A man was circling an office building, late for a meeting that could change his life. But he could not find a place to park. He said “God, if you get me a parking place I promise I will keep kosher, I will be better to my wife and children, I will attend services on Shabbat, I will...” Just at that moment, a spot opened right in front of the building.
It’s a phrase we’ve come to associate over the years with Israel’s West Bank settlements, seen by supporters as a tangible Jewish presence to serve as a bulwark against Arab incursions, a vanguard to protect larger Jewish population centers.
In central Afghanistan, an 8-year-old girl was killed last week when a package she was given by members of Taliban exploded. She was told to take the parcel to a nearby police checkpoint. She did not know that she was carrying a bomb, which Taliban set off by remote control.
How do some issues achieve “hurricane force winds” while others are barely noticed?
Take the current tectonic shift in demographics: In the past, population charts resembled pyramids with larger numbers of young people at the base and fewer elderly at a narrower peak. There were enough young people to support the aged.
Now there’s a radical shift: the pyramid’s sides are becoming even. It looks like a square with large populations in their 50s and 60s on top and surprising numbers above them.
It’s easy to dismiss the supporters of a November initiative in San Francisco to make it illegal to circumcise children. Like all true believers, these “intactivists” engage in junk science and exaggerated rhetoric about “male genital mutilation.” Further discrediting their cause, the movement’s leadership peddles virtually anti-Semitic propaganda, such as the comic book “Foreskin Man,” which reads like a sophomoric plagiary of a superhero cartoon, a racy Penthouse fantasy and Der Sturmer.
Two events in the past few weeks have reinforced my view of Israel as the unifying aspect of Jewish life in New York, while making me question its current status.
Scene One: This year’s Salute to Israel Parade. As I took my place along 5th Avenue, it was clearly evident that more synagogues and community groups than ever before took part in this year’s parade.
How do we make sense out of chaos? How do we reestablish order in our lives after everything has gone wrong? Perhaps more importantly, after everything has gone wrong, how do we muster the strength and purpose to commit ourselves to rebuild, to rededicate, and to look forward to a new day—a new life?
The Torah teaches us in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live—by loving the Lord your God...”
Gary Rosenblatt writes that, on one hand, “the primary reason there has been no peace with the Palestinians is that the Palestinians refuse to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own,” yet, on the other, that Israeli leaders must sit down “with Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, soon, while they are still in control, in an effort to avert the UN showdown and keep Hamas out of the process” (“Bad As Israel’s Situation Is, It May Well Get Worse,” June 10).
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.