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I have witnessed a revolution. On a recent lecture tour that took me to Australia and South Africa, I hardly found a major mainstream synagogue without a Chabad rabbi. Shuls that once swore they would not invite in Chabad are now attracting large numbers of new members under the helm of young and charismatic Chabad rabbis. Many of them are the biggest shuls in their respective countries.
The subject of Judge Richard Goldstone came up quite frequently during my recent lecture tour in South Africa - at a dinner in Johannesburg at the home of Chabad head Rabbi David Masinter, where acquaintances of the judge were in attendance; at Sea Point Synagogue, South Africa's largest, where I lectured and whose rabbi, Dovid Weinberg, had officiated at Goldstone's grandson's bar mitzvah; at my speech for Chabad of Cape Town and later in Pretoria.
An old saying has it that "liberalism is always being surprised." That is the only possible explanation of Jewish expressions of "surprise" and "shock" that Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in late October urged the South African Opera troupe to cancel its engagement to perform "Porgy and Bess" in Israel.
New York has gone through a William Kentridge craze this year. There have been scattered exhibitions in galleries throughout the cities, in addition to lectures and live performances. From the blockbuster Five Themes show at the MoMA, the Metropolitan Opera's production of Kentridge's directed-and-designed multimedia version of Shostakovich's The Nose, the South African artist has been a dominant voice on the New York art scene. For those who missed the incredible MoMA retrospective-or for those who simply wish for another Kentridge fix-a final salvo can be caught at the Jewish Museum's exhibition of part of Kentridge's Nine Drawings for Projection series.
The Monitor will pay tribute next week to Michael Kelly, the exemplary journalist and true friend of Israel who died so tragically in Iraq. This week, however, we take a look at some choice remarks made over the course of the past 20 years by South African Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu, Kelly's opposite in just about every way imaginable.
If you've ever thought you detected a certain anti-Israel bias in the reportage of NBC's longtime Israel bureau chief Martin Fletcher, there's good reason: Despite being Jewish, married to an Israeli and the father of three Israeli sons, Fletcher considers Israel worse than South Africa in the days of apartheid and won't even say whether he thinks the creation of the State of Israel was a good thing.