June 4, 1998

Up Front

\”He\’s a nice Jewish boy,\” Michal Finkelstein says of her son Shimon. \”He likes to sing in shul, he\’s an A student…. He never uses his strength or skills to bully others.\”\n\nExcept on the wrestling mat.

Torah Portion

It is wonderful to volunteer more, do more, commit more. But our tradition, with love and practicality, offers this caution: Check first that your basic obligations are met.

Who is greater: a person who is obligated to perform a certain act and does, or a person who is not obligated to perform the act but does it anyway? According to modern sensibilities, the second person is a hero, whereas the first may just be a drone. According to the Talmud, however, the first person is the hero. It is often easy and fun to volunteer. Whatever you do is appreciated, and when you get bored, you can stop. It is difficult and rare, however, to fulfill one\’s own obligations constantly.

Force of Nature

Where does a parent — a Jewish mother — begin a frank consideration of her daughter\’s sexuality? As the Zen master says, you have to start from where you are, and then let it flow.

Pollsters in a Pickle

There\’s going to be a national Jewish population survey in the year 2000, and it\’s got researchers in one heck of a pickle.

Cover Story

Can one speak of a \”national character\”? Whileacknowledging that the practice has a pernicious side, Rabbi ArthurHertzberg, in his provocative, if mislabeled, new work, points outthat many books speak of national character and are readily acceptedand praised. For example, Luigi Barzini\’s book on the Italians,numerous modern works on the nature of the Russian people, or workson the character of the Greek or Roman peoples in antiquity all seemharmless exercises in interpreting the culture of another. While itis true that plumbing the \”Jewish character\” is an enterprise thathas been twisted by malevolence, particularly in the last century,that does not mean that certain traits cannot be said to distinguishthe Jewish people throughout their history.

The Arts

When thecolumnist and author Jack Newfield started work on his documentaryabout Robert F. Kennedy, his mind was rooted as much in the presentas it was in the past. Yes, a large part of the purpose of thethree-hour special, \”Robert F. Kennedy: A Memoir\” (Discovery Channel,Sunday, June 7, 8 p.m.), was to commemorate and honor the latesenator on the 30th anniversary of his assassination.

Singing the Composer’s Praises

\”Air Force One.\” \”Basic Instinct.\” \”Poltergeist.\” \”Planet of the Apes.\”\nJust a sampling of the more than 175 motion pictures bearing the distinctive imprimatur of master film composer Jerry Goldsmith, (left) who was recently honored by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. The Regent Beverly Wilshire reception was part of the Chamber\’s 75th-anniversary Diamond Jubilee.


Imagine that it is 1940, and Great Britain is fighting Hitler\’s Nazi Germany almost alone. Imagine, further, that an American who loves both America and England and hates the Nazis works in American intelligence and has access to secret files concerning Germany that, for whatever reason, the United States has not shared with Great Britain. This American gives the secrets to England and is caught.

Grandkids Inc.

Until children reach a certain age, parents seethem simply as beloved offspring. Flesh of their flesh. Withbittersweet nostalgia, they remember all, from the Gerber days tograduation day.

But then it happens: the transformation.

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More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.