Challenge and Responsibility on Yom Ha’atzmaut

There were years when Yom Ha’atzmaut was cause for near-euphoria. The first sovereign Jewish state in 2,000 years, Israel represented to Jews everywhere much more than a country, a flag, and even a homeland. Independence for Jews was synonymous with a renewed lease on life, and therefore, even in the midst of unending wars, periodic economic crises and many dark clouds on the horizon, Israelis’ celebration of independence was much more than a good party. There was an existential quality to Yom Ha’atzmaut, a sense of sanctity that not everyone could articulate, but that everyone could feel.

This year, however, that unbridled euphoria is going to be hard to come by.

...

Read More »

The Stories We're Obliged to Tell

We read it so often that we hardly even notice it anymore.

It’s that famous line from the Haggadah, which Jews around the world will recite in just a few days: “And even if we were all wise, filled with understanding, all elders and all learned in the Torah, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.”

Why, though? If we were all so deeply learned, what possible need would there be to tell a story? The message is clear – there are truths that emerge from stories that cannot be gleaned from “mere” study. There is knowledge to which the heart can lead us that

...

Read More »

Of Sermons and Strategies

In this spring of youthful Arab discontent, it has become de rigueur to note that no one could have seen this coming. We had no warning, the strategists are all explaining – there was no way to predict this.

Perhaps. But closer to home, where other seismic shifts are already changing our world, we do know already what is happening. Far from the Middle East, a new battleground is emerging, and it is going to change the world we bequeath to the next generation no less than what is happening in Egypt, Syria and Libya. For the most part, though, we’ve chosen to ignore it.

This battleground, strange though it may sound,

...

Read More »

A Final Purim Thought

It’s a strange world, indeed, when the one place in the Middle East that seems the most stable and secure is the State of Israel. This is the spring of Arab revolt.

Tunisia has fallen, Hosni Mubarak is gone, Yemen is in danger, Hezbollah has taken over Lebanon, Saudi troops have moved into Bahrain, Jordanians are nervous, Syrian officers have fired on protesters, and in the skies above Libya allied missiles fly, seeking to destroy Muammar Gaddafi’s defenses.

Only in Israel do things seem quiet. It’s the nahafoch hu of the Book of Esther, a world in which what unfolds is precisely the opposite of what might have been expected.

The similarities don’t

...

Read More »

What, Not Who, Is a Jew?

Lev Paschov, an Israeli soldier who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return from the Former Soviet Union, was killed while on active duty in Southern Lebanon in 1993, and buried twice. He was first interred in a regular Israeli military cemetery, but after it was discovered that his mother was not Jewish, his body was exhumed, and Paschov was buried a second time, in a cemetery for non-Jews.

For many Israelis, the macabre end of Paschov’s brief life journey was deeply disturbing. How was it possible that someone could be welcomed to Israel under the Law of Return, serve the Jewish state’s army, and die

...

Read More »

Moments Worth Remembering

I still recall the day, some 40 years ago, when my mother told me that she remembered vividly the moment that she’d heard that FDR had died. I was stunned. She’d been so young. How could she possibly remember it at all, much less so clearly?

Gradually, I came to understand that there is a certain kind of moment when something so important transpires that, even years later, we remember not only what happened, but where we were, who spoke, how we felt. Each of us has a different list. Mine includes Anwar Sadat’s arrival in Tel Aviv, and Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. The Challenger explosion. Ariel Sharon’s stroke. Many more.

Two weeks ago, there

...

Read More »

Plus Ca Change

Jerusalem Post Weekend Magazine
February 11, 2011

I imagine that I am not alone in having thought often of November 1977 in the last several weeks.

I was young, a college student, but I still remember one particular afternoon of that month with exceptional clarity. Anwar Sadat was coming to Jerusalem. I had no TV in my Columbia University dorm, so my grandparents invited me over to watch with them.

My grandfather was an enormous presence in my life. Physically large, tall and wide, he was a scholar, a public intellectual, a gifted orator, a no-nonsense teacher who grilled me in Bible and Talmud, who (as if I didn’t have enough to read

...

Read More »

A Friendship of Values, Not Convenience

FOR decades Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, has spoken of his country’s yearning for a “new Middle East,” one in which Israel is at peace with its neighbors, regional economies cooperate and the conflict with the Palestinians is finally set aside. Now, with Egypt’s government on the edge of collapse, Israel is suddenly faced with a “new Middle East” — and Israelis are terrified.

Many Westerners believe that the events in Egypt are a disaster for the Jewish state. Its most important regional ally faces possible chaos and an Islamist takeover. Add to this King Abdullah II’s recent dismissal of his cabinet in Jordan (the only other Arab country that has

...

Read More »

Decency Abhors a Vacuum

The Jerusalem Post; January 28, 2011

The creation of Ehud Barak’s Independence faction, with its collateral damage to the already hemorrhaging Labor Party, puts Israel into that rare category of First World countries without a social-democrat-like party of any significance. Yet even Labor’s opponents ought not breathe a sigh of relief. Our ossified government, with no opposition to goad it into action, is passively presiding over the demise of much of what we have toiled to build.

True, the blame for the demise of Israel’s Left really lies with Yasser Arafat. When he unleashed the second intifada (more aptly called the Palestinian terror war) after Camp David sputtered, he proved once and for

...

Read More »

The Opposition We Really Need

Few of us, left to our own devices, would choose to have an opposition. “Get out of my way,” we’re inclined to say, “and just let me do what I know is right.”

Oppositions, it seems to us, are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of political life.

It’s the common view, but it’s wrong. Oppositions matter, because no political party, no ideology and no nation has a monopoly on wisdom.

But as much as we need to welcome opposition, oppositions also need to know what to oppose, and how. The growing American Jewish opposition to Israel’s foreign policy (or lack thereof) is a case in point.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent

...

Read More »
Page 10 of 23« First...8910111220Last »