Los Angeles — The 3-year-old boy stood on a chair in his backyard, and as about three dozen family members and friends gathered around, he led the assembled in a rousing, one-word-at-a-time call-and-response of the biblical verse: “Torah. Tziva. Lanu. Moshe. Morasha. Kehilat. Yakov.” (Moshe commanded the Torah to us, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Jacob.)
After recently screening two new, first-rate documentary films about Israel, my first thought was that they should each be made mandatory viewing for Jewish youth in the diaspora, and maybe Israel, too.
The headline across the front page of The Jewish Week following the 9/11 terror attack read: “America: The New Israel,” and the tag line under it asked: “As fear and vulnerability grip U.S., will empathy with Israel increase?”
Young people of Russian background, coming from secular homes and with little or no formal Jewish education, are considered among the most unaffiliated and at-risk of American Jews in terms of Jewish identity. But a comprehensive new study of that cohort finds that a Brooklyn-based program founded in 2006 to address the problem has produced some striking results.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s re-released book, “Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: The Story of a Transformation,” was first published 19 years ago, two days after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated. It should have become a best seller for at least two reasons.