The first I’d ever heard of 137 E. Houston St., on the Lower East Side, was when I went to the Ellis Island website recently to search for information about my grandparents coming to America. It was the address listed for Sam Bloomfield, the first name on the manifest of the SS New York when it arrived at Ellis Island on Oct. 14, 1906, from Southampton, England.
Long before I was a rabbi, during the Musaf services of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I wondered how it came to pass that the Aleinu prayer became such a liturgical centerpiece of what are arguably the most important prayer services of the entire Jewish calendar year.
Jonathan Fine is a researcher at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel and an expert on the Middle East and Israeli studies. He is a member of the International Counter-Terrorism Academic Community and the International Center for Study of Radicalization and Political Violence in Kings College, London. He is also the author of the book, “Religious Violence in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: From Holy War to Terror.” The Jewish Week caught up with him for a conversation about ISIS and the radical Islamist group’s potential threat to Israel. This is an edited transcript.
A group of local pro-Israel activists got together a few weeks ago and discovered they shared a distaste for the way Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, was being portrayed by much of the media in this country.
It was supposed to have been a father-son getaway, a long-awaited retreat of five days of golf and bonding. While many would guess Myrtle Beach, in coastal South Carolina, or the more-exotic Scotland, our destination was actually Israel. As unusual as that may sound, it is because my son Max currently lives there and serves as a platoon sergeant in the IDF’s Golani Brigade.
As I write, I am about as far from my home and synagogue in Forest Hills as I can be, or at least as I am likely to get. I am sitting in the living room of my daughter Leora’s apartment on Marine Camp Foster, one of some fifteen American military bases on the tiny but strategically important island of Okinawa, Japan. She is married, as many of you know, to Rabbi/Lieutenant Yonatan (Yoni) Warren, a Navy chaplain who is currently posted to a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) here in the Far East. A MEU is basically a Rapid Deployment Force that can move quickly to where the trouble is. There are a few of them stationed around the world in potentially volatile areas; this one covers the Far East. We are very, very proud of his service, and hers.
Even as he entered his hundredth year, Irwin Corey remains an irreconcilable opponent of a Jewish state. Furthermore he doesn’t want you to call him a Jew. He says that’s “pejorative.” He prefers to be called a Hebrew. That sounds more respectful in certain leftist circles.