Israel

Reflections Before Voting in Israeli Election

Reflections Before Voting in Israeli Election

I am about to do what more than 100 generations – untold millions – of Jews could not: help shape the future of a sovereign, democratic Jewish nation. As an American lawyer and historian, when I head to the polls in the US I think not only about the issues and candidates, and my choices, but more generally about the great privilege and responsibility of voting in American elections.  Still, voting for the first time as a citizen of Israel is sure to be profoundly moving.  How should I vote?  ...

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Jan 25
Posted in: Israel

B'shallah: Consulting with trees.

B'shallah: Consulting with trees.

This week we read the Torah portion B’shallah, in which, most famously, G-d splits the sea and the Israelites are saved from destruction.  We celebrate the “holiday of trees” -- Tu B’shevat (the 15th day of the month of Shevat) and, here in Israel, we voted in national elections.  Coincidentally, this week I also learned, in Ulpan (Hebrew language school), that the word for “consult” is: להתייעץ  (“l’heet-ya-etz”).  Because the last two letters – etz -- are the word for “tree,” our teacher suggested that we remember the word for “consult” with the sentence:  “I consult with a tree.” ...

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Bo: How About a Date?

Bo: How About a Date?

A couple of years ago I read about a group of American Jewish teens on a Birthright or similar trip to Israel.  After a meal, one of them apparently said: “It’s time to say the Birkat.”  One of the soldiers guarding them said: “You must not even know what that word means; you can’t say “the Birkat;” it’s not a word you can use by itself.  (The subtext to the remark was, “You think you are superior Jews because you say a prayer in Hebrew, but you don’t even understand what you are saying!”   The kids responded ...

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Hanukah's Message

Hanukah's Message

In recent years at this time, I have researched the story of Hanukah, dressed up as Simon Ben Mattathias to give “dramatic historical presentations” at synagogues, and even lectured about Hanukah aboard cruise ships.  This year, I’m doing something quite different … 

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Jewish British Mudslinging at Israel

Jewish British Mudslinging at Israel

 

This week I depart from my Torah commentary to describe two upsetting, related incidents in connection with my Rosh Hashanah visit to a Liberal Judaism movement congregation in the UK.  They both involved Israel. In the first ... 

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Sep 21
Posted in: Israel

Va-etchanan: This "week" in Jewish history...

Va-etchanan: This "week" in Jewish history...

This week I made a list of potential themes for my D’var Torah: 

1. Jews as the “Chosen People”
2. The “Ten Commandments”
3. The Commandment to “Do the Right and the Good”
4. Siyum Hashas (the completion of the 7.5 year Talmud study cycle)
5. This Shabbat’s designation as Shabbat Nachamu 
6. The Aleinu prayer with which we end each service.   

Each of these, among others, appealed to me.  Perhaps because I have just returned to Jerusalem and have not yet caught up on sleep,  I found myself unable to decide which to write about.  So, I thought I’d try briefly weaving them all together!




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Response to LA Times Op-Ed "Six days, 45 years later"

Response to LA Times Op-Ed "Six days, 45 years later"

Letter to the LA Times Editor: Miko Peled’s Op-Ed “Six days, 45 years later” (6/6/12) is highly misleading.   While opposing the policies and decisions of one’s government, past and present, on principle is perfectly legitimate and even noble, spreading hateful misinformation in the guise of “activism” is unconscionable.   As the son of an Israeli general, Peled surely knows that the Arabs, not Israel, are primarily to blame for the Palestinian refugee situation, for the “occupation” and most of its unfortunately necessary evils, and for the fact that there is still no Palestinian state.   Yet his Op-Ed is little more than vituperative Palestinian propaganda against Israel.  He has either forgotten the history he learned in school or is determined to ignore it.   Those who seek a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should do neither. At the end of WWI, ... 

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Jun 07

A View of the Knesset and of Changing Israeli Society

A View of the Knesset and of Changing Israeli Society
The Knesset building (Israeli Parliament) looms prominent on the hill opposite my Jerusalem apartment(see photo taken from my balcony).   My view of the seat of the Israeli government reminds me that Americans whom I’ve heard express hostility toward Israel usually make two major complaints: 
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Jun 01
Posted in: Israel

Behar/Behukkotai: My Countries Right or Wrong

Behar/Behukkotai: My Countries Right or Wrong

Many of you grew up in the 1960s and vividly remember it.  Student occupation of college administration buildings.  Rampant drug use.  Long hair.  Bra burning.  Race riots.  Vietnam war protests.  Protesters within earshot of the Oval Office chanting: “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Flag burning.  The environmental movement.  The consumer movement.  Political assassinations.  It was a time of great social and political turmoil. 

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Of Bonfires and Biases: Lag BaOmer in the “Territories”

Of Bonfires and Biases: Lag BaOmer in the “Territories”
The phrase “Hilltop Outpost in the Territories” may conjure up the following image:  A remote spot, far from “Israel proper,” in mostly, or entirely, Palestinian-occupied area.  A few, far right-wing religious zealots individuals or families flout the law and bring international scorn, consuming widely disproportionate government funds (thanks to disproportionate right-wing political support in the fractious Knesset) and other resources (security, utilities, etc.), in furtherance of what they consider their Biblical mandate.  
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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3