Last October when Michael Bloomberg was named the first recipient of the Genesis Prize, billed as “the Jewish Nobel Prize,” more than a few eyebrows were raised at the choice of the then-New York mayor.
Watching a first-rate documentary a few weeks ago on Showtime about David Steinberg, the controversial but loveable Canadian-born comedian, actor, writer and director, brought back a flood of memories for me.
The fact that the current Mideast peace talks are over — but for the bickering over who is to blame — is a shame, if not a tragedy. But it is certainly not a surprise. For all of Secretary of State Kerry’s energetic efforts since last summer in trying to revive a comatose situation, the fact remains that while Israel was, and is, prepared to make major compromises for peace, the Palestinian leadership is not.
Leaders of the three main streams of Judaism in America told a group of visiting Israeli Knesset members last week that denominational divisions are less important to them than their common commitment to educate and inspire American Jews.
Gennadiy Elikman came with his family to Chicago from Moldova, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, as a teenager in 1999. He was immediately enrolled at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, a Modern Orthodox day school, knowing “nothing, zero” about Judaism, he says. But he has a vivid memory of being given a Torah to hold. “I didn’t know what it was but my hands began to shake — it was a powerful feeling.”
President Obama is getting beat up pretty bad lately — from the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Syrian President Bashar Assad, who are testing his foreign policy moxie. Also from much of the press, world opinion and national polls, for not standing up to the above, and for projecting a sense of weakness from the leader of the world’s most powerful nation.