My son Ariel and his girlfriend Michal announced their engagement last week. They do not want to be married by the Rabbinate, so like too many Israelis they will purchase two tickets to Cyprus and get a civil marriage at the Nicosia municipal hall. Upon their return we will hold a wedding here in Israel officiated by a Reform Rabbi, which, unlike their marriage in Cyprus, will not be recognized by the Israeli State.
I’ve written before on RACblog about the important marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court this term: Windsor v. United States, the case that challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act; and Hollingsworth, v. Perry the challenge to California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. While there have been many developments and much speculation since that time, I want to fill you in today specifically on the overwhelming number of briefs that were filed in the cases before the deadline last week.
Next month we will mark one year since the horrific shooting of a Rabbi, his two children, and one other student outside of Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. As we approach the solemn anniversary of this tragedy, a new report suggests that the very anti-Semitism that fueled such a senseless act not only remains prominent across Europe, but is indeed growing. Read more…
Education is the key to success. This axiom seems so intuitive that the idea of a major segment of a country’s population excluding itself from basic education seems ridiculous. Could you imagine schools that deny thousands of students access to subjects that would give them the tools to work and support themselves? That is exactly what is happening here in the state-funded Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) school system.
As I mentioned last week, I was in LA for NFTY convention this past weekend – and I had a ball. The NFTY staff is phenomenal and put on what is one of the best events I’ve ever been part of. What struck me most is that, as you’d expect in any gathering of 800 teens, there’s a lot of differences among the participants. Some are sporty, some introverted, some like the late night concerts, some are whizzes at Jewish text and liturgy. Yet despite the range of interests and skills, there was space and opportunities for all. I was also impressed by the quality of the conversations I had with the NFTYites in the sessions I ran, talking about “light” topics like torture and mental health. The teens were engaged, thoughtful, and smart. Best of all, about 20% of convention participants were alumni of L’Taken!
Imagine making aliyah- leaving your work, family and friends behind. Making a bold journey- only to be rejected by the Israeli authorities. In the past couple of weeks we lived an intense drama with one of our brave olim (new immigrants), who was arrested and almost deported. We managed to stop the deportation just as he was boarding the plane.
A unique gathering happened this morning at the Western Wall. During Women of the Wall’s usual Rosh Chodesh prayer service in the women’s section of the Kotel, we were fortunate to be supported by some very special visitors. Veterans from the IDF’s famed Paratrooper Battalion 66, the men who liberated the Western Wall in 1967, were with our supporters in the men’s section. These men are living legends and among Israel’s modern heroes.
They call them the “December dilemmas:” that time of year when religious expression appears most visually in the forefront, when kids ask difficult questions, when patience is tested by an ill-placed “Merry Christmas.” Nativity scenes appear in public spaces and schoolchildren sing Christmas carols at assemblies. This is when the public eye is drawn to the tension between religion and government.