We just celebrated Purim, which has always stood out in my mind as unique among the Jewish holidays. Unique for the giddy exuberance it brings, the gastronomic indulgence, the focus on unity and community, the retelling of arguably the most dramatic tale of Divine salvation in Jewish history - but most of all for the strong, spirited heroine at its center.
Someone asked me what we should have in mind on Purim. I would answer with one word: Amalek. You want simcha? You want geulah? Think Amalek!
Klal Yisrael. All of Israel. One people. One community. One.
Early this past Shabbat morning we heard from military sources that a family had been brutally slaughtered in Itamar, a settlement near Shechem. Since my niece lives there with six children, we were extremely worried even though we realized there were many families that fit the description.
The atrocity in Itamar, in which two parents and three young children were brutally murdered by believers in the "religion of peace," has shocked and dismayed all civilized people. Blame is always ascribed to the perpetrators, whose inhumanity and animalistic instincts know no bounds. But it is foolhardy to ignore the effects of Prime Minister Netanyahu's policies that have facilitated both terror and the further deterioration of Israel's strategic position.
One week ago on my website I announced my intention to attend the next court appearance of a man who was arrested last year and is now standing trial on 10 felony charges of child abuse.
The world is wringing its hands over the fate of Libya. Being a helpful sort of guy, and what with Purim fast approaching, I know just the proper solution.
Weeks of turbulent Arab uprisings throughout the Middle East have dislodged dictators and inspired tens of thousands of young Muslims to dream of freedom. Swarming through streets and squares, they have demanded the end of autocratic rule.
After spending two years condemning Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks as impediments to peace, President Obama congratulated Egyptian demonstrators - reportedly members of the Muslim Brotherhood - for setting up checkpoints and conducting body searches.
It began in the United States with the Yiddish newspaper the Forward in the first half of the 20th century. The galeriye fun farshvundene mener (gallery of vanished husbands) appeared regularly, listing names and photos of men who had disappeared leaving their wives as agunot, chained to a Jewish marriage. The Jewish Press followed in the latter decades of the century, launching its own weekly seiruv list.
If Toni Morrison, the Nobel-prize winning African-American novelist, could refer to Bill Clinton, a white man, as America's first black president, then surely we can take a reverse tack: Is it possible that Barack Obama is not the first real black president after all?
The international campaign to prevent speakers from delivering pro-Israel talks at universities has been assisted by leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union - an organization that is supposed to protect freedom of speech for all. The method used to silence these speakers and preclude their audiences from hearing their message is exemplified by a now infamous event at the University of California at Irvine.
Israel's opponents increasingly contrive to hijack commemoration of the Holocaust in order to malign the Jewish state. Recently, a battle erupted at Northeastern University in Boston over the decision to invite Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir to screen "Defamation" at its annual Holocaust Awareness Week in March.
One snowy day back in college, I was returning from class to my dorm and began to cross a small intersection. A woman was waiting at the stop sign in a large gray vehicle. As I began to pass in front of it, she suddenly drove forward into me. I banged on the hood, she came to and stopped, and I barked some remark about using her eyes. The incident was more startling than injurious, so I moved on.
"In the name of the Lord, the God of Israel: On my right Michael, on my left Gabriel, before me Uriel, behind me...
Bear with me, if you will, for a bit of nostalgia. A few weeks ago - Jan. 19, to be precise - I celebrated the 30th anniversary of my becoming an Israeli.I thought readers might enjoy the telling of that tale.
Much has been said of the popular uprising in Egypt that led to the demise of the 30-year autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak. For the most part, the discourse has centered on the issue of whether or not Egypt can emerge from its uprising as the first "self-made" democracy in the Arab world. In this respect, most pundits have focused their analyses on those obstacles that might prevent Egypt's democratization, in particular, the hindering influence of the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood.
Even without the anticipated passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, it was a week that rattled Israelis' nerves. It began on with a stern lecture by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that got considerable play in the Israeli media.
For the past two years the hottest debate in the pro-Israel community has been over how to assess the Obama administration. Despite the tense relationship with the Israeli government, the fights picked over building in Jerusalem and the pressure for a settlement freeze, there has been a considerable body of opinion that still insisted Obama had basically changed nothing in the Israel-U.S. relationship.
Much has been written in recent weeks about the dangers posed to governments by the indiscriminate release of previously classified documents. Some think the antidote lies in even greater secrecy. Actually, what's needed is greater transparency.
February 11 marked 25 years since Natan Sharansky crossed the Glienicke Bridge from East to West Germany and became a free man. Countless stories have been told about Sharansky's defiance of the Soviets and his courageous actions during his more than nine years of imprisonment.
I'm sitting and watching President Obama's speech on the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. He is eloquent as usual, giving compelling visuals of the protestors demanding a free government amid great personal peril. He is quoting Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He has taken charge of the situation, endorsing the determination of the people of Egypt to throw out their dictator.
The picture on the front cover of Safta's Diaries (translated and edited by Shera Aranoff Tuchman, published by Ktav) is of a beautiful, strong woman. The photographer caught her in a quiet moment: she is sitting on a tall horse; the reins are in her right hand, the pommel of the saddle under her left hand; she appears ready to lead the charge against any challenge that might come.
Next month I am due to participate in a London debate on the question: Is it OK for Jews to criticize Israel? One of my opponents is a leader of the Peace Now movement who, in a previous debate about the UK's academic boycott, steered the discussion to his own army service (as an IDF spokesman, no less) and promptly branded Israeli border guards as "paramilitary thugs."
Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedlyallowed about 800 Egyptian troops to deploy around Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.