The Most Interesting Jews of 5782 That Most of the Jewish World Has Never Heard Of

Sept. 13 2021

With the Jewish year coming to a close last week, many Jewish publications produced lists of the world’s most influential, or most important, Jews. Others do the same at the end of the Gregorian year. Too many of these lists, writes David M. Weinberg, focus on Jewish celebrities, athletes, entrepreneurs, and TikTok influencers, or those like America’s second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, whose sole claim to fame is his marriage to the current vice-president. Weinberg offers an alternative list of what he calls the “most interesting Jews” of 5782, among them:

Aliza Bloch: The new mayor of [the rapidly growing Jerusalem suburb of] Bet Shemesh is an experienced educator who took on a poor, badly managed, and divided city, which she is somehow turning around. Even the hard-bitten and warring ḥaredi factions in the city have learned to appreciate her leadership. They too will benefit if Bloch can bring more high-tech businesses to the city.

Sivan Rahav Meir: A rising star in both quality television journalism and Torah education. Her portraits of Israeli leaders and intellectuals always are smart and sensitive, and her learned Bible lectures are followed online by tens of thousands of people.

Yoav Sorek: The erudite editor of the important Hebrew-language journal Hashiloach, which in just five years has become the largest (and most provocative) paid-circulation intellectual platform in Israel. Sorek’s personal writing is sensitive and penetrating, and has become even more so since the terrorist murder of his son, Dvir, just over one year ago.

Rabbi Asher Weiss: Probably the only ultra-Orthodox scholar and halakhic decision-maker who is truly respected in the Lithuanian [i.e., non-ḥasidic ḥaredi], ḥasidic, and religious Zionist worlds simultaneously, in Israel and around the Jewish world. He also is unique in understanding the need for meaningful structural transformations in the ḥaredi world.

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Read more at David M. Weinberg

More about: Haredim, Israeli society, Judaism in Israel, Yoav Sorek

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror