Next Thursday will mark the 20th anniversary of the highlight of American Jewish activism, the massive rally in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Looking back, there is a wistful quality to the event because the unity of cause reflected that day has not been equaled since by our community.
As I write this blog, President Bush is making his way to Jerusalem (where I am), to participate in Israeli President Shimon Peres’ “Conference on Tomorrow.” The conference itself is quite amazing. Just this afternoon, Tony Blair chaired a session on visions of the future with Mikhail Gorbachev and some nineteen other heads of state in attendance (all in celebration of Israel’s 60th!). It was heady stuff! And tomorrow, out of the blue of the western sky (let’s see who gets that reference!), comes our own President to join the festivities.
With a provocative title like "If this is World War III, how do we win?" one might have thought a forum on terrorism would have presented a unified vision of what's in store for the world in the face of rising militant Islam and an imminent regime change in Iraq.
But there were glaring differences among such ex-heads of state as Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan about how to view the world terror threat and, indeed, what is responsible for the current situation.
American Jews and their allies ramped up a campaign this week against a British union promoting an academic boycott of Israel aimed at pressuring it to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza — even as some British Jews said the union’s drive was going nowhere.
Grodno, Belarus — Tsilia Brido remembers her early Belarus Passover in her Polotsk hometown, her grandfather leading the seders in Hebrew, women from the neighborhood baking their matzahs in her family’s large wood stove.
“It was before the war,” she says, referring to World War II. Belarus was the first of the former Soviet Union’s republics to be invaded by the German army.
Brido remembers the seders ending after 1941, first under the Nazis, then under the communists.