A lot of folks my age have misperceptions about TribeFest, if they have even heard of it. For the uninitiated, TribeFest is Jewish Federations of North America’s conference for 20- and 30-somethings, designed to engage, educate, and inspire them to become active in the Federation system and in organized Jewish life. TribeFest 2012 was the second such conference, both held in Las Vegas.
When our Brooklyn synagogue recently hosted two former State Department veterans, Elliot Abrams and Robert Malley, a few congregants and even a local merchant objected to our having invited Mr. Abrams, a known “war criminal.”
Similarly, when our synagogue hosted Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian academic, others claimed our pulpit now had “Jewish blood on its hands.” Another congregant asked, “How can you invite Malley? He and the president hate Jews.”
Gary Rosenblatt thinks I’m a good guy but found my book, “The Crisis of Zionism,” frustrating. How appropriate, because I think he’s a good guy too, but thought his review did The Jewish Week’s readers a disservice.
Reviewers are supposed to analyze a book’s argument. Gary barely tries. He writes that “Beinart weakens his moral case by ignoring Israel’s security concerns.” Gary’s evidence for this assertion? He doesn’t offer any.
‘Where are you going for seder?” “How many people are you having for seder?”
How often have we heard those words? And it’s no accident, that. But why limit ourselves to asking about who is coming in person? Why not ask who you wish could be at your seder this year, even if that is not physically possible?
Random thoughts on hanging out with some 13,000 pro-Israel activists.
Special To The Jewish Week
The last time I had attended the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington was exactly 35 years ago as the college representative from the University of Pennsylvania. I had been sitting at a table on Locust Walk—clogs dangling at the hem of my faded jeans, bellowing and beckoning the students hurrying past to plant trees in Israel—when I was swooped to join the ranks of Israel campus activists, in an era when everyone had a cause.
Could Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs executive who set off a firestorm last week by publishing a scathing resignation letter on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, have been motivated to speak out against his former employer because of his Jewish heritage? So suggested Paul Berger on the website of The Forward. “What if Smith, a South African Jew, was simply continuing a South African Jewish tradition of speaking truth to power?” Berger mused.
On the morning of Feb. 28, Alyza Lewin of the law firm, Lewin & Lewin, invited me to participate in a conference call to discuss a burgeoning controversy involving the basketball team of the Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox day school in Houston.
Alyza and her father, the venerated constitutional lawyer, Nathan Lewin, had been informed the preceding evening by Etan Mirwis, whose son is the Beren team captain, that Beren was on the verge of forfeiting eligibility for a Texas state championship slotted to be played over the upcoming Shabbat.
‘We should make our school more like camp” has been a popular refrain lately. It is impossible to spend time at a Jewish overnight summer camp and not be moved by the intensity of relationships, depth of spirit, and pure joy that imbues the setting. The off-season is a time for camp memories, keeping up with camp friends, and generally biding one’s time until the next summer.
Patrilineal descent is an issue that raises strong emotions in many Jewish circles. Some feel adamantly that patrilineal Jews who have been living and identifying as Jews their whole lives should be accepted as Jews by the entire Jewish community. Others feel strongly that the very term “patrilineal Jew” is a misnomer and that individuals are either Jewish according to Jewish law, halacha — that is, that they have a Jewish mother or they have converted — or they are not Jewish.
The debate about ritual circumcision with metzitzah b’peh (direct mouth-to-wound oral suctioning by the mohel) is complex, as it involves halachic, historical, social, medical, technical and potential regulatory components.