Listening to participants at a daylong program at the Jewish Theological Seminary last Wednesday celebrating the first anniversary of the school’s decision to admit gay and lesbian students to its rabbinical and cantorial programs, it was clear that last year’s vote did not end the discussion. Rather, it marked the beginning of a new phase for the Conservative movement.
Thanks to Steven Spielberg and others, visual testimony of the Shoah has been recorded for posterity, with footage of more than 50,000 survivor interviews housed under the auspices of the famed director’s Shoah Foundation.
But what about firsthand accounts of the other major event in contemporary Jewish history, the creation of the State of Israel?
The aging World War II veteran paused at the end of an hour-long interview and addressed the two teenage girls across the table who had been asking him questions.
“You have to promise me something,” Sander Dulitz said to them, after describing his three years of combat in the European theater, including landing at Normandy and visiting the Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after it was liberated in the spring of 1945.
“Promise me you won’t forget this,” he said, “that you’ll pass it on.”
Thousands of New York Jews had a taste of the Israel historical experience last night at Radio City Music Hall, from confrontation (they first had to pass loud protesters across the street from the theater, many of them young Jews, proclaiming "Free Palestine," and calling Israel a murderous state) to remembrance (the Israel at 60 program began with prayers for the state's fallen soldiers and terror victims, and a bittersweet song by Amit Farkash, the sister of a young Israeli pilot killed in the 2006 Lebanon War).
Michael Steinhardt is never satisfied.
That’s what drives some of those who work with him crazy at times. But it’s also what drives his success as a businessman and major philanthropist.
While much of the Jewish community, here and in Israel, has been heralding birthright israel — the audacious project he helped found to give every young Jew in the world a free trip to Israel — as the most exciting and successful of efforts to increase Jewish identity, Steinhardt has been grumbling that it’s not enough.
Taking part in a panel the other night at the JCC in Manhattan on “Israel, The Jews and The Press: Exploding the Myths,” my colleagues — Clyde Haberman of The New York Times and Sam Freedman of the Columbia Journalism School and the Times — and I felt like we were in a time warp.
Jerusalem — I attended the biggest Mega-Event ever for Birthright Israel last Sunday night, with 7,500 screaming participants gathered at an outdoor amphitheater near here, and my ears are still ringing.