At a time of so much worrisome news, from the prospect of an enriched and emboldened Iran to the deepening Washington-Jerusalem rift, allow us to note two positive events this week: the opening of the European Maccabi Games in Berlin, and what the Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel called “a small but hopeful moment in Israeli society” that took place in Jerusalem.
For more than three decades Jonathan Pollard has been the center of intense controversy. So it comes as no surprise that news of his November 21 release, after his imprisonment for 30 years (the legal requirement of a life term), is fraught with rumors, theories and counter-theories about why now.
This week marked the 21st anniversary of the horrific bombing of the AMIA, the major Jewish community center of Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds in the worst terror attack in Latin American history. The occasion is grim, a timely reminder of the worldwide terror network centered in Iran, which in 2007 was found responsible for the attack by the official Argentine investigation. The probe was led by Alberto Nisman, a dedicated Jewish prosecutor who died in January under mysterious circumstances. He was scheduled to give public testimony two days later alleging collusion between the leaders of Argentina and Iran.
The headlines regarding UJA-Federation’s annual campaign invariably focus on the amount of dollars raised, and how that figure compares to the previous year. This year is no exception, with the charity raising $150.8 million, an increase of $3.9 million over 2014.
Several weeks ago, large numbers of Jews from around the world took part in “Unity Day,” an event created by the families of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered a year ago to mark the “spirit of unprecedented unity among the Jewish People” following the tragedy.
Sparked by a scandal over a prominent rabbi’s mistreatment of conversion candidates, a review of conversion practices in the Orthodox community by a special committee of the Rabbinical Council of America has resulted in a series of helpful recommendations to make the experience more user-friendly. (See story, page 10.)
The remarkably rapid change in societal attitudes toward gays and lesbians, culminating in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage this past week, is a powerful statement about the values Americans place on democracy, social inclusion and individual freedoms.
The virtually unanimous resolution in the New York State Assembly the other day opposing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) efforts against Israel is a reminder of the fair-mindedness of our elected leaders. It also serves as a rejoinder to Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who sponsored a private anti-BDS summit meeting several weeks ago that excluded key mainstream Jewish groups in the fight against de-legitimization of Israel.