If you're looking for one of the world's newest centers for Judaism, then look no further than at a perverse example of garish excess seen in the past year: one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Comedian Al Franken lit Chanukah candles in the palace in an illuminative snub of the dictator, who proudly displayed large painting of Scud missiles hitting Israel and gold chairs bearing inscriptions that crow about "victory over the Zionist entity."
Rabbi Jacob Goldstein is one of those scrappy Brooklyn politicos whom reporters love to call for a good wisecrack. A top political operative in the Lubavitch Chassidic community, he was recently named chief chaplain of the New York National Guard in recognition of service to the state Republican machine. Not one to duck a fight, he flew into Israel during the 1991 Gulf War as chaplain of the U.S. Army unit manning the Patriot missiles.