Tikkun Olam, “Perfecting the World,” is a central objective in Judaism. A recent best-seller entitled, Activate Your Goodness, focuses on the concept of Tikkun Olam by calling on the readers to be in touch with their innate gifts of kindness and reach out to help others.
Awake, awake! Dress up in your vigor, Zion! Dress up in your garments of glory, Jerusalem, City of holiness... (Isaiah 52:1)
When I started to speak and my words drowned in tears, it was she who comforted me.
It all started when she graduated from high school. Laura Faiwiszevski, born in West Orange, New Jersey like a number of her schoolmates, planned to spend a year of studying in Israel before entering university. Laura chose “Emuna V’Omanut” (Faith and Art), a program for American students set up by the Emunah Women Organization that focuses on a combination of Torah study and art training — a choice of music or visual arts.
Every vicious anti-Semite has a personal agenda. The anti-Israel assertions of Alice Walker, nationally celebrated feminist author and political activist, in her latest book are much too shrill to pass for your household pro-Arab hate speech.
You planted melodies in me, my mother and my father, Melodies, forgotten hymns. Here I listen to my distant lullaby, Chanted from mother to daughter. Here will sparkle in tears and laughter “Lamentations” and Sabbath tunes. It’s within me that your faraway voices teem. My eyes I’ll close and I am with you Above the darkness of the abyss.
She was a voice on the telephone, a pleasant, friendly voice: “How can I help you?” I had heard this question in the past five weeks more time than I care to remember. As soon as I explained what my quest was the questioner would switch me to another voice on the telephone, then onto another, and another, without any results. This went on daily ever since we moved to a new apartment and wished to have our landline telephone number reinstated, instead of the temporary one arbitrarily assigned by the company.
An enormous crowd of admirers turned up at her recent funeral. From members of government to those in the arts and sciences, all came to pay their last respects to the beloved author. Minister of Culture Limor Livnat expressed her deep sorrow, and called her "the greatest writer for children and youth in the history of Hebrew literature,” elaborating: “Devora Omer gave unusual expression to values of Zionism and made them an important part of our lives."
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society - from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the famous “Iron Lady,” often said that her greatest accomplishment was not her work in helping to topple the Soviet Union or being the first British woman to hold the post of prime minister, but rather her efforts “to save a Jewish teenager in Austria from the grasp of Hitler’s terror.”
“I’m no heroine. I only did what any moral person would do,” Irena Sendler protested with understated modesty. “I simply tried to help the people in need.”
Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur, not only on this day but also throughout March to mark the social, economic and political accomplishments of women.
The Prophet Yeshayahu’s messages of Geula/ Redemption are apt answers to our present-day prayers. They are tailor made for our times. He exhorts the people of Israel to abandon their self-image as aniya soara -- a poor tempest-tossed woman ( 54:11) -- and rise as bat Tziyon -- the daughter of Zion, a nation with a sense of pride and dignity.
Volunteerism is in her DNA. Juliette Samama was born in Tunis, Tunisia, daughter of Rav Ishua Shtrug, the rabbi, chazan (cantor), mohel (circumsciser) and shochet (ritual slaughterer) of the city’s Jewish community. He performed the functions of four men, yet did not draw a salary.
In recent months I have been profoundly affected by the news of growing anti-Semitism in most European countries and in the United States, especially on college campuses. When, at the end of World War II, I emerged a living skeleton from the German concentration camps, I believed that the horror of Jew-hatred was defeated forever. And now, as I watch my grandchildren raise their young families, the news of the ancient hatred’s revival strikes fear in my heart for their safety. For the Jewish future.
I have always been overwhelmed by the sense of responsibility the message of Har Sinai has placed upon women. The Midrash teaches that the Almighty asked Israel: “What can you give as an assurance that you will keep my covenant?”
Galut Mitzrayim -- the Egyptian Exile -- has come to epitomize exile in Judaism. It is the ultimate galut, the ultimate exile and it embraces all aspects of the later exiles: displacement, foreign subjugation, powerlessness, and exposure to extreme physical and mental torture.
Ask any child who the main heroes of the drama are and he will say, Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohein. No need to elaborate, the Torah is clear and explicit in assigning these roles. Despite his reluctance, Moshe is singled out for his assignment and so is Aharon. The voice of the Almighty is distinct in reiterating their mission, and they, faithful servants, obey the Divine command and earn their place in the limelight.
About a year ago, my husband and I joined a new synagogue in Netanya. In the women’s section a strikingly elegant lady caught my attention. Only later, did I come to know that Irene Burg’s looks were only the tip of the iceberg.
“Fill the Void” is the title of Rama Burshtein’s film that played to critical acclaim at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and earned seven Ophir Awards -- the Israeli Oscars -- including one for best film and best director, and has become Israel’s entry into the 2012 Oscars' foreign language category.