You’re in synagogue, about to begin the shmoneh esrei, the heart of the prayer service. You’re ready to take the three steps backwards, then three quick steps forward, the ritual that brings each worshiper to a physical and spiritual place standing before God.
First, the person leading services speaks: Let us all get up and stand in a comfortable way. We must ensure there is enough space in front of us and in back, so we each can take several steps forward and backward.
The murder of a dozen high school students and one teacher by two classmates in Colorado forced the Jewish community once again to find a balance between its support for civil liberties and desire to put its religious values in the cultural marketplace.
The killings were committed by Dylan Klebold, who had Jewish lineage, and Eric Harris, both of whom were reportedly influenced by neo-Nazi ideology and carried out their yearlong designs on Hitler’s birthday, April 20.
Even by Tamir Goodman’s standards it has been an unusual two weeks. There’s the all-day studies at a Baltimore yeshiva, some basketball after school, homework and Gemara review — and the interviews with CBS Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN and all the local TV stations.
Goodman, a 17-year-old bochur, is becoming a basketball star.
Repairing A House Divided
Called too pluralistic by the right and too Jewish by the left, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni carries on his crusade to get the secular and religious talking to one another.
Brad Hirschfield, an Orthodox rabbi, couldn’t make himself recite Mincha, the afternoon prayer service, one afternoon last week.
He had just left Auschwitz.
Rabbi Hirschfield, director of educational programs at CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, was part of a 50-member American delegation that visited Poland for the dedication of a renovated synagogue in Oswiecim, the town where the death camp was located.
Who remembers Alfred Hajos-Guttman? He was the Mark Spitz of his day — 1896.
At the first modern Olympic Games, in Athens, the Hungarian swimmer won two gold medals, in 100-meter and 1,500-meter freestyle.
Jewish athletes won eight more medals at the inaugural Games, starting a sporting tradition that continues until today.
Sofia, Bulgaria — Lili Vrangova and Richard Kanter invited only their closest friends to their wedding here the other day. But Sofian Jewry showed up. Some 500 members of the city’s Jewish community, about one-sixth of the Jews who live in the capital, came to the synagogue one Sunday morning. Uninvited but welcomed, they crowded into the sanctuary of the 91-year-old building, listened to the ceremony on loudspeakers in the courtyard and danced in the aisles.
Amir Shaviv didn’t make his first business call on Tuesday until mid-morning — Central European time. At 4:30 a.m. New York time, he was on the phone to Jerusalem and Budapest, from his Manhattan apartment.
“Israel and the Bomb.” By Avner Cohen, Columbia University Press, 470 pages, $27.50.
Cohen’s book should properly be labeled “Israel and the Bomb and Israeli-American Diplomacy Concerning the Bomb.”
The bomb, of course, is the nuclear bomb, which the world suspects Israel has, but whose existence Israel has never admitted.
This school is painting a new picture of the Orthodox women’s seminary. The Lea Rothstein Judaism & Arts Institute, located on the Ramot Shapira campus 15 minutes west of Jerusalem, will combine traditional religious studies with advanced training in fine and graphic arts, literature and music when it opens in September.