On the second day of Rosh Hashanah (which seems now like one hundred years ago, so much has happened since then), I delivered a sermon about the uniquely critical dangers facing Israel in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and the ongoing turmoil in Syria.
With the completion of the cycle of holidays that ushered in the new Jewish calendar year, one could almost hear the audible sigh of relief from all quarters of the Jewish community. No more sick days that need to be depleted, no more classes that need to be missed, no more relentless assault of unending, overwhelming holiday meals…we’ve been ready for this for a long time, and it feels awfully good to have reached the holiday-less month of Heshvan.
Even the most casual observer of the Jewish community over recent years will have noticed that we Jews seem to have a problem talking nicely to each other. Because this problem usually manifests itself publicly around thorny and contentious issues, it’s easy to read it as the inevitable result of the passions generated by the issues themselves, and not necessarily the people involved.
By the time this article is published, much will already have been written and spoken about the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s very crude ad that was placed in the most public of New York City spaces -- our subway system.
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Awe – a concept that is so hard to grasp. There are not many things that produce in us a pure sense of awe. If you are like me, you may use the word “Awesome” in your daily speech, but rarely with a true feeling of something being full of awe. Awe seems to contain within it something….majestic….holy….and even fearsome. I think the key to this season, and the place it holds in so many of our lives, lies in this word: Awe.
Having made a private vow to myself to steer clear of politics during this High Holiday season, I write this article with considerable ambivalence. The deepest truth is that it is not about the American presidential campaign per se, nor is it intended to indicate a preference for one candidate over another, though I won’t pretend not to have one. The real issue that I want to address has to do with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his obvious decision to insert himself- and Israel- into the American presidential campaign.
I was walking my dog late one night this week when I encountered a neighbor from down the block, past whose house my dog and I invariably pass on this evening ritual. As most people will say to me in one form or another at this time of year, my neighbor offered the following greeting: “So, you’re entering into your busy season, yes? Must be a lot of pressure.”