Israelis who leave their native country to settle in the diaspora have long been known as yordim, those who go down. It is a disparaging term, and one in contrast to those diaspora Jews who make aliyah, or ascend, to live in Israel.
The two concepts – going up to or down from Israel -- are anchored in a moral equation that harks back to classical Zionism, which negated the diaspora and insisted that Jewish survival depends on the imperative of aliyah.
Let me make clear at the outset: I don’t know what Israel plans to do about the Iran nuclear threat, and I don’t have any new advice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about what actions he should or should not take as he and his government face an impossible dilemma.
But I do know that the mainstream press (and especially The New York Times) has had a steady drumbeat of reports these last few weeks characterizing Israel unfairly in the delicate diplomatic dance of Jerusalem, Washington and Tehran.
A proud Jewish newspaper’s hard times, and what it portends.
Editor and Publisher
Starting in the mid-1970s and for the next three decades or so, the Baltimore Jewish Times, with its annual awards in journalism competitions, extensive local, national and international reporting, and hefty volume of advertising, was the leader in its field and the envy of communities around the country.
Peter Beinart’s new book, ‘The Crisis Of Zionism,’ is disappointingly one-sided.
Editor and Publisher
When I asked a well-known journalist with expertise in the Mideast to review Peter Beinart’s new book, “The Crisis Of Zionism,” he first replied that he’d love to but was crushed with deadlines.
When I e-mailed back, asking for suggestions for a knowledgeable reviewer who was relatively objective on the subject — not so easy to find — the journalist replied: “Your alternative is to treat it as the utter piece of $%& it is.”
A decade ago, the field of Israel education didn’t really exist in the United States.
A 2003 study found that when it came to teaching about Modern Israel in schools, camps, synagogues and youth groups, there was no conceptual framework, no standards of practice, no professional development, and educators felt unequipped to handle the material.
At AIPAC, assessing the Obama-Bibi standoff on the eve of Purim.
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Washington — The timing this week was hard to ignore. A do-or-die confrontation over Iran between two influential leaders, with the fate of the Jewish people at stake.
I’m not just referring to the Obama-Netanyahu showdown at the White House on when and whether to strike at Tehran’s nuclear sites, but to an encounter centuries ago between Queen Esther and King Ahasveros in ancient Persia — today’s Iran — and her plea that he reverse the wicked Haman’s death sentence for the Jewish population.
Last week our family participated in a ritual commanded in the Torah and associated with the birth of a baby boy, a mitzvah that has become increasingly rare in Jewish life: the Pidyon HaBen, or redemption of the firstborn son, which applies in only an estimated 5 to 10 percent of Jewish births.
What follows are a few thoughts about the little-explored custom and the little boy who has been the focus of my thoughts in recent days.
Amid all the discussion and debate these days over how to talk about Israel publicly without making things worse — that is, exacerbating the divide between left and right — there is one group that has a proven track record of framing tough issues in a sophisticated, nuanced and creative way to foster substantive dialogue.