This week we celebrate the anniversary of America’s independence, an event of great magnitude in the history of mans’ struggle for freedom. At a time like this we should be humble and realize that we are the beneficiaries of the dedication and sacrifice of countless others who came before us and built up and defended America.
We've grown used to it: whenever anyone in the media takes note of the antics of Norman Finkelstein, a flood of disinformation is bound to follow.
Recently, I was handed a flyer advertising an event billed as “A Day of Remembrance: Recognizing and Honoring Countries and Diplomats for Their Heroism During the Holocaust.” The event took place at a prominent Brooklyn synagogue under the auspices of several respected Jewish organizations. The guest speaker was Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.
It’s been almost five years since director Ang Lee’s big budget movie The Hulk roared into theaters. Fans and critics alike were less than impressed, so moviegoers eagerly anticipated last week’s release of director Louis Leterrier’s new half-remake/half-revamp of the Bruce Banner saga, called The Incredible Hulk.
There are times when even the most ardent supporters of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem wish the politicians would just shut up. Not that they mind it when men like Sen. Barack Obama, the putative Democratic nominee for president, wax lyrical about the Jewish state’s capital. When Obama told the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., earlier this month that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” he was cheered to the echo.
There once was a nation called Rhodesia. Located in southern Africa, Rhodesia was a nation with a European minority that ruled over black Africans. Rhodesian government and society were badly flawed and racist. But black Rhodesians had a better standard of living than blacks anywhere else in Africa; black Africans smuggled themselves into Rhodesia for good jobs and a more comfortable life.
As summer arrives, our thoughts here in the offices of Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities are on our one-of-a-kind summer program, Yad B’Yad. Yad B’Yad, which translates from the Hebrew as Hand in Hand, is unique in that participants include both “mainstream” high-school students – from Jewish or public/secular schools – and campers who have developmental disabilities and sometimes accompanying physical disabilities. Yad B’Yad is a touring summer program; most summers see two concurrent trips; one in Israel and one somewhere in the United States. (This year’s U.S. trip will be on the West Coast with time spent in Hawaii.)
Nearly 20 years since he left the White House, Ronald Reagan has begun taking his place in the small gallery of most consequential presidents. Though his admirers accorded him a prominent spot long ago, the story of recent years has been the gradual recognition of Reagan’s achievements among more liberal-minded scholars.
When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had to justify his decision to free rogue Israeli businessman Elchanan Tannenbaum from Hizbullah captivity (a move for which the State of Israel paid a steep emotional and human price), he used the term “Jewish sentiment” – one of the rare occasions in Israeli history that this forgotten ideal had been brought to the fore.
The more I hear of Olmert and Sderot, of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism (the former more often than not a cover for the latter), the more I sense the vast and unfortunate divide that separates my years of growing up from the ones I now spend raising my children.
Released in 1987, Where’s Waldo? was the first of illustrator Martin Handford’s Waldo series of books to become a sensation. Where’s Waldo? introduces readers to the eponymous hero, a distinctively dressed young man who sets off on a worldwide journey. Waldo travels to everyday places, like the beach, ski slopes and the zoo, each of which is detailed by two-page illustrated spreads filled with people and activities. Somewhere amidst the intricately crowded scene is the camouflaged Waldo, and readers are asked to scour the detailed illustration to locate the lost traveler.
Some three-and-a-half years ago, former Prisoner of Zion and Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky was George W. Bush’s favorite author. Sharansky earned an unexpected boost when the president invited him and co-author Ron Dermer to the White House and told the world that everyone should read their book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.
As Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary last month, there were the usual voices raised accusing Israel of victimizing the Palestinian Arabs and “running them out” of the Jewish state.
On September 30, 2000, the world was electrified by a photo and video of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, apparently dying in his father’s arms after being shot by Israeli soldiers. The image would appear over and over again in newspapers and on television, videos, shirts, posters, mugs, and banners held aloft by Muslim students on Western campuses and Muslim mobs throughout the Arab world.
Ever since Superman touched down in that fictional Kansas field back in 1938, our comic book superheroes have tended to be stoic, self-confident and somewhat simple men. They bravely fight for “truth, justice and the American way,” and with their chiseled features and bulging chests, we just know our caped crusaders will always save the day.
The firestorm that erupted with the YouTube posting of excerpts from a 1990 sermon by Pastor John Hagee – reflecting his belief that the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel both reflected God’s will – is a case study of how certain religious views have been placed beyond the pale of permissible discussion.
In a mathematical equation, 1+1 always = 2. In an ideological equation, 1+1 can sometimes = 6+10. When it comes to the lives of its soldiers, Israel does not think mathematically, Israel thinks ideologically. And that makes the equation much more difficult to analyze, much more difficult to work out and much more emotionally laden. Ideological equations are not computed in our brains, they are wrenched from our hearts.
Recently, the part-time occupation of the part-time Jews in major media outlets has been to tackle Barack Obama’s Jewish problem head on, in the same way a major corporation tackles the revelation that its product is fatally toxic to babies – by a shaking of heads, some weak smiles, and an assurance to the public that it’s all in our heads.
We are now getting down to the homestretch as we wrap up the Democratic primary and begin the race to the November general election. We will be electing the next president of the United States, and almost everyone expressing an opinion, informed or uninformed, believes the Democratic candidate will be Barack Obama.
It's always a revelation when a world-renowned intellectual attacks religion as silly and juvenile only for us to discover that his or her own personal life might have greatly benefited from a commitment to the biblical values that they so casually dismiss.
There is a recurring theme associated with Jerusalem: that of Jewish unity. Jerusalem is the City of Peace, though it has been conquered thirty-six times in its long history. King David wrote, “The built-up Jerusalem is like a city that is bound together” (Psalms 122:3). The Talmud elaborates on the expression “bound together” that Jerusalem “is a city that binds one Jew to another” (Jerusalem Talmud, Bava Kama 7:7).
Every spring, a pair of swans build their nest on an island across from our home. For ten years we have seen them arrive faithfully. The mother sits on her nest for weeks. If she wants a little break, the father takes over. The nest is always in exactly the same spot, and every day we look out our window to check on the progress of this little family.
The laws regarding converts to Judaism are among the most astounding in the Torah. They teach us that any non-Jew who truly and earnestly seeks to join the Jewish people may do so.
My Feb. 22 Jewish Press op-ed article “Losing Rational Orthodoxy” seems to have struck a nerve. Much of the feedback was positive, some was negative, and even more was intensely ambivalent.
“Rebbi.” One of the most beautiful words in the Hebrew language is “rebbi” – “my Torah teacher.” It is a title earned through Torah knowledge the teacher must possess and then transmit, through love, to his students. The word is said with respect and affection of the highest nature. It bonds rebbi and student together like no other word.