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Tag Archives: Tension

Dance with the Darkness

Why we fall short

Patience and Power

Liar, liar, house on fire

israel-firesIn its never-ending quest for editorial balance and integrity, the venerable New York Times gave equal time to Israeli and Palestinian news channels in its reporting of the devastating fires sweeping through Israel.

Israeli news expressed the widely-held opinion that arson is behind the unprecedented rash of urban and forest conflagrations, the latest tactic of Palestinian terrorism.

Palestinian news reported that fires in Israel are started primarily by discarded cigarette butts and children playing with matches, with the remainder caused by electrical malfunction.

An Arab spokesman observed that Israel should take measures to ensure that these causes are addressed to prevent future fires.  He failed to explain why fires anywhere near this scale have been unknown for the entire 68 year history of the State of Israel.

Thank you once again, New York Times, for honoring your famous motto:

All the news that fits, we print.

Why people give up

system-failureAnna Vital’s infographic reminds us of what we easily forget.

Click here and enjoy.

Hat tip:  Joseph Lizio.

Block Yeshiva closing marks end of an era

4c227bb4b9bb9-imageAsk any teacher. Ask any informed parent. Educational standards are in free-fall across America — perhaps around the world. And in St. Louis, Missouri, an extraordinary institution has closed its doors.

Block Yeshiva High School did not come into existence as something new or revolutionary. Its roots reach all the way to the ancient traditions articulated by the sages of the Second Temple period, and its style expressed the more recent articulations of one of the most influential thinkers of the last two centuries.

In 1851, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch relinquished both his pulpit and his seat in the Moravian parliament to accept the position as leader of the Torah community in Frankfurt-am-Main. In response to the rapid assimilation of Western European Jews, Rabbi Hirsch developed a movement that embraced both secular knowledge and passionate commitment to Torah study and observance.

The approach that became known as Neo-Orthodoxy was built upon a rigorous 12-year primary and secondary education system providing Jewish children with the fundamental skills and philosophic outlook to remain strong in their traditions while simultaneously preparing them to flourish in the professional world of gentile society. By doing so, Rabbi Hirsch created a bulwark against the sweeping tide of secularization while establishing a model to produce fluent and committed Torah Jews for generations.

For 38 years, St. Louis has boasted a school that has earned an extraordinary reputation among both American universities and Israeli yeshivos and seminaries. Following the trail blazed by Rabbi Hirsch a century and a half ago, Block Yeshiva High School graduates have distinguished themselves in medicine, law, and business, as well as in the world of Torah scholarship. Perhaps more significantly, as a group, Block Yeshiva graduates have retained an extraordinary commitment to Jewish tradition and values, to the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and to the refinement of moral and spiritual character that is our true legacy as a nation.

Here are a few examples of what Block Yeshiva has produced:

Click here to read the whole article.  Please comment and share.

Crossing the great divide

chasm_great-divideListen in on my interview with Clint Bellows last week discussing the challenges facing Israel and America.  Interview begins at about 49:00.

The Divided States of America

america_divided_bigE pluribus unum — Out of many, one.

Such a glorious sentiment, 240 years old this week, destined for the dustbin of history.

In contrast to the vitriol of the broadsheets from two centuries ago — which belied a common commitment to basic, “self-evident truths” — the unfiltered invective filling our airwaves today reveals a wholesale abandonment of common values or, even worse, of any values at all.

With the general election now reduced to a choice between the two most unpopular candidates in American history, the undeniable takeaway is that our population has splintered into four intractable camps, each unwillingly come to terms with any other. Here is a snapshot of who we now are.

Click here to read the whole article.

Near-death experience

1You’re ten years old and a sound sleeper, so it’s already unusual that something has woken you up in the middle of the night.  You go out into the hall to investigate.  There are strangers in the house and flashing lights out the window.  Your father tells you to go back to bed.

When you wake up the next morning, your mother has disappeared from your life.

It’s 1970, before school counselors or lettered conditions like PTSD.  Your father means well, but he’s not the communicative type, not one for expressing his feelings to others or eliciting others to share their feelings with him.  He’s from the Depression Era, and he barely saw his own father growing up during those desperate years.  He’s a veteran of the Second World War; difficulties are part of life.

He’s also dealing with his own trauma, as his wife lingers between life and death.

You get shipped off to stay with friends, or with your grandmother.  Very little is explained to you, and you understand even less.  Years later, there won’t be much that you remember, aside from the indelible images of that first night.

You won’t remember waking up the next morning to find your grandmother home with you instead of you parents.  You won’t remember when they took you to visit your mother one last time because no one thought she had much time left.  You won’t remember shouting at her for having abandoned you.  You won’t remember the outgoing, cheerful little boy you were before that cold, winter’s night.

You only remember how hard it was for you to talk to people from that moment forward.  You remember how easily you cried during the years that followed, and how much you hated yourself for crying so easily without understanding what made you that way.  You remember how you considered taking your own life, but always managed to convince yourself that you could do it tomorrow.

A decade passes before you really recover.  In some ways, you never recover at all.

Click here to read the whole essay.

Can I remain I after we become we?

63No man is an island, wrote John Donne. Neither is any nation, even if it’s the island nation of Great Britain.

This contradiction lies at the heart of the current political crisis facing British Prime Minister David Cameron. And as the British contemplate their future place in the world community, the rest of us should contemplate what the world will look like for our children and their children after them.

There are two legitimate, opposing arguments facing Britain in deciding whether or not to remain part of the European Union. To compete in the world marketplace as part of an economic powerhouse works to the advantage of every European country, Britain included. On the other hand, the threat to employment and security posed by unrestricted immigration may offset any benefits.

But whatever the British end up deciding for themselves in this month’s referendum, there is a deeper issue in play, one that has implications for all of us.

Click here to read the whole article.