It was in the middle of Sukkot, that loveliest of holidays in Israel, set aside for family time, when even the most devout and serious yeshiva men can be seen with their entire families visiting the zoo or traipsing through nature trails in Galilee. We had woken up that Friday morning to the shocking news that, the night before, young parents had been murdered in their car on their way home from a festive reunion, shot in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists as their four terrified little boys sat watching from the back seat.
It is …
…continue reading Terror in Israel – The Merry-Go-Round
Dear Friends, You are all cordially invited to join me for a book reception at 10:30 AM on Sunday on 8 November 2015 at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun at 125 E 85th Street in Manhattan. The event will take place under the auspices of the highly respected synagogue as well as the Institute of Jewish Ideas and Ideals, headed by my dear friend and mentor, Rabbi Marc Angel.
I will be speaking about my new novel (my tenth!) The Devil In Jerusalem, which will be published this coming Tuesday, 13 October. …
…continue reading My New Book and Lecture Tour
Bar Rafaeli, Israel’s golden girl, was married last night. So I want to wish her and her husband, Adi Ezra, every happiness. I want to thank her for being such a beautiful and positive spokeswoman for Israel, for always standing up against pressure and for showing the world what beautiful people Israelis are.
I’m happy she decided to come home to marry a local, Jewish man even though I’m sure she had her pick of gentiles who were very, very rich and very, very famous. I’m happy for her parents and siblings that they will have …
…continue reading Mazal Tov to Bar
What happens when rabbis prey on people’s need for holiness?
The wave broke slowly. First, one woman from a close-knit National Religious community in Safed approached the town’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, son of Israel’s former Sephardic chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, describing how the charismatic rabbinical head of her community, a man credited with “magical powers,” had raped her. Over the next month, more than ten women came forward. Their stories were shockingly similar: When they sought rabbinical counseling on marital and fertility issues, their rabbi/counselor advised them to submit to sexual acts with him.
…continue reading An Abuse of Sacred Trust
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 …
…continue reading Protest The Outrageous Leniency of the Barry Freundel Verdict
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, …
…continue reading Are You For Us Or Against Us?
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 since then, they were so excited by the experience, they couldn’t stop talking, each one interrupting the other.
We took them out for pizza, and the last cupcake …
…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 …
…continue reading The Vision of Islam
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: If this is the way Naftali left it, the Netanyahus should be suing him. At four PM the Comptroller’s Report is due to be released concerning the Netanyahus …
…continue reading A Working Woman
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 leaving New York behind one cold winter’s day in 1971, I bear witness to the impossibility of ever believing this is a permanent situation. For Israelis, it will never be “the …
…continue reading Living Under the “Terrorism Tree”
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 around the room, warmly shaking everyone’s hands, nodding to those he had …
…continue reading My Evening with Sarah and Bibi
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 staying on, even going to a French university.
The key to the …
…continue reading My Parisian Family
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 more than the characters, and we are not entirely surprised when the adopted child, …
…continue reading The Devil Takes Over
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 …
…continue reading Living in Terror’s Long Shadow
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 being asked to prove you aren’t dead.
Were we not living in a world unspeakably degraded by dumbed-down college programs, …
…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.