It shouldn’t have to be said at this point, but let’s say it anyway: After too many wars, Israelis want nothing more than peace. One would be hard-pressed to think of any “gestures” for peace that Israel was asked to make that weren’t made, most recently this past week’s approval of the release of 104 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails.
The news that Ryan Braun, the star Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who won the National League Most Valuable Player award last year, has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating baseball’s drug policy, is disappointing for baseball fans everywhere. Perhaps more so for those who embraced him as “The Hebrew Hammer,” one of the finest Jewish players in the game in many years.
With the once-a-decade election of Israel’s two chief rabbis scheduled for July 24, Rabbi David Stav, the 53-year-old Religious Zionist candidate for the Ashkenazi post who is attempting to end the two-decade-long reign of the fervently Orthodox, has already achieved a significant victory. Through his long and very public campaign this year he has shed light on a process that has long been kept in the shadows, understandably, because it is ugly, nasty and an embarrassment to Judaism.
Among our Lamentations this week was the news on Tisha b’Av that the European Union would cease all funding and cooperation with Israeli activity beyond the Green Line (1967 borders). This diplomatic and economic ostracism includes not only the entirety of the West Bank but even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem — the place, of course, of the Temple Mount and Kotel, our holiest sites.
For the last two decades, at least, there has been a widespread perception in some circles that Jewish federations were on their way to becoming dinosaurs, the victims of declining attachment to Jewish organizational institutions in general and centralized giving in particular, and accelerated by the serious decline in the economy. That may all be true in some communities, but not in New York, where UJA-Federation continues to set the standard not only for dollars raised but for exemplifying the kind of reach and depth that only a communal charity of its size and savvy can command.