The Jewish World

27
Jul
0

Pressure for a Moment of Silence: 40 years since the Munich Massacre

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10
Jul
0

Peres Has Me Pondering

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In days of yore, Israeli leaders were very careful to adhere to halacha, to Jewish law, in public, in their roles as representatives of the State of Israel.  Mostly, this involved eating kosher food and publicly adhering to the laws of Shabbat.  SAC director Leon Covitz, via facebook, directed my attention to an article in Haaretz today about Israeli President Shimon Peres; according to the piece, Peres has decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the London Olympics - because it extends into Friday (Shabbat) night and the Olympic committee is not willing to allow Peres to sleep in the Olympic village. (It's reserved for athletes).

Now, Shimon Peres is not one of my personal role models.  Though he contributed much to the building of the State of Israel, he also initiated the Oslo Process, which many of us correctly anticipated would be bad for the State of Israel.  That said, there is a concept called יש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת - a person can acquire his portion in the World to Come in one moment.  So whatever you say about Shimon Peres in general, I think that with his public display of showing reverence for Shabbat, Peres has made a powerful statement about the character of the Jewish state.

I noticed a similar concern for public adherence to halacha when I attended the AIPAC conference this past spring in Washington DC. All of the food sold and catered at AIPAC was strictly kosher.  Certainly, the increased attendance of observant Jews has led to these higher standards; still, the decision by the organizing committee to have no non-kosher options at a convention of 13,000 people conveys a powerful message to delegates and observers alike.  Here in Seattle, local federation functions also strictly adhere to these guidelines.

On a number of occasions, I have spoken of this model as an argument for every Jew to identify with, and belong to, an Orthodox synagogue irrespective of the individual's level of personal observance. The Orthodox Kehilla represents the classical Torah tradition, the Mesora, a commitment to the fundamentals of our faith.  Instead of dulling the aspirations of Jews by presenting them with watered-down templates - like spiritual leaders who themselves fail to observe the basics of Shabbat and Kashrut - Jewish communities should be setting their sights high, exposing Jews to the beauty of Torah, and allowing a Jew of any background to navigate his or her own personal path to G-d.

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04
Jul
0

As SAC winds up on July 4th - a look back @ another July 4th!

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Tonight at SAC, Leon Cohen is coming out for his annual fireworks extravaganza.  It's July 4th, and residents living on Lost Lake are boating and water-skiing. It was just 36 years ago (double "Chai")
that one of the most amazing events of modern Jewish history took place - the Raid on Entebbe. Years ago, a couple of movies were produced, one in Hollywood, the other in Israel,  to retell the story.  More recently, a computerized mini-documentary recreated the events of July 3-4th 1976.  This 9 - minute film is well worth watching!

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21
Jun
0

Rav Lau as Ambassador of Peace

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Here is an excerpt from a Turkish talk show from this past fall.  Rabbi Lau is guest of a controversial Muslim personality, Adnan Oktar.  

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19
Jun
0

'Son of Hamas' visits the Knesset this week

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This video features former Hamas terrorist Mosab Hassan Yousef discussing peace in the Middle East:

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04
Jun
0

Zuckerberg and Jewish Identity

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zuckerberg

One of the topics that preoccupied me as a new Ba'al Teshuva (newly religious) young man back in the 1980's and early 90's was the extent to which the theology of Reform Judaism offered absolutely no rationale, no basis for a religious imperative to adhere to Jewish law, or, for that matter, a uniquely Jewish lifestyle.  

Eugene Borowitz, one of the premiere thinkers of Reform in the late 20th century, wrote extensively on this topic.  The Wikipedia article on Borowitz explains:

His work has concerned itself with the dilemma of the postmodern Jew: committed to individual autonomy, but nevertheless involved with God, Torah, and Israel.

Now, how exactly "individual autonomy", read: the lack of a Divine imperative to adhere to mitzvot, was to be synthesized with the idea of being "involved with God, Torah and Israel" was anybody's guess.  I read this man's books and essays over and over again, and could not (for the life of me!) figure out how he ever meaningfully reconciled the contradiction.

Since the early 90's, I have moved on; for the last two decades, I have been primarily interested in disseminating what I feel is the authentic Torah tradition - instead of engaging in analysis of Jewish movements like Reform. But today, one of my colleagues in the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Doniel Kramer provided a link to an eye-opening article in the Jewish Daily Forward.  The piece, entitled, "Losing Zuckerberg" is written by Reform rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, and it's a VERY worthwhile read.  Here's an excerpt:

We failed Zuckerberg and will continue to fail young people like him because the pluralistic theologies of Reform Judaism articulated since the 1960s make it difficult to grasp what we Reform Jews believe on any given issue. Our faith is too amorphous. Math and science nerds, in particular, may be the type most likely to bolt. This is ironic because one of the raisons d’être of Reform Judaism was to create an approach to Judaism that would be scholarly and scientific. But we have lost our way, ignoring scholarship in favor of any type of “spirituality,” no matter how vacuous.

To read the entire article, click on: 

http://forward.com/articles/157074/losing-zuckerberg/?p=all#ixzz1wmtDRDeM 

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01
Jun
0

Am I Missing Something?

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With all of the pressing issues in the Jewish world - security in the Mid East, cost of day school education, intermarriage.... somehow, I can't so excited about the chocolate chip crisis. Am I missing something?  I'm a week behind the times, but it's worth checking this out:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304840904577422074030275122.html

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