It has long been considered the case in Judaism that there is no “catechism” that one needs to subscribe to in order to be a Jew. We are, for the most part, much more a community that measures a person’s commitment to the covenant by what he/she does- the mitzvot they perform- than one that cares about being able to say “I do” to a set of neatly and very specifically articulated beliefs.
Perhaps it’s because he always seems so full of himself, or maybe it’s that he has never displayed even an iota of self-doubt, or that he always seems to take such delight in belittling questioners and critics … It may well be for one of these reasons or quite a few others, but I have to admit to more than a little schadenfreude as I watch New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s carefully constructed persona slowly come apart before our eyes.
Like all other professionals who engage in counseling, rabbis are trained to know and believe that hearing one side of a story does not tell you all you need to know. Whether it is a marriage that is in trouble or friends who have become estranged from each other, a professional may well ultimately choose to have the parties involved come in together for counseling. But it is rare indeed that said professional would not see the parties individually before dealing with them as a pair.
The absence this week of Israel’s two leading political figures, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, at the massive memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa was both painful and sad. Whether or not illness made it impossible for President Peres to attend is something we cannot know, although surely, it would not have been an easy trip for a man of Peres’ age.
With Thanksgiving barely a week behind us and Chanukah just ending, it seems a particularly appropriate moment to reflect on this year’s most unusual juxtaposition of sacred and secular celebrations. Beyond the kitsch of “Thanksgivukah,” as so many referred to it, there is a common thread between the two holidays, and it is a significant one. Both are about gratitude.
Anyone who has visited New York City, and of course those of us who live here, has a story about New York cabbies.
Most of the time, our cabbies speak a dialect of English that is largely unintelligible. There was a time when the New York City cab population was flooded with Israelis, but nowadays, a large number of the drivers hail from what many would call “one of the Stans:” Uzbekistan, Tadzjikistan, Afghanistan… you get the point. Every once is a while you might encounter a cab driver who actually speaks English and knows his/her way around New York, which in general is a good thing. But then you run the risk of having a driver who insists on talking to you non-stop, from pick-up to drop-off, as you’re trying to grab a minute or two of peace and quiet while you lurch from Point A to Point B. It kind of makes you miss the unintelligible English.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.