Murderous Words, Murderous Deeds

10/27/2015 - 20:00

Much of the media has focused on extensive criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for his comments regarding the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, Haj Amin al-Husseini, and whether he initiated the idea of Hitler’s annihilating the Jews or not. As early as 1919 Hitler wrote that Germany must “remove” the Jews, but Netanyahu was trying to make the point, perhaps clumsily, that long before Israel was a state or an “occupier,” Arab leaders in the region expressed their anti-Semitism in the most vile and dangerous manner. So the issue comes down to whether the Grand Mufti wanted to see the Jews murdered or “only” banished from the land of their ancestors.

Jacob Birnbaum’s Way

10/20/2015 - 20:00

Jacob (Yaakov) Birnbaum, founder of Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, may have been the greatest Jewish liberator since Moses. We needed a “struggle,” not conferences or committees. A poor but regal European refugee in New York, he wanted to pull off a prison break for the ages, springing almost two million Jews from the Soviet Union dictatorship after decades of persecution and prison camps. Leading refuseniks such as Yosef Mendelevitch credit Birnbaum with inspiring activists inside the Iron Curtain. In New York, he ignited Jewish student activism unmatched before or since, mentoring dozens to positions of influence and leadership.

A Would-Be Unifier Steps Down

10/20/2015 - 20:00

After 10 years in his post, Rabbi Steve Gutow is stepping down at year’s end as president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the national umbrella group for Jewish community relations councils and synagogue groups. (See story on page 26.) He will be sorely missed by those who valued his caring and commitment in helping to develop and put in place public policy issues based on seeking consensus within an increasingly divided community. JCPA is rare in that it takes so many different parts of the community into its deliberations, and makes decisions that reflect a real give-and-take rather than top-down mandates. Key issues have included energy independence, hate crimes legislation, interfaith relations, anti-poverty and hunger initiatives, immigration policy, and Iran sanctions.

A Stab In Jewish Hearts

10/12/2015 - 20:00

A Jewish Week reader called on Tuesday morning to express his sadness, outrage and frustration over the increasingly frightening wave of violent attacks by Arabs against Jews in Israel. The caller said he had just spoken with a relative in Israel who had made aliyah. She told him that her young children are unable to sleep at night and are fearful of going outside. How is it possible, he wondered, that a state founded to ensure the security of Jews finds itself in a situation where people live in constant worry.

Has The Third Intifada Begun?

10/07/2015 - 20:00

The combination of recent clashes initiated by Palestinians over access to the Temple Mount and the frightening number of seemingly unrelated attacks on Jewish civilians, several of them fatal, have Israelis worried that they could be in for another lengthy and violent siege. Two Jewish men were stabbed to death walking through the Old City in Jerusalem late Saturday night on one of the most patrolled streets in the country. The 19-year-old killer had posted a Facebook message that said, “the third intifada has begun.”

Facing The Jewish Continuity Crisis

09/30/2015 - 20:00

How would you feel about your rabbi having a non-Jewish partner?

On Wednesday the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College made public its decision “to no longer bar qualified applicants with non-Jewish partners from admission” and to no longer bar rabbinical students “from graduating as rabbis because they have non-Jewish partners.”

A Message To Our Readers

09/22/2015 - 20:00

Dear Friends,

Every year at this time it is our honor to report to you on the state of The Jewish Week.

On Yom Kippur, A Moral Cease-Fire

09/16/2015 - 20:00

Like all years, we leave 5775 exhausted, many of us repeatedly disappointed by politicians and rabbis; by men and women wise or witless; by opponents public or private, those with whom we are intimate and those with whom we are vaguely acquainted. 

Disappointment breeds justification; tragedy — a stabbing, a suicide, a slander — grants us permission, we think, to make sweeping indictments, accusations and conclusions, far beyond the perpetrator. Yom Kippur comes, restoring grace and mercy to an unforgiving landscape.

On Iran Deal, A Few False Assumptions

09/16/2015 - 20:00

Now that President Obama has prevailed in his push for the Iranian nuclear deal, much second-guessing is taking place in our community on whether and how Israel, and major American Jewish organizations, should have voiced concerns about it. And some assumptions about winners and losers in this brutal battle deserve to be questioned.

Hope For The New Year

09/09/2015 - 20:00

The 11th century was a time of danger for the Jews of Europe, an era of blood libel, the earliest Crusade and other attacks on the continent’s vulnerable Jewish population. Out of that crucible emerged a piece of liturgy whose roots are often forgotten but whose spiritual influence endures at this time of year.

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