The times they are a-changin’. A few weeks ago I attended a wedding in Central Park. It was a gorgeous Wednesday morning, the nearby lake looked stately, and the green foliage on the trees seemed to hold itself motionless so as not to distract from the drama taking place.
Shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry announced resumption of peace negotiations, leaders of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the American Task Force for Palestine met jointly in Washington, D.C., with administration and congressional officials to express support for a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and active U.S. involvement in bringing it about. We did this because our two organizations reject zero-sum politics in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and believe successful negotiations must be rooted both in compromise and a win-win approach. This is the only realistic way forward, whether within the next nine months or the next nine years.
That old adage is true: There’s nothing worse than losing a child. I discovered this a year ago when we laid our beautiful daughter Rachel to rest after a long illness. She was 28. Having lost parents and in-laws, I thought I understood everything about grief. I was wrong.
In the aftermath of Ryan Braun’s suspension from Major League Baseball for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, social media networks have witnessed an outpouring of impassioned commentary, including many anti-Semitic remarks made against Braun — nicknamed “The Hebrew Hammer” for his Jewish heritage.
Twenty years ago, Israel's Chief Rabbinate, which was founded by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the father of religious Zionism, was taken over by the ultra-Orthodox world view. This past week, with the election of two haredi Chief Rabbis, it emerged that ultra-Orthodox control of the Chief Rabbinate is going to continue for the next decade. This is a failure on three levels: political, religious, and cultural.
I am a Holocaust survivor who sits on the board of directors of the Claims Conference. At the recent annual board meeting, we discussed this year’s negotiations with the German government, which led to, among other benefits, an agreement that will result in $1 billion for homecare for Holocaust victims from 2014 through 2017.
In a stunning video shown at his recent official retirement dinner, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks received high praise from four British prime ministers, three archbishops of Canterbury, and one Roman Catholic archbishop. (You can see it at http://bit.ly/19v5LwL).
For the past 19 years I have been conducting “Love and Religion: an Interfaith Workshop for Jews and Their Partners.” The target population is interfaith couples that are seriously dating, engaged and/or newly married. Over 600 couples have participated in these workshops, and my goals are that they enjoy the experience of being with other couples facing similar concerns, that they learn more about the issues they are facing and that they feel less alone in the process.
Tisha b’Av — the day of mourning for the loss of both Temples in Jerusalem and for the end of Jewish sovereignty until 1948 — is often marked by turning inwards, by examining the senseless hatred and other societal failures that the Talmud blames for the destruction and exile. (It fell earlier this week.) For some, this is a day to focus on tikkun olam (repairing the world) and to heed the words of the Prophets by protesting against corrupt leaders and injustice.