There is a widespread perception in Israel that Sephardic Jews are more sensible than the rest of us. Sephardim, or "Oriental Jews" as they are commonly if mistakenly called (strictly speaking, the two terms are not interchangeable), tend to shy away from the various manifestations of non-moderation that afflict Ashkenazi or "Western" Jews.
The recent reunion, in Washington, D.C., of activists from the Soviet Jewry protest movement was an opportunity to see old friends and reminisce about a bygone era. But for Philadelphia attorney Joe Smukler, it was also a time to reflect on the lessons to be learned from their unique, history-changing experiences.
Saddam Hussein grew up barefoot in a mud hut in the town of Takrit, north of Baghdad on the Tigris River. He never met his father. His mother, Subha Tulfah, was deeply disturbed, suicidal and homicidal. She repeatedly tried to kill the child in her womb. According to one, probably apocryphal, account, she jumped in front of a bus and screamed: “I am giving birth to the devil!” Some witnesses recalled the pregnant woman banging a door against her extended belly.
Funny thing about Joe Biden, Democrat of Delaware and newly minted presidential hopeful: The media herd has this habit of portraying him as sharp, cerebral, one of the U.S. Senate’s Deep Thinkers – and yet every time he opens his mouth you hold your breath, wondering whether he’ll say something he’ll instantly regret.
Simply put, Orthodoxy is unwilling to implicitly or explicitly renounce its most basic claim - the uniqueness of its truth, and its central focus that Jewish law is binding.
I have written previously here about Iran's nuclearization and its accompanying intent to annihilate Israel. Still, the whole story has not yet been told, and it is now time to think more carefully and systematically about ensuring Israel's survival. The time for exclusively visceral reactions is now over. Instead, we must ask: What, precisely, does the Iranian fusion of nuclear capability and genocidal intent really mean for Israel?
Ten years ago I was newly married, newly immigrated to Israel, and newly enrolled as a Masters student at an Israeli University. In most of my classes I was the only Orthodox student, and at least once a semester every pro-fessor could be counted on to make a derogatory comment or two about Jews like me. We were hypocritical, primi-tive, etc.
“Kotzo Shel Yod” (“The Point on Top of the Yod”), the 1887 poem by Judah Leib Gordon, includes a de-scription of the cruel harassment by rabbis of an un-fortunate agunah (literally, a “chained woman,” whose husband deserts her or disappears without divorcing her, thus preventing her from remarrying).
Did you hear the one about Nelson Mandela, the pope, Mother Teresa and the Jew? Turns out they are the only non-Americans ever to have received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congres-sional Medal of Honor. The Jew? None other than our own icon of freedom, Natan Sharansky, the former refusenik and prisoner of conscience who earlier this month received his Medal of Freedom at the White House.
The domestic and international debate about the Palestinians has become thoroughly detached from reality. On the one hand there are the friendlies. These include the Olmert government, the Israeli media, the Bush administration and some European governments. The friendlies say that the “moderate” Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah terror organization commander Mahmoud Abbas is the key to peace. Everything must be done they say, to strengthen Abbas against the Hamas terror organization, which they oppose.
They number in the millions and wield increasing power and influence across the United States. From year to year their voice grows stronger and more resolute, as their role in shaping policy, and the future of American society continues to expand.
A proposal for changing the laws of taharat hamishpachah (family purity) was recently raised in the Israeli newspaper HaTzofeh, based on the observation that adherence to these laws may be responsible for many couples experiencing difficulty conceiving. Healthcare professionals have named this phenomenon “Orthodox Infertility.”
Israel's policy of opacity or deliberate ambiguity on nuclear weapons had already been breached long before Prime Minister Olmert's public statement on December 11th. And it was also breached at the prime-ministerial level, no less. More than 10 years ago, Shimon Peres explicitly undermined Israel's longstanding commitment to keep the bomb in the "basement."
I grew up during the 1970's, universally acknowledged as a truly horrendous decade.