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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.