Does Religion Need Glitz?

Noting a trend toward competitive advertising for High Holiday services, Marc Angel rues what it implies:

Recent issues of New York’s Jewish Week newspaper, as well as other publications, have included advertisements by area synagogues that promise “inspiring” services and sermons, talented cantors, special programs for children, etc. Several hotels have placed ads attempting to lure customers to spend the holy days in their “luxurious and chic” facilities, where guests will enjoy services led by fine cantors, rabbis, and scholars in residence.

[While I was] perusing the various ads, it struck me that virtually all of them are appealing to readers’ desire to be entertained. The ads seem to be saying: come to our synagogue or hotel and you’ll have a great time, good music, good speakers, [and] lots of inspiration. You should come to us (rather than to others) because we can entertain you better, or cheaper, or for free.

I suppose it should not be surprising to find synagogues marketing themselves as entertainment centers, even if they also include “inspiration” and “meaningful” services as part of their draw. . . . Yet, in reading the pre-Rosh Hashanah ads, my heart sinks. . . .

Traditionally, the month of Elul [the final month of the Jewish calendar] is a period of self-evaluation in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Special prayers are chanted; the shofar is sounded. The season is not here to entertain us, but to challenge us. It is not meant to be a time of spiritual passivity, but a time to encourage us to raise our spiritual levels by dint of our own efforts.

Read more at Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

More about: American Jewry, High Holidays, Religion & Holidays, Synagogue

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security