Thursday, September 29, 2005

The mehitza- A Deterrent to Assimilation

I just finished reading an article in The Jerusalem Post that had me shaking my head. It is called The mehitza that made waves in New Orleans and it suggests that the presence of a mehitza is a strong deterrent to assimilation.

I strongly disagree with much of what was written in it. Let me share a couple sections. The opening of this opinion piece relates the story of a lawsuit in New Orleans that was brought when a shul removed the mehitza and implemented mixed seating.

"The New Orleans decision inspired many Orthodox Jews to go to court to stem the floodtide of assimilation, which often began with the elimination of the mehitza. Baruch Litvin, who galvanized American Jews to fight to maintain the mehitza, recorded his success in his 550-page tome Sanctity of the Synagogue. When his Orthodox shul instituted mixed seating, he obtained a 1959 ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court that returned the mehitza to the synagogue.

THE MEHITZA brouhaha had wider significance. Judaism is distinguished by its adherence to Jewish law, Halacha, and Litvin argued that such adherence is compromised by the radical change of mingling in synagogue. The issue of separation of the sexes for prayer was a test of the entire halachic system. Abandoning this principle, Jews would succumb to the centripetal forces of American modernity, jettison the rest of Halacha, and the dikes would burst.

The mehitza proponents have proved correct – the floodtide of assimilation by intermarriage for those Jews affiliated with mixed-seating congregations varies from 50 to 80 percent. Among the Orthodox it is barely 5 percent."

It is far too simplistic to sugges that separating men and women in the synagogue will prevent them from assimilation. For that matter one could just as easily argue that you are more likely to prevent assimilation by using mixed seating because it enhances the opportunity for nice Jewish boys and girls to meet each other.

The question of what causes more non-Orthodox Jews to assimilate ( I am trusting the authors figures here which have been provided without support) should have a broader framework and we should better define what we mean by assimilation. For the purpose of this discussion we'll say that assimilation refers to Jews who not only stop practicing Judaism but marry outside of the faith and allow the spouse's faith to become dominant within the household.

If we were truly to explore this I would want to know about belief in G-d and the belief in Torah. That is, do people believe in G-d and what is their opinion of Torah. Was it handed to us as the precise word of G-d or is it divinely inspired and perhaps subject to interpretation.

I would also wonder about how many Orthodox Jews would like to stop living as Orthodox Jews but refrain for fear of the problems it would create within their families.

These are just a few questions to be asked and I haven't even bothered to think hard about them which is part of why this gives me real pause as to the validity of this allegation. I have serious doubts that it really holds up. It really makes me shake my head because it is just narishkeit.

Here is another selection from the piece that irritates me.
"Prayer requires deep concentration, kavana. Women realize that men can be in a state of inner distraction by virtue of the presence of women at a time when it is essential for people to be as fully engaged as possible in their concentrated awareness of their conversation with God. The situation of men and women is not symmetrical; men are more easily stimulated by viewing women, as the advertising industry well knows."
I find this part to be offensive. Men are not animals and what this does is suggest is that we are unable to control ourselves. An attractive woman is not the reason why men sometimes have trouble davening.

A pretty face or nice legs are not going to interfere with saying the shemoneh esreh, or be the reason for a lack of focus. My davening has been interrupted by the whispered stories of what happened during last nights ballgame or conversation about what little Sammy is doing now.

And then the final part of this piece that made me shake my head is this:

"RABBI JOSEPH Soloveitchik, who established a Jewish day school with mixed classes and promoted teaching girls Talmud, surprised many with the stringency of his ruling on mehitza.

"A young man moved into a suburb of Boston where the only existing synagogue had men and women sitting together. He asked me what he should do on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I answered him that it were better for him to pray at home and not cross the threshold of that synagogue. The young man practically implored me that I grant him permission to enter the edifice, at least that he might hear the shofar blasts. I hesitated not for a moment, but directed him to remain at home. It would be better not to hear the shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned."

This story is nothing more than a divisive device that pushes us away from each other. It does nothing to encourage inclusion, only exclusion and it will be seen by many as snobbery.

I was there at Har Sinai and I don't remember Hashem instructing us in this manner.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Shul Days

I have nothing planned here. I'm completely making this up off the top of my head.

Brave? Stupid? Foolish? ... Let's find out.

When I was younger this time of year for was my least favorite. I have no patience and I have no Zits Fleish. If I would have been a kid nowadays I'd almost certainly be classified as ADD. So for me to sit in Shul for so long was torture. My father was a religious dictator. He never spent the time or energy to instill the love of Yiddishkeit, only the fear portion. I knew the time was holy, but at 10 years old I didn't feel strongly enough that it would keep me in shul that long.

Of course you could say most ten year olds would never be able to stay in shul from early in the morning (ok it was a Lubavitch shul so, around 9:30/10 in the morning) till 2, 3 in the afternoon. Even today it's hard for me to concentrate during davening. I get easily distracted. As an adult though I can push myself to focus, and I understand now how important this time is to really connect with Hashem.

I think the difference for me is taking it from a synagogue experience to a personal experience. As a kid I was told to respect the shul, respect that we are there to daven and respect that this is what we do, no questions asked. (and certainly none answered)

Today, I think of the shul as a place to talk to G-d. Thank him for giving me life, ask for support and strength. This time of year is now one of my favorites as an adult. To really visualize that Hashem is listening to us, and seeing him making his decisions for our life for the next year. I can always use all the help I can get to boost my spiritual connection when I'm davening. This time of the year in shul, it always gives me that boost. It inspires me to not only even more strongly thank him for all the good that happened in the year leading up to this one. But also, ask him for only good things for me and my family for the upcoming one.

Another thing I enjoy about this time of the year is that it reminds us, just as Pesach reminds us to do a physical cleaning. Tishrei reminds us to do a spiritual house cleaning. Make sure that we have a clean slate with our friends and family. Make amends for anything we have done, and any wrong or ill that we have caused to them.

At this time I would like to extend that practice to this board. I can be pretty cynical and sometimes negative. If I have offended anyone, or upset anyone that I have come in contact with over the last 7 months in this blogspehere I hope you will accept my apology and forgive me.

May Hashem answer all our tefilahs and send us all only good. May Hashem watch over us, our friends, our family and bring forth the day when we can all come together to the Beis Hamikdosh Hashlishi in Eretz Yisroel.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Jewish Mysteries-Our Connection and The New Year

I am an independent in many ways including both politics and religion. Every now and then someone decides to take a swipe at me because they think that I pick and choose.

For example, I don't keep Kosher, but I would never drink a glass of milk with meat. There are other examples, but I don't want to make this post about me but about the mysteries of Judaism.

That is the term that I used when speaking with a friend about his kollel and their outreach program to unaffiliated Jews/Jews who are unhappy with their shul. But it really is most applicable to Jews who do not have a real strong Jewish education and their approach to Judaism.

What I mean by this is that Judaism is highly sophisticated and filled with layers and layers of ritual and for a lack of a better term obligations/responsibilities that we usually refer to as the 613 mitzvot.

Add to that the minhagim (customs) that have been acquired over the centuries and many people do not know whether the things that they do are based upon minhag or halacha and even if they do they often do not know why they are being asked to do them.

Consequently there are many mitzvot that are not followed because people do not feel/see the connection and or reason for them to do it. You cannot tell someone who does not know if they believe in G-d that this being/person/creature has commanded them to do anything and expect that they are just going to do it. And you especially cannot expect a thinking adult to engage without provding them with substance and reason for why they should do whatever it is you are asking them to do.

So what you end up with is a group of people who look at the mitzvot/commandments and see them as being optional. Earlier this week Mirty wrote about her feelings when she accidentally ate something that was treif. I thought that it was interesting because my heart tells me that I should be keeping Kosher but my brain says why.

My head wants to know what is the reason. What does it do? I already know that lightning will not come out of the sky and strike me down if I do not. I know that if I drive on Shabbos I am not going to be stoned. I know that if I commit an aveirah I am probably, more than likely going to be ok.

And what this means is that I have to search harder for a reason to stop my behavior and change. I need more than just because. I need something that speaks to me and thus far I haven't found it and I am someone who searches for answers.

Take me out of the equation and go back to the person who has little to no background. Now stick them in shul and watch how many of them squirm because they do not understand what is going on, why we bow at some times and not at others. They stumble through mechayei meytim without any idea about the hours of thought and discussion that those words created, they do not understand what they do but go because of guilt.

I watch and listen because even though I can say that I received a solid Jewish education it has some holes in it and there are places that are more like gaps. I watch because this time of year is a huge struggle for me. It makes me crazy, I go meshugah because I feel like my heart and head are in two different places. My heart says to just go with the feeling, follow the passion and daven because it will take me to where I need to be and my head scoffs at this.

My head laughs at superstition and takes a simple position of trying to be a good person. Be a good person, teach your children, give back to your community and do what you can to be a mensch and everything will work out.

I'll go to shul and I'll wrestle with being there. I'll think about the streets of Yerushalayim and the hike I took in Yosemite. I'll go to the bathroom and be distracted by beautiful women, by watching the young children look up in awe at their parents and by the sound of people davening. I'll sit down and consider the mysteries of Judaism and ask myself how much I really know and realize that my depth of knowledge is good, but never enough. I'll shake my head and feel like I'll never be satisfied and then I'll sigh.

And in between and throughout all of it I'll come here and write a post that started out with a serious nature and just became a stream of consciousness and wonder if I really said anything or made sense to anyone.

The New Year is coming and I feel unsettled.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Reflection - The Angel's Hand

I was seven years old and playing at my friend Timmy’s house. His mother served us some popcorn, and I forgot that Timmy didn’t keep kosher. I ate the popcorn. When I realized what I had done, I ran home and told my mother. I was very upset by the mistake I made. It didn't seem to me like a small mistake. I had broken a rule I took very seriously. I was distraught. I think my mother was surprised at how upset I was, and uncertain of how to calm me down.

As I child, I was very aware of rules and very concerned about breaking them. But what exactly was the source of my tears after I chowed down on not-necessarily-kosher popcorn? I was concerned on three levels:

1. I had broken a rule I took seriously and believed in (keeping kosher)
2. I was angry at myself for doing so
3. I was angry at -- who? what? -- for establishing rules that were so easily broken, because I had trespassed in a brief moment of carelessness, without any intention to do wrong.

So I felt that I had done something wrong and that it was unfair that doing wrong was so easy, that it happened with no evil intent, simply from carelessness and a lack of attention. I guess I thought there should be a magic angel hand holding my hand back from the bowl of suspect popcorn.

(The question of whether or not popcorn can actually be unkosher is beside the point. I knew that Timmy's family did not keep a kosher kitchen, so therefore I knew not to eat anything there. I was a kid and no one expected me to make detailed kashrut decisions; it was a broad approach.)

Since there are no angel hands, at least not around me, the substitute for such guardians is that moment of reflection with which human beings are blessed. It's called conscience or moral sense. It is supposed to make us hesitate before taking action. It's also known as reflection -- the image we see in our mind, ourselves reflected, paused, frozen in time for second to allow us a second thought, a change of course.

Judaism strengthens this sense of reflection in many ways. The act of saying a bracha (blessing) before eating would have provided enough time for me to think twice about Timmy's popcorn, but my family's custom did not include brachas for snacks. I can see now how brachas and keeping kosher go well together -- the moment taken to ponder, "What is the bracha for popcorn?" is enough time for a child to also think, "Oh wait a second, Timmy's family doesn't keep kosher, maybe I should just say no thanks."

I realize I'm treading into dangerous ground here, but -- and again these are just my personal reflections -- (ducking for cover) -- perhaps this is an example where the middle road of Modern Orthodoxy is a particularly difficult one. Would a child from Crown Heights have been in the same predicament? And as trivial as it seems -- the fearsome kernel of corn -- it was a bit of a crisis for a seven-year-old. Shouldn't a child have the benefit of being safe in his world, of knowing the little decisions he makes during his day will not cause him to sin inadvertently? "I ate treif" is a tough confession for a little kosher kid!

The temptations life presents become so much more perilous as we get older. It is good to teach our children how to use that moment of reflection -- the pause for a bracha, or for thought, or prayer. Maybe the angel's hand will make it here in time, sometimes, and stop us before we reach for something that will only bring us regrets later on.

(This essay combines elements of two posts from my Mirty's Place site. Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting. Shavua Tov.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Somewhat Haunting

It is a couple of weeks now since the disengagement which means that enough time has passed to offer some comments with some perspective, but certainly it has not been long enough to say what this event means in the grand scheme of things.

We watched as our synagogues were burned and even though it was not a surprise it was still upsetting.

I thought that Rabbi Daniel Gordis had some good comments in something that he wrote that I will share below. He links to some footage that I found to be quite moving. I have watched that and this video many times.
"Despite the pain that defies description, the loss of homes and businesses, schools and yeshivot, batei midrash and parks, playgrounds and friendships, despite the wounds that will take not weeks or months, but many years to heal, the State won. It was, given what we had feared, an extraordinary statement by Israelis that despite everything -- or because of everything, like the fact that we live in a contracting country -- there's a bind here that has triumphed even over this. Despite it all, most people here recognized that what was at stake wasn't settlements, or homes, even people. What was at stake was the still fragile State we call home. The home we have is smaller, and will get still smaller. And in the face of that, there was really no place for ribbons.

That, at the end of the day, is probably why it went as smoothly as it did. No shots were fired. Nowhere. Thousands of people were evicted from their homes, their children would not return to the same schools, and in many cases, would have trouble finding schools to take them. They would never live in houses like those again, they would leave behind the cemeteries in which their children are buried (those graves were moved a few days later) … and they walked out peacefully.

Admittedly, the army and police handled it all magnificently, with very few exceptions. The soldiers sent in were not the eighteen and nineteen year old kids who might have been hotter under the collar, but reservists, with wives and kids, who'd been around the block a few more times, and would know how to handle the hurt, and the hate. The police, who normally wear uniforms with the word "Police" on the front, were issued new hats, and vests. The same color, the same shape. But instead of the word "Police," just an Israeli flag. So that the settlers who saw the long columns of blue uniforms marching in to their communities, saw police, yes, but they also saw a long line of bobbing Israeli flags. The flag they love. The flag they know is the only one the Jews will have as long as any of us are alive, and far beyond that. And in the end, the residents packed up, and with tear-stained faces and the sort of dignity that emerges only from hearts bursting with anguish, just walked away from it all.

Twenty percent of the IDF's officers are religious. And how many of them refused orders when it came down to it? Virtually no one. True, the army didn't use most of the younger religious units. Why put those kids in such an impossible situation? But there were religious officers there, lots of them. You just had to watch the news and the videos to see. How many did you see refusing? I didn't see any.

What I did see, during and after, was some of the saddest footage I've ever seen. For a heartbreaking sample, you can take a look here(ignore the first thirty gratuitous seconds … the rest is moving beyond words). Indescribably painful footage, true, but also the kind that makes us proud to be part of this huge experiment called the Jewish State. No arms. Tears, yes, but no violence. Disbelief. Soldiers knocking at the door, and when answered, cutting their own uniforms in the traditional sign of Jewish mourning. Because even for those on the left, there's nothing to celebrate about Jews being evicted from their homes. Because even for the blue ribbons, this was not a victory. Who can celebrate, as their borders close in around them? There was nothing else to do but mourn. And wipe the tears away"
And I really appreciated what he said here:

"When I was a kid, I grew up with the image of Israel as a growing country. The absurd borders of the 1947 UN partition plan expanded to the borders of 1949 at the end of the war. The Sinai captured in 1956, and though returned, captured again in 1967, along with the Golan, Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

My kids are growing up in a very different world. The "Exodus" (biblical, or the boat) is no longer about leaving someplace else and coming here. Exoduses now, it seems, are about leaving here. About contracting. And each one becomes more painful, and more dangerous, more controversial.

What do you do in the face of that? You can protest. You can vow to get Sharon out of office (only to watch someone else retreat in his stead, of course.) You can tell your yeshiva students to ignore the orders they're given. You can compare Sharon (as some did) to a Nazi. You can lose hope. You can walk away in disgust (especially if you never lived here in the first place).

Or, you can roll up your sleeves, and get to work. You can put on a uniform, hoist onto your back a knapsack that weighs almost as much as you do, give your brothers and your parents a kiss, and head off to defend what's left.

Because whether you were blue or orange during the summer that's passed, none of that matters anymore. Because you know that this place isn't about ribbons, but about chances. For a hot and horrid summer, we allowed ourselves to imagine that what mattered was the color of the ribbon on our car. And now, we know we were wrong."
Today we mark the passing of Simon Wiesenthal who assuredly lived through much harder times and so I look at what we have seen and I cannot do anything but be optimistic about the future. There are a lot of challenges, but there are many who wait to take them on because sometimes that is just what you do.

The New Year approaches and it is up to us to determine what kind of year we will have.

Simon Wiesenthal Changed My Life

It was this story oft told by Simon Wiesenthal, and as shared on Jewlicious, that truly changed my life:

Wiesenthal spoke often of a Sabbath dinner he had spent at the home of another survivor of Mauthausen, who had become a wealthy jeweler. The man speculated that Wiesenthal could have become a millionaire if he had gone back to architecture instead of hunting Nazis.

“When we come to the other world,” Wiesenthal said he responded, “and meet the millions of Jews who died in thecamps, and they ask us, ‘What have you done?’ there will be many answers.

“You will tell them, ‘I became a jeweler.’

“Another will say, ‘I smuggled coffee and American cigarettes.’

“Another will say, ‘I built houses.’

“But I will say, ‘I didn’t forget you.’.”

This story is what sparked a lifelong interest in the Jewish people. It is what inspired my thesis in college, entitled "Ha-Shoah". It is what caused me eventually to identify so closely and bond so tightly with the Jewish destiny that I had no other choice but to become a Jew.

So while Simon Wiesenthal never knew me or spoke to me, he changed my life. He inspired me with a lifelong devotion to a people of whom I was not a part but to whom I eventually joined my destiny.

My heart truly spoke the words that Ruth spoke so long before me, "Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."

Becoming a Jew meant leaving behind an old life, gaining new friends and family, grieving for old friends and family who couldn't accept a choice I was compelled to make. It meant hitching my wagon to a destiny that continues to evolve - one which isn't necessarily "safe" or "privileged" but one which provides more satisfaction and happiness than I ever could have imagined.When people ask me what inspired me to convert to Judaism, I never mention Simon Wiesenthal. Instead I mumble things about "faith" and "how I believe" and "the one-ness of G-d"...but I never mention what really drew me to even consider it. I never mention the man who chose never to forget his people...and inspired me to never forget those who would become MY people either.

Maybe I should mention this.

Who changed YOUR life?

(Cross-posted at JewView and Matzah and Marinara)


My son started working on the I-Connect program in Sunday School yesterday. It's designed to teach the kids about Israel and to encourage them to feel more connected to the land and the people.

I asked Evan if he had enjoyed the program.

"Yes, Mom," he said in that way that older children have of indicating that you're interrupting their deepest thoughts and most involved activity.

"Oh good!" I said. "Do you want to go to Israel now?"

Now, don't forget, Evan has always said that he wants to go visit Israel because he says that's where his "people" are.

"I don't think so," he said.

"Oh???" I was shocked.

"Those other people that live there? The different ones? They're scary."

My son has finally learned about Palenstinians.

I found that incredibly sad in a way....his innocence, his childhood, his ability to see the good in everyone, to see past a skin color or a religious label...all gone.

And on top of that, now he's afraid of Israel and going there.

"Well, Evan that's just a few radical people. Not all Arabs or Palestinians are like that. You have to remember that," I assured him.

He looked at me skeptically. "I am still not going. They'll KILL me!"

Very interesting development. On one hand, I don't want him to be afraid of the world or his place in it. On the other, I certainly want him to be aware, as a Jew, of the potential dangers out there. I also want him as a human being to try to overcome those dangers while still being very comfortable with himself.

Very interesting.

Whatever happened to those "tough" questions about puberty?????

(cross posted at Matzah and Marinara)

Monday, September 19, 2005


Despite the fact that I usually do not discuss Jewish topics around some of my relatives, I am still perceived as being "so religious", and my actions are sometimes mistakenly interpreted to be commentary on their lives.

Many times, I am between a rock and hard place since some of my family members are incredibly uncomfortable about any exterior displays of Jewishness. They subscribe to Yehuda Leib Gordon's philosophy, "Be a Jew inside your home and a man on the street." Judaism to them is something that should only be observed internally. They become uneasy around all things Jewish, sometimes even hesitating to put up a mezuzah on their doorpost since this would only call attention to the fact that their house is a Jewish home.

I do not utter judgmental comments or give disapproving glances at what others do. With less-observant relatives, I strive to build bridges and be as accommodating and considerate as possible while not compromising my beliefs. Sometimes, however, it feels like my efforts are an exercise in futility. Although Gordon's philosophy is the antithesis of how I live my life, I continue to struggle to see things from their point of view and remind myself that we are all Jews and one family.

(Cross Posted on A Simple Jew)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Unetaneh Tokef

As I mentioned in the audio post below during this time of year it is common practice for Jews to become more reflective about themselves and their place in the world around them. I think that it is a very important task and one that is necessary if you are going to continue to grow as a person.

There is a prayer called "Unetaneh Tokef" that is said on Rosh Hashanah that always catches me as I am sure that it does many others. There are a couple of different stories that I have heard about its origins. Here are links to two of them. As you can see they are intense.

But I want to focus on a couple of things that we say in the prayer itself that I think are of interest.
On Rosh Hashanah it is written and Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall pass on and how many shall come to be;
who shall live and who shall die;
who shall see ripe old age and who shall not;
who shall perish by fire and who by water;
who by sword and who by beast;
who by hunger and who by thirst;
Repentance, Prayer, and Charity temper judgment's severe decree.
Those are some pretty heavy concepts, so I am going to post about the first section and then then comment on the second.

As a young boy whenever we said Unetaneh Tokef I always pictured a very old man at a desk. There was a book a quill and some ink that the man used to write in the book. I remember thinking that it would be very hard for the man to hear me and that his head must really hurt because all these people were trying to speak to him.

I can also remember wondering if he really knew about all the things that I had done. Did he know that I had managed to sneak candy into my room even though my mom had said no. Did he know that sometimes at night when I was supposed to be in bed I would sneak into the hallway and listen to whatever show my parents were watching.

Or was he aware that Teddy Holtz had found a magazine with pictures of nude girls and we were looking at it. As an adult I laugh at that memory. We were about 8 years-old and we thought that the people in the magazine were really stupid. Because who would sit naked on the back of a motorcycle. You would get really cold and if you fell off you'd get really scraped up.

I can remember the superstitions of the older people, the whispers and gestures they made to ward off the evil eye, the hands they clamped over our ears during certain times.

All these memories jumble together because I took Unetaneh Tokef literally, even though I had some doubts about the power of G-d in the end I was afraid that he really did know everything and that something bad could happen. In short, it was a very black and white interpretation.

Now I look at Unetaneh Tokef and I think of it in broader terms and I understand that section to be more comment than literal because the reality is that I cannot make the decision of who will die and who will live for myself or for anyone others. Those decisions are out of my hands and it is important for us as people to be aware that what we do, the choices we make impact others.

This leads into the second part where it says:
Repentance, Prayer, and Charity temper judgment's severe decree.
Please note that I am using English translations so that more people can read this, I don't usually translate Tzedakah as Charity. It is usually more like Righteousness but there is a lot more to that discussion than this so for simplicities sake we'll use charity.

In the past when I have engaged in learning about this line some people have discussed these as three separate concepts and it bothers me to hear Tshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedakah handled as separate units relative to this conversation. The reason being is that Unetaneh Tokef is a personal discussion with G-d in which we praise and tremble. It is a time to consider our own actions and I find it troubling to suggest that one could merit another year of life simply based upon tefilah/prayer.

Because if we are saying that we have done wrong and that we wish to engage in tshuvah, repentance then I think that it must include the act of tshuvah. I find fault with the idea that one could ignore tshuvah and simply daven. There is a lack of responsibility and personal accountability that irks me.

So I don't see how you can separate prayer from repentance. They are two pieces that work together. Tzedakah is a different story. One can give without repenting or prayer. You could easily make a donation to charity xyz without the other two components.

On a personal note I follow the Rambam's example of how to give.

That is it for now, perhaps I'll share more thoughts later.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Phenomenal Posts

I know that it has been slow around here, but that is only because there are some incredible posts being worked on.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Our Synagogues are Burning

I was less than happy when I read this article but not all that surprised.
"Palestinians rushed into the abandoned settlements, firing guns, singing and in some cases setting fire to abandoned synagogues.

Abbas said the joy of the Palestinians was understandable after years under Israeli rule. "They have to express their feelings," said Abbas."

Some of you will call me nasty names for presenting this as being symptomatic of a larger problem, but I question the civility of people who express their joy with arson, who talk about engaging in peace talks by promising more violence and who dance in joyous celebration at the mention of indiscriminate murder.

The hard work is coming. The time of trying to gauge whether there is a real partner on the other side of the table or someone who is looking for a Trojan Horse.

On the upside of things I was pleased to read this in the same article.

"After Israeli forces closed the Kissufim gate behind them, an IDF spokesman challenged Palestinian officials.

"From this point on, the full responsibility for events occurring in the Gaza Strip and for thwarting terror attacks against Israeli targets will be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority and its apparatuses," a statement said.

Gaza commander Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi expressed similar sentiments.

"For all that takes place in (the) Gaza strip lays on the Palestinians," he said. "The responsibility for the security of the Israelis is all ours.

"The very same soldiers that have left the (Kissufim) gate are those who are deploying now along the new line," Kochavi continued. "They are alert and they are ready to fulfill any mission and to face any challenge."

Now the full weight of that responsibility will be felt and we shall see what kind of hand the other side holds. Still I need to mention that I am somewhat saddened to have to use terms like side in this manner because it reminds me that there is still so much work to do to bring in the humanity of the situation for everyone.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Secret Lives

One of the most interesting aspects of the blogosphere is the opportunity to learn more about people that you might not otherwise encounter. From a Jewish perspective I find the look inside some of the more frum among us to be very interesting.

Some of the blogs that have caught eye for a moment or two include A Hasid and a Heretic and Hasidic Rebel. There are others that interest me.

I wonder how many people are truly satisfied and how many have serious doubts that are strong enough to make them stray. It is not always so easy to attend to certain paths.