Not surprisingly, there has already been a large wave of reactions to the first major national survey of American Jews in more than a decade, with its sobering, if not bleak, portrait of a community on the fast track toward assimilation.
In response to Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Not Too Late To Push In-Marriage?” (Sept. 13), [and Rabbi Jack Wertheimer’s call for aggressively advocating for in-marriage]: Does anyone seriously believe that a serious, committed Jew loses his or her commitment to Judaism because he or she intermarries?
What is happening is the opposite of what people like Wertheimer are saying: people don’t intermarry and then lose their commitment to Judaism. They lose their commitment and then have no reason not to intermarry.
Last Thursday, a 5-year-old British girl, April Jones, who had been raped and murdered, was buried in London after her funeral was televised nationally. She and another young girl were victims of men apparently addicted to online pornography. And although England, like the U.S., bans child pornography, Prime Minister David Cameron plans to take measures to further restrict pornography on the Internet, making Britain “the most family-friendly democracy in the world,” according to a member of his Conservative Party.
My favorite contemporary Simchat Torah story was told to me by a close friend who grew up in Pittsburgh. I offer it here in honor of Simchat Torah, which is celebrated this year on Thursday evening and Friday, and as the baseball season closes out this weekend. Nowadays, with the expanded Major Leagues, divisional playoffs and Wild Card teams, the World Series, long known as the October Classic, could very well linger until November. But when I was growing up, the World Series invariably fell out on the High Holy Days. (I used to imagine Ford Frick, the commissioner at the time, consulting a luach, or Jewish calendar, each year to pick the Series dates just to frustrate observant fans.) But it was just such a convergence of the baseball schedule and the Jewish holidays that led to the unique encounter described here …
With “Like Dreamers,” due out Oct. 1, Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born writer and journalist living in Jerusalem, has written a powerful and haunting book about the soul of modern Israel, focusing on the lives of seven Israelis, members of the famed 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade. These men helped reunite Jerusalem in the 1967 war and went on to become exemplars of the social, religious, political and cultural impulses that divided the country, from Peace Now to Gush Emunim, from Torah scholars to kibbutz leaders to a revered musician, Israel’s Bob Dylan.