On April 14, 2008, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a 62-year-old Brooklyn yeshiva teacher charged with sexually molesting two students, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of child endangerment. Under the plea agreement, Kolko made no admission of sexual wrongdoing and did not have to register as a sex offender or serve any time in prison. Rabbi Kolko was sentenced to three years’ probation.
Many American Jews have insisted that a healthy, mutual friendship with Israel entails criticizing Israel. Many Israelis, especially those who work with Jews from the center and the left, have accepted those marching orders, creating paradigms about “hugging and wrestling.” And they share reassuring philosophical insights like Harvard’s Michael Sandel’s teaching that embarrassment reflects belonging — Syrian brutality does not embarrass us: Israel’s milder mistakes do.
Nearly four years ago, on August 1, 2009, a horrific shooting at the Bar Noar LGBTQ youth center in Tel Aviv injured dozens of teens and killed 27 year old youth counselor Nir Katz and 16-year-old Liz Trubishi. The tragic event struck fear in the LGBT community and deeply shook LGBT people and straight allies worldwide.
This past April, my granddaughter, Eliana, and her eighth-grade class at the Solomon Schechter School in Manhattan spent two weeks in Israel. This is something Schechter graduating classes throughout the country do, and it is a wonderful trip.
Like people in other faiths and traditions, Jews feel an obligation to help the poor. When we lived in an ancient agricultural society, people left the corners of their fields untouched, anyone could eat from your land in a year of shmita and there were offerings at the Temple that the poor could partake in freely.
Maybe I could oversleep. Does public transportation even run at 6 a.m.? Or maybe I could convince my friend that she didn’t want to go and use the excuse that I couldn’t go alone. Am I too old to blame my mom for not letting me go? All valid (kind of) reasons why I could theoretically miss this morning’s Rosh Chodesh Tammuz prayers with Women of the Wall.
The United States has tortured political detainees. This question is no longer in dispute, thanks to a much-publicized 500-page report released last month by the high-level, bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment (http://detaineetaskforce.org/report), convened by The Constitution Project. The report painfully recounts the use of interrogation techniques that the U.S. had previously condemned as illegal, including some cases in which torture even led to death.