LESSONS OF MOUNT MERON

A stampede at a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) religious festival in Israel last week resulted in 45 deaths and many more injuries. The tragedy took place on Mount Meron across from the city of Ts’fat (Saphed), center of Jewish spiritualism. What can we learn? One hundred thousand Haredim—all male, teenagers included—gathered to celebrate Lag B’omer, a festive break…

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THE MANDALORIAN AND THE JEWS

Jewish film/TV characters may be identified by “Jewish names” but rarely are depicted living Jewish lives. Yet Jewish writers and directors often include Jewish references in their work. Take The Mandalorian (Disney+). Part of the Disney-owned Star Wars franchise, the series was created by executive producer/writer Jon Favreau, a fellow Queensite, who was bar mitzvah. The Mandalorian provides what seem more…

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MOSES AND THE OVAL OFFICE

The terrorist insurrection at the Capitol shocked the nation. Donald Trump’s second impeachment not so much. The American Pharaoh was headed for disaster. His leadership stood in contrast to that of Moses.  Rabbi Shai Held spotlights Moses’ leadership strengths in The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion: Genesis and Exodus, Volume 1 (2017).  In…

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THIS CHANUKAH IS SPECIAL

The Jewish Festival of Lights began last night. It brightens winter’s gloom, offers hope we can overcome all the reasons we’ve had to despair. This year, Chanukah is more special than ever. 2020 brought us the COVID-19 pandemic, which shrouded America in darkness—especially since many tens of thousands of deaths probably could have been avoided…

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CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

In 2017, white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia put American anti-Semitism in full view. Again. Murders followed at synagogues in Pittsburgh (2018) and near San Diego (2019). But whites aren’t the nation’s only anti-Semites. Ten days ago, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson—African-American—posted on Instagram a quote falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler: “Because the white Jews…

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