He was a flawed hero. No, I’m not speaking about the biblical Abraham, who passed his wife off as his sister, or Jacob, who won his birthright by deception. I am speaking of Yitzchak Rabin, former prime minister of Israel, whose yahrzeit we commemorated this week.
For the past three decades, there have been many surveys looking at the notion of Jewish identity, Jews’ identification as Jews and their attachment to Judaism. Each one has resulted in depressing news. In characterizing these studies over the years, writers have used words such as “devastating,” “dismal” and “disturbing,” while others wrote some variation of “I thought there would be more American Jews who cared about religion.” But when it comes to the data in the new Pew Research Center study, the picture is more nuanced.
The office and recent inhabitants of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel are considered irrelevant by the majority of Israelis. Worse, there is no respect for its out-of-control bureaucracy that has been exposed, way too often, for unethical and illegal behavior. And few, if any, would have anything to do with it were it not for the sad truth that it has de-facto control, in Israel, over so many life-defining moments; these ianclude ceremonies marking births and deaths, weddings and divorces, circumcision, and, of course, the last word in who is recognized as a Jew.
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.