My assignment this week was straight-forward and predictable: with hostilities heating up in Israel, with Hamas missiles from Gaza starting to aim at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with tens of thousands of reserve soldiers being called into active service, with Israel standing on the brink of war, I was to look into the situation of the thousands of teenage students from the States who are spending their gap year learning in Israeli yeshivot (the boys) and seminaries (the girls).
About a half dozen El Al flights between Israel and the United States were cancelled in recent days by the winds and waves of Hurricane Sandy, which made flying and taking off and landing precarious. The El Al flights, among hundreds of domestic and international ones that became victims of one of the most damaging storms to reach the Northeast, were a minor news story – of special interest mainly to Jewish travelers.
One of the most-obscure voter’s guide to cross my desk – actually my computer screen – in this election season arrived a few weeks ago, on the eve of the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Among the countless guides issued by various political, environmental, educational and religious organizations came one from a decidedly non-religious group: The Secular Coalition for America.
The announcements of an approaching storm. The warnings about possible damage. The advice about what to do and not to do. The panic, and the inevitable been-there-heard-that-I’m staying-put attitude of some people.
To New Yorkers, the advance of Hurricane Sandy from the South last week was a novel experience. How often do hurricanes strike the Big Apple?
The headline over a story on page 2 of the current issue of “Jewish Voice from Germany,” and an accompanying photograph in the monthly publication caught my attention.
The headline: “The Day Berlin Wore the Kippah.” The photograph: a front-page of Berlin’s Berliner Zeitung (B.Z.) newspaper that shows five men, mostly of them probably not Jewish, with prominent kipot atop their heads.
Don Larsen did, 56 years ago, earlier this month, in sports.
A unremarkable pitcher for the N.Y. Yankees, Larsen pitched a perfect game – no hits, no walks, no men on base at all – in the 5th game of the 1956 World Series, beating the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Sal Maglie, an outstanding player who pitched an outstanding two-run five--hitter that day.
Add one more name to the list of Jewish baseball players who have had an at-bat in the major leagues.
Adam Greenberg, arguably the most prominent Jew in sports in recent weeks, walked to home plate last week, bat in hand, for the first time in 2012. It was the first – and probably final – official at-bat of his pro career, on the penultimate day of the regular season.
My annual custom on the last day of the High Holy Days is to daven at the Yom Kippur minyan of Chabad of Rego Park. Not a chasid, not a member of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic movement, I feel great spiritual authenticity in the atmosphere of intimacy, surrounded by a few hundred other worshippers, which Rabbi Eli Blokh creates.
His Yom Kippur services take place in the basement social hall of the Queens Jewish Center, a large Modern Orthodox synagogue around the corner from my apartment.
The text of my reading material last week on the eve of Rosh HaShanah was about people making errors. The subtext: some errors are never forgotten, never wiped clean, stain a person’s reputation forever.