A letter written by Albert Einstein to a Jewish New York businessman was sold at auction for nearly $14,000.
To love Judaism is to know how much the Sabbath matters. But neither knowledge nor love is quite enough to move many Jews, perhaps most Jews, to observance, or even to the level of observance they feel, deep in their hearts, commanded to achieve.
This state of cognitive dissonance prevails even in Israel, where the non-enforcement of the many Sabbath laws on the books has the effect of deepening the divide, every Saturday, between observant Jews and everyone else.
What can the most successful doll on the planet show us about being Jewish today? Narrated by Peter Coyote, the film mixes old school narration with a new school visual style. The Tribe weaves together archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to take audiences on an electric ride through the complex history of both the Barbie doll and the Jewish people- from Biblical times to present day. By tracing Barbie's history, the film sheds light on the questions: What does it mean to be an American Jew today? What does it mean to be a member of any tribe in the 21st Century? Finally available fee online.
Most Jewish people I know have never set foot in L.A. County jails or a California state prison. Were they to do so, they would discover dangerous overcrowding in most penal institutions.
They would see tens of thousands of inmates struggling to survive the daily routines of prison life. And they would discover their fellow Jews behind bars -- men and women who face enormous additional challenges. Too often, these inmates encounter virulent anti-Semitism at the hands of prisoners and guards. Strident missionaries from inside and outside the prison walls harass them. Jails and prisons test the resolve of those who choose to identify as Jews. They are too few in number to stand up to gangs and other hostile forces.
With the passing of Pope John Paul II, we have lost the strongest advocate for reconciliation with the Jewish people in the history of the Vatican. This pope was determined to embark on a new course and leave that shameful period behind. From the very beginning of his papacy, when he first visited his native Poland, there were hints that this pope was going to break with tradition and not follow the centuries-old script, with respect to the Jews.
Hey, Jewish filmmakers! If you've done everything you can to try to get to Park City this week for the Sundance Festival, or its increasingly popular avant-garde cousin, the Slamdance Festival, but haven't made the cut, next year try the SchmoozeDance Festival. Created five years ago by film aficionado Larry Mark, a 44-year-old living on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, SchmoozeDance might not be the biggest Jewish film fest in the world, but it is the only one that takes place next to the most prestigious festival in the world.
Imagine yourself forgotten, without anyone to protect you. Ruling powers are oppressing you and killing your children. The purported
"reason" is economic, but a deep hatred based on mere difference underlies this attempted genocide. Helpless, you cry out. Who, in heaven and on earth, will hear your cries and move to save you? Awaiting relief, what do you do?
Now, imagine that you are privileged -- a son or daughter of the ruling class. Your life is comfortable, even luxurious. You witness the sharp contrast between your situation and the suffering of the underclass. They are slated to die, and your cooperation, whether tacit or overt, will help make it happen. What do you do?
The great violinist, Itzhak Perlman, suffered from polio as a child and ever since has been in a wheelchair. On one occasion, while performing a violin concerto, one of the strings broke. It occurred in the very first movement with an audible ping. Everyone waited to see what he would do. With astonishing virtuosity, he continued as if nothing had happened, playing through to the finale using only the remaining three strings.
When the Palestinian Authority prime minister warned recently that Palestinians might abandon their goal of an independent state and instead seek a single state of Arabs and Jews, Ahmed Qurei was playing one of his trump cards in the conflict with Israel.
It would be hard to exaggerate how fateful, how historic is the drama about to begin at the settlement outposts. Here's where things stand:
Within a few months, we will pretty well know if Israel's 36-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza will be on its way out or here to stay.
Many Jews understand Shabbat as a series of restrictions. But the purpose of all the Thou-Shalt-Nots is to clear a space for the Thou-Shalts and for what is different and sacred about Shabbat. Laws against work, errands and many hobbies preserve Shabbat as a haven from relentless busyness. Shabbat sets aside time to rest and reflect, to reconnect with God, self, family and friends.
Alex Fullman has always loved to swim. He started when he was 2 years old and began swimming competitively at 6. So when representatives of American Red Magen David for Israel (ARMDI) visited his sixth-grade class at Heschel Day School to encourage students to consider making a donation as part of their bar or bat mitzvah year, Alex decided to combine his love of swimming with the needs of ARMDI. The organization provides emergency medical services throughout Israel.
Passover is a holiday of remembrance, a time to recall and retell the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people from generations of Egyptian bondage. But there is also a different kind of remembering that takes place each Passover, in which memory is personal, not scripted. We spontaneously recall, often vividly, the many different seders we have attended over the years, both as a child and as an adult.Â
One of the purposes of the Passover seder is to teach our children the story of how the Jewish people came to be. Passover is a history lesson taught not by impersonal teachers in a sterile classroom, but by our families seated around the dining room table. When done correctly, the Passover seder should instill a sense of pride. Because with knowing who we are, we should feel proud to be Jews.
Passover commemorates the departure of the Jewish people from Egypt some 3,000 years ago and marks the birth of a nation. This is as much a celebration of our spiritual freedom as it is a jubilation of our physical liberation from slavery.
This, too, shall pass.
And when the current government crisis in Israel, the showdown with Iraq and the conflict with the Palestinians are history, professor Avishay Braverman wonders, whither Israel?
His answer: the Negev.
"All our focus is on what I call the theater of the immediate," Braverman said. "I'm concerned we ignore internal issues in Israel, as if all we have to do is solve our external problems and the Messiah will come."
As we enter the year 5763, the mood of the Jewish people is justifiably dark indeed.
It has been a year of increasing violence in the Middle East, growing anti-Semitism in Europe, hostility toward Israel, and a general air of crisis and ominous headlines -- a shared misery of collective despair.
Inspirational speeches are sometimes improved by leaving out the words.
"The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey Through Language and Culture" by Ruth R. Wisse (The Free Press, $28).
The Hebrew Bible is a canon of 24 books, written in the same language, collected by a people living in a single nation, compiled at a time of belief in an all-powerful Authority speaking through that canon.
It is simply amazing that the Jewish people have managed to survive as long as we have, given our utter inability to do anything.