The following is a first-person account of the events of August 12 from the president of one of the Jewish congregations in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was originally published on the website of the Union for Reform Judiasm and has since been referenced and quoted by multiple news outlets.
Ed. Note: The following is a response to “BDS Ban: Long-Awaited Shield or Self-Inflicted Wound” by Jackson Richman and Samuel Kramer (August 4 issue).
The Temple Mount.
A mere 35 acres, this piece of real estate has greater religious and political ramifications than anywhere else in the world, a place where decisions taken can ignite violence of the worst kind.
Earlier this month, the government of North Korea, presided over by Kim Jong-un, test fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in what is being reported as a significant step towards the country’s goal of possessing the capability to launch a nuclear attack on the continental United States. Conducted on the Fourth of July, the only thing more capable of broadcasting North Korea’s intentions than the test itself may have been a state-run newspaper’s threat to “turn self-destructive U.S. into a pile of ash” if Washington ever attempted to strike first.
More than two dozen people — fathers, mothers, a rabbi — were recently arrested in what appears to be just the beginning of FBI’s crackdown on benefits fraud. The Orthodox world must now grapple with the human and moral cost of the community’s reliance on government assistance and its posture toward broader secular society.
In the High Holiday services, we recite the following phrase from Isaiah: “And I will bring them to my holy mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer … for My House will be called a house of prayer, for all nations.” Especially when it comes to the issue over creating a permanent egalitarian space at the Western Wall, the last clause is no exception, especially for Jews of non-Orthodox backgrounds.
The bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720), introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in March 2017, sparked controversy across American society, particularly in the Jewish and pro-Israel communities. The bill forbids American involvement with national or international efforts to impose “restrictive trade practices or boycotts by any foreign country, against a country friendly to the United States or against any United States person,” specifically Israel.
When I read about the recent murders of Yosef, Chaya, and Elad Salomon, I was reminded of a piece I wrote for the website Aish.com in 2002. I had just returned from studying in Israel for two years and was living in Philadelphia. Then, as now, life seemed precarious, precious, a gift.
There is just so much going on around the world that it is sometimes easy to overlook milestones of historic impact.
We have all heard the recent news that 26 Orthodox Jewish residents of Lakewood, New Jersey, were charged with defrauding the government by misrepresenting their income to collect public welfare benefits. As Jews, what should our reaction be when we hear things like this?
After Havdalah a few motzei Shabboses ago, a politically conservative family friend said something that stayed with me: “Even if Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians, why would it even matter?”
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