If we create the right kind of community, intermarriage is not synonymous with assimilation.
Last week, during New York’s non-historic blizzard, I took a stroll through snowy Brooklyn and reminisced about the winters of my childhood, when my family would sled down the hills of our uncle’s yard. I recall once when my mom pointed out to me a solitary tree on the hill, warning me to steer clear of it for my own safety; inevitably I slammed into it or narrowly missed every time. Was I such a terribly uncoordinated navigator? Maybe. But it was just as likely that when the tree was identified to me as dangerous, I stopped thinking about the rest of the slope and became fixated on it. And with my eyes fearfully glued to the tree, where else would the sled take me?
Two groups of teens get no further than JFK as youth group reacts to targeting of Ben Gurion airport.
The closure of Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport for several hours Tuesday because Hamas rockets had targeted it forced BBYO to cancel its Israeli tour for two groups of teenagers who had already arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport.
It’s hard to be in the middle. Politically, the far right has put mainstream Republicans on the defensive, and the left has sent centrist Democrats scurrying to identify with populism. Religiously, fundamentalism on the right has opposed any form of change, and an aggressive atheism on the left has mounted a war against traditional beliefs. Yet, while the extremes may sometimes foment revolutions, the middle keeps society going. And the middle is the hardest place to be.
It seems that every significant study of the Jewish people is released while we read from the Book of Numbers, the book that derives its English name from the first official census of the Jewish people. It’s as if counting the Jewish people is imbedded in our DNA. That census, conducted 3,000-plus years ago, however, was much more limited in scope: Only men age 20 and older who are able to go to war (Numbers 1:3) were to be counted. From the Torah’s census of 603,550 Israelites of age for war, scholars estimate that the total population was in the 2.5 million range.
Like many in North America I was saddened by the recent suicide of Rutgers University freshmen Tyler Clementi. I feel for his family and friends. May their memories of him be a comfort.
As I have been reflecting on the events that led to his death and discussing it with my family, friends, and colleagues, a few thoughts come to mind. I'd like to share them with you because I know you are also thinking about this tragedy.