Okay, I confess, I missed the AIPAC policy conference this week, the first I haven't attended as a reporter in 23 years. But it's okay, I had a note from my editor because I was working on the new Jewish Week Web site, which you're now reading and I hope you're liking.
But you didn't need to be on the floor of the Washington Convention Center to know there's something afoot in the U.S.-ISrael relationship that worries the leaders of mainstream pro-ISrael groups and has given new hope to groups that favor a more robust U.S. peacemaking effort in the region.
Once upon a time, before Tel Aviv filmmakers invented the Israeli thumb-sucking depressive anti-war movie filmed in a cloud of cigarettes, being a liberal in Hollywood meant being more Zionist than the Stern Gang.
Have you heard that President Obama, in his private meeting at the White House on Tuesday, urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to call on Jews around the world to refrain from singing or reciting “Next Year in Jerusalem” at their seders next week?
Apparently the administration views such prayers as “unhelpful” to the peace process, and even “provocative,” given the political sensitivities of the moment.
"I happen to be in Iraq and am looking for a place to spend Passover," read the e-mail message I received Monday night. That got my attention.
It was from a Jewish woman from Washington, D.C., who said she had arrived in Baghdad two days earlier as a consultant for USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development). She wrote she had come on short notice and had "no time to plan for Passover, aside from bringing a couple of boxes of matzah ball soup mix. No one else who is here is Jewish."
The other day I received a call from a reporter at the Detroit News. She was just about to submit a story about a motorized scooter that can be used by observant Jews on Shabbat, but she wanted a local rabbi's comments first. It was fortuitous that she contacted me since I am already familiar with the Israeli-based Zomet Institute, which partnered with the scooter company, but I have also seen this Sabbath-acceptable scooter in action since I know Michael Balkin, who owns one of these scooters and was interviewed for the article.
You can't turn around today without reading blogs and news items about the AIPAC policy conference, underway in Washington cavernous Convention Center; one of the most interesting comes from the Atlantic's prolific Jeff Goldberg.
When I was a kid, I'd often spend the Sunday before Passover with other yeshiva kids packing up boxes full of matzah, eggs, grape, juice, gefilte fish and other staples to help the needy observe Passover.