Publicizing the Miracle of Hanukkah in a Berlin “No-Go Zone”

Yesterday German police arrested three men affiliated with Hamas who were planning an attack on Jewish targets. The news makes especially poignant this reflection by Rebecca Blady and Jeremy Borovitz, two Berlin rabbis who in 2021 moved to Neuköln, generally considered “a ‘no-go zone’ for the city’s tens of thousands of Jews.” Since October 7, they have been even more cautious than usual about public activity, yet have not lost sight of their goal “to make Jewish pride, Jewish confidence, and Jewish visibility a matter of course in Europe.”

Perhaps it was the fear that enabled us to return to our purpose. Although the initial warning to hide invoked memories from the city in its darkest days, we came to see that what we were facing was very different. Ultimately, we realized that although we could no longer be naive, we refused to be afraid of who we are.

While Shmini Atseret feels both like yesterday and a year ago, Hanukkah is now here and one cannot truly fulfill the mitzvah of Hanukkah in hiding. According to the rabbis, an important purpose of the Hanukkah lights is pirsumei Nisa, publicizing the miracle. So this year, on the fifth night of Hanukkah, we’ll still light our massive hanukkiah at the city hall of Neukölln, above the neighborhood’s main square. Despite it all, the Jews are still here, lighting Shabbat candles in Kfar Aza, putting on t’filin in the center of college campuses, and lighting Hanukkah candles in Neukölln.

Do we feel safe? Not as safe as we did on October 6th. But we aren’t going back into hiding.

For a very different perspective, I also recommend this 2019 article on Jewish prospects in Germany.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, German Jewry, Hanukkah

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship