Riding to the Inauguration Ball on Shabbat

Jan. 27 2017

Last Friday, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump—both observant Jews—rode in a limousine to the inaugural ball after the commencement of the Sabbath, having reportedly received permission from a rabbi on the grounds that walking to the ball would pose a substantial security risk. Their decision naturally prompted much discussion in the Jewish community. Jack Abramowitz, noting that Kushner is an adviser to the president and not a candidate for chief rabbi, weighs in:

Unsurprisingly, the degree to which this decision was accepted or condemned by the Jewish public strongly correlated with one’s personal politics. I would like to take a different approach: it’s none of our business. . . .

The Trump-Kushners did the right thing: they asked a rabbi. Even if the decision was wrong (and I don’t know that it was), the onus isn’t on them. When you ask your rabbi a question, you don’t expect it to appear in the synagogue bulletin for other congregants’ consideration. This should be no different.

We take pride when observant Jews are in positions of prominence but then we nitpick their behavior. It’s great to see that Sabbath-observant Jews can accomplish pretty much anything in today’s society—something our ancestors never would have believed—but just because someone is Sabbath-observant, that doesn’t make him a religious authority . . .

There is the obvious objection that Jews who do questionable things in public [are seen in rabbinic tradition as] desecrating God’s name. To that, I say yes and no. . . . Bernie Madoff, who bilked millions with a giant Ponzi scheme, desecrated God’s name. But when it comes to religious duties, nobody knows the intricacies of Jewish law as well as we do. If we can’t agree on Ivanka’s ride, do you really think Joe Public knows or cares? In such cases, I think the desecration happens when we [start] attacking these celebrities in public.

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Read more at Orthodox Union

More about: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Orthodoxy, Religion & Holidays, Shabbat

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism