How will I die? What if (anything) happens to me (if there even still is a “me”) next? How will my death impact those I leave behind? The Talmud asks these questions in response to the death of Miriam and Aaron, part of this week’s sedra.
I generally feel guilty about stuff. Sometimes I blame that on my being Jewish — other times I accept that it’s just me. Maybe that’s why the latest round of somewhat justified Israel bashing, as well as the utterly unjustified Jew-bashing that’s going along with it, has been keeping me up at night. Try as I might, I don’t seem able to extricate myself from Israel anymore.
Note: This summer Campus Confidential will explore the many ways Jewish students are spending their vacation. Have a great summer story? Send it to email@example.com.
When I introduced myself to my summer housing roommate as a student from Brown University with a Jewish heritage studying Arabic for the summer at a Catholic University founded by Jesuits, the first response I got was the ever-articulate “Wow!” His next question was “Why?”
If you actually pay attention at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you just might learn something new. Maybe you'll pick up a meaningful nugget of knowledge from the parsha that you've missed in the past. Perhaps you'll discover how you might get involved in the mitzvah project being discussed on the bima. Or possibly you'll get some insights (and eyesights) as to exactly how much shorter this year's hemlines are than last year's.
After Rabbi Milton Steinberg recovered following his heart attack he walked out into the bright midday sun. He thought, “How precious — how careless.” Life is so precious and we are so careless with it. How can we pay so little heed when we know that everything cherished must end? Perhaps we fear that if we care too much, the losses of life will be unbearable.
Two seemingly unrelated events that occurred recently made me think about how related they actually were. One was the death of the great Bible scholar Moshe Greenberg in Israel last month; the other was the publication of a new biography of the prominent American Zionist leader Abba Hillel Silver. Greenberg was born in 1928 and made aliyah in 1970; Silver was born in 1893, and though he helped found the State of Israel, he never settled there. Greenberg probably knew of Silver’s activities, but it’s unlikely the two ever met.
Some Jewish community leaders expressed disappointment over the recent resolution of the Rabbinical Council of America, the leading Modern Orthodox rabbinic association, opposing the ordination of women. By contrast, I was greatly encouraged by the RCA resolution that called for the creation of “halachically and communally appropriate professional opportunities” for women scholars.
When the New Israel Fund sent an action alert to protest gender-segregated buses in Israel, we got an enthusiastic response.
When we and the human rights groups we fund were attacked in Israel, viciously and dishonestly, we asked for signatures to a petition to Prime Minister Netanyahu in support of democratic dissent, and we got a very enthusiastic response.
But the immediate reaction we got to a brief, carefully-balanced letter we sent about the...well, let's call it the disastrous incident of the Gaza flotilla... now that was a response.