Friday, October 30th 2020   |


OP-ED: Our Kristallnacht


Historians invariably cite the night of November 9-10 – Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”) – as the official date that the Holocaust began. It was certainly the date when the elected government of Nazi Germany openly began organized and state-sanctioned hostilities against the Jews living there.

The rights of Jews had been slowly eroded under such noxious legislation as the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which imposed...

OP-ED: I grew up in Orthodox Brooklyn. We must apply the same COVID-19 standards for all — and Jews must choose life.


(JTA) — I grew up in the Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods of Brooklyn. At my Orthodox Jewish day school, I studied the Torah and Jewish law. Our rabbis, many of whom had been trained in the great Talmudic academies of eastern Europe, always focused on the primary role of choosing life. In Hebrew this is called “Pikuach Nefesh.”

The biblical commandment is derived from Deuteronomy 3:19-20: “I call heaven and...

OP-ED: A New York Times op-ed tried to elevate Black women, but it failed to address Louis Farrakhan’s bigotry


(JTA) — Like many others, I quickly saw that something important was missing from the New York Times op-ed this week about the 25th anniversary of the Million Man March.

The piece, by Natalie Hopkinson, a professor at Howard University, highlighted the behind-the-scenes roles played by Black women like Cora Masters Barry and Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X. As the piece notes, hundreds of thousands of...

OP-ED: What is a ‘moser’? The ugly, complicated history of Judaism’s most dangerous accusation


(JTA) — The intermediate days of Succot in the holy city of Brooklyn are normally a time of singing, prayer and communal fellowship. This year the celebrations were marred by violence. 

Egged on by a rabble-rousing individual who literally wore a political bumper sticker on his chest, a crowd of angry haredi Orthodox Jews protested coronavirus restrictions, burning masks and denouncing government authorities. Police, wary of this...

OP-ED: A magic carpet ride over the anti-Netanyahu protests


  – The Israeli left likes to claim its no-holds-barred fight against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters is an ideological struggle that pits the forces of democracy and old-time Zionism against the forces of tyranny and tribalism. Events of recent weeks tell the opposite tale.

In 2008, then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin leapt onto the world stage following then-Republican presidential nominee Sen....

OP-ED: On Simchat Torah: Lessons from Liudmila, a pandemic sage


– As we are about to celebrate Simchat Torah—a holiday defined by its communal gatherings, and the critical importance of physical proximity and traditions like dancing with the Torah—I find myself thinking of the Talmudic story of Shimon bar Yochai and his son, two rabbis who hid in a cave for 12 years to escape Roman persecution.

Surviving on a miraculous carob tree and...

OP-ED: Should Jews pray for Trump’s health? Are they required to? We asked rabbis for their guidance.


(JTA) — When he heard about President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis on Friday, Adam Zemel felt many competing emotions: “fear, confusion, anger, guilt, and yes, satisfaction.”

Writing on Alma, Zemel, a former synagogue administrator and current writing student, said he was comfortable wrestling with his feelings and didn’t feel the need for rabbinic guidance. But our tradition offers a rich literature, and indeed debate, about how and...

OP-ED: A real October surprise


Well, that didn’t take long.

Less than 24 hours into the month of October and in advance of one of the nation’s most tumultuous presidential elections, Donald Trump found a way to shock even those who had come to expect the unexpected from him. While many had predicted he might become infected with coronavirus due to his lax practices of often not wearing a mask in public...

OP-ED: Asking the wrong questions about extremist violence


– He did it again. When presented at the first presidential debate of 2020 with another opportunity to make a straightforward condemnation of white supremacists, he refused. Or at least that’s what many headlines screamed the next morning after the train wreck of a debate that was held in Cleveland.

The responses from liberal Jewish groups and most of the chattering classes were angry....

OP-ED: Amy Coney Barrett, Jewish liberals and the U.S. Constitution


– The apoplexy on the part of Democrats in general and Jewish liberals in particular to the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court was to be expected. Anything that President Donald Trump does drives them crazy.

But the fact that he decided to fill the seat vacated by the Sept. 18 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the fast-approaching election...