We American Jews get bent out of shape when we’re accused of dual loyalty. But the truth is many of us are guilty as charged when it comes to being proud Americans and supporting the people of Israel.
We should be proud, not ashamed of that fact.
And it’s also true that we give out mixed messages when we say American Jews should be unified in support of Israel, but that dialogue and debate between our two societies is a healthy sign of engagement, caring and passion.
The boldest experiment in American Jewish high school education and leadership, unknown to most of us, is taking place on a beautiful 100-acre campus in Greensboro, N.C., that has to be seen to be believed.
The three-day annual conference of communal leaders known as the GA (General Assembly), held in Baltimore earlier this month, turned out to be a microcosm of its parent body, the Jewish Federations of North America: an impressive collection of committed, caring professional and lay people, spread too thin and lacking in focus, and giving the impression of following rather than leading at a critical juncture in Jewish life.
Sitting in my home this weekend and reading about the trauma the people of Israel have endured under rocket attack in recent days, I never felt closer to Israel — or further away.
I was reminded of the story of the hen and the turkey reading the Thanksgiving Day menu the farmer had posted, calling for the next day’s dinner to feature “scrambled eggs and the traditional holiday meal.”
“From you he wants a contribution,” the turkey said ruefully to the hen. “From me he wants total commitment.”
“Moneyball” has entered the political scene, big time, and old-school Jewish leaders here and in Israel better take note.
President Barack Obama’s re-election ushered in a new era of successful, highly sophisticated campaigning that is certain to be duplicated in the future, replacing punditry and prognostication with the kind of mathematics-based analytics that the Oakland A’s front office used a decade ago to make the team competitive in the American League West despite low salaries for the players.
I received a call several weeks ago from the exec of a mid-sized Jewish federation asking for my thoughts on a growing problem in his community: the local, independent Jewish newspaper is in financial meltdown and cannot go on as is.
“How can we help?” he wanted to know, recognizing the key role the paper has played in the community for decades.