All he wanted was to see women naked. Lots of men are like that. Hence the tsunami of internet porn. The difference is, he was a Rabbi, and instead of watching anonymous women who enjoy showing off their bodies, he was secretly taping his married congregants, candidates for conversion, and young college students as they showered and purified themselves in his synagogue’s ritual bath, many doing so at his demand as their religious mentor as they struggled to complete their conversion.
Much has been written and much said about the Barry Freundel scandal. Freundel, who was rabbi of Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. from 1989 until 2014, a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America handed the responsibility for conversion guidelines nationwide, and a professor of comparative religion, pleaded guilty to 53 counts of voyeurism …
…continue reading Protest The Outrageous Leniency of the Barry Freundel Verdict
There is only one right way to support Israel and be Jewish today.
After an emotionally exhausting election campaign in which I found myself—for the first time ever—terrified that the wrong results might prove an existential threat to Israel’s existence, the moment of truth had come. There, on a large screen in a (literally) cheesy kosher Italian restaurant in Paris’s 16th arrondissement, I was about to see the results of the exit poll at the close of voting. I wasn’t alone. The place was packed with French Jews, members of B’nai B’rith, who had arranged the dinner for me. I was going to say a few words in Hebrew, which my host would translate. But there was no point. All eyes were on the screen as we held our collective breath.
My host, chauffeur and translator, who had left Israel …
…continue reading Are You For Us Or Against Us?
I hope you will make your children feel as excited, proud, and amazed as my own grandchildren. I hope you will make the story of Passover a story they will never want to forget, a story that will shape their lives for the good, and make them an indivisible part of their people, Israel, a proud, productive, free people who exemplify what it means to live in a homeland given to you by God.
My son brought the kids over today. While I was still furiously attacking the chametz (bread crumbs for the uninitiated, which are the foe of every devout Jewish housewife this time of year), I am always thrilled to spend time with my grandchildren.
They had just seen the cartoon version of the exodus from Egypt, Prince of Egypt, produced back in the Nineties. While cartooning has improved fantastically …
…continue reading The Greatest Story Ever Told
Dear friends, read this article – it’s the best explanation I have EVER seen of the differences between Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Judaism’s beginnings are rooted in the cultures of the ancient Near East, brutal autocracies whose idolatrous religions featured child sacrifice and temple prostitutes and whose military tactics included massacring entire towns and enslaving captured populations to build massive royal tombs. The Hebrew slaves who escaped this dismal fate emerged from their desert wanderings with a Torah that rejected those cultural mores and enjoined the Israelites to build a better world, where the weak would be treated with compassion and …
…continue reading The Vision of Islam.
“That’s because no one ever asks me and no one is interested,” she replies, giving me my first glimpse into her fraught relationship with the Israeli press, which has hounded her for years, creating a narrative in which she is usually pictured as a cross between the Wicked Witch of the West, Marie Antoinette and Imelda Marcos. “She is the most hated woman in Israel,” someone wrote me recently in a talkback.
It is 3:59 P.M. on February 18. I am sitting in the office of former house manager Menny Naftali, who is suing the Netanyahus for $290,000 claiming he was insulted, treated unfairly, yadda, yadda, yadda. There are piles of plastic bags stuffed with unidentifiable material, a randomly placed iron, an unhappy plant, a round top to something or other, and a half-eaten bar of Elite chocolate. I’m thinking: …
…continue reading A Working Woman
Each new wave of violence and hatred also evokes memories of past atrocities, so that even when the woman in the hijab with the knife is captured by the soldier before she can do any harm, the act sends shivers down our spines as it is added to the collection we keep in a large box close to our hearts, a box that we try to open and close quickly, before the demons can escape.
You’d think we’d be used to it by now, wouldn’t you? The unprovoked stabbings, cars running over people waiting for the train, shootings of would-be jihadis in the supermarket and the center of town. Especially for us in Jerusalem, who always live on the cusp of disaster, of the sudden outbreak of barely contained fanaticism. But as one Jerusalemite who has lived this way since …
…continue reading Living Under the “Terrorism Tree”
With the head of the free world AWOL for the last six and a half years bowing to the Saudis, making an ass of himself in Cairo, and destroying America’s economy while he plays golf, Benjamin Netanyahu has been heroically cast as the world leader standing up to the world-shattering dangers of a nuclear Iran.
When I was invited to join the Prime Minister at his home in Jerusalem, along with other members of the English-speaking community in Israel, I expected to find myself in a large auditorium in which I would need binoculars to see Benjamin Netanyahu. To my surprise, the room was an outdoor space that could accommodate no more than fifty, with chairs arranged in an intimate circle, with a small table in the front.
The Prime Minister entered and to everyone’s complete astonishment, he went …
…continue reading My Evening with Sarah and Bibi
A shudder went down my spine when I read that Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist responsible for the cold-blooded murder of five Jews in the Porte de Vincennes’s Hyper Cacher supermarket, as well as the shooting of police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe in Montrouge, had a map in his pocket pointing to all the Jewish schools in Paris.
When my daughter applied to work abroad in Toulouse during her second year of National Service, we were excited for her, thinking it would be a brief foray into another culture. When the time came to visit her midyear, we were delighted to find her having fun, but also longing to come home.
Moreover, we were thrilled that the men’s section of the local synagogue was filled with males over 40 and under 10.
Around May, however, to our astonishment, she started hinting about …
…continue reading My Parisian Family
The Cold War, that dinosaur, has again been cloned into life, rearing its ugly head with the help of the thuggish Vladimir Putin as he moves his tanks into Ukraine, contemptuous of America finger-wagging. And why not? America has drawn so many red lines trampled over by so many puny powers that no one takes it seriously anymore.
I was watching this old movie the other day called “The Omen.”
Released in 1976, starring Gregory Peck as the American ambassador in Rome and Lee Remick as his unsuspecting wife, the two await the birth of their first child in a rather creepy Italian hospital. It is inexplicably filled with priests, one of whom tells Peck his baby has died and offers him a newborn orphan to replace it.
Well, as in all good horror flicks, the audience knows a little …
…continue reading The Devil Takes Over
My blood froze in horror. What if the attack wasn’t over? What if we were just at the beginning?
A few years ago (could it actually be more than a decade?), in 2002, I was in a terror attack at the Park Hotel. At that time, terror attacks were happening almost every day. Someone even calculated that there was one every hour or every day, 24,000 in all.
Before I was in an attack myself, I had been sitting back in horror watching them on television, or reading about them in the newspapers. But as bad as the scenes were, they were never as bad as they were in the flesh. I remember passing by the Sbarro Pizza Parlor on the corner of King George and Yaffo in downtown Jerusalem a day after it was blown up by terrorists. Its …
…continue reading Living in Terror’s Long Shadow
Unlike our long-held assumption that it was the U.N. vote on the partition that created Israel, it was the League of Nations mandate. The U.N. partition plan merely gave 77% of the Mandate land meant for the Jewish State to Palestinians, creating Jordan. So why was there dancing in the streets of Israel? Kontorovich calls it “Jewish joy,” at being left anything at all.
There was a time during one of the so-called intifadas (forgive me for not remembering if it was the first, second, or in-between; all that savagery and murder runs together seamlessly in my head these days) that the Palestinians claimed that the Jews had no connection at all to Jerusalem, or the land of Israel. A statement like that, similar to denying the Holocaust, is so insane it leaves one sputtering in wordless confusion. It’s like …
…continue reading Countering the Big Lie
My latest book, The Sisters Weiss, has just been published in paperback. It’s the story of two sisters from an ultra-Orthodox family in 1950s Brooklyn who take very different paths, and then find their lives unexpectedly intersecting again forty years later. To order the book from Amazon, click here.
This November, I’ll be giving a few lectures in various Canadian cities and in Detroit. You can view details here.
I hope I’ll be seeing some of you at my lectures.
The 19-year-old who joined the IDF after Birthright represents the best of American Jewry.
Not so long ago, American Jewish children learned from their parents to love the State of Israel. Even secular, assimilated American Jews gave their kids charity boxes to collect nickels and dimes to plant trees there, as the parents do in Woody Allen’s 1987 film Radio Days. But that was a time when Jews remembered the tragedy of the ship St. Louis, with its hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazis and not a single country willing to take them in.
Only a generation or two later, so low is the interest in the miracle of Israel that warm-hearted Jewish philanthropists have had to create Birthright, a program that actually pays for young Jews to visit their homeland.
For us in Israel, this fact has …
…continue reading Max Steinberg: A Real American Hero
“It’s like waking up from a bad dream. You have to face yourself. How did I let this happen to me? It is devastating, and takes years to rebuild your ego.”
Perhaps because we live in the Holy Land, the idea of closeness to our Maker, and adherence to His will, is commonplace even among the most secular Israeli, particularly around Rosh Hashana, when Israelis from all backgrounds and religious levels turn their hearts and minds toward the idea of spiritual growth and healing, trying to find their way to a more intimate relationship with their God.
This longing for a purer life, has, unfortunately, given rise to a vast number of psychopathic and criminal gurus, ranging from completely secular to ultra-Orthodox, who prey on the most intelligent and innocent of victims.
The recent court case against Goel Ratzon is …
…continue reading Religious Experience or Cult?
I think Israelis are the bravest, most resourceful and intelligent people on earth. I think that they are a generous, inventive, creative, kind, humane, life-loving people who are the least deserving of hatred of any nation on earth. But I can actually can think of many others on our small planet who deserve to be defamed, libeled, marched against, boycotted, hated and shunned.
Back in the 1970’s, I remember watching a television report about the civil war in Lebanon. Etched in my memory was an interview with a nameless woman who described how she lived when her street was targeted by snipers picking off ordinary civilians at whim. Her words went something like this: We go out in the early morning, because at that time the snipers are still sleeping. And then in the heat of the day, because they are …
…continue reading The New “Normal”
By supporting Hamas, you are supporting the use of Palestinians as human shields, the use of Palestinian children to dig terror tunnels in which 160 have died, and the summary execution of Palestinians by Hamas thugs whenever they open their mouths to protest the use of their homes, school, mosques, or hospitals as weapons caches and missile launching sites.
I’m not sure the people who need to hear this will ever hear it, but I want my conscience to be clear that I said it to them.
Dear Human Rights Activist, Leftist Liberal, Crying-for-the-poor-children, Israel-hating, Hamas-forgiving, marcher, celebrity, news anchor, journalist, writer, media star, politician, head of state. We have seen you marching along the streets of Europe, America, and the Middle East with your signs and kafias and Palestinian flags. We have heard you screaming to whoever will listen that Jews and Israelis are murderers, war criminals, and baby …
…continue reading This Is What You Are Really Telling Us