Blacks, Jews and the house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Special To The Jewish Week
Everyone is familiar with the parlor game so fashionable among armchair Jewish and African-American politicos. You know, the one with the implausibly absurd question: Who will become the first Jew or black to be elected president, and which one will come first?
As if things couldn’t possibly get any worse, being a Jew suddenly got even tougher.
Israel is being condemned for having unleashed its own version of “shock and awe” in Gaza. The unremitting rocket attacks inside Israel — during a purported cease-fire — generated little public outcry until Israel decided to do something about it.
This week, I’ll be joining the March of the Living, an annual pilgrimage from Poland to Israel. The experience of the Holocaust stands alone in Jewish history, a godless counterpoint to all things sacred. Alongside the majestic peaks of Sinai and Zion, our view now includes this man-made mountain of children’s shoes, empty luggage and echoing shrieks, a clump of human refuse that dwarfs everything around it, taller than Sinai, more imposing than Zion, more insurmountable than Everest.
In a recent speech to the Jewish Agency, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed challenges to the Jewish future and said, “The loss of identity through assimilation or through intermarriage or through both is the greatest toll-taker of Jewish numbers in the last half-century.”
Netanyahu is not the first and won’t be the last to use the words “intermarriage” and “assimilation” interchangeably. A Google search for “Jewish intermarriage and assimilation” produces more than 500,000 results.
When an ethnic group or race endearingly becomes the nickname for a sports team, does that signal their arrival or shame? Native Americans have long decried the way sports fans have adopted tomahawk chops and tribal chants as ways to either root for or ridicule the Indians, Braves, and Redskins. On the other hand, the Irish don't seem at all bothered by Notre Dame's celebration of the poetry to their more pugnacious side.
Golda Meir had a technique for fundraising in Israel. Gather a hundred of the wealthiest people in the community, she advised, and lock them in a room until each pledges a designated sum. Tell them that if anyone refuses to contribute, that person’s name and refusal will be spread around town.
Much has been written of late regarding the Jewish Agency’s new focus on Jewish peoplehood and what that means for the broader Jewish world. Recent articles have charged that the Jewish Agency’s understanding of Jewish peoplehood is tantamount to secular, ethnic Judaism and that will be inadequate as the basis of strong Jewish identity.
By the time we have cleared the dishes from our seders, those of us who live in the United States should have returned our 2010 U.S. Census forms. Completing the census is mandatory and if you failed to comply by April 1, you will be visited by a census-taker. As a matter of law, you can be fined for failing to submit the form or refusing to answer the required questions. In the end, we are all counted.
In his recent piece in Commentary magazine, Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, tackled a very worthy and critical topic: the disturbingly high cost of Jewish life in America. Unfortunately, he also introduced a puzzling straw argument that the Jewish community’s embrace of service and service-learning programs has undermined its ability to make day school education, Jewish camping, synagogue dues and JCC membership more affordable.
On Monday night Jewish children all over the world will open their Haggadahs and ask “why is this night different from all other nights?” This classic inquiry focuses on how the seder meal differs from all other festive family dinners. But how it does so is not the only question upon which to focus at the seder.