A Tale of Yom Kippur in Old Jerusalem

The Nobel-Prize winning Israeli novelist S. Y. Agnon was one of the pioneers of twentieth-century Hebrew literature. He is known for the sophisticated, allusive, sometimes cryptic style with which he paints his portraits of religious life and the inner religious world of his characters. His long short story “Twofold,” from 1939, tells of one man’s experience of Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. It has been rendered into English for the first time by Jeffrey Saks.

At that hour I had not prepared myself for Yom Kippur; rather, on the afternoon before Yom Kippur, toward evening, I went to the synagogue in my neighborhood, unlike every other year when I was accustomed to pray in the city. The Holy One blessed be He fills the whole world with His glory; wherever a man prays, his prayer is desired. How much more so in the synagogue, and how much more so in Jerusalem, which is wholly sanctified for prayer? It’s true that the synagogues in town are full of pious and perfect Jews who know how to appease their Creator with prayer and prayer leaders who pray with special intention. But, I said to myself, who am I that I should seek special intents? It’s enough for a man such as myself to pray that which is written in the mahzor.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Jewish literature, Modern Hebrew literature, S. Y. Agnon, Yom Kippur

The Diplomatic Goals of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to the U.S.

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister arrived in the U.S., and he plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, but it remains uncertain whether he will meet with President Biden. Nonetheless, Amit Yagur urges Benjamin Netanyahu to use the trip for ordinary as well as public diplomacy—“assuming,” Yagur writes, “there is someone to talk to in the politically turbulent U.S.” He argues that the first priority should be discussing how to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But there are other issues to tackle as well:

From the American perspective, as long as Hamas is not the official ruler in the Gaza Strip, any solution agreed upon is good. For Israel, however, it is quite clear that if Hamas remains a legitimate power factor, even if it does not head the leadership in Gaza, sooner or later, Gaza will reach the Hizballah model in Lebanon. To clarify, this means that Hamas is the actual ruler of the Strip, and sooner or later, we will see a [return] of its military capabilities as well as its actual control over the population. . . .

The UN aid organization UNRWA . . . served as a platform for Hamas terrorist elements to establish, disguise, and use UN infrastructure for terrorism. This is beside the fact that UNRWA essentially perpetuates the conflict rather than helps resolve it. How do we remove the UN and UNRWA from the “day after” equation? Can the American aid organization USAID step into UNRWA’s shoes, and what assistance can the U.S. provide to Israel in re-freezing donor-country contributions to UNRWA?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship