On ultra-Orthodox Israelis wearing yellow stars in protesting alleged bias.
Isaac Steven Herschkopf
Special To The Jewish Week
San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square is a Mecca for tourists. Predictably it also attracts entrepreneurs interested in revenue sharing. You can hear every San Francisco song in creation performed on every conceivable instrument; you can have your portrait done for $15, your caricature for $10, or your silhouette cut for $5.
One aged hustler, in particular, caught my attention, in part, because he could not attract anyone else's. He was lying in a recliner. When open, his eyes were glazed, but most of the time that I observed, they were closed.
In a stunning about-face, and after decades of violence justified by excuses of being under occupation, this week Hamas has admitted that Gaza is not occupied by Israel. And yet, the United Nations, which has long been reluctant to acknowledge Gaza's change in status, is still silent on the issue.
Beit Shemesh, Israel -- For more than 10 years I have been a board member and supporter – and am currently chair -- of Gesher, an Israeli organization that seeks to build bridges between communities and create dialogue around common Jewish identity. But I would never have believed that my family would find itself in the eye of the storm with physical violence and intimidation on our very doorstep.
The shocking behavior of a small group of haredi militants in Israel has forced me to face the difficult reality of just how much divides the Modern Orthodox Zionist community, of which I am a member, from that of the haredim, despite our sharing of an ancient text.
A school social worker called me recently. She wanted to ask me a question but asked if she could remain anonymous. She knew that I just published a book on the topic of abuse in the Jewish community and had heard me speak about some of the research I was doing at a professional meeting. What she went on to describe was unfortunately not unique. A student in her school had told her that one of his teachers was touching him inappropriately.
Next weekend, many of us will be enjoying a long, holiday break because of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. We might see this as a time to sleep late, meet friends for brunch, take in a movie or relax on a short family holiday.
Within the Jewish communal world, the word “network” is used primarily as a verb. As Jews, it’s ingrained within us from an early age (or so it seems) to schmooze, to kibitz, and to kvetch with one another. To make it sound more productive, we call this networking. Sometimes it advances our personal and organizational goals; more often, it doesn’t.
Over the last two decades a host of commissions and task forces have assessed how the Jewish community can reach out to post-bnai mitzvah teens. The bar and bat mitzvah ceremony is an inflection point in the lives of contemporary American Jews and the question that has bedeviled adults has been how to engage teens once they step off the bima at age 12 or 13.
It’s 25 years today that I went through quadruple bypass-open heart surgery. It all started three months earlier, in September. The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry was protesting in front of Lincoln Center against the appearance of the Russian Moiseyev Dance Company. Our position was that there should be no cultural exchange with the former Soviet Union until all Soviet Jews were free.
Civil discourse and hands-on service, if done well, can lead to lasting positive change in the world. Rabid arguments, unleashed aggressively, will do the opposite.
For those on the extreme right of the Israeli-Palestinian argument, anyone who does not believe that the disputed land should be fully part of Israel is an anti-Zionist. For those on the far left, anyone who declines volunteering in a Palestinian village is a racist. And week after week, it seems one organization or another is derided for something as simple as planning a service trip to Israel.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.