Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne, N.J., and is the author of many books on contemporary Judaism.
Posts By This Author
Why John Lennon's 'Imagine' Is Actually Not That Great of a Song
I never liked “Imagine.” I am not the only Jewish teacher who feels this way.
“Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too.”
Lennon was saying: Let’s get rid of nations; let’s get rid of religion; let’s get rid of the idea that there is something above me that is worth dying for, and that might even be worth killing for.
Let’s get rid of the passions that help us transcend ourselves. Maybe that’s why the melody of “Imagine” is so subdued — almost like sleepwalking.
“Imagine” is a dream, and not a very good one.
My Aunts and the Supreme Court Marriage Ruling
I would like to believe that Charlotte and Trudy are in the world to come, applauding and dancing.
Why David Brooks Is My Rabbi
Is David Brooks becoming a Christian?
As Jonathan Merritt wrote, “Brooks claims to have written his latest book ‘to save my soul,’ and he told NPR that reading books by authors such as Christian convert C.S. Lewis has ‘produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart.’”
What the Polish President Could Have Said About His Country’s Holocaust Complicity
The director of the FBI stepped in it.
Or did he?
Last week, James B. Comey delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in which he said the murderers and accomplices of Germany, Poland, and Hungary “convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.”
The Polish government was not happy. President Bronislaw Komorowski castigated Comey for his “ignorance, lack of historical knowledge, and possibly large personal aversion” toward Poles. And, as a gesture of goodwill, Comey has apologized.
Let’s be clear here. Comey was not accusing the nation of Poland of being complicit in the Holocaust. For all intents and purposes Poland as a nation temporarily ceased to exist during World War II.
But Poles, Hungarians, Germans, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Croats, Estonians, Dutch, Latvians — who can deny that so many of them were willing conspirators with the Nazis in the roundup of Jews and the wholesale destruction of European Jewish life?
Here is how Komorowski could have responded:
“Poland suffered terribly during World War II. We were invaded by both the Soviet Union and Germany. The Nazis intended to turn our people into a permanent underclass of slaves. If you have read William Styron’s book Sophie’s Choice, or if you have seen the movie, then you know that the Nazis kidnapped Polish children and raised them as their own. Auschwitz was a killing field for the Poles, no less than for the Jews.
The War Against Christians Must End
Last week, al-Shabab militants, aligned with al-Qaida, stormed the campus of Garissa University College in Kenya, asking students about their religion. They spared the lives of Muslims and killed the Christians. By the time the mayhem was over, almost 150 students lay dead.
A spokesmen for the terrorists boasted: “There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building. We are also holding many Christians alive.”
This is not the first time that this has happened in Kenya. In 2013, at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, 67 people were killed in cold blood. Muslims were allowed to go free.
The dead were all Christians.
In Libya in February, Islamic State militants beheaded 21 men on the beach. Their blood freely flowed into the Mediterranean Sea.
The victims were all Coptic Christians.
The Middle East contains proud remnants of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Their churches have been in flames. ISIS has demanded that the Christians convert to Islam, pay extra taxes or be killed. In Syria in February, ISIS militants abducted scores of Assyrian Christians.
Just because they are Christian.
Four Reasons Jews Worry about Christian Zionists — and Why They Don’t Have To
Is Christian Zionism good for the Jews?
Not every Jew thinks so.
In fact, Christian Zionists make many Jews crazy.
Worry No. 1: Christian Zionists believe all Jews need to be back in the land of Israel before Jesus can return.
Except it’s not true.
I once asked Ralph Reed, the prominent conservative activist and founder of the Christian Coalition, about this.
“Rabbi, I’ve been in church every Sunday of my life and I have never heard such a thing,” he said.
French Jews at a Crossroads: ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’
Let me tell you about a married couple. They have been together for many years. Their marriage has had some good moments, but there have also been periods of verbal and physical abuse. Finally, the wife tells her husband that she is considering leaving the marriage. She knows she has options. She can go to a shelter for battered wives, and even find her own place to live in safety and security.
As she starts her car in the garage, her husband runs after her. He drops to his knees and begs: “Please don’t go. I won’t be ‘me’ without you!”
Does she put her foot on the brake, shut off the engine and go back into the house? Does she stay in what has become a very troubled marriage?
That is precisely the question that many Jews in Europe have been asking themselves. More than 7,000 French Jews have moved to Israel in the last year, and there are clear signs others will follow.
This is huge. France has the third-largest Jewish community in the world.
The Long March from ‘Exodus’ to ‘Selma’
Here is one of 2014’s most enduring tips for budding filmmakers: Do not make films that are going to make developing countries angry.
First, North Korea went ballistic over “The Interview,” which contained a farcical plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un. And then, Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates decided to ban the new Ridley Scott biblical epic, “Exodus: Gods And Kings.”
Why? Egypt, in particular, is angry at the film’s historical inaccuracies. “Exodus” shows the ancient Egyptians hanging recalcitrant Hebrew slaves; hanging was never used as a punishment in ancient Egypt. Moreover, the Egyptians are upset because the film depicts the ancient Hebrews laboring on the Great Sphinx and the pyramids. They also object to the depiction of an armed Hebrew insurrection, which does not appear in the ancient biblical text.
The official statement claimed the film includes “intentional gross historical fallacies that offend Egypt and its pharaonic ancient history in yet another attempt to Judaize Egyptian civilization, which confirms the international Zionist fingerprints all over the film.”
Guess what? The Egyptians are right.
‘The Red Tent:' A Bloody Tale with a Timely Twist
In the beginning, there was “Noah.”
Coming up, there’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” an update of Cecil B. DeMille’s classic for this generation.
And that’s not all. On Dec. 7, Lifetime’s miniseries “The Red Tent” premieres.
God is smiling on Hollywood.
The adaptation of Anita Diamant’s blockbuster novel (and perennial reading group favorite) is an expansion and interpretation of the story of Dinah from the book of Genesis.
I have not seen “The Red Tent,” though I have read Diamant’s book. But its airing could not be more timely — the same week as Jewish congregations are reading the story of Dinah from the Torah.
There is something else that makes “The Red Tent” timely — tragically timely, in fact.