Editor’s Note: A shorter version of this essay was published in the Dec. 13 issue of The Jewish Week.
Nelson Mandela’s death evoked a worldwide outpouring of respect and love. Jewish leaders, from Netanyahu (Israel), to Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (South Africa) to America, praised his greatness. Netanyahu called him “a freedom fighter who rejected any violence” and “a moral leader of the highest order.”
J Street U student leaders across the country have all had “the conversation.” It’s the moment when your Hillel director calls you into her office and tells you like it is: “If I support the work you’re doing around Israel, we could lose a major funder. It’s either you or $50,000 that will benefit all your peers.”
How open should campus Hillels be? This is not a trivial question, and should be treated seriously now that the Swarthmore Hillel student board, in line with a national group called “Open Hillel,” voted to defy Hillel International’s guidelines by opening their doors to anti-Israel speakers and groups.
When the World Economic Forum announced the top trends for 2014, based on responses from its network of world leaders, widening income disparities was number two. Inaction on climate change was number five.
Regarding Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor Arnold Eisen’s essay, “Let’s Drink A L’Chaim To Conservative Judaism” (Opinion, Nov. 29): As the mother of a child who is both gifted intellectually and blessed with special needs, I find a dual need in the area of Jewish special education. My son, now age 12, wanted to go to Solomon Schechter Day School (SSDS). He has a proclivity for languages, but we were disappointed to learn that there were no programs in place for students with special needs — a double loss, since our school district was willing to assist with tuition, since it, too, lacked a special needs program for a genius who is also developmentally delayed.
Much as I appreciate Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor Arnold Eisen’s observations, and his persona — which my wife and I have observed with admiration at JTS High Holy Day services ever since he came to New York — I am disappointed that he skirts the subject of intermarriage (“Let’s Drink A L’Chaim To Conservative Judaism,” Opinion, Nov. 29).
Ronald Lauder should be applauded for delineating the plight of the Jews from Arab countries (“Redress Plights of Jewish And Palestinian Refugees,” Opinion, Nov. 29). I wish that the World Jewish Congress would become the ombudsman of this very important issue, especially now, while peace talks are undergoing between Israel and the Palestinians. To make peace, the Palestinian leadership does not dare to sign an agreement with Israel without an appropriate solution for their refugees.