The last time Mordechai Gafni was in the news was two years ago, when the charismatic and controversial rabbi accused of sexual misconduct here and in Israel was dismissed as the rebbe of Bayit Chadash, a spiritual renewal community in Tel Aviv.
Faced with sexual abuse complaints filed with the police in Israel by several women who were former students or employees of Bayit Chadash, Gafni came to the U.S., issued a public statement apologizing to those he had hurt, said he was “sick” and needed treatment, and disappeared.
Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who died on Friday at the age of 86, was a perfect lightning rod for one of the critical divides in Jewish life.
For many pro-Israel activists, Helms’ conversion from staunch foe of their agenda — in 1983 he suggested breaking diplomatic relations with Israel because of the war in Lebanon, and he was a consistent foe of foreign aid - to ardent Likudnik was the stuff of legends and a turning point in pro-Israel politics.
Sen. Barack Obama’s Jewish campaign operation is getting more organized in New York, as evidenced by a mass meeting at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday. The meeting kicked off the campaign’s Jewish Community Leadrship Committee here.
Jews tend to view the evangelical community as a political and religious monolith, but that segment is every bit as diverse as …well, the Jews.
What brings this to mind: Thursday’s ¾ page ad in the Washington Post business section by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) politely informing Jews that they like us and everything, but have a duty to try to convert us.
Koby Mandell would have turned 21 last week, and probably would be finishing his service in the Israeli army.
Instead, slain at 13, with a friend, in a cave near their home in the community of Tekoa on Lag B’Omer, 2001, Koby is a memory to those who loved him and a symbol of the hundreds of innocent Jewish victims of the intifada, an eighth grader stoned to death on a day he skipped school.
Every year there’s a predominant buzz at the AIPAC policy conference. Last year it was the controversy over the dramatic appearance of Christians United for Israel president John Hagee; in 2005 and 2006 much of the talk in the hallways was about the federal investigation into two former AIPAC staffers.
Several Barack Obama supporters said earlier in the week that today’s speech at AIPAC would be the critical moment in his effort to keep Jewish voters on the Democratic reservation in November.
They must be kvelling now that the speech is over. A pro-Israel group whose leaders feared a less-than-friendly reception gave Obama one of the most enthusiastic receptions of the three-day conference.