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.
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?”
In the 2016 elections, there was one local vote that I think deserves to be talked about a little more. Question B on the ballot for Montgomery County was passed, instituting term limits of three terms of four years for the County Executive and for County Council members. This is a dramatic measure that will abruptly force four of the nine councilmen out during the next election cycle. This could have disastrous effects down the road.
Those of us who observed Shavuot last week by unplugging for the duration of the holiday emerged from our media blackout to the news that President Trump had invented a word and pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement. The former is simply a goofy incident and fodder for the relentless 24-hour news cycle, but the latter may be an ongoing episode worth examining and is perhaps a turning point in American international relations.
During his trip to Israel last month, President Donald Trump remarked in a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that “The Palestinians are ready to reach for peace.” Unfortunately, compared to the late Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader Martin McGuinness, who passed away two months ago, “reaching for peace” has been anything but the case for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
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.
Wednesday, June 14, could have turned into a day of mourning as a gunman opened fire and injured five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who is, as of this writing, in critical condition. This incident has prompted bipartisanship and unity nationwide amid a time of toxic political divisions and mistrust.
In its next term, the Supreme Court may determine whether a New Mexico city can constitutionally display the Ten Commandments in the case of Felix v. City of Bloomfield. Many Jews have previously expressed apathy or even hostility to public displays of the Decalogue. This is a mistake. Jews should seek to reaffirm the Ten Commandments’ importance, as they are a Jewish contribution to America.
When Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in October 1995, there were great expectations among those of us covering the Capitol that the U.S. would subsequently renounce the position, adopted in 1948, that Jerusalem would not be recognized as a part of Israel.
During his upcoming sojourn to the Middle East, President Trump has the power to invest in a legacy for generations that can now be achieved: a humanitarian solution for 5 million descendants of Arab refugees who fled from the nascent Israel in 1948, who have dwelled ever since in 59 “temporary” refugee camps (hosted by the UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.