Sleeping with One Eye Open

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“Sleeping with One Eye Open” traces the development of Jewish independence and assesses the challenges that still face sovereign Israel. One might view those challenges as a curse, but this article asserts that they may carry much of the meaning of Zionism, as a collective act of responsibility. The article appeared in the October 2007 Zeek magazine.

Click here for the downloadable pdf.

Helping our Rabbinic Students

April 5, 2011 by

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I was troubled to read Daniel Gordis’ recent thoughts about the place of Israel in the lives of aspiring rabbinic students. Because Danny is a true ‘lover of Zion’ and a friend, I wanted to share a few thoughts…

Based on Makom’s experiences working with rabbinic students studying in Israel from the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew Union College, I would suggest Danny points to a real issue but may overstate his case by bringing the most extreme examples.

At the same time as there are students openly hostile (hostile is different than critical) to Israel, there are also students who are highly Israel engaged (whose parents are Israeli, who are graduates of Birthright, Lapid, and Masa programs, and who grew up in the Conservative or Reform camping systems, etc.)

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The 7-Second Attention Span

September 5, 2010 by

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Attending a recent conference of Jewish educators, I and another 300 seasoned teachers and school heads were barraged by a speaker on Israel advocacy repeating a mantra that our students and young adults possess an attention span of no more than 7 seconds. The BBC referred to our incredibly shrinking attention span as ‘turning into digital goldfish‘.

The phenomenon of information overload and the minituarization of our attention spans – and its impact on reading, participation in the public discourse, and education – is well known. My worry is that the mantra of a 7 second attention span is rooted in an entire set of assumptions that undermine our confidence in the ability to educate and in the ability of young people to participate in a meaningful way in making informed choices regarding who they want to be.

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Lova Eliav – the real headliner

July 3, 2010 by

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I have been walking around this week troubled that the headlines are misplaced. The Tweeters have it all wrong. The headline should read – Lova Eliav Calls On Us To Do More.

We live in an age of cynicism. Nothing is true. Everything is perception. The whims of ratings and the market determine value. Lova Eliav – may his memory be a blessing – lived in continuous opposition to these nearly overpowering truths of our age.

The death of Lova Eliav – Israeli activist, educator, and pioneer is a tremendous loss for Israel and the Jewish people. He leaves behind a legacy of selflessness, of personal example, and of relentless work towards creating a better world by beginning with our own small corner.

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Thinking about Jerusalem

May 11, 2010 by

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Celebrating Jerusalem Day – especially in light of the city’s many challenges – is no simple feat. Especially on Jerusalem Day when the city’s skies are as filled with the bombast of political slogans like fireworks, it is hard to imagine a better way to celebrate than to turn back to the wisdom of Jerusalem’s finest poem since David – Yehuda Amichai.

Although Amichai is no longer with us in this world; his wisdom, humor, humility, and passionate humanism offers both comfort from Jerusalem’s vicissitudes and points towards a mode of contending with the zealotries and jealousies that have ridden on the backs of Jerusalem’s residents from time immemorial.

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Why can’t we pick up after ourselves?

April 22, 2010 by

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I drive past Jerusalem’s Sachar Park almost every day on the way to work. In the wake of Independence Day festivities, the park was covered by the waste left behind by thousands of holiday merry makers. Empty bottles, open trash bags, remains of food and makeshift bbq sites covered the park from one end to the other in a blanket of filth and debris.

To our great misfortune, the Sachar Park is not an isolated incident. The Ministry of Environmental Affairs reported that 70 tons of trash was left on the shores of the Kinneret Sea by the 50 thousand Israelis who visited the site during the Passover holidays.

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What Bruce Springsteen taught me about Zionism

November 16, 2008 by

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I was floored. Sixty thousand people filled Giant’s Stadium. As the sun set over the New Jersey Meadowland’s, the lights went up on stage for three hours and 17 minutes of some of the finest rock and roll alive today: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. I couldn’t help but paraphrase Hazal’s comments on Herod’s Temple – “One who has never seen a Springsteen Concert has never attended a live show.” It was more like an enormous block party – non-stop dancing, clapping, beer drinking. People sang along with nearly every song and Springsteen told his signature stories between numbers – playing the part of joker, working class Joe, and storyteller with electrifying verve – even when it was hard to make out the exact words through his acquired drawl and the constant hum of the thousands like a generator waiting for the switch to be turned on. When he belted out Promised Land, Giant’s Stadium jumped. No doubt that some East Coast seismologist measured the seismic rocking of coastal plates along the New Jersey shore that evening and wondered about the source.

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