During the 20th century, Jews suffered terribly under right-wing, chauvinistic and nationalist governments, whether in Romania, Poland, Hungary between the two world wars or in Germany after 1933. Historically speaking, Jews have flourished and achieved success under liberal democratic regimes.
As Steve and Cokie Roberts, the journalists and authors, have crisscrossed the country promoting their new interfaith Haggadah and celebrating interfaith marriage as “the new normal,” I’ve been thinking back on my encounter with Steve in 2008.
Forty-three years ago this month, our nation watched the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. The images were seared into our minds, along with the sense that our nation had lost a beacon of hope in the ongoing struggle for racial and economic justice. Though he had lived to see many important advances and constitutional guarantees for all Americans regardless of race or creed, Dr. King was murdered before he had made much progress toward another vitally important goal: economic justice.
“Tell the congresswomen not to come to Israel at this time,” the Foreign Ministry official announced to me in the spring of 1983. “The week of Passover is not convenient for us at the Ministry, and anyway, these are just habanot micongress [the girls from Congress]. “ Moreover, the official complained, the three, all Catholics, wanted to attend a seder. “Where will we find them a seder?”
To stave off growing isolation, Netanyahu must offer more than stopgaps in upcoming D.C. visit.
Editor And Publisher
The drumbeat of pressure for Israel to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians is growing louder, and coming not only from the international community, but, it seems, from Washington, and a large and vocal swath of American Jewry.
The Talmud teaches that one should be “soft like a reed, and not hard like a cedar (Ta’anith 20a.). Medieval philosopher Bahya Ibn Pekuda comments on that passage, “Therefore the reed is privileged to be fashioned into a pen used for writing Torah scrolls.” It is surprising for those who think the Torah rigid and inflexible that even the implement used to shape its letters is chosen for flexibility.
Richard Goldstone’s narrow, qualified mea culpa on the infamous report he issued as chair of a fact-finding mission appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, on what happened during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, raises more questions than it answers.
I strongly praise the new head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Rabbi Richard Jacobs’ work to help victims of war, famine and massacres in places like Chad, Darfur and Haiti (‘The Scarsdale Dynamo,’ Mar. 29). I am also heartened to have read elsewhere Rabbi Jacobs’ statement that “the connection to Israel is a vital part of Jewish life.”