Glancing around the lobby recently, just as Religious School was dismissed, I took note of who was gathered to pick up their children. Some mothers, some fathers, some grandparents – this was not surprising. What was surprising was that many of the parents present were the non-Jewish parent of an interfaith household. These non-Jewish parents were responsible for bringing their Jewish children to and from Religious School on a weekly basis. And, thus, these non-Jewish parents were ensuring the formation of their children’s Jewish identity.
Fifty years after Israel — for the only time in its history — imposed the death penalty, some never-before-seen artifacts about the life and death of Adolf Eichmann went on public exhibit there.
“Revealing the Operation to Capture Eichmann,” at the entrance to the Knesset before it moves to the Museum of Jewish People on the campus of Tel Aviv University, includes the bulletproof glass booth in which Eichmann, the “Architect of the Holocaust,” sat during his trial in 1961.
A few weeks ago, I boarded an Air Europa 767 in Barcelona, bound for Miami — and found it 80 percent empty, with room to stretch out and snooze across three seats. It felt like 1995. The price was retro too: about $550 for a trans-Atlantic flight.
This was not, however, the luxury of a bygone era. A Catalan friend explained to me that many thousands of Spaniards have recently run out of their two-year unemployment benefits, a scenario repeating itself across recession-stricken Europe.
Two generations ago John Howard Griffin was a household name in the United States, admired in some places, hated in others. His fame/notoriety grew out of his landmark book, “Black Like Me,” which documented six weeks the white native of Dallas had spent traveling around the Deep South, with chemically darkened skin, posing as an African-American (known then as a Negro) laborer.
“Can I feed you?” he asked Joe, impatiently holding lunch and duly aware of the onlooker.
“Get the hell out of here!” Joe snarled, his face red. “You can tell the principal, damn it! Didn’t ask my sister for permission. Son-of-a-bitch,” Joe muttered under his breath.
Joe’s caretaker, Steve, waited for Joe to calm down. He then asked, “Would you like Avram to feed you?” pointing to me. “Of course I want him to feed me!” Joe shouted. “What do you think this is, a chicken coop?”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, keynote speaker at Yeshiva University’s 87th annual Hanukkah convocation at the Waldorf-Astoria, was impressed how the university’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) engages in the spirit of tikkun olam.
She said graduate Josh Teitcher spent a summer in Israel with Counterpoint Israel—a CJF initiative for students to help local youth connect to Jewish values—and changed the life one young boy named Yitzchak.
Chanukah Sameach! Here in Israel, Chanukah is - obviously - celebrated in a big way. Almost every storefront, restaurant and shop displays a menorah in the window, every bakery, coffee shop and restaurant sells sufganiyot and many add latkes to the menu for the eight-day holiday.
I love Chanukah. I love the fact that it gives us a reason to celebrate when the days are dark and (relatively) cold, and to light a light against the darkness. Last but most certainly not least, Chanukah also reminds us of the power of faith in God, and in the rightness of our cause, to carry us to victory in times of trouble, even against insurmountable odds.
This year, however, as we celebrate the ancient victory of the Maccabees, I am deeply concerned.