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It is a rare day when the entire U.S. Senate speaks with one voice. That day was March 6, when a sixth wave of bomb threats were phoned in and emailed to Jewish institutions across the country. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and FBI director James Comey, all 100 senators called for “swift action with regard to the deeply troubling series of anonymous bomb threats.”
Last week, at its annual conference, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs did something commendable in our highly charged political environment. The group, whose member agencies advocate primarily from the left of the political center, welcomed and listened politely to a presentation from a pair of more conservative pundits: Noah Silverman, congressional affairs director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, and Noah Pollak, a conservative political writer and consultant.
What’s Linda Sarsour’s angle? The American activist, who was a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign and an organizer of the Women’s March that brought half a million people to Washington in January to protest Donald Trump, last week helped start a crowdfunding campaign to repair more than 100 gravestones that vandals toppled in a St. Louis Jewish cemetery.
In his month in office, President Donald Trump has challenged several long-standing American policies, only to back off later. The result has been to leave unclear exactly what American policy is toward China, Russia or NATO, among other things.
Until modern times, the Talmud was a major Jewish preoccupation. This sprawling compendium of the law, lore and commentary of successive generations of early rabbinic scholars provided Jews with a human map for following the law of the Hebrew Bible and the six books of the Mishna.
Shmuel Bar, a former Israeli intelligence officer and founder of a company that sifts social media messages for terrorist threats, was recently disinvited from speaking on a panel at a London think tank. He was told that since a Saudi official would be attending the session, the Israeli couldn’t be seen in attendance with him. As related last week in Bloomberg Businessweek, “Bar told the organizers that he and the Saudi gentleman had, in fact, been planning to have lunch together at a Moroccan restaurant nearby before walking over to the event together.”
Most of the organized Jewish community, along with most civil libertarians, shuddered as the new administration issued an executive order effectively targeting Muslims who want to immigrate to the United States.
The “Inspired by Israel” video contest has started its 10-day period of online voting to determine which 10 video entrants will move on to the final phase of the contest and be evaluated by an elite panel of judges.
Between the challah bake, the Shabbat Project and conferences in Washington, D.C., it's been a busy week.
Shabbat in Jerusalem was like no Shabbat I have ever experienced.