Blogs

Political Journeys Up The River

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had his sights set on the White House but instead he's headed for the Big House.  The former government was sentenced to two years in federal prison this week following his conviction on corruption, fraud and bribery charges.  His attempts to blame his wife didn't wash, nor did his plea that his talents would be wasted in prison.

Meanwhile, in Israel police have recommended filing charges of fraud, bribery, breach of trust and money laundering against former defense minister and Labor Knesset member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.

Susan Reimer-Torn’s Soaring Spiritual Memoir

In the many communal conversations about shifting Jewish identities and trends -– swelling ultra-Orthodoxy, burgeoning indie-groups, religious escapees, religious returnees, denominational switching and more –- one of the missing narratives is of those who leave religion but then come back in another way. It’s a version of Jewish identity that requires years or decades to truly understand and appreciate, and may apply to thousands of Jews, though we wouldn’t know because such a trajectory does not (yet) have a name. It’s a story about those who leave their religious lives because of abuse or tyranny or a need for freedom and independence, yet still cling to aspects of the heritage that they never really intended to leave behind. It is a story of longing and pain that holds up a mirror to the complexity of Jewish life

Courtesy of Blue Thread Communications

Lawyers, Lobbyists Battle In Diplomatic Intifada

The next stage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the diplomatic intifada.  Both sides are mobilizing their lawyers and lobbyists to do battle on several fronts, but primarily in The Hague and in Washington, D.C.

Since neither side has shown much interest in sitting down at the peace table for serious negotiations, they've opted for the battle of the briefcases.

The Other Marx

Although Karl Marx is frequently recalled today, both to his credit and discredit, as the founder of Communism, his youngest daughter Eleanor has mostly been forgotten. But in her time, Eleanor was a figure of world renown, respected both as the primary editor and expounder of her father’s works, and in her own right as a social activist, leader of the burgeoning trade unions, a pioneering feminist, and translator and proponent of such defining works of the 19th century as Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” and Ibsen’s entire oeuvre. Her story is finally given the attention it deserves in Rachel Holmes’ exhaustive biography, “Eleanor Marx:  A Life” (Bloomsbury Publishing).

Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

Parents: 5 Tips For A Better New Year

With the start of a new secular year, many parents of children with autism may be thinking about their New Year resolutions. Here are some tips to make 2015 an amazing year:

1. Organization: Many parents of children with autism feel overwhelmed due to having to maintain a large amount of paperwork.

Dr. Frances Victory

Most Diverse Congress? It's Relative

The 114th Congress that convened this week is being called the most diverse in history.  That is a bit misleading. Relative to prior sessions, yes, but far from reflecting the nation as a whole.

I am reminded of the dog food company that advertised its product as "half horse meat and half rabbit meat."  When sued for false advertising it came out that the company's definition of half and half meant one horse to one rabbit.

How Sarah Palin Killed My New Year's Buzz

My 2015 was off to a great start. I’d made some time the week before to reflect on my goals for the new year and managed to take some action steps to making them happen. My sister-in-law graciously offered to babysit our kids on New Years Eve and my husband and I enjoyed one of the best dinners out we’ve had in some time. On New Years Day, we took our children out to experience the Mummers Parade, a loud, overstimulating Philadelphia tradition that my son, who has autism, not only managed but really enjoyed.

But then the buzz kill came.

The author's son walking his dog. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

'Dumbest Congressman' Running For Speaker

The man who has been called "America's dumbest congressman" and "a singularly useless and unaccomplished nutjob" just announced he is running against John Boehner for Speaker of the House this week.

For those of you who might be missing the antics of Michele Bachmann in the new Congress that convenes this week, your problem has been solved by Rep Louis Gohmert. 

Honoring The Literary Legacy Of Food Historian Gil Marks

“Walking encyclopedia” may have been the idiom that appeared most often in tributes to culinary historian Gil Marks, who died in Jerusalem on December 5, 2014, after a courageous three-year battle with (nonsmoker’s) lung cancer. A memorial gathering of family and friends will be held in Jerusalem on January 5 and will be streamed.

Gil Marks. Photo by Elli Schorr

A Camp, A Bar Mitzvah And A Family's Respite

They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  I say that it takes a village… and a synagogue or three, an edah (Amitzim) and a family camp (Ohr Lanu) at Machaneh Ramah and a loving, supportive family.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, my son, Jacob Gruen, became a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 at Adat Ari El in Valley Village, CA.  He led the Sh’ma, received his talit and blessed it, carried the torah, had an aliyah and read the torah, marched with a lulav and an etrog and said the Kiddush. He also sang a number of songs, including a solo of Adamah B'Shamayim (which he first learned at Camp Ramah) with his Kolot Tikvah choir led by Cantor Michael Stein of Temple Aliyah.  To many, this would not seem extraordinary.  However, Jacob has autism, which manifests in him as moderate speech and social deficits and academic delays.

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