Why would some of the top educators in the haredi world fear apostasy in those students exposed to secular life? Is their education so poor, their faith so weak, that any exposure at all will see their beliefs wilt like hothouse flowers brought out into the fresh air?
I gave a lecture on literature last week in the library of Kibbutz Magen, right near the Gaza border.
The Eshkol Regional Council in the northwestern Negev, in which the kibbutz is situated, has been bombarded by rocket fire from Gaza for years, its workers getting killed, its kindergarten a near miss.
Still, despite the recent trauma of renewed hostilities from Hamas terrorists, they took time out to sit and listen to me talk about women writers of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala), and the role of religious women in Jewish literary …
…continue reading Rebels Without a Cause
Whether it is a tolerance for radical and objectionable political views, or a lax and forgiving response to dangerous and illegal behavior, sometimes the compassionate thing to do breeds a culture of forgiveness towards wrong and evil that contaminates and weakens our attempts to live moral lives, creating only more misery.
I came across a video someone sent me on Facebook about a haredi grandfather in B’nai Brak whose five year-old grandson was left accidentally in a hot car by a young teacher and neighbor who was asked to drive him home as a favor. The child died. The grandfather, a G-d-fearing and compassionate man, now made it his task in life to embrace the newly-married young teacher and to encourage him to get on with his life. “My grandson is gone,” he says. “But X is still alive and …
…continue reading Compassion
Even if I don’t have the guts to let the whole, sordid truth hang out, perhaps incidentally my books have encouraged others to do so. If that is true, then I am glad.
I received a letter the other day from a reader. As with all respectful letters I receive from readers, I read it in its entirety and answered it. Because I don’t have permission to reveal the author’s name, let’s just call her Chava from Brooklyn:
I just finished reading your latest novel, The Sisters Weiss. While I enjoyed parts of it, I found you to once again defame the ultra-Orthodox community. Why would you use your skill as a platform to denounce your own people?
I too am a child of Holocaust survivors. My parents remained religious despite their atrocities and losses, and are resilient, …
…continue reading Mirror, mirror
Several high-profile Israeli rabbis have come under fire for less-than-holy schemes
On November 17, 2013, to the disgust and embarrassment of Jews all over the world—but particularly religious Jews in Israel—Israeli police arrested the former chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger. The former occupant of the highest official rabbinic office of the land and also a dayan, or judge, on the Rabbinical Supreme Court, Metzger was accused of receiving bribes, money laundering and fraud amounting to millions of shekels. He is accused not only of pocketing money earmarked for charity, but also of accepting bribes to forge or falsely sign religious documents.
What I personally found most disturbing was the allegation that four and a half years ago, when Metzger surprisingly supported the outrageous cancelling of hundreds of conversion certificates issued by a religious panel headed by Rabbi Chaim Druckman—thus, …
…continue reading The Wonder Workers
Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday that fits right in with Jewish values: blessing God communally for getting you through hard times.
This year for the first and only time I can remember, Thanksgiving comes out on the first day of Hanukka.
When we got off the plane in 1971, wanting so much to be Israelis, we never gave much thought to hanging on to the American in us. But just by chance, my husband’s birthday and our anniversary were just a day apart in the last week in November. So, from the very beginning, we decided to give thanks for both those occasions by enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner.
At first, it was only the two of us, so we looked around for a hotel that would be roasting turkeys for tourists. We found these amazing buffets at eye-watering prices at …
…continue reading Thanksgivings
Friends, here is a report from Friday’s English language edition of Haaretz, Israel’s most respected newspaper, explaining what the Supreme Court ruling in my favor really means.
Writer Ragen vindicated in plagiarism court deal by Maya Sela
A compromise agreement that represented an almost total victory for best-selling author Naomi Ragen was reached in the Supreme Court copyright violation suit against her. Then Jerusalem District Court Judge Joseph Shapira [now State Comptroller] had found in favor of author Sarah Shapiro, ruling that Ragen had violated Shapiro’s copyright. Ragen then appealed to the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, however, both women accepted a compromise suggested by the Supreme Court. Under the deal, the District Court’s verdict will be annulled and Shapiro will have to return the NIS 97,000 in compensation that the lower court ordered Ragen to pay her. Ragen, for her …
…continue reading Naomi Ragen Vindicated in “Almost Total Victory”
Yesterday I went to the Supreme Court of Israel with the hope that finally justice would be done and District Court Judge Yosef Shapira’s insulting, ugly, and false judgment against me for copyright infringement (which he called “literary theft” – something which simply does not exist) would be overturned, as was his previous judgment against me in another case.
I had hardly entered the courtroom when Chief Justices Naor, Chayot and Hendel immediately suggested throwing out Judge Shapira’s judgment, calling it “problematic,” and requiring my accuser Sarah Shapiro to pay back all the money she’d received as compensation.
They called it a compromise.
This is, as I said, the second time the Supreme Court overturned a ruling against me by the same judge. Details of the first time are here and …continue reading Naomi Ragen Wins A Second Plagiarism Suit in the Supreme Court
The road to J Street might be paved with good intentions. But as we saw with Oslo, this kind of delusional thinking inevitably ends up covering our streets in Israel with blood.
When an idea is thoroughly debunked by the facts, wouldn’t you think that intelligent people would change their minds? The world, we now know, isn’t flat. The planet actually revolves around the sun, and not the opposite.
Or so we thought.
But when it comes to “peace” activists, nothing, but nothing, seems to alter their conceptions: not the bloodbath that drenched Israel ushered in by the Oslo “Peace” Accords, and not the hell on earth that happened to communities in range of rocket fire from the disengaged Gaza – the final straw that debunked the land for peace delusion.
J Street, a virulently anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda machine, …
…continue reading My Street, Your Street and J Street