Approaching this holiday weekend, as we ponder the next steps in the troubled U.S.-Israel relationship, we’re reminded of the story of the hen and the turkey checking the farmer’s menu the night before Thanksgiving. It called for a grand luncheon the next day of “scrambled eggs followed by the traditional festive meal.” Sadly, the turkey turned to the hen and said, “From you he wants a contribution; from me he wants a total commitment.”
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complains about the “exceedingly bad deal” on the table in Geneva with Iran, U.S. officials, most notably Secretary of State John Kerry, have suggested that the Israeli leader has his facts wrong.
An interfaith initiative that bordered on the quixotic when it began five years ago — pairing synagogues and mosques for weekend-long programs that feature theological dialogue and cultural exchanges — has already grown into a symbol of how it is possible to cross religious barriers.
Seventy-five years ago this weekend the world failed a test.
Throughout Germany and parts of Austria the Nazis carried out an extensive pogrom. There were attacks on Jewish individuals and sites on Nov. 9-10,1938, leaving at least 91 Jews dead, some 30,000 arrested and interned in concentration camps, and more than 1,000 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses destroyed.
The Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program have America’s two most important Mideast allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, on the same page in voicing their deep concerns.
According to legend, it was John Foster Dulles, secretary of state under President Eisenhower and not known as a friend of Israel, who is most responsible for the creation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which celebrated “five decades of leadership and achievement” with a gala dinner attended by 1,200 people at the Waldorf Astoria last week.
It was a testimony to the influence and longevity of the life of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that the health updates on an ailing rabbinic leader were headline news in Israeli newspapers and broadcasts in recent weeks. Outside of haredi, or ultra-Orthodox circles, in which Rabbi Yosef played a prominent role for more than a half century, most Israelis have little interest in aging rabbis.
The results are in on American Jewish identity, and they tell us what we should have sensed by now: that particularly among the young, an increasing number are moving away from formal expressions of Judaism, marrying out, and not raising children as Jews.