Israelis live a bifurcated existence. On the one hand they wearily read the morning paper, always knowing someone who is affected by a bomb, or the closing of businesses caused by the bomb. On the other hand, they go to bed dreaming of childhoods in Toronto or Paris or Arad, worrying about unfinished paintings, or remembering a first kiss behind the chicken coop near the abandoned kibbutz.
Financial headlines are heralding hard times and Jewish newspaper headlines are, too; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international relief agency, is cutting 60 jobs, the Jewish federation umbrella group United Jewish Communities is slashing at least 37, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, facing a $2.2 million budget shortfall, may trim its teaching staff.
In the end, the fight over whether Reform and Conservative leaders could sit on powerful religious councils in Israel apparently turned on a Talmudic loophole. By a vote of 50-49, the Knesset this week adopted a bill crafted to keep Reform and Conservative representatives off religious councils, which dispense millions of dollars to religious institutions throughout the country.