
Larry Franklin, the third man in the sordid AIPAC affair, is not an entirely sympathetic figure. Although a person of sincerity and religious devotion, he agreed to testify against former AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman in the trumped-up case forged by the FBI.
Last week, when Jews around the world recited the traditional Tisha B'Av lamentations focusing on the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, a number of communities added a lamentation referring to a much more recent tragedy – the failure of the Allies to bomb the Auschwitz death camp in 1944.
“What did we learn?” is the question posed at the end of “The Accomplices,” Bernard Weinraub’s play about the mission to America of Peter Bergson, who, in 1940, was sent by Vladimir Jabotinsky to rouse the Roosevelt administration to save the Jews of Europe.
Pope Benedict XVI recently called on the Catholic community to promote human rights and bring an end to poverty. The pope’s directive, laden with biblical charges and humanistic principles, spurns deregulation and freedom from taxes and instead focuses on addressing the root causes of poverty and ensuring universal access to basic human needs such as clean water, sustenance, health, education and employment.
What’s so important about the Fifteenth of Av? It’s a day like any other day, right? Our sages tell us that on that day, some 3,300 years ago, in the Moabite Desert opposite Jericho, a miracle occurred. After the incident of the spies, God told our ancestors that the generation that had left Egypt would not enter the Land of Israel. Instead, their children would inherit the Land.
The Orthodox Jewish wedding season commences each year after Lag B’Omer and again after Tisha B'Av. In the weeks prior to those dates we watch the mail for the wedding invitations we receive – and notice the ones we do not. Sometimes we receive invitations to weddings and cannot figure out why we were invited; other times we wonder why a friend or acquaintance has not invited us to a simcha.
Soon after Cambridge police arrested and handcuffed Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. on a disorderly conduct charge, they realized the black man they wanted to prosecute was a renowned academic. As a result, he was released and the charges against him were dropped.
I love books. I love our sacred Jewish texts and the many splendid commentaries that accompany them, but in truth all leather-bound, gold-embossed books call out to me. Verily, I am a person of the book. I read books, I write them, I consume them.
You may applaud the idea of ordaining women rabbis, or you may recoil in horror at the prospect, but the simple fact remains that women already serve the Orthodox world in clergy-like positions.
Date: November 2, 2068Place: Edward Said University, Paris, Islamic Republic of Northern Gaul.Subject: Notes from the Special Guest Lecture today in the course "History of the Middle East," by visiting professor Osama bin Levy.
The other week, responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech that envisaged creating a demilitarized Palestinian state, perennial Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said, “I told President Obama that solving the crises of the Arab and Muslim worlds goes through Jerusalem.”
Soldiers from all Western armies, including Israel's and Britain's, are educated in the laws of war. Commanders are educated to a higher level so that they can enforce the laws among their men, and take them into account during their planning.
Now the pain intensifies. On the Seventeenth of Tammuz the Temple walls were breached and the unthinkable began to unfold in the Holy City of Jerusalem. This was the countdown to the unbearable events of Tisha B’Av.
Many years ago in Moscow, when we were ordinary loyal Soviet Jews – which meant we were deprived of our freedom and our identity and were powerless and helpless – we discovered there was a state of Israel, a state that fights for its right to exist and also for our dignity, a state that was waiting for us.
There is an important “take-away” lesson to be learned from the case of a frum storeowner in Queens who pleaded guilty in Criminal Court to molesting a young boy several years ago – namely, that the legal system works.