Jerusalem — The assassin, now a proud daddy, was beaming.
On Sunday, 12 years to the day that he gunned down Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, Yigal Amir was celebrating his son’s brit in a tent set up on the grounds of the Rimonim prison near Netanya, where he is serving a life sentence.
The next day, every media outlet in the country showed images of a clean-cut Amir smiling and waving to supporters with his right hand and holding the bassinet with his left.
The Bettouns are a traditional kind of family. They decorate their homes with menorahs and affix mezuzahs to their doorposts. They gather in the synagogue for bar mitzvah services and celebrate in lavish style. And when someone dies, they immediately say the Shema: even when that person has just been thrown from a helicopter into the backyard of the family compound.
Today, the once-struggling Y is in excellent financial shape.
Today, the Y is at the center of the post-9/11 revival of Jewish life in Lower Manhattan, the home to scores of activities and to the Downtown Kehillah, the umbrella group for a dozen local Jewish institutions.
To the truly religious, the Torah is like mother's milk: sustaining and nurturing.
Many, however, don't believe the sanctuary is a place where mothers and their babies should extend that metaphor into breast-feeding. In their view, the only thing that should be uncovered during services is the Torah scroll.
But a new religious opinion passed recently by the Conservative movement's law committee endorses the idea of women discreetly breast-feeding their children in the sanctuary.
New York State's health commissioner struck an accord this week with an organization of fervently Orthodox rabbis based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on the controversial practice of metzitzah b'peh, or oral suctioning by a mohel of blood from a circumcision wound.
Opposition is building to a city Health Department campaign to warn new Jewish parents against a circumcision procedure it describes as life threatening: even before the plan is launched.
In a full-page ad in last week's Brooklyn Orthodox paper, The Jewish Press, a new group calling itself Friends of Bris Milah (ritual circumcision) urged parents to call a 24-hour hot line "to report any conversation initiated by doctors, hospitals and other professional caregivers" regarding the procedure known as metzitzah b'peh.
Karen Trister Grace is a midwife who, for many years and as a matter of principle, opposed circumcision. But a few years ago, she was required to learn how to do the procedure as part of her work delivering babies at a Bronx hospital. She soon began seeing circumcision as “not such a big deal.”
It became a bigger deal when she was pregnant last year. It prompted Karen to begin thinking about her Jewish identity. It also led her to reflect on how she and her husband, Peter Grace, a Catholic, would raise their new child.
The case of the Monsey mohel who may have infected three newborn boys with the herpes virus is prompting some to wonder if the field requires greater oversight.
The three boys contracted herpes simplex virus 1, the type which in adults usually causes only a mouth sore, but can overwhelm a newborn’s system. One of the babies, who was circumcised in October, died ten days later. He and his twin brother tested positive for the virus. The third is a Staten Island boy who also tested positive after being circumcised by Fischer in late 2003.
Undergirding the current standoff between the fervently Orthodox community and the New York City Department of Health over a controversial circumcision practice appears to be a gulf of cultural difference and a fundamental misunderstanding of the disease at issue.
That is one of the conclusions drawn from voluminous correspondence between members of the haredi community and city health officials obtained by The Jewish Week through a Freedom of Information Law request filed in October.
A cup of coffee and a Danish.
For the last 20 years, lunchtime for Rabbi T. has meant a two-and-a-half block walk from one Lower East Side institution, Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, the yeshiva where he teaches Talmud, to Gertel’s, a kosher bakery where he buys a snack and sits at a small table, reviewing a Hebrew text. (Many members of the haredi community are publicity-shy.)
Starting Monday, Rabbi T. will have to get his lunch somewhere else.