A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Anniversary of Crown Heights riots
The Brooklyn neighborhood infamous for the 1991 riot between blacks and Jews has changed over the past few decades, but memories of the mayhem are still very much alive. “When one walks down the street in Crown Heights today, one sees a vibrant, integrated community that is building toward a growing future,” said Rabbi Shea Hecht in The Jewish Daily Forward. To mark the anniversary, Rev. Al Sharpton will participate in a panel discussion on black-Jewish relations this weekend in Long Island.
Bibi and Obama
As Benjamin Netanyahu grapples with unrest in pockets of Israel, the Israeli prime minister is under increased pressure from American Jews to get on the same page as President Obama. Obama “seems to have concluded that the ideal segue from the latest Arab crisis is a new attempt to pressure Israel into accepting a quick march to Palestinian statehood,” said The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl. And it’s time to accept that, said Morton Klein at JTA. “Things may get better or worse—more likely the latter—but one thing is clear: Obama and Israel are not of one mind, or anywhere close to being so.” But not everyone has lost hope. JTA’s Marc Stanley said that “Obama and Netanyahu continue to work as partners in every sense to secure Israel and ensure lasting peace for the Israeli people.” What more can you ask?
Beck’s upcoming rally
After months of planning and anticipation, Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally in Jerusalem is just a week away, and some people are aren’t taking kindly to it. It is “nothing more than a media-driven, money-making, self-serving, end-of-times messianic-lunacy circus show, and that is the very last thing Jerusalem and Israel need at this moment,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater in the Jewish Journal. That it’s happening at all is beyond ludicrous, said an editorial at Israeli National News. “So the question must be posed: What in the world is a media figure doing addressing a legislative body? Has Oprah Winfrey ever addressed a joint session of Congress? How about Rush Limbaugh? Dennis Prager? Michael Savage? Or even, for the liberally inclined, pre-Congressional Al Franken? Anybody?” Say what you want about Beck, said Sammy Levine at the Jewish Journal, but Beck stands up for Israel when times are tough. “Thank you, Glenn, for your unwavering support for Israel. We need more people in the media like you.”
Lieberman’s Sabbath book
The senator from Connecticut’s new book has a positive message for everyone: Give it a rest. “The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath” is for non-Jews, too, the senator said. ““This gift, I wanted not only to share with Jews who are not experiencing it, who haven’t accepted it, but also in some measure to appeal to Christians to come back to their observance of their Sabbath on Sundays,” he told The Jerusalem Post. So how is the book? “The book is old-fashioned in the best sense: It reveres the past and is sentimental without devolving into nostalgia. Lieberman employs the lovely archaic language of the King James version of the Bible rather than more modern translations,” said John Bicknell at Roll Call. And it’s a testament to Lieberman’s hard work over the years, said Michael Medved in The Washington Times. “Americans should honor his true legacy: the dignity with which he has exemplified the principle that true religious faith, like the Sabbath itself, has more to do with warmth, joy and fellowship than restriction, guilt and intolerance.”
The Wall Street Journal profiled Jews in Kaifeng who are only considered Jewish as long as they stay outside of Israel. Making matters worse, the Chinese government won’t acknowledge that there are any Chinese Jews at all. Between 500 and 1,000 people in the city say they are descendants of Kaifeng Jews. Whether or not these Jews should be accepted is up for debate, but what’s clear is that the Jewish and Chinese heritages and traditions intertwined over time. After all, there’s mah jongg to be played.