It is hard to recall an election whose outcome was as predictable as is the one coming up in a month. Despite the pundits’ desperate attempts to create some suspense, the chance that the center-left will be able to form a government is almost non-existent. All the movement is within the electoral blocs, and between them there is a permanent and conspicuous majority for the right and the ultra-Orthodox parties allied with them. Why, however, is this the case? The common wisdom connects it to Netanyahu’s political wiles, to the lack of leadership on the left, to the inability to raise the socio-economic issues, about which the Likud has no message, and to Netanyahu’s success in keeping the focus on the “security” issues.
All these excuses, however, are about tactics. The truth is much simpler and more depressing. Read more »
There has been much discussion about PM Netanyahu’s comment that he is coming to Washington to speak representing “the Jewish people” about the dangers of a nuclear Iran. This discussion is appropriate as it raises some interesting issues about Israel-Diaspora relations that require periodic re-thinking. Below I address some of them.
One claim that has been made is that if one agrees with the Law of Return, essentially that all Jews in the Diaspora are virtual Israeli citizens, the elected Prime Minister of Israel indeed represents, and can thus speak for, the entire Jewish People. If believing in the Law of Return means that every Jew in the Diaspora is required to see the elected PM of Israel as representing them, then I do not believe in the Law of Return. The Law of Return was instituted so that Israel can be a safe-haven for Jews under persecution and that I agree with. But I do not think it should be used as a tool to advantage Jews in the Diaspora while creating, or perpetuating, disadvantages to those already living in Israel (Jew or non-Jew).
Another argument cites sources from TANAKH that the King of Israel represented all Israelites/Jews. First, this is likely not true. I do not think the inhabitants of the Northern Israelite Kingdom believed the King of Judah represented them, and vice versa. In terms of the rabbinic sources about the centrality of Erez Yisrael, they are principally about the land and not its (Jewish) polity (which in rabbinic times did not exist). (Perhaps still the most comprehensive work on Erez Yisrael in classical sources is R. Yoel Teitelbaum’s “Ma’amar ‘al Erez Yisrael’ in his Vayoel Moshe. Regrettably, Zionists do not read this because they disagree with its conclusions.) Read more »
Remarks by Rabbi Alana Alpert at Michigan United Justice Assembly: Police Accountability & Civilian Oversight.
It’s an honor to be sharing a few words with this powerful gathering
I was asked to speak on the theme of repentance.
Repentance is a concept which sounds a little foreign to Jewish ears…
The closest word we have for repentance is Tshuvah –
it means turning, or to return, or to go in the opposite direction
It operates on the assumption that the person doing t’shuva is GOOD,
good at their core;
that if they just turn around – RETURN,
then they will return to goodness and righteousness.
The word sin also does not translate easily to the Jewish faith.
it seems to assume intentionality.
Our word for sin, Chet, means “to miss the mark”
it assumes we meant to do right.
We aimed for goodness and we missed. Read more »
Crossposted from Moriel’s personal blog, The Leftern Wall, where you can find his prose and poetic writing about Israel-Palestine, the Occupation, non-violent resistance, and more.
This morning, I was scanning Twitter, and stumbled across this odd tweet from the IDF Spokesperson (click link).
At the beginning, the soldier says: ”איום של חדירה”, which means, in this context, “the threat of infiltration.”
The video’s translation: Read more »
by Salem Pearce
Editor’s Note: This post is the tenth in Jewschool’s series of reflections on Judaism, Jewish identity, race and the events in Ferguson and beyond.
“We forfeit the right to worship Gd as long as we continue to humiliate Negros.”
Using the language of his time, so said Abraham Joshua Heschel in a telegram to Pres. John F. Kennedy, just before their meeting. Heschel was talking about the structural racism of the 1960s: He had just met the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King at a conference and was getting more involved in the civil rights movement. With this message, he signaled his desire to move the religious community to take action and make personal sacrifice in solidarity with the black community. “Churches and synagogues have failed. They must repent . . .The hour calls for high moral grandeur and spirituality audacity.”
Heschel was a poet as well as a rabbi and a scholar, and even though — or maybe because — his medium was a telegram, I know he chose his words carefully when he made this radical statement. On the one hand, “forfeit” can have an active connotation of relinquishing, or letting go. In this sense, “forfeiting” means you surrender a claim: When you plead guilty to a crime, you forfeit trial by jury. On the other hand, “forfeit” can have a more passive connotation, of something being taken. In this sense, you are deprived without your assent: When you are convicted of a crime, you forfeit your freedom. I think Heschel wanted to say both. Moral action is a prerequisite to relationship with Gd. For Heschel, racism means that we are saying no to Gd. And it also means that Gd is saying no to us. Read more »