It seems to me that one aspect of Debbie Friedman’s significant contributions to American Jewish life has not been mentioned. She interwove Hebrew phrases, from the Bible and other traditional Jewish texts, with the English words of her songs — the “Mi Shebeirach” and “Lekhi Lach” being just two examples.
In response to your article, “Fla. Survivors Caught in Cruel Funding Irony,” (Jan. 7), I want to note that only through the consistent, increasing funding from the Claims Conference has Jewish Family Service of Broward County been able to provide dedicated services for the Shoah victims in our community. The Claims Conference is the main source of support for our agency’s Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program, working with us as a partner to identify and address the increasing needs of aging victims.
The word “peoplehood” is a relatively new and highly contested term in the lexicon of Jewish life, having something to do with identity, ethnicity, belonging and membership. The supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary acknowledged it as a word as long ago as 1983, but, as any spell-check reveals, it is not considered a word quite yet by Microsoft. Will it ever be a real word for the Jewish community? Having co-authored a book on the subject, I’m still not sure.
I read the newspaper each day, an old practice that brings home everything new. There is always a new celebrity, a new invention, a burgeoning business. We can stuff ourselves with the new. Old books and movies are forgotten unless they are remade.
Judaism has a different attitude toward what is old. Our tradition always understood that the first step to obliterating culture is to foreshorten memory. Here is a poignant passage from a not-so-very-old novel, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”:
The revolution in Tunisia of recent days has sparked hope among some who believe that the era of the autocratic old guard among Arab rulers is coming to an end, to be replaced by a trend toward democracy.
It’s still far too early to tell how even the immediate chaotic situation in Tunis will be resolved, much less the region, after the fleeing of corrupt dictator Ben Ali. But it is far more likely that old regimes will fade than that human rights and freedoms soon await tens of millions of citizens of Arab states.
With the kind of surprise that was his military trademark, Defense Minister Ehud Barak shook up Israeli politics on Monday with his surprise announcement that he is abandoning the Labor Party he led and creating a new faction, Atzmaut (Independence), which will remain in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.