With Israel in retreat from Gaza, perhaps it is time to bury cliches, as well as the dead. So many op-eds on Israel’s behalf have told us that Israel “loves life” more than the enemy does; that Israel’s army is the most “humanitarian” ever; that Israel’s real objective is the military equivalent of immaculate conception — shock and awe, while retaining total innocence.
I think we can safely assume that many men reading The Jewish Week have been in love with a fair number of religious Jewish women, have had a crush on a good number more, and only wish they were given the time of day by a dozen other Orthodox women so breathtakingly beautiful, to paraphrase “Farewell, My Lovely,” that they could make an angel kick a hole in a stained glass window.
Acknowledging that a number of families evacuated from Gush Katif in the summer of 2005 may be in need of economic assistance, the leadership of UJA-Federation of New York and the United Jewish Communities (UJC) have committed to evaluating the situation first-hand.John Ruskay, the executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation, plans to visit some of the evacuee communities in Israel in February to help decide if assistance is required.
In this economic crisis, the leaders of Satmar, who defiantly never went to college, are running rings around their more modern brothers and sisters who have advanced degrees and invested with Bernie Madoff. Mainstream Jews are debating hot to steer Jewish education through the crisis, perhaps with tax credits, or the creation of Hebrew-emphasis public charer schools, like the Arabic public school in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Satmar, who figured this out 15 years ago, scored $6.3 million from the stimulus bill for Kiryas Joel’s all-Jewish public school.
Even before Israel has the chance next month to celebrate the remarkable achievement of creating a state and surviving for 60 years in a hostile environment, and of having forged a proud, democratic, modern society in the Mideast, there is growing discussion of how long it can last.
A young chasid, Yosef Yitzhak, a future rebbe, went walking with his father in the summer of 1896, past wheat fields, into a forest, near the village of Lubavitch. His father explained how God formed the breeze that bent the wheat, that fluttered the grass; every movement imagined and set in motion at Creation. There is no such thing as coincidence, not even a breeze. Everything is choreographed from the beginning and into the infinite.
And yet, say the mystics, we are dancers within the choreography. The question is whether we can hear the music;
‘Jews must always be on guard,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told a small group of business professionals during a recent visit to New York. Those few words sum up the primary message of the international Jewish human rights center he founded three decades ago in Los Angeles, which claims more than 400,000 supporters.
After the controversy over granting an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner, despite his vocal criticisms of Israel, Brandeis University may well change its policy on the selection process for such awards.
By the end of a spirited and high-level debate held here last week, many in the audience of about 400 dramatically shifted their opinions and agreed with the proposition that “Islam is dominated by radicals.”
In a move certain to be seen as an effort to compete with the Rabbinical Council of America — the largest group of Orthodox rabbis — two vocal critics this week launched a clerical group called the International Rabbinic Fellowship.