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.
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.
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.
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.”
Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, offered a thoughtful analysis of the State of Israel here last week, alternately praising the Zionist enterprise for its remarkable accomplishments in the face of constant threats and calling attention to its moral weaknesses, most notably its treatment of its Arab citizens and policy on settlements, which he called the state’s “single greatest moral and strategic blunder.”
Forty years ago this spring, Columbia University was rocked by student riots, and Yeshiva University, where I was a senior, was the scene of a major water fight in the dorm and impromptu volleyball game on the streets of Midtown. And therein lies a tale.
Continuing a trend among philanthropies to highlight and support the creative work of individual thinkers and activists, the Avi Chai Foundation this week announced the first winners of its new Fellows program.
There’s a terrific revival of Arthur Miller’s “Incident At Vichy,” opening this week at the Beckett Theater, about a roomful of people picked up by the Nazis for “questioning.” Most of the suspects wonder why, for all their individual innocence, they were picked off the street. Perhaps, each figures, if they would carry themselves a certain way, if they only had a chance to explain. At the end of the bench sits an “old Jew” (as he’s called in the script), as obvious as his beard and black hat.