Tisha b’Av (the ninth of Av) is the name that marks the saddest date on the Jewish calendar, recalling the destruction of the Holy Temples. Similarly, the most deadly attack ever on American soil — bringing about the destruction of the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and a more trusting way of life — is commemorated simply by the date on which it occurred: 9/11.
How many of us would risk our life to save another’s? Run into a burning building? Dive into a churning body of water? Fend off an armed thief?
Fortunately, few of us have to face such a test.
On a street corner in Rockland County, a 50-year-old father of four faced this test Sunday morning, hours after Hurricane Irene hit David Reichenberg’s Spring Valley neighborhood, knocking down branches and power lines, flooding roads.
What are we to make of the latest events in Libya, where the feared and hated despot Muammar al-Qaddafi appears to be at the end of his long reign? Will the revolution there lead to unity and democracy or tribal warfare and chaos? And how will Qaddafi’s fate impact on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose continued defiance in spite of calls for his ouster is sure to garner even more attention now as the international spotlight turns to him?
The Crown Heights riots, one of the most traumatic events in American Jewish history, still elicits shivers and arguments as if it were yesterday, rather than 20 years ago. What was clear from the Girgenti Report, commissioned by Gov. Mario Cuomo, is that the riot was not a “race riot” but an anti-Semitic riot.
Everyone knows, even people who don’t really follow the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, that the Obama administration and numerous journalists and academics consider the settlements and sometimes even the announcement of new Israeli housing in Jerusalem, to be obstacles to a resumption of negotiations.
The old expression “the pot calling the kettle black” comes to mind this week on learning that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has urged Syrian President Bashar al Assad to stop “the killing machines and end the bloodshed.”
In contrast to the “Arab Spring” that began last winter and spread among Mideast countries, with violent protests leading to deadly confrontations over autocratic rule, the “Israel Spring” that has captured the attention and pulse of the Jewish state is, in a sense, a reinvigoration of democracy and an impassioned call for a return to social justice.
Imagine what the world reaction would be if Israel, in order to suppress civilian demonstrations among Arabs, were to unleash its army, killing up to 150 unarmed people in a few days of fighting in Israel proper or the West Bank.