State of the Union

We’ve all heard and read about the Pew Report, although it has been surprising how little debate it has stimulated in the liberal secular Jewish community. Apparently there is a Yiddish saying “The house is on fire, and grandma is sitting calmly, knitting a sweater” which certainly seems applicable from my vantage point.

Another document that I feel is very illuminating in regard to current thinking in the secular US Jewish community is this email exchange between Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and David Rothkopf, CEO and editor of Foreign Policy, a Washington publication that is influential in Democratic policy making circles.

What makes the exchange so incredibly fascinating is that Michael Oren and David Rothkopf were college room mates with similar backgrounds who made very different choices in their lives; choices that come to the fore in this remarkable discussion.

Kudos to both individuals for sharing their discussion. Read the exchange here.

One of the issues this exchange brings up is how even a trip to Israel may not have an impact when a person has a huge investment in a different reality. For a dramatic example of this read an account of the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger’s trip to Israel.

In the case of David Rothkopf, I’d recommend three additional trips. The first would be to France. This would be a true holiday where he could plan his own itinerary, the only requirement would be that he would have to walk around wearing a kippah. The second trip would be to Houston Texas to take a workshop at the Institue for the Study of Modern Israel. For the third trip he can just take a day off and go down the street to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy to discuss current Palestinian and Arab politics with Jonathan Schnazer, author of Hamas versus Fatah, the Struggle for Palestine.

I’d love to know how his conversation with Ambassador Oren would go after those trips. And of course, if he met these guys in Paris (click on picture for link), we’d let him take off his kippah (as French Jews probably would).


Many thanks to Israel Matzav for pointing out this publication.

On a lighter note, Shabbat Shalom everybody!


shabbat shalom



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