It’s the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech; the 100th anniversary of Menachem Begin’s birth; and the 5,774th anniversary of God’s dream and Adam’s birth. All are worthy of being “dipped in honey” this week on Rosh HaShanah.
On Aug. 28, Israel will welcome the last official group of Ethiopians immigrating to Israel, a low-key conclusion to a complicated, at times triumphant and at times tragic, aliyah process that is still playing itself out three decades after it began.
The results are in from a national survey entitled “Next Gen Donors: The Future of Jewish Giving,” and they are more positive than some had feared. But they also indicate that American Jews in their 20s and 30s are not as enthusiastic about giving to specifically Jewish organizations as their parents.
Some scandals, when we learn of them, seem almost predictable, a disgrace that was just waiting to happen. Others, like the news this week that William “Willy” Rapfogel, the popular and successful executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, has been fired and is under investigation for financial misconduct, come as a shock. As a Jewish community leader who had helped Met Council, during his more than two decades at the helm, grow into a major social-service organization, Rapfogel was energetic, effective, focused and well connected. Now, it seems in hindsight, to a fault.
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is being described as a moderate in the American press. Compared to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, maybe he is. After all, while Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and openly and repeatedly called for doing away with Israel, so far Rouhani, appearing at an Al Quds Day event in Iran on Friday where marchers shout “Death to Israel,” “only” referred to the Jewish state as “a sore that has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world for many years.”
Ironically, the victory by the haredi candidates in last week’s once-a-decade election of the two chief rabbis in Israel may, in the long run, lead to a more liberal and open approach to religious life in the Jewish state.
It shouldn’t have to be said at this point, but let’s say it anyway: After too many wars, Israelis want nothing more than peace. One would be hard-pressed to think of any “gestures” for peace that Israel was asked to make that weren’t made, most recently this past week’s approval of the release of 104 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails.
The news that Ryan Braun, the star Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who won the National League Most Valuable Player award last year, has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating baseball’s drug policy, is disappointing for baseball fans everywhere. Perhaps more so for those who embraced him as “The Hebrew Hammer,” one of the finest Jewish players in the game in many years.
With the once-a-decade election of Israel’s two chief rabbis scheduled for July 24, Rabbi David Stav, the 53-year-old Religious Zionist candidate for the Ashkenazi post who is attempting to end the two-decade-long reign of the fervently Orthodox, has already achieved a significant victory. Through his long and very public campaign this year he has shed light on a process that has long been kept in the shadows, understandably, because it is ugly, nasty and an embarrassment to Judaism.