June 23, 2005

TV Probes Kaballah

Is the celebrity-studded Kabbalah Centre bringing the benefits of age-old Jewish mysticism and learning to the masses, or is it a multimillion-dollar family enterprise scamming the gullible?\n\nThat basic question, raised with growing frequency and ever-larger headlines in recent years, was given a surprisingly well-balanced national airing last week on the ABC-TV newsmagazine, \”20/20.\”

Israel Has Wish List for U.N.’s 60th

As the United Nations prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding in San Francisco, the occasion is bittersweet for Jewish observers.

It was the United Nations that sanctioned the State of Israel\’s birth in 1948, but it gave the Jewish state the status of an ugly stepchild — constantly singling out Israel for condemnation and excluding Israel, alone among U.N. member states, from full membership in the regional groupings that apportion key positions at the world body.

That said, Israel recently has made strides at the United Nations.

Conservative Jews Face Turning Point

It has become axiomatic in certain circles to say that the Conservative movement is at a crossroads as it considers its future.

Could Home Dream Become Nightmare?

The American dream is owning your own home, and for more than half a century the government has encouraged home ownership through low-interest loans and tax breaks. Today, about two-thirds of American households own their homes. Or I should say, partly own them. Banks and other mortgage lenders own the other part. And here\’s the potential problem.

You see, homes are about the only assets whose value has increased during these bleak economic times. That\’s at least partly due to the fact that interest rates are at rock-bottom lows, meaning that a lot of people can now afford a mortgage to buy a home, thereby boosting the housing market.


Letters to the Editor

Dorothy Who?

The Broadway blockbuster by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, which tells the story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped in, has been selling out in ticket presales on its national tour. So you might have better luck finding a pair of ruby slippers than a seat at the Pantages, where it flies in from now through July 31, starring Stephanie J. Block, Kendra Kassebaum and Carol Kane.

But this tale, with its Grammy Award-winning music, based on the book by Gregory Maguire, isn\’t your grandmother\’s \”Wizard of Oz.\” (Judy Garland never used words like \”swankified\” or \”disgusticified.\”) This show is all about Elphaba (a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (a.k.a. the Good Witch of the North) — who used to be best friends.

But who was really \”wicked\” and who was really \”good?\”

Israel, Palestinians Coordinate Withdrawal

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon conceived the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank as a unilateral step, but it\’s increasingly being coordinated by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

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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.