September 19, 2019
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The Blogs

  • A nation of storytellers (Ki Tavo 5779)

    Howard Gardner, professor of education and psychology at Harvard University, is one of the great minds of our time. He is best known for his theory of “multiple intelligences,” the idea that there is not one thing that can be measured and defined as intelligence but many different things –…

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  • Any U.S.-Iran talks must address the elephants in the room

    Heading into the U.N. General Assembly next week, it is rumored that President Trump might sit down with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, when world leaders are gathered in New York City. This despite claims by U.S. officials that Iran was responsible for the drone attacks on Saudi oil fields,…

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  • Robert Kagan’s illiberal attack on Israel

    On September 15, the Washington Post ran a nearly 7,000-word attack on Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship by Robert Kagan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, which read like a rehash of the Arabist claptrap published in The Israel Lobby. Kagan’s straw man argument comes down to asserting that there…

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  • Once there was a coalition of 102 MKs

    Besides being the year of two elections, 2019 also marks half a century since one of Israel’s most peculiar and pivotal political contests, when David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and Menachem Begin each led a faction into the country’s first polls after the Six Day War. Counting the votes. (The Dan…

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  • Everything changed when Ari was killed

    One year ago, everything changed forever. I’ve never told this story, at least not in a public manner. Honestly, not sure I’ll make it through this post, but if you are reading this, I decided to publish. It was a Sunday morning like any Sunday morning. I was at work…

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  • Shine a light

    John Taylor claimed to be the foremost eye doctor of the 18th century. In 1727, he published An Account of the Mechanism of the Eye dedicated to his teacher, the groundbreaking British surgeon William Cheselden. He also authored several other books on the structure of the eye and various treatments.…

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  • Not everyone wants her face plastered on a billboard

    This season’s elections brought a reduced number of women in parties across the political spectrum. Only one party had five women and five men in its top 10. One party had a woman at the helm, Yamina – a new party formed by Jewish Home, Ichud Haleumi and the New…

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  • The fallacy of a national unity government

    In the next few days, we will hear a great deal about the need for a national unity government, comprising both the Likud and Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) parties, if only because it will prove, yet again, impossible to put together a narrow and unstable 61 seat coalition government…

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  • Shidduch fat-shaming

    I recently came across a Facebook post by a friend of mine who was outraged about responses to a advice column letter written by a young woman who has been shidduch dating — the practice of matchmakers setting up young men and women to marry in the Orthodoxy world. In…

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  • A week of reckoning: Israel’s elections and the climate strike

    Today is a day of reckoning, in a week of reckoning and a decade of reckoning. I don’t mean for Bibi Netanyahu or democracy in Israel, though it’s that too. Israel’s second election of 2019 has been about everything but climate change. Three days after the election, starting September 20th, students have…

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  • A prayer for the Israeli elections

    It’s the night before the rerun of the Israeli elections, 2019, and all around me, people have a sense of despair. They are tired of the rhetoric, the fake news, the spin. They are disillusioned by the lack of leadership and clear vision. They want to vote their hearts, rather…

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  • Shas could throw the elections a curve ball

    The old synagogue in the Bukharim neighborhood in Jerusalem is known as the stronghold of Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party Shas. The party’s late spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, used to give his weekly sermon there every Saturday night, making it the perfect place for the party’s leaders to whip Shas voters…

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  • The Israeli future is now in your hands

    Tomorrow, Israelis will go to the polls for the second time this year. These are, by all accounts, critical elections in the deepest sense of the term. They will determine whether Israel continues on its present trajectory under the aegis of Binyamin Netanyahu, makes a dramatic turnaround under a center-left…

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  • Post-election scenarios and the case for unity

    Just hours left before the Knesset elections and, as things stand now, there are three realistic scenarios for what will happen as a result of this historic vote: a third round of elections in 2019-2020; a narrow coalition made up of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties; or a unity government.…

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  • Voting Liberman, for heaven’s sake

    I do not like Avigdor Liberman. Many of his statements and policy positions have been deplorable and his criminal record and those of many of his associates does not increase my confidence in him. Avigdor Liberman is either a liar or a failure because almost none of what he says…

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  • Post-election day: Imagine a new reality

    Imagine for a moment the Knesset plenary. You know what it looks like. The elliptical hall, the yellowy brown seats, the photo of Herzl above the speaker’s chair. Once you can see it in your mind, fast forward to the day the government is sworn in. Marina, the usher, opens…

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  • Are Jews in Israel more Jewish or more Israeli?

    “For most Israeli Jews, when they are not in a reflective mode, Israeliness and Jewishness go together,” says Prof. Ruth Gavison, a leading Israeli scholar and public intellectual. According to findings of surveys conducted by The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), a majority of Jewish Israelis believe that “to be…

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  • Annexing the Jordan Valley threatens regional security

    Announcements made by Israeli politicians during these last weeks of the Israeli election campaign to annex the Jordan Valley on the grounds of protecting Israeli national security are not grounded in reality. Independent experts from military, diplomatic and development perspectives draw a common conclusion that annexation of the Jordan Valley…

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  • Animal welfare

    Ki Teitzei is about relationships: between men and women, parents and children, employers and employees, lenders and borrowers. Strikingly, though, it is also about relationships between humans and animals. Descartes thought that animals lacked souls. Therefore you could do with them as you pleased.[1] Judaism does not believe that animals lack…

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  • The chronicles of a bad Jew

    In the build-up to this year’s Shabbat Project — a South African-born, internationally loved annual event which brings together Jews from all walks of life to keep Shabbat — I’m reminded of my experience during the same event last year, when I was asked to observe Shabbat for the first…

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  • Natural gas is no longer green enough

    Climate change needs to change Israel’s energy policy Recently, the world has faced a litany of alarming statistics and disturbing images that confirm scientists’ gravest warnings — warnings that have been unheeded for some thirty years. Fires burning in the Amazon; massive ice melts in Greenland; recurrent heatwaves in Europe;…

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  • The strange bedfellows of the religious Zionist camp

    Whither religious Zionism? The legacy of Rav Kook or of Rabbi Meir Kahane A few days before an Israeli election, the religious Zionist community is making a defining choice. While some are casting their ballots from the perspective of strategic voting, the results will define the nature of religious Zionism.…

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  • You think forgiving an enemy is hard? Try forgiving a friend

    “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” This quote by the great 18th Century British poet William Blake helps explain one of the most difficult aspects of this week’s parasha. The Torah shares with us a hard-to-understand metric of grudges the Jewish people should, or…

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  • Top ten ways to prepare for the High Holidays

    10. Make a honey cake or holiday brisket – ideally with someone you love. Use an old family recipe. Bake with multiple generations. Tell family and holiday stories. You can eat some of your favorite dish early, to get in a holiday mood; ship some to far-flung relatives, to stay…

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  • It’s the turnout, stupid!

    Imagine bashing your head into a mirror, gently placing a cockroach in your humus, hurling your wallet into a river, or driving straight into a tree. You wouldn’t do any of those things. But that is what you’ll be doing if you don’t vote on Tuesday. Not voting amounts to…

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  • Once upon a time in our time

    Once upon a time (in the 1930s and 40s to be exact) a bunch of baptized Christians got together and murdered a huge number of Jews in civilized Europe. There were some Christians who opposed this violence and paid for their opposition with their lives, but most Christians just stood…

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  • I do not belong to you

    On our wedding day, I said I belonged to you just as you belonged to me. In a Jewish marriage, this is the preach at the time of the wedding ring exchange, and at that moment, I looked into your eyes. There, I chose you. It would be perfect if…

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  • My family synagogue burned down in Minnesota; we lost much more than a building

    JTA — American Jews woke Monday morning to the ancestrally terrifying image of a synagogue on fire. It was my family’s shul: Adas Israel in Duluth, Minnesota. There is a dollhouse model of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in Israel’s Museum of the Jewish People. “That is the Third Street…

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  • A dark cloud hovers over religious freedom in Europe

    Earlier this year, I warned the European Parliament that Jews are no longer safe on the streets of Europe, with 90 percent of the continent’s Jews reporting that they feel anti-Semitism is rising in their home country. But while the streets are a highly concerning matter in their own regard,…

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  • Our diversity is a source of strength

    Today, at Beit HaNassi in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel and the heart of the Jewish people, I received the Declaration of Our Common Destiny, מגילת הייעוד המשותף. The document, which is a roadmap for future relations between the Jewish people in Israel and around the world,…

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  • Haredi Demographics and the democratic point of no return

    A senior economist and executive Board Member at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Anthony De Lannoy, this week diplomatically accused the Israeli government of ignoring the Haredi demographic problem which he implied threatens Israel’s long term economic prosperity.  He alluded to the fact that this rapidly growing poor population is…

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  • Israel be damned: Trump all but set to meet with Rouhani

    Was it really such a big shock that US President Donald Trump was on the verge of meeting personally with Taliban leaders this weekend? The talks — set to take place in secret, at Camp David, no less, without a previously negotiated deal, absent a ceasefire and just two days…

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  • Whatever happened to the Override Clause? 

    It was just a few months ago that the country was in an uproar over reports that the coalition agreements between the Likud and the other parties in the government about to be formed, included an appendix on “Governance and Justice.” According to an article by Mati Tuchfeld in Yisrael…

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  • This man used Jews to deny climate science — we can’t stay silent

    As Hurricane Dorian bore down on the Bahamas last week, made more deadly by our unnaturally warmer waters in a damaged climate, I took note of two annual milestones — one hopeful, the other painful: The first, the Hebrew month of Elul, reminds me that it’s time for my Jewish…

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  • It’s time for Israel’s right to take a stand

    One week from tomorrow, Israelis will be heading to the polls once again. Since the failure of the April elections to yield any clear victor, this exercise has become an increasingly zero-sum game for many, as both sides focus on the singular central message: anything but them. It is perhaps…

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  • The wicked storm and the tiny life raft

    It’s bedtime, and a storm is brewing. “MOM!” my daughter shouts from across the house. “I NEED TO GO TO BED!” “I’ll be there in a minute” “NOW!” I don’t want to be there now. I inhale. My daughter is 11, and it sucks. She’s at that age when nothing…

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  • 20 years after moving to Israel, I would have no other home

    “Nu? You’ve decided to stay here? To live in Israel?” asked the veteran immigrant who stood just to the side of the mirror. Despite her slightly aggressive tone, we were on neutral territory — the women’s toilets at the Jerusalem Theater. This former New Yorker, a very good friend of…

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  • A September 1 not found in the parenting manual

    Embed from Getty Images I really tried not to go upstairs to his room to see the bags. I knew they would be lined up across the back wall. Somewhat organized. Somewhat disorganized… That’s just the way he packs. As I passed by, I tried not to look into the…

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  • What Israel still needs to learn from Ariel Sharon

    JTA — With Israelis heading to the polls on September 17, it is worth reflecting on the last Likud leader, Ariel Sharon, and the decisions he made on the Palestinian issue. Sharon, the 11th prime minister of Israel, was a large man who did not think small. As Nir Hefez…

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  • Pastels

    She never did like those pastels; the saccharine sweet baby blues and happy peaches that hung over the piss-stenched stairwells of the ghetto where she grew up. There was something humiliating about the way they hugged the concrete, as if any amount of happy-ugly paint was going to trick anyone…

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  • Why is the chief rabbi acting like the pope?

    A few years back, a colleague informed me that she thought the New York Get Laws were unconstitutional, dangerously entangling the state in religious affairs. Passed in 1983 and 1992, the laws encourage Jewish husbands to deliver religious divorces (“gets”) to their wives. The laws preclude judges from entertaining a…

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  • Fake news! The IDF’s tactical exercise in media deception

    It’s been a long time since I had so many late-night phone calls with strange men. Oh, who am I kidding? That never happens. So earlier this week, when I found myself on the phone with the Military Censor’s Office every two hours or so, including in the wee hours…

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  • The strange feeling of not belonging to anywhere

    The aunt who follows the nephews’ growth through the phone screen. But not only. I am the daughter who cannot visit her father every time he is hospitalized. The niece who does not bring any dessert to Sunday lunches, the friend who misses class meetings, the great-granddaughter who does not…

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