On the eve of Tisha b’Av 15 years ago, I wrote one of my first columns in my new post here about the rabbinic teaching that the Holy Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE and again in 70 AD on Tisha b’Av (the ninth of Av) because of sinat chinam, or causeless hatred, among the Jewish people.
I tried to make the point that the problem still plagues us, and noted that Jews of all stripes, from Orthodox to Reform to secular, can and should find things to admire about each other.
What lessons can we take away from all the embarrassing reports about Agriprocessors, the largest kosher slaughterhouse in America, accused of abuse of both animals and workers in its Postville, Iowa plant?
The plus side is that the controversy has sparked a long-overdue discussion about the larger meaning of the mitzvah of kashrut, a conversation that includes values as well as ritual and could result in some substantive improvements. But there are those who contend that such talk is likely to have little impact on the multi-billion dollar kosher food industry.
No matter what you call them — Hebrew schools, religious, congregational or supplementary schools — they have long been the whipping boy of American Jewish life, blamed for providing a superficial education and the most negative Jewish experience in a young person’s life.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, it’s been hard to resist the seemingly endless coverage of the Summer Olympics from Beijing. And NBC, which has spent a fortune to broadcast the Games, has pulled out all the stops in trying to tie us in emotionally to many of the athletes the network features, few of whom seem to come from intact families free of tragedy.
The headline of this column refers to Marc Schneier, the high-profile rabbi leading the campaign for an eruv, or ritual Sabbath enclosure, in his tony Westhampton Beach community.
It’s also an allusion to the Hebrew phrase in the Torah translated as “mixed multitudes,” or rabble rousers — in this case increasingly vocal and angry local residents, Jews and non-Jews, opposed to the town granting approval to the rabbinic loophole allowing observant Jews to carry on the Sabbath.
To the rest of the world, Michael Hammer, who died at 60 last week from an apparent brain hemorrhage while bicycling Aug. 22 in the Berkshires, was best known as a management consultant, if not guru, and co-author of the 1993 best-seller, “Reengineering The Corporation.”
The book sold two million copies, revolutionized the business world and led to his being named by Time magazine in 1996 as one of “America’s 25 Most Influential People,” along with the likes of Al Gore, Martha Stewart, Frank Gehry and Oprah Winfrey.