It was somewhat jarring this week to see the President of the United States take to his podium to figuratively hold up the head of Osama bin Laden as a political trophy. But that's what Barack Obama felt compelled to do after Republican contenders Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney accused the commander-in-chief of "appeasement" of America's enemies.
When I was a student newspaper editor in the late 80s and early 90s, there was a controversy across the country as newspapers (not including mine) were approached by a notorious Holocaust revisionist who wanted to take out ads promoting “open debate” about the Holocaust.
Some editors nobly turned down the ads, and others, in what I consider naïve idealism, published them in the spirit of what they called free speech. In some cases, campuses or fellow students took action against those newspapers for their decision to publish the ads.
When a journalist writes fiction, especially historical fiction, it’s natural for the reader to search for the point of departure from truth to imagination.
The lines are fascinatingly blurred in Martin Fletcher’s novel, “The List" (Thomas Dunne), which blends his parents’ experience as Austrian Jewish refugees in London with a tale of intrigue involving Lehi agents plotting the assassination of Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin in the waning days of World War II.
If you were in shul today, as on any Rosh Chodesh, you may have heard the distinctive sound of a gabbai or chazan's hand whacking the bima immediately prior to the Amida (or Shemona Esreh). At many shuls this sound is accompanied by a verbal reminder to add the Rosh HaShanah prayer "Yaaleh b'yavoh," or in many cases the sound itself is meant to be a self-explanatory reminder.
This got me thinking about how this intriguing and efficient concept can be applied to other aspects of synagogue and Jewish life. Here are some humble suggestions:
The recent remarks by Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, about Steve Jobs and his role in driving worldwide consumerism – the attachment of happiness and fulfillment to owning modern products – were refreshing in their bluntness.
On the day last month that Apple released its newest iPhone, tweets using the hashtag #iPhone5 – the device people were expecting rather than the 4S – were coming so fast and furious that you could barely read one tweet before it was pushed down the Twitter or TweetDeck screen by the next entries.
When Gilad Shalit, a short while later, was released from Hamas captivity, there was also a steady stream of tweets, though far fewer per hour. There's no question that this simple form of communication has become a way to see what's hot and what's not.
I often agree with Andrew Sullivan, but was surpised by this stunningly misguided blog post on the Daily Beast, attacking Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin for retweeting an angry statement about what should happen to the Hamas captors of Gilad Shalit. It involves feeding the "death worshiping" culprits to the sharks, a fate too cruel for Sullivan.