The FBI arrested two prominent Orthodox Jewish rabbis and two of their associates overnight Oct. 9 in New York. Allegedly, these rabbis arranged back-alley beatings for men who refuse to divorce their wives. Understanding their alleged crimes requires a short background in Jewish law.
"The Golden Land: The Story of Jewish Immigration to America" by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin (Harmony Books, $29.95).
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin begins this clever, coffee-table tome by noting that only three days after Spain's pious rulers, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, expelled their 200,000 Jewish subjects in 1492 for no reason other than their stubborn insistence on worshipping God, Columbus set sail for India. However, Columbus and his three ships and crew (90 members, five of whom were Marannos, or secret Jews) arrived in the New World, part of which, the United States, "would come to house the largest, most prosperous and most successful Jewish community in Diaspora history."
About 10 years ago, give or take a year, I was invited to director Arthur Hiller's home to attend a reading of a work in progress. About 80 to 100 people turned out and listened raptly as two wonderful actors, script in hand, read the work in progress. It was a play called "The Quarrel," written by two friends, David Brandes and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and based on a short story by Yiddish writer Chaim Grade. I mean no exaggeration when I say that everyone seated in Hiller's spacious living area knew they were listening to a play that was special.