"Making the Desert Bloom" is one of the axioms of David Ben-Gurion's remarkable legacy - one that has fired the imagination of Israeli farmers, international donors and the Zionist movement for more than half a century.
For almost three decades I have represented women in the rabbinical courts of Israel. While divorce is almost always an unpleasant business, many couples find a way to dissolve their marriage with a minimum of acrimony and vindictiveness. The hundreds of women whose divorces I have handled, however, were victims of greedy, abusive husbands who refused to free their wives, demanding exorbitant financial and other payments. In a system based on justice and fairness, such men would have been exposed and rejected.
Agudath Israel of America will be holding its annual convention next week. Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, an executive vice president of Agudah, has been quoted as saying:
After three years of nearly non-stop effort - years spent speaking to rabbis, getting Knesset members to motivate their colleagues, reaching out to Muslim clergy, to the pope, and ultimately to the heretofore uninformed masses of haredim and datiyim - the cholent I cooked up together with a handful of activists such as Jerusalem Councilwoman Mina Fenton, activist Efrayim Holtzberg, and Dr. Daisy Stern finally came to a boil.
But even though it might be easier to keep pretending that it doesn't exist, it's time once again to face the truth about a not-inconsiderable segment of American Jewry: More than a few of us are religious bigots.
Last week my eldest daughter called me from Israel, where she is studying for a year in seminary, crying and terribly distraught. A girl she was friendly with from another seminary had died of anorexia. She was seventeen years old.
One moderate Muslim voice, a brave Bangladeshi journalist, has withstood years of unfair persecution in Dhaka for supporting Israel. He's been jailed and beaten, and as he now prepares to stand trial for his life, it's time for the world community to act.
"I don't want to learn and that's it! I go to yeshiva all week and I need a break!" Your son storms off and slams the door. All you had done was innocently ask him to learn on Shabbos afternoon. Your son, however, felt like a parolee asked to go back into solitary confinement. This is, to say the least, a painful experience for both father and son.
Israel is trying to reinvent itself. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni hosted a conference where she launched a new multi-million dollar project to "rebrand" Israel. As Livni put it, since coming into office, she has been struck by the disparity between the vibrant, liberal, free Israel she knows and Israel's image abroad.
The landmark meeting of the first Global Rabbinic Task Force on Agunot, scheduled to be held in Jerusalem this week, was the culmination of a decades-long struggle by the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) to facilitate such a rabbinical summit. Its last-minute cancellation by Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has disappointed all of us, but is most devastating for the world's agunot - those women who remain trapped in broken Jewish marriages because their husbands refuse to give them the necessary halachic divorce document (get).
The deplorable state of Middle East Studies on college campuses has been a topic of grave concern for many of those who follow the declining fortunes of American scholarship. That an entire field of academic study has grown up in the last quarter-century that seeks to delegitimize Zionism and Israel is not news. But efforts to do something about it are worth mentioning.
There are ill winds of change hovering on the horizon. Washington is signaling its intention to distance itself from Israel. Pressures are being imposed on Israel to make further unilateral concessions to Mahmoud Abbas, most of which would directly impact on its security.
I'm hooked. Truly hooked. Not on drugs, thank goodness, or cigarettes or alcohol. But hooked I most definitely am, and that makes me dependent after a wonderful life of carefree indifference. Fate's ultimate payback. So what am I hooked on? What addiction is this?
Dear Mr. President, I am writing to you because I am afraid. I have been closely following the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the past few months, and I want you to know that I am gripped with a sense of fear.
Ben is sensitive and tries hard to please Miriam, but when there's a problem that needs to be dealt with, he seems oblivious. When she asks for input on a decision, he says, "It's up to you." He wants to be nice but he doesn't realize he's frustrating her.
In March 2004 Al Qaeda won its first parliamentary election in Europe. It installed the trailing candidate José Luis Zapatero as prime minister of Spain. It clinched this victory just three days before the election by exploding 10 bombs causing the death of 191 people and the wounding of 1,700 others.
In April 2001, I visited my daughter Ali, then a fifteen-year-old student at Phillips Academy in Andover, near Boston. We went to the Holocaust Memorial near Quincy Market in downtown Boston, and I was taken aback by a seemingly innocuous but in fact outrageous statement engraved in stone: "By late 1942, the United States and its Allies were aware of the death camps but did nothing to destroy them."
The warning signs are everywhere, yet no one wishes to see them. Israel's foes are gearing up for war, and it's time we opened our eyes to the danger that confronts us.
The loudest debate going on in the American Jewish world the last couple of months seems to revolve, believe it or not, around ads in Jewish weekly newspapers.
Thanks to Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon, some 500,000 Americans will run in marathons this year. In my book Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World's Greatest Footrace (Syracuse University Press, 2004), I show how Lebow, a Holocaust survivor, changed the notion of this 26.2 mile race, which this year will be held on Sunday, Nov. 5, from a grueling, sweaty showcase for elite runners into a people's competition.
Professor Rashid Khalidi, who directs the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, is currently on a multi-city book tour for his new book The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (Beacon Press) - aided by a favorable New York Times review from an unlikely book reviewer.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's speech at the American Task Force for Palestine's inaugural dinner in Washington last week was but the latest sign that America's alliance with Israel is weakening.
A constant theme of Rabbi Berel Wein's writings and lectures is that the Torah is about people, not events. The Torah was never intended to sit on a shelf somewhere as so many books do. In fact, its laws and traditions were intended to be transmitted orally, evidence of the fact that it is people to whom and for whom the Torah was given.
Honorable Mr. President, We are shocked, speechless, alarmed.
When I moved to Israel fourteen years ago, I was very keen on meeting Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, zt"l. He had taught Gemara to my father in Yeshivas Dvar Yerushalayim many years earlier, but what excited me was his role as editor of Challenge, the first of the Torah/science genre. I visited him one Shabbos, and he was glad to answer my questions.