No one lives by biblical law. No one. If they did men would be allowed to marry multiple wives simultaneously, stubborn and rebellious sons could be stoned by communities (Deuteronomy 21:18), and anyone gathering sticks on Shabbat could be legally killed (Numbers 15:32). Everyone would celebrate the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.
What, then, do people mean when they say, “The Bible prohibits people from doing that,” if they don’t observe what the Bible commands in other aspects of their lives?
In his cogent — and mostly impartial — analysis of former Ambassador Michael Oren’s new book about the American-Israeli relationship, Mr. Cohen (“With ‘Ally,’ Michael Oren lifts the veil on U.S.-Israeli relations, June 25, 2015) ignores one cogent fact that is central to understanding Ambassador Oren’s point of view. In his years prior to making aliyah, Michael Oren worked for a political establishment that has spent the last eight years doing nothing but vilifying President Obama and his family. Apparently he carried that perspective with him when he made aliyah, and it pervades his perception of the relationships between the United States and Israel. Indeed, if any additional evidence of this were necessary, one need only read his June 19, 2015, piece in Foreign Policy purporting to explain President Obama’s attitude toward Muslims, an article that has been disavowed and condemned both by multiple Israeli officials and retiring ADL National Director Abe Foxman. In counterpoint to Oren’s invective, we would be well served to listen to the likes of current U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Secretary of State John Kerry, who it would seem have a much more complete picture of the events than Ambassador Oren describes.
Am I missing something? Why should President Obama include Netanyahu in secret negotiations with Iran when it was Netanyahu who tried to get Mitt Romney elected instead of President Obama. That’s where all this distrust started. Netanyahu should have kept his Republican nose out of United States politics, and devoted more time helping Palestinian Arabs so they aren’t mistreated and shot at by those Ultra Orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank who believe God bequeathed the land to them. Netanyahu and Israel’s Ultra Orthodox Jews are the ones responsible for keeping peace from breaking out in the Middle East.
We love the State of Israel. We want it to succeed in every way possible. This includes, of course, its security and economic prosperity, and it also includes its ability to live up to its own stated values.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence ensures freedom of religion and conscience to all. This does and should affect many aspects of life in Israel, but the specific concern of this resolution is the right to marry.
Written by David S. Jacobs, M.D. Overland Park, Kansas
In the April 16, issue of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle we are treated to a treatise on Obama’s tender care for Israel (Obama stresses how much he cares for Israel, Page 1). Sure. The article fails to remind its readers of Obama’s refusal to attend Netanyahu’s address to the Congress or to meet with him, his reference to potential reprisals for Netanyahu’s speech, and his chief of staff subsequently threatening that 50 years of Israeli “occupation” is enough. (Never mind the Palestinians’ ardent position that Israel should not exist.) Two White House meetings enthusiastically described in The Chronicle included support from Jewish fundraisers for the Democratic Party, participants who did not agree to be identified, and as well mention of a left-leaning columnist. This piece describes “difficulties that Obama and Netanyahu have in communicating with one another,” but it was not Netanyahu who refused an audience with Obama.
The last week in May saw us riding a roller coaster of emotions in our Beth Torah community. First we had the joy of honoring and paying tribute to Rabbi Reice and Aaron Nielsenshultz for their service to Beth Torah, but then had to say goodbye to Aaron and his family who left two days later for Philadelphia. We celebrated the festival of Shavuot and rejoiced with nine young members of our community as they celebrated their confirmation. Then, the very next day, I had to officiate at the funeral of a 20-year-old member of our congregation — Jason Arkin — who had taken his own life after suffering for eight long years with mental illness.
I have just returned from the annual American Jewish Committee Global Forum, held in Washington, D.C., and I am feeling an amazing sense of pride at the indispensable role AJC plays around the world. Six Kansas Citians, accompanied by JCRB|AJC Executive Director Marvin Szneler, were joined by more than 2,000 attendees from chapters throughout the U.S. and over 70 countries, along with world leaders and foreign ministers from places as diverse as Israel, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. Video messages were sent by German Chancellor Angela Merckel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Make for yourself a rabbi (teacher), and acquire for yourself a colleague (friend), and give all individuals the benefit of the doubt.” (Pirke Avot, 1:6)
Coming to Kansas City as a shlichah (emissary), I didn’t know what to expect. The people that interviewed me seemed nice and interesting but the place was so far from me and I only had the common misconception that Kansas City is that place from “The Wizard of Oz” and I will probably find lots of farmers and fields there. I was very wrong.
You and I have a lot in common. We have both spent roughly 18 years living in Kansas City. We were both fully engaged with Jewish life there; you graduated from HBHA, as did my older children. And we both have a very deep and abiding love for Israel, as well as a vision for its future; we recognize that there are Palestinian narratives as well, and we believe that Israel should pursue a two-state solution.