Jerusalem — Alice, a 15-year-old with a blue kerchief around her head and a cigarette dangling from her fingers, was clearly upset to be living in a supervised home for troubled girls in Jerusalem.
She was displeased, too, about speaking with visitors on a UJA-Federation mission from New York.
“She has a real in-your-face attitude,” observed one of the visitors, Jane Grauer of White Plains.
The Israeli government this week detained a family of black, Jewish-American converts from entering the country, triggering concern by Conservative movement leaders who fear the emergence of a pattern of racial and religious discrimination.
by Lawrence Cohler-Esses |
As tension built between Washington and Jerusalem last week, Dr. Mandell Ganchrow, a leader of the Orthodox movement, rose to urge American Jewry’s primary umbrella group to issue a clear statement strongly condemning U.S. pressure on Israel.
Instantly, a chorus of no’s echoed in the Manhattan meeting room of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. And conference chairman Melvin Salberg, ever sensitive to the consensus the group needed to act, told Ganchrow quickly, “I think you have your answer, Mendy.”
Joyce Silver smiled broadly as her companion, Jess Koch of Manhattan, joked with an elderly woman making puppets at Lifeline for the Old in Jerusalem.
“This is what we need in our country,” said Silver. “We have to make these people feel wanted; it makes their eyes sparkle.”
Minutes later, the elderly woman motioned for Silver to sit beside her. Although they did not share a common language, the two women were quickly laughing and embracing.
Some say Israel’s 50th has been a hard birthday to reckon with. Have we built our house of twigs or bricks? Wolves are still at the door, but now there’s huffing and puffing from the inside, too. A beer in solitude seems preferable to a cake with too many candles. In sympathy, all of us, at one time or another, have had a birthday when the last thing we wanted was to arrive home, tense and melancholy, only to enter a living room full of friends yelling “Surprise!”