Loyalty Cuts Both Ways

In Perspective: Loyalty cuts both ways

Mar. 26, 2009
Daniel Gordis , THE JERUSALEM POST

It’s not every day that your 15-year-old son decides that he wants to hang out with you, so when he makes the offer, you grab it. Amazingly, he suggested that we go to the Biblical Zoo. Not having been there since he was very young, I was happy to oblige.
Toward the end of our few hours there, we happened upon a relatively new exhibit, the collared peccary. With no offense intended, it’s neither especially attractive nor, to my untrained eye, a particularly interesting animal.

But this is Israel, and even the collared peccary was cause for pause. For on this sign, unlike any of the others in

...

Read More »

The Election We All Lost

This past Shabbat, when good friends of ours came over for lunch, we caught up with their daughter, now an officer in the IDF’s Education Corps. She’s working with the most problematic soldiers – kids without high-school diplomas from broken and impoverished homes, kids with a history of violence, young men for whom the army may be the last chance to fashion a life of some worth. One day, she tells us, she’s speaking to them about Zionism, and one of them asks her, “How do you know so much about Zionism? Are you a new immigrant?”

We all chuckled at the naivete. What, only a new immigrant (which she’s not) can know something about Zionism? That’s kind of funny.

...

Read More »

Does Uncle Leonard Have A Say?

While Israel’s decision to defend the citizens of its uncontested, sovereign territory was long overdue, the predictable international condemnation of Operation Cast Lead was virtually immediate.

Israel ought to ignore most of it, for despite protestations to the contrary, it comes from people who would just as soon see the Jewish State eroded to the point of indefensibility.

But what about those, particularly Jews, who level criticism yet clearly do not wish to see Israel destroyed? So far, most Jews abroad have been supportive. But as Palestinian civilian casualties mount or Israel makes concessions when the conflict abates, Diaspora Jews – and primarily American Jews – are likely to voice opposition, both from the Left and from the rRght. Which leads

...

Read More »

A Caterpillar and An Anthem

We didn’t mean to, but we lied to our kids.

Almost ten years ago, shortly after we made aliyah, we were sitting with our three young children having dinner. One of the boys, still getting used to the idea that his life was going to be very different in Israel, looked up from his food, and asked out of nowhere, “Is Israel still going to have an army when I’m eighteen?”

He was scared. But we knew that he had no reason to be. “Yes, there’ll be an army,” we told him. “But there’s going to be peace by then. By the time you’re eighteen, everything’s going to be different. You’ll see.” I still remember how certain we were, and how relieved

...

Read More »

An Israeli Arab Prime Minister?

By pure coincidence, I happened to be in my old Los Angeles neighborhood on Election Day, and like many others, I found the extraordinary power of that day difficult to articulate. At the polling places in which I’d often voted, but had never waited in line, there were lines around the block. Friends who had voted regularly with no more than a mild sense of civic duty now spoke of participating in a moment that – whether they themselves had voted for Obama or McCain – they’d long remember and would tell their grandchildren about.

For me, the tears that flowed in Chicago’s Grant Park that night were beyond moving. One need neither forgive nor forget Jesse Jackson’s abhorrent comments about

...

Read More »

Watching American Jews Drift Away

For me, July is the cruelest month. Maybe it’s because it’s always hotter than I remember. Or the fact that at my age, birthdays feel more ominous than fun. Or maybe I’m just jealous of my kids – they’re on vacation while I trudge off to the office each morning. Who knows?

A few years ago, my wife took up bird watching. She trolled the relevant Web sites, eventually got the right kind of binoculars and bought a book with all the pictures of the various birds, in which she meticulously writes down which ones she’s seen, where and when. She knows the places to go for the best sightings; she’s been known to get up at an ungodly hour

...

Read More »

When Mistakes Are Worth Making

For some strange reason, I remember the scene with clarity.  I was in the kitchen, early on a Friday afternoon about a month ago, cooking Shabbat dinner.  Micha, our youngest, now 15, was hanging out in the living room.  The radio was on in the background, and on the hour, the news came on.  It was over in minutes, and then the music returned.

I hadn’t really paid attention to the news, but Micha apparently had.  “Do you think we’re ever going to get Gilad Shalit back?” he asked.  Without even looking at him, I said, without even thinking, “Of course we are.  Definitely.”

“You don’t know that,” a different voice piped in.  Now, I looked

...

Read More »

House Debate

Shortly after the media began carrying the story of former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya’alon’s comment that sometimes prisoners of war must be sacrificed if the demands for their return are too high, I found myself at home with two of my kids. My son, headed for the army in just a matter of weeks, had just finished reading the story on the Web. “Sounds like Ya’alon stirred up a hornet’s nest,” he said.

“Pretty painful stuff,” I replied, as I’d been trying to imagine what it must feel like to be the parents of Gilad Schalit, Eldad Regev or Ehud Goldwasser, and to have as respected a person as Ya’alon say that, especially this week.

“True,” my son said,

...

Read More »