Youkilis named Jewish Player of the Decade
In January, Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis was voted Jewish Player of the Decade in online balloting conducted by Jewish Major Leaguers. Youkilis received 54% of the nearly 350 votes cast, with Shawn Green finishing second at 20% and Ryan Braun third at 11%.
The Madoff Saga Continues
The fallout from the Bernie Madoff scam continued in December, first with the announcement from Hadassah that the organization would pay back $45 million of the money it made as a result of the ponzi scheme, and the suicide of Madoff’s oldest son, Mark.
Holocaust Survivor Receives Top Honor
Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein was among fifteen people to be named by President Obama as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor.
Global Day of Jewish Learning
Jewish communities all around the world participated in the Global Day of Jewish Learning, the first international, non-denominational event devoted solely to Jewish learning. The day marked the culmination of the 45-year quest to translate the Talmud for modern Jews by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.
The International Association for the Study of Antisemitism (IASA), a new endeavor housed at Yale University that brings together scholars of antisemitism from around the world, was launched in late August with an inaugural conference entitled “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity. IASA’s conference partner was the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, headed by Dr. Charles Small.
Orthodox Leaders Support Gay Jews
In July, a Connecticut rabbi was among the dozens of Orthodox rabbis from the U.S. and Israel to sign the “Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community,” originally drafted by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot, co-chair of the public affairs committee of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, an organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis.
A Dubious Milestone
June 25, 2010 marked the fourth anniversary of the capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. The Red Cross has still not visited the Israeli soldier.
“Cultural Intifada” grows
The rumor that Dustin Hoffman had cancelled his impending appearance at the Jerusalem Film Festival in protest over Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound boat proved to be just that – a rumor. Hoffman, it turned out, had never planned to attend the festival in the first place. But actress Meg Ryan did pull out – making her the latest in a growing list of entertainers to take political sides in the Mid-East conflict by canceling scheduled appearances in the Jewish state.
Top Level Snub
Benjamin Netanyahu was snubbed by President Barack Obama when the Israeli Prime Minister visited the White House in May. According to the reports, when he did not receive a written promise of concessions on settlements during their talks, Obama walked out of his meeting with Netanyahu, allowing the Prime Minister to stay and instructing him to let Obama know if there was “anything new.” The President then had dinner in private with his family — while Netanyahu and his aides sat alone in the Roosevelt Room.
On May 31, 2010, the Israeli Defense Forces intercepted six ships sponsored by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, an organization with ties to Hamas and links to other terrorist groups, that was attempting to break Israel’s legal blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine individuals aboard one of the ships were killed. Since 2009, Israel has transferred more than a million tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza. Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, has fired over 7,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Israel’s blockade is meant to stop the flow of arms and explosives shipments to Hamas.
WikiLeaks, the Arabs, and the movie man
Among the many juicy tidbits hidden within the infamous, recently unfurled WikiLeaks transcripts is the diplomatic cable revealing a boycott of director/producer Steven Spielberg’s films by the Arab League. Members of the League – including Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen — plus Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia — all voted to ban not only Spielberg’s films but also his entities, such as the Righteous Persons Foundation, after he made a $1 million donation to Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Countries who have treaties with Israel – namely Egypt, Mauritania and Jordan – did not attend the meeting.
Is she or isn’t she
In January, it looked like Orthodox Jews would get their first female rabbi when Rabbi Avi Weiss, senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR) and founder of the Yeshivat Chovevei Rabbinical School, named his intern, Sara Hurwitz “Rabbah” the feminine version of “Rabbi.” She had already held the title of “Maharat” – an acronym meaning spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. A few weeks later, though, perhaps bowing to pressure from certain religious bodies in the Orthodox movement, Weiss retracted his remarks. “It is not my intention or the intention of Yeshivat Maharat to confer the title of ‘Rabbah’ upon its graduates.
Kagan on the Court
WASHINGTON (JTA) Elena Kagan’s appointment to the Supreme Court this summer raised the number of Jews on the nation’s highest court to three – the highest in history. The former solicitor general and dean of Harvard Law School, was the first girl to become bat mitzvah at the Modern Orthodox Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York. Not everyone was impressed, though. Wrote MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan: “… If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity?”
The incident surrounding Israel’s attack on a flotilla of ships headed for Gaza last June in which nine Turkish nationals were killed left the Jewish state’s relationship with Turkey on shaky ground. But it seemed to have helped strengthen her relationship with Greece, Turkey’s longtime rival. Greece was one of the first countries to respond to Israel’s call for help when fire broke out on Mount Carmel earlier this month; Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou visited Israel in July and, in October, the two countries held joint military exercises. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations recently announced that Greece would be the site of its annual leadership mission in February. Not bad for two countries that until 18 years ago did not have diplomatic ties.
Kissinger on tape
It was the comment heard ‘round the world – or, at least, the Jewish world. “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern,” remarked then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to President Richard Nixon. The comment, made public on newly released White House tapes recorded in the Oval Office in 1973, made American Jews cringe. Kissinger, whose family escaped Nazi Germany, protested that the comments had been taken out of context. The late President’s response: “I know. We can’t blow up the world because of it.”