Had Barack Obama gone to Israel last year, he would have been accused of election-year pandering. That he did not go to Israel since becoming president was “proof” to many that he was secretly anti-Israel and would come out in the open if re-elected.
Now, he is out in the open. He has no further need for Jewish votes, or for Jewish contributors to a re-election campaign. Yet he went to Israel and made very clear to everyone throughout the Middle East and the world at large that the United States’ commitment to Israel remains as strong as ever.
This is a fact of life. In politics, numbers count.
Politicians are more likely to support popular causes, the kinds that draw crowds, than the ones that draw few people or none at all.
Numbers count for the media, as well. Well-attended events are more likely to attract media coverage than events that lack crowds.
This is also a fact of life: As Jews, we must keep the memory of the Shoah, the Holocaust, alive. And we must keep the notion of American support for Israel alive.
Jewish leaders seem well pleased with Pope Francis, citing his ties to Jews that he fostered in Argentina. This is a hopeful sign that the new head of the Catholic church will follow in the progressive footsteps of his last several predecessors.
We would be remiss, however, to ignore the new pope’s possible ties to the oppressive rightist regimes that have ruled Argentina with an iron fist during his time there.
On Monday evening, in their respective time zones, Jews all over the world will sit down to a seder, a ritualized dinner party celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. Pesach — Passover — is one of the most unifying events in the annual life of our people. Even so-called secular Jews, even many of the unaffiliated, have some kind of Pesach experience.
And that means that for one night, at least, since not everyone celebrates a second seder, Jews all over the world share a common bond. For one night out of 365, Jews of all stripes and streams acknowledge a common heritage, and acknowledgment they might not make at other times.
After weeks of wrangling and political horse-trading, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu finally managed to cobble together a new coalition government — one that almost certainly will not last the four years to which it is entitled. That is because the factions within the coalition do not see eye to eye on so many things.
What none of them see at all, however, is what the people of Israel seem to want. Once again, the parties bargained for their own benefit, disregarding the true result of the January election. Israel’s voters are divided on many issues, but on one issue they demonstrated an amazing unity: The system is broke and needs to be fixed. Business as usual is no longer acceptable.
Pesach, Passover, is fast approaching. In home after home, cleaning is underway as products not appropriate for the Festival of Unleavened Bread are removed to make way for kosher for Passover foods.
There are three things we can do with the forbidden foods. The first, and sadly the most common, is to throw them away. This may be unavoidable for products that already have been opened, or that have a brief shelf life. The second is to wrap the products well and place them somewhere out of sight; not ideal, but becoming a common alternative.
In the years following the Holocaust, Jewish scholarship has reached unprecedented levels. Jewish culture has expanded geometrically.
A new Jewish state has risen from the ashes of the crematoria, against the tide of history, and has become a beacon of democracy in a region of oligarchies and dictatorships. In many parts of the Jewish world, a religious revival is underway. The aim of Nazi Germany was to blot out the Jews from the world and then to destroy even the memory of them. We are here — they are long gone.
Earlier this week, a New Jersey cemetery held up a funeral for nearly two and a half hours on “procedural” grounds. An elderly mother flew up from Florida to bury her daughter, but was forced to bear the indignities attached to that long wait. A family, already grieving, was made to grieve even more.
We withhold the name of the family or the cemetery, for the privacy of the former and for the irrelevancy of the latter. Cemeteries in New Jersey are poorly regulated because state law allows them to be so.