After years of major efforts by both Israeli leaders and American Jews to make it happen sooner, it was revealed this week that Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish naval analyst who spied on America for Israel, would be released on November 20, as he completes the full thirty years of his original sentence.
Over the years, I have written a number of columns on the North American Jewish Choral Festival, an outstanding program sponsored by the Zamir Choral Foundation, of which I am an officer and board member. The Festival, now in its twenty-sixth year, brings together hundreds of Jewish choral singers, mostly from North America but also from Israel. For four days, they are immersed in the glories of great Jewish choral music. There is no other program like it in the Jewish world. As an alumnus of the Zamir Chorale from the late 60’s and early 70’s, I always look forward to it. It is, invariably, exhilarating.
It is that time of year again, the so-called “Three Weeks” preceding Tisha B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temples in ancient Jerusalem. The observant Jewish community is in an unusually somber mood. There are no weddings, no major parties, and a variety of other quasi-mourning practices are followed.
My wife and I have been blessed with four beautiful children, but we lost a number of pregnancies along the way. During those difficult times years ago, when we sometimes wondered whether we would ever realize our dream of a large family, or even have children at all, I developed a deep personal antipathy for the cavalier use of abortion as a form of birth control.
Being a “New York Jew”— and a New York Rabbi, no less — is what many of the more sharp-tongued among us would call a diagnosis. In the mouths of some non-Jews, it is a not-so-polite way of implying pushy, opinionated, parochial, narrow-minded, prickly, and demanding. And in the mouths of many Jews, particularly those from outside of this geographical area, it implies ethnically narrow, religiously conservative, along with a few of the aforementioned adjectives. None of them are particularly complimentary.
A week ago, I had the pleasure of attending a reception for Dr. Ruth Westheimer, celebrating both her eighty-seventh birthday and the publication of her newest book, "The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Life, Love, and Joie de Vivre." Not surprisingly, the person in the room who effortlessly displayed the most energy and spirit, with no one even a close second, was Ruth herself.
As the deadline for a proposed deal between the P5+1 countries and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program looms at the end of June, there is ample reason to be concerned. As of this writing, early indications are that the deal, whose final details are yet to be announced, will fall short of what is needed to make it credible, and sensible.
Although I am an avid sports fan, soccer has never really been a favorite of mine. I enjoy watching World Cup matches, because the stakes are high, and you’re watching the best of the best playing matches that matter. But in general, like most Americans, the lack of scoring in soccer invariably leaves me wanting more.
In an article that appeared in the May 5 issue of Haaretz, Israel’s preeminent English language newspaper, the well-respected columnist Chemi Shalev pointed to the irony of Israel’s most recent coalition-building crisis. By withdrawing at the very last moment from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s emerging coalition, Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, had gifted the Israeli left, who reviles him, with an unintentionally sweet gift: schadenfreude.