A boy asked his mother for another piece of cake. “No,” she answered. “You have already had three pieces.” The boy asked again, “Please, Mom, just one more piece — I promise, just one more.” Again his mother said no. The boy did not give up: “C’mon, just one more piece of cake — please, please!” Finally, the mother relented, “Ok, one last piece, but that’s it!” The boy smiled and said, “Honestly, Mom, you have no self-control.”
For the past eight summers, I have been privileged to teach at Brandeis University’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies, working with college faculty members planning to introduce courses on Modern Israel at their respective campuses. Invariably, at my session on Israel’s relationship to world Jewry, the question arises why American Jewish organizational leadership appears to march in lockstep with Israeli governmental policy.
Last summer I journeyed far from the daily craziness of rabbinic life, to the wilds of Africa, and it was out there that I rediscovered why I do what I do back here.
Job states, “God teaches us from the animals of the land,” and on safari I found myself immersed in a vast, orderly ecosystem, where, Anatevka-like, all creatures know who they are and what God expects them to do. It took my breath away.
An Opinion piece, “Religious Courts Are Treating Agunot Unfairly” (Oct. 28), raised a number of disturbing allegations, but failed to mention a notable exception to the practices attributed in the article to some batei din in the United States.
‘Everybody is right,” my Israeli friend Herb Aber said when we met for dinner the other night. He was responding to my question about his opinion of the Gilad Shalit saga, and he gave a good answer. Everybody was right: the persistent parents who kept their boy’s imprisonment in the public eye for five years; the prime minister who grabbed a tiny window of opportunity to negotiate a deal for his release; the Israeli people who tearfully welcomed the young soldier home with the intensity of emotion that had made him “everybody’s son.” They were all right.
Tantalizing question resurfaces as son promotes ‘intimate’ biography of stricken former PM.
Editor And Publisher
Reading Gilad Sharon’s new biography of his famous father, Ariel Sharon, one comes to understand why Gilad and his brother Omri insisted on keeping the former Israeli prime minister alive, against the advice of doctors, when he suffered a debilitating stroke almost six years ago.
Much as others have questioned that judgment, as Sharon remains in a coma-like state, it was consistent with the way their father lived, and led, on the battlefield and in the seat of power in Jerusalem. And the basis for the sons’ decision goes back more than six decades.
While participants in Occupy Wall Street garner headlines in drawing attention to the imbalance of financial power in the U.S., a growing number of prominent Americans are taking the Food Stamp Challenge this month, a low-key but meaningful effort to draw attention to hunger in this country. They have agreed to spend a week on the average food stamp allotment of $31.50 per person, which comes out to $1.50 a meal.
The vote this week by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to approve full membership for the Palestinians is another step along the treacherous road toward full UN recognition of Palestine and continued delegitimization of Israel.
Fortunately, and to its credit, the United States voted against the move, labeling it “inexplicable,” but the final tally was 107-14, with 52 abstentions, among the UNESCO membership.
We go to the Internet for information. The range of reference at our fingertips is astonishing. We have too many places to get answers. But one reads, wrote Franz Kafka, to ask questions.
Where can a reader go for good questions? One place is the prayerbook. Early in the morning service is a series of powerful questions: “What are we?” “What is our life?” What is our righteousness?” At the outset of the service each morning we are invited to question the very fundamentals of our lives.