Isolated diplomatically by its Arab neighbors since its creation in 1948 and shunned economically by some anti-Israel nations and corporations in recent decades, Israel now stands at the precipice of a wide-scale economic boycott.
Let’s face it. John Ruskay is a tough act to follow.
The CEO and executive vice president of UJA-Federation of New York, the largest local charity in the world, is stepping down at the end of June, after 15 years in his post, having built and solidified a reputation as a leader in his field. He has successfully combined intellect, passion, compassion, managerial skills, innovation and a strong Jewish sense of peoplehood and collective responsibility. Those qualities define his vision and the institution he has led.
Some major shifts in Jewish life happen in dramatic fashion, others less so.
In recent days details are slowly emerging about a major initiative being undertaken by the government of Israel, in consultation with American Jewish leaders, to invest more than $1 billion over the next two decades to strengthen Jewish identity among young people in the diaspora between the ages of 12 and 35.
Gary Rosenblatt’s column last week focused on the disturbing effort by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate to monopolize and centralize its power, and the passive response of its partner in North America, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), with more than 1,000 member Orthodox rabbis (“Time To Stand Up To The Chief Rabbis,” Jan. 10).
That line from an old ballad, cited by U.S. military hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his farewell address to Congress in 1951, could well be applied to Ariel Sharon. The larger-than-life Israeli general, statesman and prime minister, who began his long, slow fade from the public conscience eight years ago, will be remembered as a man who made history, both in war and in politics. Praised or reviled, he was a commanding presence, a leader who usually got his way.
Another year’s end, another plea for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy who pleaded guilty in 1987 to passing classified information to Israel. But this time it’s different.
The sad story of Rabbi Moti Elon took another troubling twist last week. The once highly popular rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem, whose Torah teachings on radio and television attracted wide audiences beyond the Orthodox community, was sentenced by a local district court on two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor.
British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis made history this week, at least in the world of Limmud, when he became the first person in his post to attend and address Limmud UK, the granddaddy event of the international enterprise that fosters cross-denominational study of Jewish texts and a celebration of Jewish life.