Last Rosh HaShanah, for reasons eluding mortals, Aharon Ben-Avraham was not inscribed in the Book of Life. After the holidays, a cancer grew in his brain. By summer his body was in a private autumn: memory, speech, even the ability to swallow, withered and fell away like weightless leaves.As life recedes, the world recedes as well. In a city craving information about the arts, feuds and fashion, the news seemed surreal, echoes of a distant planet. Amid the trivial, he sought the eternal.
Two juries deliberating the case of two Palestinians accused of trying to firebomb a Riverdale synagogue came back this week with divergent guilty verdicts.
For three months the juries heard the same testimony and saw the same evidence in the same courtroom in the Bronx County Court House, but the jury for Mazen Assi, 23, returned in one day with a guilty verdict on all seven counts, while the 12-member panel for Mohammed Alfaqih, 20, took four days to acquit on six of seven counts.
The first casualty of any war is truth, but there are other casualties ó important stories and issues that are obscured by the daily coverage of Israelís battle against the Palestiniansí more than 2-year-old uprising. Here are five issues this year that have been covered only to some extent, considerably more so in Israel than here, but are deserving of greater conversation and examination.
1. Israelís Economy
From the White House on down, Americans have been scolded not to draw any negative conclusions about Islam just because of the coincidence that so many terrorists happen to be you-know-what. But is there a problem when religion itself is blamed for terrorism?
The rabbi jokes that his shul is closed on Saturdays and holidays. The synagogue at Kennedy Airport opened in December and never has had a minyan. Few are flying, more are afraid.
Rabbi Bennett Rackman, JFKís Jewish chaplain, unlocks the ark where there is a Torah donated by Jewish workers from over at Customs. Two rows of cherry wood pews line the room, perpendicular to a bima, under a gently vaulted ceiling.
Dozens of modern American poets, vehemently against a possible war with Iraq, posture that their poetry is medicinal, good for the body politic.
But others, such as J. Bottum, books and arts editor of the Weekly Standard (Feb. 17), are warning that many of these poet-protesters are playing ìon the edges of 1930s-style anti-Semitism.î They hate war, but not a war against the Jews.
If Daniel Pearl could come back from the dead, would he be the same person? Would he be the universalist he was, or feel betrayed by the universe like a Holocaust survivor who witnessed the abyss? After all, Satan himself would laugh when we say that the hairless Anne Frank with a number on her arm still believed that killers, capos and collaborators were ìgood at heart.î
Just the other week, academics were arguing the legitimacy of inviting anti-Semitic poets to campus in the name of academic freedom. How quaint that now seems. Campus poetry has given way to actual plotting.
A federal indictment late last month charged Sami Al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, with using his campus office and the cover of academic freedom to coordinate financial and terrorist operations, including suicide bombings, for Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Recognizing the shortage of qualified teachers as one of the most serious problems in Jewish education, a group of major funders has launched a $3 million national fellowship program, starting in Boston and Los Angeles, to attract, train, inspire and retain top-quality educators in day schools.
Much of the drama went out of the race for Yeshiva University president this week when Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, spiritual leader of Efrat, Israel, and best known of the potential candidates, withdrew his name from consideration.
That left David Shatz, a professor of philosophy at Yeshiva and Columbia universities, as the likely contender to succeed Norman Lamm, according to sources close to the selection process.
David Schnall, dean of Yeshiva’s Azrieli Graduate School of Education and Administration, also is expected to be a candidate for the post.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.