Even as Modern Orthodox Jews see themselves as embattled and on the decline within Orthodoxy, eclipsed by the ascendancy of the haredim to the right, new demographic data offer quite a different picture.
When Clifford Goldstein was 7, his father took him to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for a stockholders meeting of the Israeli company Ampal.
"I had five shares, so I went with him and I liked the feel of it," he recalled. "People were there as investors, but my father was there more because he wanted to invest in Israel."
It was 22 years ago that Chava Katz and 12 other young Jewish women were permitted by the Syria government to leave their homeland and travel to the United States to find a Jewish husband. Now, with Israel and Syria talking peace, she has mixed emotions.
"I hope they do it," she said of the peace negotiations. "But I don't trust any Arab countries. Would I ever go back? Never! Even my husband asks me that. But I would never return because times there were very tough."
Suddenly in Jewish Westchester, land of spacious homes and ample backyards, nothing seems to fit.
Westchesterís Jews, once limited by upper-crust restrictions, are experiencing a 40-percent population surge in the past 10 years, only to find that their infrastructure of schools and shuls now seems too small, tight around the seams.
Local Jewish leaders returned from a 37-hour solidarity trip to Israel this week strengthened in their resolve that, as UJA-Federation executive vice president John Ruskay put it, "We're all in this together."
He added that Israelis seemed committed to "stand firm, particularly after the prime minister had made such an offer for peace" this summer at Camp David. But Ruskay also sensed "an undercurrent of despondency. The choices are difficult and limited, and that's what makes this a crisis."
The Jewish people has pulled off some pretty fancy tricks over the millennia; still being here today, with a reborn homeland, high among them. But purging sin, greed and general bad behavior from every single adherent seems a tall order, even for such a talented and determined group as ours.
So our dream of being only the people of Einsteins and Wiesels, Heschels and Koufaxes is sometimes thwarted by Rosenbergs and Pollards, Milkens and Boeskys, Amirs and Madoffs.
Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Like many in our community, I’ve been transfixed by the dramatic FBI arrests in New Jersey that netted prominent rabbis as well as mayors, city council presidents and other officials.
It’s both titillating and scary; first Bernie Madoff, now this. There haven’t been so many high-profile Jewish baddies since Leopold and Loeb.
And this one looks huge, involving as it does some of the leading figures in the Syrian Jewish community, money laundering and trafficking in human organs.