Orthodox Jews are not a majority of the American Jewish population. It follows, therefore, that major communal institutions that claim to represent the views of American Jewry in the public square frequently do not voice the views and values of those committed to Torah-informed Judaism.
There is a sign hanging in my office that should be standard in the office of every rabbi, communal leader, worker for Klal Yisrael or activist of any sort.
Recently, after a particularly harrowing weekend in Sderot, Rabbi Avi Berman, director of OU Israel, told me, “That’s it; enough! I know we have invested so much in Sderot, we have raised funds, sent teams, and currently work more in Sderot than we do any other city in Israel, but still I can’t have us sitting here in Jerusalem while they are in so much pain. So that’s it, we are all going down to Sderot, in two days.”
I was actually starting to believe I was the lucky charm of Sderot. Over the past eight months I had been to Sderot on business nearly every other week, and each time I traveled down from Jerusalem, things were quiet. No Kassam rockets, no “red color” warnings, no Israelis fleeing for their lives.
Most people probably agree, these days, that the military invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Whatever you thought at the time (and I was among those who believed it was worth the effort in light of Saddam’s actions and the realization of our vulnerability after 9/11), the evidence since has been pretty clear.
Sen. Barack Obama decided recently to stop letting others speak for him when it came to his position on Israel. Given the range of views imputed to or associated with him by a wide variety of sources, it wasn’t a moment too soon.
Back in the fall of 2005 I wrote, in an Internet article responding to one of the early rounds of rocket attacks on Sderot from Gaza following Israel's "disengagement" from the area:
On July 9, 1755, Colonel George Washington was traveling with General Edward Braddock’s army toward Fort Duquesne when they were ambushed by Indians and French hiding in the woods. In the ensuing massacre, hundreds of British soldiers, including Braddock, were killed or seriously wounded. Perched on their horses, officers were perfect targets. One after another, they were hit. Bullets ripped through Washington’s coat, knocked his hat off, and killed two of the horses he rode.
If the baseball season doesn’t end with a ticker-tape parade for your team, you feel, for the first few days, as if you were driving a speeding car that has gone off the road and is now on its back, wheels spinning. It takes a while for the wheels to stop spinning, for the adrenaline in your system to get back to a normal level.
As a college student, I have become jaded to the endless cycle of unofficial “weeks.” We have Kick the Smoking Habit Week, Free Love Week, Save the Oceans Week – a week for every cause under the sun, with concerts, sit-ins, and creative protests for and against everything imaginable.
“We will work to promote equality and diversity.” Many a policy document in public and private sector organizations across the Western world contains similar phrases. The social changes over the last forty years that have placed equality and diversity at the heart of policy at both macro and micro levels have been driven by to a large extent by the influence of ideas emanating from the feminist and anti-racist movements, and from post-modernist thinkers such as Michel Foucault.
Withdrawals, expulsions, and peace agreements are the golden calves of our generation. They hold a mystical sway over the people, regardless of their context, purpose, or arrangement.
In 1263, the great Spanish scholar Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, better known as Nachmanides, was summoned to Barcelona by King James I of Aragon to engage in a rather stressful form of interfaith dialogue with representatives of the Dominican and Franciscan religious orders.
Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the highest paid individuals in the world. This year Forbes informed us that the actor Johnny Depp made $92 million while Nicole Kidman was Hollywood’s highest paid actress, commanding an estimated $16 million per movie.
There is a growing crisis in the international Jewish community that I believe must be acknowledged if we are to survive intact and preserve our children’s future. The crisis is related to, but goes well beyond, the fact that we are in general too indulgent and tolerant as parents; it goes beyond the fact that we have acquired a level of wealth and comfort that we take too much for granted – even if we are not all wealthy nor all that comfortable; and it goes beyond any individual’s intensity ascribed to religious custom and tradition. It is more about our willingness to abandon the balance of faith and reality that has helped us endure for centuries. This is not a crisis of abiding religious faith or observant practice per se, but rather a calamity of application and interpretation. And it has the potential to be a disaster of significant proportion.
The observance last month of the UN-sanctioned International Holocaust Memorial Day once again raised the issue of a multiplicity of Holocaust memorial days. Does this add to the stature and significance of Holocaust remembrance, or just the opposite? And what does each of these memorial days signify?
I met a friend several weeks ago at a hastily called grassroots meeting at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills to discuss Israel's difficult predicament.
When the Jewish people crossed the Red Sea, successfully escaping the clutches of the Egyptians, Moses gathered the Israelites together and they sang the famous “Az Yashir.” Miriam, Moses’s sister, also assembled the women as they danced with tambourines and sang “shiru lahashem ki gao gaa sus vrochbo rama bayam” – let us sing to Hashem for he is great, horse and chariot he drowned in the sea.”
That the UN is hostile to Israel hardly comes as a surprise. The perfidy that permeates the house over which Kurt Waldheim once presided can be cut with a knife; Israel bashing has become an integral part of the culture of that body. Such duplicity does not appear from thin air – it must be nurtured and stoked by individuals who, by dint of impressive titles, can command international attention and influence public opinion and thus cause much mischief.
If you think one side in a conflict is under no moral or legal obligation to send supplies to the population of the other, you have not heard what The New York Times or Human Rights Watch’s Joel Stork have been saying about Israel’s duties toward Gaza. Both have claimed Israel has been “collectively punishing” Gazans when in, recent days, Israel has not cut electrical power at all and only reduced fuel supplies.