Six Days in June . . . Fifty Years Later

Jewish conversation in Israel and North America is understandably focused this month on lessons learned from the war fought in early June 50 years ago. One cannot but feel immense gratitude for the victory that saved Israel from the imminent destruction that had threatened in the weeks leading up to the conflict. There is cause for joy beyond measure at the extraordinary achievements made possible by Israel’s triumph, both inside the State and in Jewish communities worldwide. Questions abound on what might have been: opportunities missed, internal Jewish divisions that have deepened rather than healed, the huge cost exacted by a half-century of occupation. 

Israel in Winter

A friend wondered aloud, as we sat in a Jerusalem restaurant on a mild winter day in mid-February, why it is that books continue to be written, and reviewed in Ha’aretz, asking whether Israel has a future

Rabbinic Training Institute 2012

I spent much of last week in the company of about 70 Conservative rabbis—participants in the annual workshop sponsored by JTS that is known informally as “rabbi camp” and formally as RTI, the Rabbinic Training Institute.

Coming Closer to Israel

I read the responses to my December 21st blog posting on the topic, “Distancing from Israel,” in the wake of a spate of news reports from Israel that graphically illustrated one piece of the problem we face in trying to overcome such distancing. 

Distancing from Israel

The American Jewish Committee sponsored a consultation last week on the subject, “Are Young Committed American Jews Distancing from Israel?” I was asked to present my view of the matter—and to address the question of what needs to be done.

The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption Ads: Not a Misunderstanding

Now that the Israeli government has wisely (but, so far, only partially) withdrawn from its website the videos meant to discourage Israelis from settling in America, marrying Americans (Jewish or Gentile), and ending up with children who can’t tell the difference between Hanukkah and Christmas, American Jews too should step back from the skirmish and coolly appraise just what the flap was about.

At West Point

I spent a day at West Point last week—meeting Jewish and non-Jewish cadets, seeing the sights, talking about leadership education with administration and faculty, and teaching a class about Judaism, the distinctive pattern of religious belief and practice in America, and the role of religion in stimulating and sanctifying violence—and in eliciting and sanctifying compassion.