This has been a very strange Purim for me here on the Upper West Side. It began with a strategic logistical decision to go to The Actors Temple to hear Megillat Esther and to enjoy their Purim spiel. I remembered we had gone to an off-Broadway show there a few years ago. I visited their website and it looked promising, with the Purim spiel being based on “Kiss Me Kate” which we had recently seen. And while I love my spiritual home on the Upper West Side, Ansche Chesed, without any children by my side I feared I would be lonely for my children back in Beachwood. So, I found myself in this historic venue on 47th Street, twirling a red and white metal gregger to a very truncated reading of the Scroll of Esther. And as I expected, the spiel had a borscht belt quality and actually some moments worthy of the venue. As I do value experiencing different forms of Jewish expression, I walked away with a bit of Purim cheer in my heart, appreciating how different communities form all around this huge metropolis of NYC.
This morning, as I nibbled a most delicious apricot hamentaschen, I read the front page New York Times article about Michael Steinhardt. Having read the story in The Jewish Week, I was familiar with the contours of the story. How ironic on Purim, a holiday that celebrates the power of the ultimate Jewish heroine, Queen Esther, there is a modern tale of male power being used to degrade female professionals in the Jewish world. While I never had an encounter with Mr. Steinhardt, I absolutely had uncomfortable interactions with older men in the Jewish philanthropic world. In this era of #MeToo, it was just a matter of time until Michael Steinhardt was going to be publicly shamed for his inappropriate behavior. It was a comfort to read that my teacher and mentor, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, left Steinhardt’s circle because of his moral character. That is what leadership does.
And now, Bibi and Donald are playing blatant Israeli politics with the Golden Heights. While I know I should be reading what others are saying and listening to the analysts, my initial gut reaction is disgust. The obvious political gift that Trump is giving to Netanyahu is so patently absurd that one thinks it has to be a Purim joke. But I am willing to gamble all my wealth in one of Sheldon Adelson’s casinos that this is absolutely no joke to either of these morally corrupt leaders. They will stop at nothing to stay in power. Isn’t there a reason the US has not officially made that recognition in 52 years? Was Aaron David Miller or David Makovsky or Martin Indyck consulted?
And how will AIPAC react to this? Has this been part of AIPAC’s platform?
Purim 5779 goes does in history as a politically dark day in American Israeli relations. As a passionate Zionist who wants only the best for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, I can only hope that both of these jokers are thrown out of office by the people they are supposed to be serving. I would much prefer to see both Bibi and Donald, not to mention men like Michael Steinhardt, moved off the world stage and on to one “off-Broadway,” like the stage at The Actors Temple.