While the pro-Israel community continues to deconstruct President Obama’s statements about the Mideast in trying to determine whether he is a true friend or not, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Jewish state’s most outspoken defender among world leaders is someone who may not be a household name for many of us.
It’s a question we often ask ourselves, and hear from others, particularly at times like this of great anxiety about Israel’s future.
The answer is to get involved, and one tangible and immediate way to do that is to participate in Celebrate Israel, the annual Israel Day parade — the biggest of its kind anywhere — that takes place this Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., up Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street, rain or shine.
If the Revelation at Mount Sinai was arguably the pivotal moment in Judaism, its commemoration — Shavuot (June 8 and 9 this year) — has oddly become a private, almost obscure affair compared to its fellow heavyweights on the holiday calendar.
Everyone in town, even on television, knows about Passover, its sibling holiday. Almost all Jews speak of Pesach and Passover interchangeably. But like an old Yiddish relative, no one really uses or even knows Shavuot’s English name: Feast of Weeks? Pentecost? Really, who in the family ever calls her that?
Religious freedom is both precious and precarious. Case in point: the circumcision ban that will be on the ballot as a referendum in San Francisco in November.
The proposed measure would make it unlawful to perform a ceremony critical to the identity of Jews; worse, it states that “no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.”
Talk about blatant violations of the First Amendment.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is often described as one of the most powerful and effective lobbying groups in Washington. Just about any way you measure success — Congressional voting results, organizational skills, funding, effective professionals and legions of passionate lay leaders — AIPAC qualifies. And supporters of Israel, and of strong ties between Washington and Jerusalem, should be grateful for that achievement.
With the publication of our fourth annual “36 Under 36” special section (May 13), we have now identified and profiled 12 dozen young men and women who are contributing to, sustaining and reinventing Jewish life in our community.
With Israel confronting growing international isolation and a reckless Palestinian campaign to end-run direct negotiations at the United Nations in September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces difficult challenges during his U.S. visit this week.
In particular, the prime minister’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday is both an opportunity and a risk.
On the surface, the incident that grew into a major story — first reported on our website, by the way — pitting Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (“Angels In America”) vs. the trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY) who first denied and later granted him an honorary doctorate was about freedom of speech.
According to that version, Kushner is a great talent, his views on Israel may be offensive to many supporters of the Jewish state but he is being honored for his body of artistic work, not his politics. End of story.
The fact that a number of American rabbinical students from the liberal denominations come back from their year of study in Israel feeling conflicted about the Jewish state is worrisome, but not surprising. (See story, Page 1.)
There are no statistics available on how many students feel this way or their level of discontent, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many are feeling some degree of alienation, consistent with widespread polls and reports about their peers throughout the American Jewish community.
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.