Lost amidst the frenzy of media coverage over the past few months about government monitoring of personal data were revelations about the transformative effect of Big Data on the election of Barrack Obama in 2012. A secret effort was established by the campaign involving dozens of young experts in analytics and behavioral science working up to 16 hours a day in a windowless room called "the cave" at the Obama headquarters in Chicago.
In the “Lean Forward” advertisements on MSNBC, White House correspondent Chuck Todd speaks of the opportunity and responsibility he has because of his access to the inner world of Washington. I feel the same about my visits to Israel as National President of Hadassah. But the most impressive part isn’t the access to the so-called corridors of power. The time I get to spend in the corridors of healing never fails to inspire me about the achievements of the modern state of Israel.
A few weeks ago, my husband passed me the New York Times and said, "You should definitely read this article on page 11." I saw the headline, "Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews," and my heart sank. I knew which direction it was going. Down. That was my first reaction, before I read everyone’s responses to the study; the reactions fell into the “mea culpa” camp.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, her teacher decided that it would be nice to get mothers more involved in the class. So she invited us to what she thought would be a fun evening with a stylist who specializes in teaching people how to set their tables more elegantly. I made a futile attempt to explain to this lovely young woman why a women’s-only evening to teach proper table-care was throwing women back a generation or more, and that, by the way, fathers are parents, too.
The Red Sox were on the precipice of a sweep of the 2004 World Series, and all the TV commentators could focus on during in Game 4 was when their team would blow it. After Boston won that night, fans complained that the media ignored the excitement and action on the field because of their predetermined story frame. What the media also failed to notice was the bigger picture — in that game, the Red Sox established a strong organization that was built to compete for the foreseeable future.
My mother’s favorite story: Two Jews in post-Anschluss Vienna are walking through an anti-Semitic neighborhood. They see that they are being followed by two Nazi thugs. One of the Jews says to his friend, “We’d better make a run for it; there are two of them, and we are all alone.”
We would like to thank Rabbi David Eliezrie for describing the new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews as “a treasure house of information” on contemporary trends in Jewish life.
Unfortunately, however, Eliezrie’s Opinion column also mischaracterized the survey’s results, including some findings that actually support the points he was trying to make about Orthodox Judaism in America.
The most recent Pew Study on American Jewish life reveals a treasure house of information about modern Jewish trends. The rising numbers of intermarriage amongst the non-Orthodox are a foreboding sign for the future vitality of American Jewish life. It seems that when it comes to measuring the Orthodox Jewish community the study falls short. Its methodology of denominational self-identification, effective decades ago when Jews fit in to neat categories of Orthodox Conservative and Reform, fails to reveal the real trends in a complex post denominational era.
Listening to Ruth Calderon speak at my synagogue last week, I felt sad, once again, about something that has been lacking for a long time in the Jewish community in Israel and the United States: an easy familiarity with the texts of our tradition. The good news is that Calderon, a Knesset member, has made it a mission of her life to reacquaint Jews with those texts. Given her charm and erudition, she seems to be well on her way.