The recent start of the busy season for Birthright Israel, the program that has brought hundreds of thousands of young Jews closer to the Jewish community by bringing them to Israel for 10 free days of tours and lectures, also marked the end of another cultural program that has attracted the same age group.
For pop singer Alicia Keys, who will soon visit Israel in defiance of a personal appeal to boycott from noted author Alice Walker, the decision to visit Israel, while worthy of our gratitude and applause, was made from a position of strength. After all, Keys is successful, confident and wealthy enough to do as she pleases. On the other end of the spectrum is a Syrian doctor and his patient, 28, in the throes of a civil war whose decision to go to Israel was made in the ultimate weakness, with a bullet in his gut and life slipping away.
At first glance, the “Special Report on Poverty,” the third and final part of the 2011 population study of the Greater New York Jewish community that was commissioned by UJA-Federation in consultation with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, holds no surprises.
While no one will mistake the nearby day school or synagogue for the Google headquarters anytime soon, the Jewish educational world is starting to accelerate from the digital superhighway’s on- ramp to the middle lane.
The death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg this week is a loss for his family, for the nation and for the Jewish community. A member of the Senate for nearly three decades, an unapologetic liberal, a gruff legislator who was nonetheless described by his colleagues as a gentleman in an era when civility among partisans is increasingly becoming an anachronism, Sen. Lautenberg — at 89 the oldest member of the Senate — represented a historical memory that is hard to replace.
Strange, how so many Israelites could witness the miracles of the Exodus and yet have been disillusioned enough to want to return to Egypt. How could they not have been in a constant state of joy and optimism, realizing their place in sacred history?