So far, “Occupy Judaism” is an embryonic offshoot of the nationwide economic protests sparked by the Occupy Wall Street camp in Lower Manhattan. Like any embryo, it has potential, and it is fragile. Unlike those who are alarmed by Occupy Judaism’s take on the economy and see its synthesis of religion and politics as some kind of cynical manipulation, we do not doubt the Occupy activists’ sincerity.
In Israel it is natural for everyone from political leaders to construction workers to elementary school students to become engrossed in the fate of a young soldier taken captive. His name and face are known by all, and he is the object of national prayer.
It is not so natural elsewhere. How many American third graders, or their parents, have ever talked about Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier held captive by the Taliban since 2009?
The Torah has been described in many ways: a love letter, a ketubah, one long poem, a mystic message of black-on-white fire, a compendium of law and story, a family diary, the foundation stone of Israel, a written assurance of God’s love. Turn it over and over, the Rabbis advise us, for everything is in it.
In your Sept. 16 issue you published two different opinion pieces on “Israel and the Palestinian Statehood Bid.” Michael Weil took the leftist view that Israel should “support Palestinian statehood in the strongest manner.” Mervyn Danker took the current Israeli government stance that “only a return to the peace table and negotiations” with Israel can lead to a Palestinian state.
When I lived on the Upper West Side, I attended Manhattan Jewish Experience Shabbat services; Rabbi [Mark] Wildes does a stellar job with this program. However, I respectfully disagree with his views that “Judaism must be seen as something worth paying for,” and that “anything of true quality costs money,” in reference to Rabbi Wildes’ opposition to free religious services (Letters, Oct. 14).
I would love to read the transcripts of the negotiations [in the Israel-Hamas prisoner swap], where it was determined that 1,027 prisoners would be freed, and not 1,028, 1,050, or 1,100 (“Arab Spring Seen Forcing Israel’s Hand In Shalit Deal,” Oct. 14). I would also love to see what criteria they used to determine who, if anyone, was too evil or dangerous to release, as opposed to those who were released.
The story of Adam and Eve is laden by centuries of commentary, but what is it really about? We are told that Adam and Eve first acquire language [Genesis 2:20] and then form the first marriage [Gen. 2:24]. But they lacked one thing more for the establishment of civilization: consciousness.
Only a few weeks ago we lived suspended in the High Holy Days. We examined our sins, pleaded for forgiveness and prayed that our loved ones and we would be blessed with health and happiness. We brought little children to hear the shofar’s call and we remembered parents and family members no longer with us. Mindful of our link to the generations before and after our own, vulnerability and mortality absorbed us.
The liberation of Gilad Shalit on the eve of Sukkot, after five cruel years of incarceration, was the outcome of a major conflict between the heart and the mind in which turbulent emotions triumphed. The end of the nightmare created waves of euphoria and relief throughout the nation. Each of us, including those bitterly opposed to the agreement consummated with Hamas, identifies with Shalit not so much as a hero, but as though he were our own son.