For those of us who still remember World War II (either because we lived through it or because we grew up, as I did, in its immediate aftermath), what's happening today in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia looks strangely ominous.
Our signature is the most practiced and utilized part of our handwriting, one we spend hours developing and perfecting to our satisfaction. And while, like any one aspect of handwriting, it does not portray the totality of the writer’s personality – any more than a doctor’s examination of an arm yields a full diagnosis of the body – our signature is nevertheless a very telling aspect of our writing, as it reveals a great deal of the persona of the writer and the image he wishes to project to the world.
Most Jews in America, from Orthodox to assimilated and everything in between, seem to view the world not as it is but as it was – 50, 60, or 70 years ago.
The kashrut certification industry is being galvanized by a provocative, innovative initiative called Hekhsher Tzedek (i.e., justice certification). The brainchild of Rabbi Morris Allen of St. Paul, Minnesota, Hekhsher Tzedek is a supplement to current kashrut certification.
As part of evaluating the competitive landscape of the popularity of nations, in a process referred to in marketing circles as “place branding,” Israel, to no one’s great surprise, came up short in brand likeability, ranking last out of 35 nations included in an August 2006 survey conducted by nation branding expert Simon Anholt – even less attractive to respondents than Indonesia, Estonia, and Turkey.
Eric Cantor is being vetted by John McCain for the vice presidential slot. Congressman Cantor may very well be the best possible Republican to run with McCain – for several reasons.
The White House said President Bush’s primary purpose while in Beijing for the start of the Olympics was to “show respect” to the Chinese people.
Governor David Paterson, Rabbi Marc Schneier, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Cantor Netanel Hershtik, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Haftorahman, and Shabbos kiddush for more than a thousand men and women – put these all together, add the Hamptons as your backdrop, and you’ve got an unusually memorable Shabbos Parshas Masei weekend.
In a front-page article asserting that minors had been hired to work in an Iowa kosher meat-packing plant and in an editorial calling the plant the modern equivalent of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, The New York Times joined the media frenzy that has, over the past two months, with very little basis in fact, pilloried AgriProcessors, the country’s leading kosher slaughterer and packer of beef, and driven federal and local law-enforcement personnel to threaten dire consequences to its owner and employees.
It hadn't been a full week since a Palestinian Arab went on a bulldozer rampage in the streets of Jerusalem before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cronies used the terror attack to their political advantage.
In the wake of Barack Obama’s trip to Israel, Republicans and Democrats wasted no time tilting over the meaning of every word uttered by the man the Democratic Party will nominate for president.
Israel received the coffins of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser in exchange for the release of the brutal murderer Samir Kuntar, four Hizbullah terrorists and a number of terrorist corpses on the very day we went with our family to Latrun for our grandson’s graduation from basic training.
Unless things change drastically in the next few days, we will one again experience Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Every year, while awaiting the Geulah, we reflect on our condition in the Diaspora and what this long, seemingly endless exile is expected to teach us.
It is a question that marks the beginning of a new era in our history. Its enormous depth, concealed by its simplicity, penetrates all spheres – the past and the future, the tangible and the abstract, the individual and the nation. Yet it remains a question unanswered until this very day: “How?” Or in the language of Jeremiah the prophet, “eicha?”
Historically, we Jews have had few friends in this world. And the more grave our situation, the more scarce those friends seem to be.
In 2004, Republicans gleefully labeled former Democratic presidential aspirant and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry a “flip-flopper” for his numerous nuanced reversals. It was easy with Kerry, of course, given his tendency to sneer at his political opponents and a voice that dripped with disdain as it droned on monotonously above our heads. His annoying self-righteousness was as palpable as his wannabe Kennedy hairstyle.
Judah Leib Gordon’s 1887 poem “Kotzo Shel Yod” (“The Point on Top of the Yod”) includes a description of cruel harassment by rabbis of an unfortunate agunah (literally, a “chained woman” whose husband deserts her or disappears without divorcing her, thus preventing her from remarrying). The description is vitriolic, wicked, dishonest, and disgraceful, in the spirit of the poets of the Enlightenment period, among whom Gordon was a central figure.
If words are a window into the soul, then Barack Obama’s now famous comments to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2008 Policy Conference revealed much about his true attitude toward Israel and the not-so-secret agenda of his foreign policy advisers. Here was an opportunity for the great orator to set the record straight and disabuse his critics of the widely held notion that his sympathies are not with Israel’s enemies but with the safety of the besieged Jewish state.
The cult of the talking snake began in the town of Abonoteichus around the year 150 CE, shortly after the Bar Kochba revolt.
Words come and words go. Some disappear completely, while others vanish into the jargon of our vocabulary. Few succeed in capturing center stage in our consciousness. One that has succeeded is a four-letter word that embellishes countless monuments, organizations, billboards and publications. Its sound enlivens the soul, its melody softens the heart.