view counter

Editorial & Opinion | Editorial

12/24/2014 | Editorial

While there are rabbis these days who are hailed in the media as major moral and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Harold Schulweis, whose Valley Beth Shalom in the San Fernando Valley of California became one of the most creative and dynamic congregations in the country during his four decades of leadership, made his mark before national magazines compiled “Top Rabbis” lists. Rabbi Schulweis, a native of the Bronx who died at 89 last week after a long battle with heart disease, was less interested in glory than he was in transforming Jews on the sidelines into active participants in their religious life (see Obituary on page 24). His appeal was to their minds as well as their hearts, and his teachings — through his sermons, essays, poetry, wit and compassion — helped his synagogue become a caring and sacred community, leading the way for others to follow.

12/24/2014 | Editorial

The European Court of Justice ruled last week that Hamas is not a terrorist group after all. The decision is the latest indication of Europe’s increasing embrace of the Palestinian cause and vexation with Israel.

12/17/2014 | Editorial

Chanukah comes not a moment too soon, a chance to light up the darkness of a difficult year for Israel and its supporters. The litany of woes included the 50-day war in Gaza during which the Israel Defense Forces prevailed militarily against Hamas but lost the image battle, accused of excessive military force. There was increasing anti-Semitism and political isolation for the Jewish state, as Europe and the United Nations move toward accepting a Palestinian state without direct negotiations with Jerusalem. And there were deteriorating relations between the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, as personal animosity seeps into diplomatic policy.

12/17/2014 | Editorial

On Nov. 24, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor delivered a blistering condemnation of UN hypocrisy in dealing with the Jewish state. It came during a commemoration of the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and deserves attention for its important message and blunt language in a forum know for flowery rhetoric. And it merits quoting at some length because it received so little coverage.

12/10/2014 | Editorial

Rabbi Shai Held, rosh yeshiva of Mechon Hadar, said he had an epiphany of sorts while he sat on Broadway, protesting a Staten Island grand jury’s decision last week not to indict a white police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who allegedly had been selling individual cigarettes last July. Rabbi Held, who was among several rabbis arrested for their sit-in, said that as the crowd around him shouted “black lives matter,” an identifiably black Jewish man nearby fervently yelled “louder,” over and over again. “I saw in that moment how deeply African American men feel their lives devalued,” the rabbi said in a radio interview, adding that the negative perceptions among many whites about black men “run so deep that it should penetrate our souls.”

12/03/2014 | Editorial

The longstanding effort to increase awareness of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community received a major boost this week. Hundreds of Israeli social workers, therapists, rabbis, community leaders and teachers met at a conference in Jerusalem to discuss how to prevent and deal with sexual abuse and domestic violence — topics that too often have been avoided rather than confronted. Participants described it as a landmark event.