The quintessential Jewish joke takes place on the eve of Yom Kippur. The elderly rabbi arrives first at the small synagogue early in the morning, long before services, walks to dark corner of the sanctuary and begins to plead quietly with his Maker.
“Oh Lord, have pity on me, I am like the dust of the earth, a speck in the universe…”
The college campus, in its ideal, is revered as a place where the free exchange of ideas is not only exalted but protected. In recent decades that ideal has been sorely tested, perhaps no more so than in the realm of discussions about Israel, both inside and outside the classroom.
Discussions? If only it were that. Disruptions are increasingly likely when pro-Palestinian activists seek to silence speakers who are supportive of Israel.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was quite right to observe this week that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the Mideast. What’s unnerving, though, is to suggest, as he did, that Jerusalem is at fault for this situation.
“Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength,” Panetta said en route to the region for the umpteenth U.S. effort to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Human gestures are almost always ambiguous. A man with hands raised toward the sky could be praying, cheering or the victim of a hold up. Without the context and the intention, one cannot know.
So what are we doing when we beat our chests in the confessional of Yom Kippur? Is it self-punishment, an attempt through a long day to keep ourselves awake akin to slapping one’s own face, or perhaps ritual theater?
Eric Herschthal’s “Well-Versed” blog post in The Jewish Week, “Humanism: Or, What’s Missing From Orthodox Judaism,” echoes a more subtle and eloquent article by Rabbi Shai Held in Haaretz (“Religion’s most urgent problem”).
Both challenge religion in general and Orthodox Judaism in particular to embrace a more humanistic and broad-minded view towards “the other.”
In his Opinion article “The Sacrifice of Isaac: A Father’s Ignoble Act” (Sept. 30), Isaac Herschkopf is right on target. And, by extension, the painful cutting of an eight-day-old helpless baby boy is cowardly and cruel. My grandson was still writhing in my arms 20 minutes after they gave him the wine to “dull” the pain. And I was surrounded by a dozen men all congratulating the father and myself as if we had done something noble.
Like the biblical prophet Bilam in the Torah, Robert Cherry sets out to castigate “Zionist” Israel but winds up with an extraordinary, long list of Israel’s herculean, expensive efforts to uplift its Arab minority (“Zionist Policies Towards Israeli Arabs,” Opinion, Sept. 23).
Yes, “Zionist” Israel was established by the League of Nations (ca. 1921) and the United Nations (1947) as the homeland of the Jewish people. It will continue to be that.
I read with interest the report by Stewart Ain concerning the release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer (“Shofar Blast For Released Hiker,” Sept. 30).
I found it incongruous that the warped remarks made by them at a press conference, which were reported in the Wall Street Journal and in many other venues, were not deemed newsworthy by The Jewish Week.
President Mahmoud Abbas in his recent United Nations speech clearly enunciated what he and what the Palestinian leadership mean by “occupation” (“New Pressures Seen In Bid To Re-launch Peace Talks,” Sept. 30).
He stated, “What I will take to the UN will be the suffering and concerns of our people that have taken place over 63 years living under the occupation.”
Sixty-three years subtracted from 2011 equals 1948, which is when Israel was created by the UN.
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