1. The absence of Presence
The Romans are approaching. We wallow in callous pettiness. The city will fall soon.
Parshat Vaetchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) God tells Moses that although he's faithfully led His people through the desert these past 40 years, and although the Jews are now standing at the very border of the Holy Land, Moses himself will never be allowed entry, and will die and be buried outside of Israel.
The 76th Academy Awards brought much cheer to New Zealand, home of the 11 Oscar-winning "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," but little to ethnocentric Jews.
There was a dollop of consolation in the best actor win for Sean Penn, son of the late Jewish television director Leo Penn. The elder Penn was the grandson and great-grandson of rabbis and the son of Russian and Lithuanian immigrants, whose surname, Piñon, was anglicized at Ellis Island.