I’ve been at The Jewish Journal for two months now, and it seems everybody I meet with or talk to has recently spoken with my colleague Tom Tugend. If you’ll allow me the hyperbole, Tom is to Los Angeles Jewry what Jack Smith was to the greater LA region—a fountain of institutional knowledge, a reporter who knows all and is respected, if not admired, by most. Here is an example from last week.
Born in Germany in 1925, where he remained until immigrating to the U.S. in 1939, Tom has fought in three wars—World War II, Israel’s War of Independence and the Korean War. I was born six decades later in San Diego, where I remained until shipping off to UCLA. I’ve never gone to war, though I did get in a fight in fifth grade. (I won.)
Tom and I have an average age of someone suffering a mid-life crisis and last week teamed up for this story about the first anniversary of Israel’s war with Hezbollah.
This week, as we mark the first anniversary of the war, Israel’s security appears no more certain than it was. With Hamas’ recent expulsion of Fatah from the Gaza Strip and with the three Israeli soldiers still captive, expectations are cresting about the likelihood of another war.
But if this summer’s flare-ups burn into a full conflagration, would the American Jewish community respond as resoundingly as it did last summer? Would there be countless missions to Israel and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid? Or would American Jewry be overwhelmed by war weariness?
“There is a dispiriting sense of fatigue and apprehension, as if we were confronted by a ‘No Exit’ sign,” said Rabbi Harold Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom. “Day by day, events are becoming more complex and frustrating, and neither the left nor the right has any answers. We are looking for someone to lead us out of our malaise.
“What do you do in a world gone wild?” Schulweis said. “What are our sources of faith in an insane world? In such a world, optimism is a struggle, but in Judaism, we have to believe in the potential of humanity, in the capacity of people to change in this life, not an otherworldly life.”