2023 has been a year where atonement seems as unachievable as it is necessary. As Yom Kippur rolls around again, there’s a sense of weariness in the air. 

Will the opposing sides in Israel’s burgeoning civil war ever be able to bridge their gaps? 

How will we know if a proposed compromise is legitimate and not just a trick to buy influence and time?

Is this the end of the state of Israel – and by extension, the Jewish people – as we know it? Can we survive a constitutional crisis?

There are so many sins of the current government (and some for the opposition, too) that it’s hard to know where to start. But here goes. I’ll use the Yom Kippur vidui (confession) liturgy as a jumping off point. 

This is not the complete list but highlights that evoke the most anger and frustration.

  1. אָשַֽׁמְנוּ. ah-sham-noo – we have trespassed. This is the starting point for our journey towards atonement. We have not listened to each other; we have not been willing to engage in serious compromise.
  2. בָּגַֽדְנוּ. bah-gahd-noo – we have betrayed. For the coalition, acting as if a thin majority gives you carte blanche to turn your back on the anguish permeating the people of this country is not democracy but a tyrannical betrayal of the founding principles and institutions of the state.
  3. גָּזַֽלְנוּ. gah-zahl-noo – we have stolen. This government is attempting to steal our children’s dreams – of living in a democratic state, of modeling decent and moral behavior where ministers don’t routinely run red lights or run over security guards. 
  4. דִּבַּֽרְנוּ דֹּֽפִי. di-bar-nu dofi – we have slandered. Populist ministers have slandered the IDF, calling concerned soldiers traitors, fascists, leftists and worse. Yair Netanyahu has turned X into his personal insult machine.
  5. הֶעֱוִֽינוּ. heh-eh-vee-noo – we have caused others to sin. The fury on the streets is so pronounced that some protesters have had run-ins with the police, who have responded, sometimes brutally
  6. זַֽדְנוּ. zahd-noo – we have sinned with malicious intent. Yariv Levin and Simcha Rothman, architects of the judicial coup, know full-well what they’re doing. Levin even said as much in April – that his judicial appointments bill, had it had been accepted as originally written, would not be compatible with democracy.
  7. חָמַֽסְנוּ. chah-mahss-noo – we have forcibly taken others’ possessions. Here I point my frustrated finger at Israel’s ultra-Orthodox politicians who cynically demand the tax dollars of citizens who work, to pay for those who do not.
  8. טָפַֽלְנוּ שֶֽׁקֶר. tah-fahl-noo sheh-kehr – we have added falsehood upon falsehood. Constantly crying “fake news” whenever you don’t like what the media is reporting is not just a sin, it’s become a lifestyle. 
  9. יָעַֽצְנוּ רָע. ya’atznoo rah – we have given harmful advice. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outright lied to credit rating agency Moody’s when he said no changes to the judiciary would be passed without consensus. U.S. President Joe Biden experienced similar misleading statements. Does anyone believe what this government says anymore?
  10. כִּזַּֽבְנוּ.. kee-zahv-noo– we have deceived. In 2020, Netanyahu promised Benny Gantz that the latter would become prime minister in a rotation deal. It was pure deception from the get-go.
  11. פָּשַֽׁעְנוּ. pah-shah-noo – we have been negligent in our performance of the commandments.Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s defiant refusal to convene the judicial appointments committee, when there are hundreds of empty positions in courts across the country, is practically the definition of negligence in the commandment of doing one’s job. 
  12. צָרַֽרְנוּ. tzah-rahr-noo – we have caused our friends grief. Former friends on both sides of the divide no longer speak with each other. Our loved ones overseas are despondent and not sure what to do with us.
  13. קִשִּֽׁינוּ עֹֽרֶף. kee-shee-noo oh-rehff – we have been stiff-necked, refusing to admit that our suffering is caused by our own sins. Why do we always look to blame others and never take responsibility? The tragic deaths in Meron are one example. Politicians who routinely evade paying their taxes are another. So-called “leaders” who would rather help sex offenders avoid trial or get to Ukraine than concern themselves with the national good are a third.
  14. שִׁחַֽתְנוּ. shee-chaht-noo – we have committed sins which are the result of moral corruption. Racism, homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia all abound in the current coalition.
  15. תָּעִֽינוּ. tah-ee-noo – we have gone astray. If a violent civil war leads to the end of this country, would there be any question that we have gone astray?

Fortunately, there is an alternative, positive vidui, composed by Open Orthodoxy movement founder Rabbi Avi Weiss. Here are seven excerpts that help to counter the ravages of the first list.

  1. אָהַבְנוּ. ah-hav-noo – we have loved and בֵּרַכְנו. be-rach-noo – we have blessed. Is there any better encapsulation of how a government should act towards its people?
  2. גָּדַלְנוּ. ge-dal-noo – we have grown – and לָמַדְנוּ. le-mad-noo – we have learned. Even corrupt governments can change. If there’s no learning, there’s no growth.
  3. דִּבַּרְנוּ יֹפִי. di-bar-nu yofi – we have spoken positively. This is the antidote to slander and insults. 
  4. וְחַסְנוּ. v’chas-noo – we have shown compassion; חָמַלְנוּ. cha-mal-noo – we have been empathetic; and נִחַמְנוּ. ni-cham-noo – we have comforted. So, you want to change the system of government? We may not agree on the best direction, but if you showed a little more compassion and empathy, could that lower the flames?
  5. יָעַצְנוּ טוֹב. ya’atz-noo-tov – we have given good advice. That’s the job of legal advisors, the attorney general, the Supreme Court. We need to strengthen not eviscerate these systems.
  6. טִפַּחְנוּ אֱמֶת. tah-fahl-noo emet – we have cultivated truth. Enough with the fake news! Where’s our local version of Walter Cronkite? 
  7. תִּקַּנּוּ. ti-ka-noo – we have repaired. What do we need to do to fix this broken society? That’s what Yom Kippur is all about. I only hope our political leaders heed the right vidui.

I first shared my thoughts on Yom Kippur 2023 at The Jerusalem Post.

Shofar image by Megs Harrison on Unsplash


My “boom-boom” summer

by Brian on September 10, 2023

in Cancer,Health,Science

“Are you ready to ‘boom-boom?’” the radiation-oncologist asked me. 

Radiation unit at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem

This is not where I expected to be this summer.

My non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma has been growing slowly but steadily over the past four years since I relapsed following chemo and immunotherapy.

I had hoped the cancer would continue at a snail’s pace and this period of “watch and wait” would last for long enough that researchers could come up with a cure – or at least an attractive alternative with minimal side effects. 

“Watch and wait” describes the limbo that sufferers of a chronic cancer like mine must navigate. You only treat when the tumors get large enough or you notice unpleasant “B” symptoms. Otherwise, you monitor with regular scans and checkups.

It was that unexplained edema that developed in my left leg while my wife, Jody, and I were on vacation in the Amazon that tipped me off that something had changed. (See From Bother to Benefit, May 5, 2023.)

I met with my hematologist upon returning to Israel. She saw that my lower extremities were still swollen and swiftly ordered a PET CT.

When the results came back, the reason for the swelling was finally clear: It was my cancer.

My main tumor, which is located in the pelvis region, had grown – not a lot, mind you, but just enough to press on a blood vessel that controls the flow of fluid on my left side. If drainage from a part of the body is blocked, fluid can back up.

This was a serious development, my hematologist intoned, eschewing her usual reassuring banter. If left untreated, I could develop a fatal blood clot.

She prescribed anticoagulants to lessen the chance of a thrombosis.

Unfortunately, the anticoagulant medicine was not a pill, but a shot. Yes, I had to inject myself every morning. Ouch.

Rather than recommend more IVs, pills or immunotherapy, my hematologist had an idea: Maybe we could knock out the offending growth with radiation.

That’s how I wound up sitting across from the radiation-oncologist – who, in that weird way that everything overlaps in Israel, is also my downstairs neighbor.

The radiation-oncologist looked at my scans. Radiation could indeed work, he said. The usual course is 12 to 14 treatments, but follicular lymphoma was particularly responsive to just two quick sessions.

“After five years, if you do a dozen treatments, you’ll have a 90% control rate,” my neighbor/doctor explained. 

“Control,” in this case, means the tumor hasn’t come back or isn’t growing.

“But if you do just two treatments, you’ll have a 70% control rate. That’s an excellent response with much less radiation. You probably won’t even have any side effects. It’s called the ‘boom-boom’ protocol.”

“’Boom-boom’ sounds good to me!” I replied enthusiastically.

The next step was to get a tatoo.

Now, I’ve never had a desire to get inked. But as I lay on the bed after being scanned in a CT machine for the pre-radiation “simulation,” I felt a brief but sharp pain on my left side, then another on my right. 

“This is so we know where to direct the radiation beam,” the technician said.

“It will come off when I shower, right?” I asked, alarmed at this unbidden affectation of my body.

“No, it’s a permanent tattoo,” she said. “But you’ll barely notice it.

Who knew cancer would finally give me hipster cred?

A week after the simulation, I arrived for the real deal. 

The waiting room in the radiation-oncology department at Hadassah Medical Center was renovated a year ago. It now has calming pastel-colored chairs and couches, with paintings of pleasant landscapes on the ceiling. The lighting in the treatment rooms is bright and they’ll even let you play your own music while being radiated.

I lay down on the bed attached to the radiation/CT unit, which rolled me into the belly of its beast. There was a slight buzzing sound, almost like an epilator – or was that another tattoo needle? The machine repositioned me a couple of times. There was more buzzing. And then, ten minutes after we started, it was over. 

I didn’t feel any pain while it was going on. Afterward, though, I was hit by an intense wave of nausea. My brain was foggy, and I was loopy and tired for most of the day. 

So much for “no side effects!”

On my second day of “boom-boom,” I popped in my AirPods. Steven Wilson’s “Hand Cannot Erase” was my album choice. 

I got through all of two songs before I was done. 

Six weeks later, I did another PET CT. The results were encouraging but not conclusive. The “boom-boom” gave me a partial response, meaning the tumor shrank, but it was still there. It could continue shrinking. Or I might require more radiation. 

“We’ll be smarter after we do the next PET CT in the fall,” my hematologist told me.

I had almost not mentioned the edema to my hematologist during that checkup. I simply didn’t connect the two: What would my leg have to do with my cancer? But when I showed my doctor my then-slightly-but-still-swollen foot, she suspected the two could be related.

That’s an important lesson. I sometimes worry I should hold back more when meeting with my doctors; that I should just stick to the basics, the most immediate concerns, rather than review a laundry list of aches and pains.

In this case, though, sharing that information could very well have saved my life. To paraphrase Tony Soprano from The Sopranos (and Sonny Corleone in The Godfather before that), “Bada boom, bada bing” – that’s some good “boom-boom,” indeed.

I first wrote about my :boom-boom” summer for The Jerusalem Post.


The end of illusions

by Brian on August 27, 2023

in Judicial coup

Dr. Micah Goodman, the Israeli philosopher and founder of the Ein Prat pre-army preparatory program (mechina), has a surprisingly optimistic assessment of the future of Israel, even in the midst of the breakdown of unity that the judicial coup has fostered since it landed on our radar earlier this year.

Dr. Micah Goodman

Goodman was speaking to Amanda Borschel-Dan, whose What Matters Now? podcast is fast becoming one of my go-to favorites.

Goodman is opposed to the judicial overhaul. He’s under no illusions that, as long as this coalition remains in power, the coming years will likely be an ongoing hellscape of unilateral attempts at grabbing power and abusing minority rights, countered by continued civil insurrection.

But, Goodman says, when this coalition is out of power – and that day will come, if not tomorrow, then when elections are called again – the Israel that emerges will be profoundly changed.

Just not for the reasons we’re so afraid of.

Rather, the processes that have fueled our outrage will lead to a new age of realism. 

The era of illusions is coming to an end.

The Right, Goodman explains, is about to go through a very similar experience that led to the collapse of the Left following the deadly years of the Second Intifada.

“This very extreme government, was, for many years, a fantasy among circles of the right,” Goodman tells Borschel-Dan. “This fantasy has a name in Hebrew, memshelet yamin al-male. Basically, a pure right-wing government. And this fantasy was very helpful for the Right because it was a great answer to a question, ‘You’re in government for 40 years – why isn’t Israel the paradise you promised us it’s going to be? Why is there still a lack of security, traffic jams, security issues, economic issues?’”

The Right’s answer, Goodman posits: “’Well, we were never really in power. We always had a centrist or a liberal there to neutralize our power, to block us, to stop us from doing what we think we should do. [But] one day we’ll get what we want. We’ll have a massive majority. We won’t have to join with any centrist in the coalition. We’ll have a pure right-wing government, and then you’ll see what Israel will look like.’”

Well, we finally have that long-sought-after fully right-wing government. 

How has it gone?

Most Israelis would agree – including many on the Right – that it’s been a complete and total disaster.

The way changes to the judiciary have been pushed through without compromise or conversation; the hateful statements emanating from coalition leaders’ mouths on a daily basis; the branding of Israel’s most patriotic citizens as traitors, refuseniks and anarchists; the growing police brutality; the economic and diplomatic devastation – all of these, Goodman says, show what a “fully right-wing” government is really like.

And we don’t want it anymore. 

Fifty-four percent of Israelis say they oppose the recently-passed law canceling the court’s ability to apply a reasonableness standard. That may seem like a slim majority, but it’s twenty points higher than those who support it. 

Going forward, just 16% of Israelis want the government to “legislate without an agreement.” 

The mask has been ripped off and the fantasy has been shown to be untenable. This, Goodman says, is not unlike the 1990s when a similar fantasy – that of the Left – had us believing we’d soon be driving to Damascus for hummus.

“The best way to destroy a fantasy is to implement it,” Goodman says. “And now we’re living the fantasy, we’re living the dream. And many people…including on the Right, including religious Zionists, including Likud voters…[for them] this does not look to them like a utopia. This looks to them like a dystopia.”

And what happens “the day after this government is over,” Goodman asks? “The idea of a pure extreme right-wing government will not be a fantasy. It will be a bad memory.”

Wouldn’t it be better to get to that point without having to create a “balance of trauma” in the meantime? Of course. But the Left has long been eviscerated. For healing to occur, the fantasies of the extreme Right must share the same fate. Only out of such mutual disillusionment can a true center arise. 

“Many people on the Right will not want to replicate this experiment,” Goodman asserts.

The current coalition can still cause a lot of damage along the way. But I want to believe Goodman is on to something. It’s a glimmer of hope we desperately need now.

Goodman isn’t dismissing the idealism of either the Left or the Right. But “when you fall in love with an idea, you become blind to reality. You love the ideology. You really want it to become a reality. So, you don’t listen to reality itself.”

Does this mean the Right will soon disappear like the Left in this country? Not quite, Goodman says. What will be off the table in the future, though, is “a coalition with the extreme Right.” (Ditto for the extreme Left, not that it has any power these days.)

The goal is to somehow tap into what the Israeli public agrees on, not what they’re fighting over. 

“We needed judicial reform,” writes Daniel Gordis on his Substack page. “Almost everyone knows that.” (Polls have shown that some 60% to 70% of Israelis are in favor of some sort of change to the judiciary.) “But we needed unity more than that. We could have had both.”

“Sustaining mass mobilization, particularly in the face of intensifying repression,” writes Maria J. Stephan, who co-authored the book Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, “requires investment in organizing infrastructure, training, and a commitment to nonviolent discipline.” 

Getting there won’t be easy. But for the first time in weeks, months really, I feel just the teensiest bit better about the future of Israel.

I first tried to give an optimistic spin to what’s happening in Israel at The Jerusalem Post.



by Brian on August 13, 2023

in In the News,Judicial coup,Politics

For 31 weeks straight, protesters demonstrating against the Israeli coalition’s right-wing coup have been chanting “busha!” Hebrew for “embarrassment.” For most of this time, we yelled “busha” at the government. 

Embarrassed puppy

But now that the first of the judicial coup laws has been passed, it’s no longer an epithet being hurled in the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, MK Simcha Rothman and their misguided cronies. 

Now it’s me that’s embarrassed – for my country. 

How can I defend Israel to those who call it racist, homophobic and xenophobic, if that’s in fact what we are becoming? 

“Don’t be embarrassed for the country,” my wife, Jody, tried to console me. “This has been an unprecedented moment of patriotism for those of us fighting to keep Israel democratic. Be embarrassed for this particular government.”

Wise words I would normally heed. But these are not normal times.

As I write this, still in shock after the gang of brutish thugs, otherwise known as the coalition, has hijacked my country, embarrassment is indeed the operative term.

My “busha” stems from a deeply disturbing insight: We Jews seem to be prone to corruption whenever we get a taste of power. (Yes, I know this is not exclusive to the Jewish people, but that’s what I’m writing about here.)

Israel had two periods of sovereignty prior to the establishment of the current state. Neither lasted more than 75 years. 

We are now at 75 years again, and we seem to have learned nothing. Baseless hatred, which the rabbis decry as the reason for the Second Temple’s devastation, is the name of the game again. 

Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, puts it this way: 

“I always took for granted that the greatest threat to the well-being of the Jewish people is ‘sinat hinam,’needless hatred. The last months have forced me to revise that understanding: The greatest threat we face is zealotry. Ancient Judea fell not primarily because of hatred among Jews but because fanatics provoked a hopeless war against Rome and then proceeded to burn the granaries within besieged Jerusalem” in a bid to force locals to join the fight.

I write these sentences fully aware that they will be construed by some readers as antisemitic. That I’m giving ammunition to BDS supporters. That by describing an Israel with all its warts, I’m harming ties with our allies abroad.

But how else to explain what is happening in this country? 

Every politician in the coalition who voted for “reasonableness” bill is guilty of a shocking abuse of power. Some simply wanted to hold onto their jobs. Others clamored for a “salami” approach that will allow them to push their agenda once the current furor dies down.

Their goals are rapaciously transparent: Annex the West Bank. Pack the courts with judges who turn a blind eye to discrimination. Shut down media critical of the government. Make draft dodging state policy. 

The fallout from the passage of first coup law was excruciating and quick.

The credit agencies are downgrading us.

Citibank warned investors not to put money into Israeli companies until things “calm down.”

Seventy percent of high-tech firms have already moved some of their money, staff and intellectual property overseas. 

Twenty-eight percent of the respondents told pollsters they are thinking of leaving. Israeli Relocation company Ocean Group says 90% of the queries it receives these days are about how to flee.

That’s on top of the tens of thousands of soldiers, pilots and reservists who are poised to suspend their volunteer IDF service.

Haaretz columnist B. Michael wrote a piece entitled, “In praise of gratuitous hatred for this Israeli government.”

Hatred, Michael opines, “provides immunity to apathy; it thrills, liberates, exhilarates, satisfies. It relieves fatigue and despair. It is the weapon of the weak against the strong, the revenge of the trampled against the tramplers.”

I find myself filled with emotion too – not outright hatred but anger. It’s an awful feeling. I don’t want it! 

But maybe it’s better than “busha,” since, as Michael implies, anger can be channeled into constructive action. The key is ensuring that any such action does not become violent, something at which the protest movement has thus far excelled.

“Don’t give up! Today it is absolutely clear that the current government has lost all legitimacy to rule,” exhorted singer Noa (Achinoam Nini) in the days after the vote. “The healing of Israeli society can only begin with the forming of a new government – stalwart and responsible – no matter what side of the map it’s on.”

Eetta Prince Gibson, former editor of The Jerusalem Report, writes in the Forward that the crisis Israel is facing has “clarified my reasons for and reinforced my commitment to being here. I came to Israel because I believe that the establishment of Israel is the most important experience in modern Jewish history, and I want to be a part of it… I am here to help Israel become Jewish and democratic, even if I still don’t know if those two ethics can ever coexist…I have the opportunity, and the obligation, to at least try to affect Israel’s future.”

The road ahead will be long and strewn with potholes (as well as police water cannons spewing skunk spray). With the Knesset on recess, the summer may be calmer but, unless there’s some dramatic peace initiative over the coming months, autumn will be just as inflammatory.

While it’s impossible to predict the future with any kind of certainty, I do believe the protestors supporting a free and open, non-theocratic Israel will prevail. Maybe the High Court will overturn the reasonableness law when it meets in September. Maybe elections are closer than we think.

But just as democracy and Judaism must go together, so do pride and embarrassment. Only by holding those two clashing emotions at the same time can we see what we’ve become – and put a stop to what we’re becoming. 

To do anything otherwise would be a real “busha.”

I first wrote about my “busha” for The Jerusalem Post.

Image of embarrassed puppy by Design Wala on Unsplash


Demography is not destiny

by Brian on July 30, 2023

in In the News,Judicial coup

Eitan has given up on Israel. 

“There’s no future here, no hope,” Eitan, a family friend and student in Jerusalem, states, matter-of-factly.

It’s not the judicial coup that the Knesset voted in this week, nor the 29 straight weeks of increasingly strident protests against the unilateral moves just enacted by Israel’s extreme right-wing religious coalition. 

Rather, it’s the other elephant in the room, the inexorable growth of the religious population that threatens to turn this country into an economically and militarily failed state in the next 30 to 40 years.

No one has sounded the alarm as emphatically as Dan Ben-David, the head of the Shoresh Institute for Socioeconomic Research.

Ben-David has been warning for years how the government’s financial policies towards the ultra-Orthodox, if not modified or reversed, will result in a situation where half the country’s children under the age of 14 will be haredi by 2065.

If those soon-to-be adults don’t enter the workforce but stay in yeshiva, there won’t be enough tax revenue to cover all of Israel’s needs. Nor will there be sufficient young people to serve in the army to protect the nation from its enemies. 

“The haredi population in Israel has roughly doubled from one generation to the next,” Ben-David writes, based on figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. “When an increasing number of Israelis receive a third-world education as children, they will be able to maintain only a third-world economy as adults.”

If these issues are not “addressed comprehensively nationwide — and very soon,” he concludes, “then an Israel unable to defend itself will not become a third-world nation. It simply will not be.”

Eitan is already packing his bags. His plan: to use his European passport to emigrate from the inevitable implosion.

It’s always upsetting when it feels like someone is dissing the decisions we made years ago to move our family to the Holy Land.

But mostly, Eitan is wrong. 

Or, at least, he’s not right yet.

Eitan believes that Israel’s current demography will ultimately shape its destiny. It won’t, Prof. Yedidya Stern explained to Amanda Borschel-Dan on her podcast about Israeli politics, What Matters Now. 

Stern heads the Jewish People Policy Institute. He notes that any analysis of future population growth is, by definition, “speculative. The reality is that all anticipation about the future demography of Israel was proven to be mistaken in the past!”

He shared two examples.

Israel’s first national statistician told Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion that the country will never have more than a million Jews. 

We’re at seven times that.

For many years, there was concern about the demographic “threat” posed by the Israeli Arab sector. Since Arab families were having more children than their Jewish counterparts, over time, the thinking went, Israel will lose its Jewish majority.

Instead, the average size of an Arab Israeli family is now similar to that of a Jewish one. As a result, the percentage of Arabs living in Israel proper has not gone past the original balance of around 20% of Israel’s total population.

That brings us to the haredim. Can we confidently predict the end of Israel as we know it based on ultra-Orthodox birth rates, as Eitan believes? 

Stern says we cannot.

“My anticipation is that this is going to change dramatically in the next two decades,” he told Borschel-Dan. “You see the beginning of the change right now. The age of marriage for ultra-Orthodox couples is going up and up. More people are going to work.” For ultra-Orthodox women, it’s already close to 80%. “People who go to work tend to have fewer kids.”

Haredi women out in the work world are also bringing home new ways of looking at things.

Nor are their husbands uniformly interested in staying on the dole while holing up in kollel to avoid military service. 

At a certain point, Stern says, haredi families are going to act. 

Enough already! some will say. We’re fed up with living in poverty just so United Torah Judaism and Shas can stay in power. We want a higher quality of life. We’re ready to integrate into the workforce.

Maybe that will come only when things get dire, at which point it might be too late. The haredi world needs to start educating its youth now in the core studies curriculum of English, math and science if those young people are going to have any chance of finding high-paying work in the future. 

That almost happened before the last elections, when the Belz Hassidim agreed to begin teaching those core subjects. But Benjamin Netanyahu, in his unwavering attempt to ensure his return to power, promised the Admor of Belz that his incoming government would double the sect’s school funding with no requirement to prepare students for a life outside the cloistered walls of the yeshiva. 

The Admor readily complied.

Yet, the story is far from over. 

Time doesn’t move linearly but rather in spirals. Whoever is in power today will find backlash at the next election, with the pendulum swinging aggressively in the other direction. 

That’s why I think Eitan is throwing in the towel too soon. 

Despite the anxiety Israel’s current judicial battles provoke, this is one of the most inspiring moments in our short history as a sovereign state. The secular and center-left public has woken up and is saying, in the hundreds of thousands: “We won’t let you get away with your coup. We won’t let you transform our beloved democracy into a theocracy.”

The coalition anticipated apathy. The unprecedented protests upended that assumption. 

The same could be true with demographics.

Haredi leaders would be smart to make changes now that benefit their constituents and the country as a whole, that enable young ultra-Orthodox to live a decent life and put food on the table. 

But such smarts require a proper education. That’s something that still seems far away from our benighted brethren.

I first wrote about demographics and destiny for The Jerusalem Post.

Illustrative image by Maayan Nemanov on Unsplash


Was Maimonides high or just perplexed?

July 16, 2023

Was Moses Ben Maimon, the famous Middle Eastern doctor/rabbi known as the Rambam (RMBM), high when he wrote The Guide to the Perplexed? Judging by how he interpreted some of the most provocative stories in the Torah, that would certainly seem a possibility. How else to explain the RMBM’s branding of Abraham’s binding of Isaac as, essentially, […]

Read the full article →

Apple’s new Vision Pro: The dawn of screen-less computing

July 2, 2023

Apple is positioning its new Vision Pro more as a productivity device than a new piece of hardware on which to play games.

Read the full article →

22 mantras you can use today

June 16, 2023

I’m a big fan of mantras. They can help turn around a sour mood or smooth a confusing interaction. Here are 22 positive affirmations you can use.

Read the full article →

Tipping has gotten weird

June 4, 2023

Tipping in the 21st century has gotten weird. I grew up with a simple formula: Did a service provider improve your experience? Then leave a tip.

Read the full article →

The demise of Better Place – is it in a “better place” 10 years later?

May 21, 2023

On May 26, 2013, a decade ago next week, Israeli electric car startup Better Place went to a better place, figuratively if not literally.

Read the full article →