When it comes to certain countries, it is easy to get caught up in the flashy headlines and the soundbites on the news. What is harder, but ultimately worth the effort, is to get to know the people and the details behind the headlines.
The podcast, Israel Story, started in 2013. Broadcast across Israel, it was produced by Galei Tzahal, Israel’s national Army Radio Station. In 2014, it premiered in the English speaking world. Hosted by Mishy Harman, it can be found on all podcast platforms and on the Tablet magazine website. Each episode takes the listener on a ride through the country, introducing them to people, places, and events that reveal a deeply nuanced and human view of Israel.
I love this podcast. It is intelligent, thoughtful, and stimulating. If nothing else, it has the ability to open minds and show that the Jewish state is much more than many people would make it out to be.
The best way to learn about a new culture is to speak to a local. They have the insight and experience that an outsider would never have.
Earlier this month, Israeli actress/ producer Noa Tishby published her first book. The Tel Aviv native seeks to understand and explain Israel as it is, without relying on the flashy headlines or the half truths. Using her firsthand experience, she speaks of Israel, both past and present, as it is, and not how some see it or wish it could be.
What I love about this book is how down to earth and accessible it is. Tishby‘s voice is that of the average person, not the academic or historian who usually writes about this topic. That, I believe, provides an opportunity for a dialogue that should have happened long ago.
If you only read two chapters, I highly recommend chapters on BDS and the virulent anti-Israeli sentiment (which is really antisemitism). Even for those who are well versed on the topic, it was an eye opener.
Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, otherwise known as Israeli Independence Day.
Though no country is perfect, I find it astonishing that in a little less than three-quarters of a century, she has become a vibrant, thriving democracy. Out of the desert and the memory of a thousand generations in exile, a modern country has risen. Through blood, sweat, tears, and the belief in a higher power, she has become the vision that has kept Judaism alive.
In his vision, the prophet sees himself standing in the valley full of dry human bones. He is commanded to carry a prophecy. Before him, the bones connect into human figures; then the bones become covered with tendon tissues, flesh, and skin. Then God reveals the bones to the prophet as the People of Israel in exile and commands the Prophet to carry another prophecy in order to revitalize these human figures, to resurrect them, and to bring them to the Land of Israel.
Happy Birthday Israel, may you live to see another 73 years and many more after that.
The International Criminal Court (the ICC) reminds me of a movie monster that, despite being killed, simply won’t stay dead. After repeated efforts to investigate Israel’s purported “war crimes” and “human rights abuses”, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda declared that she will not be rushed into investigating Israel. Yet here we are again. The monster has […]
There are some religions in which converting new members is written into the doctrine. But Judaism is different. While we welcome new members of the faith with open arms, we do not seek out possible new converts.
In Israel, the Law of Return has been written into the cultural and legal system for 70+ years. But not everyone agrees with the specifics of the law. According to traditional Judaism, a Jewish person is defined by the faith of their mother. If the mother is Jewish, either by birth or conversation, the child is Jewish. But if the father is Jewish, but the mother is of another faith (or no faith), the child is not Jewish.
Earlier this month, the High Court finally recognized that Reform and Conservative conversions carry as much weight as Orthodox conversions. This hopefully also extends to the marriage ceremony. Civil marriages do not exist in Israel. The only marriages that are recognized are those performed by Orthodox rabbis. More than a few couples have left the country to get married.
This change is fifteen years in the making and frankly, should have happened a long time go. It shouldn’t matter how one converted. It should only matter that they are as committed to the Jewish faith as those who were born into it.
Satire is a beautiful thing. But it can also cross the line.
During the Weekend Update portion of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, anchor Michael Che made a joke about Israel. To say that it did not go over well is an understatement.
The question I have to ask, is it satire or antisemitism?
I get that it was a joke. Weekend Update is not your serious local weeknight news. It is supposed to be funny and perhaps bordering on not exactly being 100% politically correct.
That being said, I can’t help but agree that it did have a slightly anti-Semitic undertone. My people have been persecuted and murdered because of the lies that have been told about us.
Unlike other countries (ahem, United States) on which the the rollout of the vaccine programs have been unnecessarily complicated or messy, the Israeli government got their shit together. As of February 4th, US News & World Report put out a story that all Israelis over the age of sixteen were able to get the vaccine. The important word in this headline is all. There was no mention of any specific group that was either pushed to the head of the line or denied access because of their religious or cultural background.
I’ve been a fan of SNL for more than twenty years, this program is usually the highlight of my weekend. I can usually laugh at anything. But this joke, I cannot and will never be able to laugh at.
The evidence in regards to controlling Covid-19 is obvious. Approximately half to a third of the population needs to be vaccinated (otherwise known as herd immunity) for the virus to lose it’s potency. The question is, what measure are governments around the world taking to stop it in its tracks?
While the United States is floundering in its attempt to get the shots into the arms of Americans, 20% of the Israeli population has received the vaccine as of last Wednesday.
Granted, Israel is a much smaller country in both population and size. That being said, it comes down to planning, coordination with the government at every level, and assistance of the medical industry. The problem in the United States is two fold. Thanks to you know who, the system that is supposed to transfer the vaccine from the federal government to state and local governments can only be described as a hot mess. The issue compounded by the American healthcare system, which has been problematic for many years.
Back in 1947, a smallpox outbreak hit New York City. Via a coordinated effort between the city and the Public Health Service, millions were vaccinated in less than a month. Only twelve people were infected and of that number, only two people lost their lives.
The fact is that it is possible to end this plague and return to some semblance of normalcy. But we can only do that if those in the halls of power work together.
This time of year, there is talk of peace on Earth and goodwill to all.
The problem is that is merely talk.
On Sunday afternoon, Esther Horgan went for a run. She never returned home. Her body was found the next day.
Mrs. Horgan, aged 52, and a mother of six children, was murdered because she was an Israeli Jew. Thankfully, her accused killer has been caught.
If we really want peace, it starts with conversation. Not with guns, not with bombs, and not with threats of war. What those (whose names I shall not repeat) have repeatedly failed to understand is that the murder of ordinary citizens is a fruitless effort. The loss of numerable lives, the destruction of property, and the lack of trust does not create conditions in which peace flourishes.
Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.
For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.
At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.
The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.