Reading Jonah with Israel’s Leading Female Religious Educator

While few in America may have heard of her, the religious educator Yemima Mizrachi has a large and diverse following in Israel, with thousands (in pre-coronavirus times) attending or watching online her weekly sermons and reading her newsletters. Thanks to the recently published translation of her writings about Yom Kippur, titled Yearning to Return, some of her output is now available to an English-speaking audience. In her review, Sarah Rindner delves into Mizrachi’s analysis of the book of Jonah, which is read in its entirety during the holiday’s afternoon service.

Several chapters of Yearning to Return analyze the prophet Jonah and his reluctance to speak to the people of Nineveh. For Mizrachi, Jonah is an elitist intellectual whose response to finding himself in the belly of a whale is to construct an exquisite prayer-poem. The people of Nineveh are deeply flawed, yet their simplicity and human vulnerability redeem them.

Although Mizrachi herself has a more sophisticated intellectual background than might meet the eye (in addition to her Jewish learning, her father, a Rothschild scion, taught her Latin, French, and Arabic as a child, and she is a Hebrew University-trained attorney), she is on the side of the people. As she writes, “God tells Jonah that even beasts and even people who do not know their right hand from their left are great in His eyes,” which is one reason the story is read on Yom Kippur.

Yearning to Return is ultimately a tribute to ordinary Jews whose religious commitments may or may not be motivated by the loftiest religious principles, but who nevertheless seek God during the High Holy Days.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Jonah, Judaism in Israel, Rothschilds, Yom Kippur

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin