When Dovid Hillel Klein, a prominent rabbi with the Chabad chasidic Jewish movement, served as the guest chaplain at the opening of the House of Representatives’ April 2010 session, he related a pearl of wisdom that he’d first heard at a comedy show at Northwestern University in Chicago.
When Bill Clinton was President of the United States, many in Israel thought he would most fit to be their Prime Minister. In 2012 we watched the high involvement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Republican presidential campaign, and for a moment it looked like he would be a more suitable candidate than Mitt Romney.
Power is both illusive and real, but it is never stagnant.
Possibly never before in American Jewish history could we find Jews as divided around political priorities and even party affiliation. While the majority of Jews remain liberal, there are growing pockets of Republican Party activists, Tea Party members, and political independents.
New York Medical College (NYMC), founded in 1860, is a health sciences university which recently joined the Touro College and University system – the largest university in the United States under Jewish auspices. I was appointed Chancellor of NYMC in 2012.
Many years ago I dated a woman who was the child of Holocaust survivors. My potential future in-laws were elderly and were closer in age to my grandparents than my parents. I went to ask a great rabbi if this was cause for concern. He responded, “Who really knows who is old and who is young?” We have all learned with recent events that being just 6 years old can in fact be “very old.”
Remember the old jokes that began, “A rabbi and a priest walk into a bar…?”
That pairing is still more likely than bringing a chasid from Williamsburg, a Modern Orthodox accountant from Riverdale, a Russian programmer from Staten Island, a Jewish Buddhist artist from Park Slope and an intermarried realtor from Suffolk County to sit down and discuss Jewish identity.
The slogan of “religious pluralism” has become a banner around which the American Jewish community has gathered and found common purpose. Pluralism — being accepting of and equating all ideologies and religious expressions — seems to be a wonderfully progressive idea in which all but the most “bigoted” or “narrow-minded” Jewish religious fanatics (read hareidi, Orthodox) can find common cause.