I want to share a letter I received from a reader regarding the portrayal of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. The writer’s son and family are longtime residents of Itamar, in the Samarian mountains near Nablus.
The Jewish people has pulled off some pretty fancy tricks over the millennia; still being here today, with a reborn homeland, high among them. But purging sin, greed and general bad behavior from every single adherent seems a tall order, even for such a talented and determined group as ours.
So our dream of being only the people of Einsteins and Wiesels, Heschels and Koufaxes is sometimes thwarted by Rosenbergs and Pollards, Milkens and Boeskys, Amirs and Madoffs.
The lack of sustainability of what is now a $2 billion educational system that caters primarily to middle-class and lower-class students should have been anticipated long ago, when the number of kids in private Jewish schools began to skyrocket, as far back as the 1950s.
A recent opinion piece in The Jewish Week by three doctors expressing alarm about so-called kiddush clubs, a phenomenon mostly found in Modern Orthodox shuls, was bound to generate some controversy.
Check next week’s letters page for some pro and con responses.
Whether or not rabbis should allow shul members to step out of services, usually during the Torah reading, to enjoy a private kiddush of mostly liquor and some snacks is a question that probably dates back through generations.
JTA has just posted a timely series on the settlers of the West Bank, exploring their potential extremism and the very real possibility of Jew-vs.-Jew violence should Israel eventually decide to evacuate them, as much of the world, including the President of the United States, would like.
I often think I should have jumped into the lake after him.
My son was 12 years old at the time, leaning a bit too far out when he cast his fishing rod. Maybe he did it on purpose.
When Zachary hit the lake he was only a foot from the boat dock, in water barely over his head, and easily within reach for me to pull him back up. There was no current, and with his swimming skills, he probably could have chosen to do a few laps to the floating dock and back, fully clothed, before he climbed out of the water.
As summer arrives, young people dream of adventure, thoughts of cruises and road trips and theme parks dancing in their heads.
For all too many these days, dreaming and thoughts are all they’re going to get.
Among the fondest memories of my childhood are driving down the East Coast to Florida in my father’s big Chevy Impala (the minivan of its time), stopping at almost every point of interest in between; driving up north to Toronto and Montreal, several trips to Israel and one out west to California, Arizona and Nevada.
People who once quietly murmured about the tuition crisis are now shouting. Many who once casually flirted with the idea of putting their children in public school are filling out the paperwork.
In the best economic times it was difficult for Jewish families to find $30,000-$40,000 to educate their kids Jewishly full-time. Now it’s become the Herculean task that some are staring to see as Sisyphean.
What if I skip the next few paragraphs? Would anyone notice? If they do, would they mind, or be glad?
These are the questions that can often cross your mind when you lead a seder, as I’ve found myself doing for the past 20 years or so. It’s not a role I’ve ever sought out, and I’d much rather share the responsibility with others, but it seems to fall on me by default.