What Israel means to me

Tovah Feldshuh

“I love, admire, and will eternally raise money for Israel because I am well aware that she takes bullets for me. She is my life insurance.”

Judd Hirsch

“It’s not easy to understand how a nation can reclaim itself after 5,000 years of banishment, occupation, and inhumane treatment by so many peoples of the world. Perhaps it only desires the same freedoms we exacted out of a bloody revolution. Or perhaps it yearns for freedoms of a different nature: the freedom to exist and be acknowledged by others in their existence; the freedom to defend itself from once again losing everything; freedom from bigoted hate by other peoples and religions.

But somehow I have faith that this nation, this people, this idea called Israel will give back in kind to a world that grants these freedoms.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

“I visited Israel several times as a child and remember the youthfulness of the country, the vibrancy of its citizens, the clean air of the Be’er Sheva desert where my relatives resided, and the awe-inspiring holy sites at which I prayed.”

Judy Ginsburgh“It was hard to believe that I was standing in this ancient land, this land that had become a homeland for Jews everywhere, this land that had blossomed into a paradise through the hard work of so many, this land that held so much of my heritage.”

Monty Hall

“Any person who makes a trip to Israel will be overwhelmed with so many different emotions, ranging from historical and biblical references to the struggle of the Israelis to exist.”

Theodore Bikel

“One could look at the achievements and at the very fact that Israel is alive and thriving and say, ‘Dayenu; is there a need to look much further?’ But look we must, as Jews who have regard not only for our yesterdays but for our future and survival.”

Aviva Kempner

“I admire the active and talented Israeli film community, especially when their movies bravely examine Israeli society.”

Larry King

“I’ve never been a particularly observant Jew, but when I look upon Israel’s achievements, its strength and its vibrant democracy, I feel tremendous pride to be a Jew.”

Stan Lee

“Eternally vulnerable, surrounded by much larger, hostile nations whose most fervent desire is its complete and total destruction, the postage-stamp nation of Israel stands like a shining beacon of courage and progress whose light has never flickered.”

Larraine Newman

“Israel means Jews are no longer victims. War and conflict are never just or sensible. Neither is prejudice and blind hatred. Our people have been survivors for centuries because we value learning, family, and giving. I am proud of those values and proud to be a Jew, and I support the survival of Israel.”

The Rev. Pat Robertson

“We believe that the emergence of a Jewish state in the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ordained by God.

“We believe that God has a plan for this nation that He intends to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.”

These quotations are reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from “What Israel Means to Me,” edited by Alan Dershowitz. © 2006 by Alan Dershowitz.

The Sound

Jazz icon Dave Brubeck says he wanted to construct a musical bridge between Jews and blacks in composing "The Gates of Justice," a 50-minute oratorio celebrating the joint civil rights struggles of the two partners.

A new CD recording of "The Gates of Justice," will be released on Jan. 20, the day after the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The oratorio, featuring the Brubeck Trio, soloists and chorus, is based on biblical and Hebrew liturgical texts, Negro spirituals, quotations from Hillel’s writings and King’s speeches, with additional lyrics by Brubeck’s wife, Iola. It is scored for chorus, jazz trio, tenor and baritone.

Release of the record was announced by the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, which has launched an ambitious project to record the entire range of Jewish musical expression in America over the past 350 years.

During the next two years, 50 CDs with more than 600 first-time or newly recorded works of sacred and secular music will be released and distributed.

Brubeck composed "Gates of Justice" in 1969, when the bond that Jews and blacks had forged during the civil rights struggle were fraying and distrust between the two groups was rising.

To construct a bridge of brotherhood, Brubeck used "a complex of musical styles [jazz, rock, spirituals, traditional]…. Overlaying music from the Beatles, Chopin, Israeli, Mexican and Russian folksongs, Simon & Garfunkel, improvised jazz and rock, I wrote a collage of sounds for the climactic section, ‘The Lord Is Good.’"

Released on the Naxos American Classics label, the recording features the voices of bass baritone Kevin Deas, tenor Cantor Alberto Mizrahi and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and Brass Ensemble, under conductor Russell Gloyd.

The Milken Archive is also releasing the recorded works of Bruce Adolphe on Jan. 20, which includes "Ladino Songs of Love and Suffering," excerpts from the opera "Mikhoels the Wise" and "Out of the Whirlwind," an oratorio on the Holocaust.

"The Gates of Justice" and other CDs in the series are priced at between $6.99-$7.99 each and can be ordered through www.milkenarchive.org, various online retailers and record stores carrying the Naxos Classics label.

He Said, She Said, We Said

“Two Jews, Three Opinions” (Berkeley, $24.95) is the kind of book you assume has been around for centuries, if only because the concept has. But it’s new, and well worth picking up. The brainchild of Sandee Brawarsky and Deborah Mark, it is a thick and juicy compilation of 20th-century American Jewish quotations, on everything from civil rights to sex, from the mouths of Jews from Isaac Stern to Howard Stern. Not a shy or retiring lot, those 20th-century American Jews.

You will crack open this book when you have to — before giving a toast or speech or writing that pithy Op-Ed piece — but, more likely, you’ll skim the book for pleasure, for the thoughts, laughter, rage, and insight it provokes.

What makes a compendium like this important is its focus on the issues that engage contemporary Jewry, such as identity, intermarriage, the intifada — and that’s just the “I’s.” There’s also the breathtaking variety of Jewish voices: Billy Wilder, Ayn Rand, Nora Ephron, Ted Koppel, Steven Spielberg, Beverly Sills, Dennis Prager, Abbie Hoffman…what a century it’s been.

OK, our favorite quote? Out of 2,000, you might think that’s a tough call, but it’s not. When a friend asked the deadly mob boss Abner “Longy” Zwillman why he refused to go into the funeral chapel to pay his respects to his friend Hymie Kugel, Zwillman said, “I can’t Jerry, I’m a Kohen.”– By Rob Eshman, Managing Editor