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Showing posts from May, 2021

The Antisemitism Pandemic

For the first time in over a year, many of us now feel like we can see around the bend of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, most especially that many of our children can get vaccinated, and that we can safely get together with friends, and family members, our sense of relief has grown. Light is emerging from around the corner. The plague that upended our lives appears to be ebbing. Just as we wearily begin to emerge from the shadow of this plague, another grows in ferocity. Antisemitism has once again emerged with a renewed strength that caught many off guard. Whereas several years ago we saw its ugliness, and violence, emanating from the right, now it confronts us from the left. Let me be clear. Anti-Zionism easily morphs into violent antisemitism. Hatred of Israel quickly becomes antisemitic. The evidence lies before us—be it at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles or a synagogue in New York. It is now especially incumbent upon those who call themselves liberal, progressive or Democrat to cal

Praying for Peace, Hoping for Unity

The familiar priestly blessing, contained in this week’s portion, states: “May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the light of the Lord’s face shine upon and be gracious to you! May Lord always be present in your life and grant you peace!” (Numbers 6) In its original formulation it was a blessing offered by the ancient priests for the Jewish people. The Torah continues “Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you…’” The grammar appears incorrect. The “you” of the blessing is in the singular not the plural. Why would a blessing directed to “them” be formulated in the singular? Rabbi Simhah Leib, a Hasidic rebbe, comments: “The priestly blessing is recited in the singular, because the most important blessing that the Jewish people can have is unity.” I am leaning on his wisdom during these trying and difficult days when Jews shout and scream at one another. We hear, “You’re too critical of the State of Israel in its hour of need and urgency!” O

The Heart Speaks Truth

The medieval poet Yehudah HaLevi writes: “L’bi b’mizrach v’anochi b’sof maarav—my heart is in the East and I am in the depths of the West.” His words were an expression of the unending Jewish attachment to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. His poem captures my sentiments at this very moment. He speaks to my heart’s travails. My attachment is to the State of Israel. My worries are tied to my brothers and sisters in the land of Israel. I am nervous about Israel’s future. I mourn for those killed and pray for those injured—both Israelis and Palestinians. My nephew, who is living and studying in northern Tel Aviv, spent the better part of the last two evenings in a bomb shelter. Countless friends, and acquaintances, have done the same. Others are deploying to this conflict’s front lines. It is personal. I am a Jew. This is our Jewish home... This post continues on The Times of Israel.

Reclaiming the Earth

A Missouri farmer offered these words of praise and reverence for the land he and his family farmed for their entire lives. “It’s the ground that can never be replaced. They don’t make any more ground, and this ground in the spillway is the best in the world.” I wonder where his family now farms. Ten years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers dynamited a hole in the Mississippi river levee, flooding the spillway, in order to save a small town. In the process they sacrificed precious Missouri farmland. Years ago, when my family and I used to boat on the mighty Mississippi we would marvel at the homes on the river’s banks. Why would people build on a flood plain? Every year the Mississippi river floods. Every year the river nourishes the surrounding farmlands. Some years the floods are greater than others. Precious farming land comes at great cost. Apparently, this is nature’s equation. And so, every year families must flee their homes. There is a pull of the land that defies rea