Orthodoxy should be respected, but we cannot allow the politics of a radical minority to alienate millions of Jews worldwide.
.. Last month, a Conservative rabbi was detained for the alleged crime of performing a non-Orthodox wedding ceremony in Israel. In several municipalities, attempts were made to disrupt secular life by closing convenience stores on the Sabbath.
These events are creating the impression that the democratic and egalitarian dimensions of the Jewish democratic state are being tested.
.. For 4,000 years, the Jewish people were seen as the world’s moral compass.
.. The Zionist movement has been unwaveringly democratic from its very start. Writ large upon its flag were liberty, equality and human rights for all. It was also one of the very first national movements to guarantee full equality and voting rights for women.
.. Its Declaration of Independence guarantees “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” as well as a guarantee of freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.
..now, when Israel’s government appears to be tarnishing the sacred value of equality, many supporters feel it is turning its back on Jewish heritage, the Zionist ethos and the Israeli spirit
.. In Israel, it will
- heighten the sense of polarization and discord. Abroad,
- Israel may find itself associated with a broken values system and questionable friends.
As a result, future leaders of the West may become hostile or indifferent to the Jewish state.
.. For over 200 years, modern Judaism has aligned itself with enlightenment. The Jews of the new era have fused our national pride and religious affiliation with a dedication to human progress, worldly culture and morality.
.. when members of Israel’s current government unintentionally undermine the covenant between Judaism and enlightenment, they crush the core of contemporary Jewish existence.
.. Already today, the main challenge facing the Jewish diaspora is a deep — and deepening — generational divide. All over the world, and especially in North America, Jewish millennials are raising doubts that their parents and grandparents never raised. The commitment to Israel and Jewish institutions is not unconditional.
.. If present trends persist, young Jews might not acquiesce to an affiliation with a nation that discriminates against
- non-Orthodox Jews,
- non-Jewish minorities and the
- L.G.B.T. community.
They may not
- fight the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, they may not
- support Israel in Washington and they may not
- provide it with the strategic rear guard that Israel so needs.
.. Let us not forget: A vast majority of the world’s Jews do not identify as Orthodox. They are traditional, secular, Conservative, Reform or completely unaffiliated. Orthodoxy should be respected, but we cannot allow the politics of a radical minority to alienate millions of Jews worldwide.
.. This is not who we are, and this is not who we wish to be. This is not the face we want to show our children, grandchildren and the family of nations.
The Amish understand a life-changing truth about technology the rest of us don’t
It’s not that the Amish view technology as inherently evil. No rules prohibit them from using new inventions. But they carefully consider how each one will change their culture before embracing it. And the best clue as to what will happen comes from watching their neighbors.
“The Amish use us as an experiment,” says Jameson Wetmore, an engineer turned social researcher at the Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society. “They watch what happens when we adopt new technology, and then they decide whether that’s something they want to adopt themselves.”
.. The motto of the 1933 World Fair in Chicago was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms.”
It was really a very prevalent idea that technology was going to save us all. Basically, we needed to worship it if we were going to have any chance of survival. This was just out of the Great Depression. There were a lot of really destitute people. Governments and companies were saying that technology can lead us out of this. It may not always be comfortable, but we have to ride it out.
.. That is the clear push coming into the 1930s and into the 1940s and 1950s. Household technologies are all the rage. When you hit the 1960s and 1970s, there is this shift. I think the hallmarks of that shift are the dropping of the atomic bomb, and then of course you have Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, and you also have Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
.. It’s interesting that the Amish have different districts, and each district has different rules about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Yet it’s very clear there are two technologies that, as soon as the community accepts them, they are no longer Amish. Those technologies are the television and the automobile.
.. The reason the Amish rejected television is because it is a one-way conduit to bring another society into their living rooms. And they want to maintain the society as they have created it. And the automobile as well. As soon as you have a car, your ability to leave your local community becomes significantly easier.
.. You no longer have to rely on your neighbor for eggs when you run out.
.. Think about the origins of Facebook. This was not a value-free technology. The goal was to connect people.
.. A big part of the sexual revolution was just the fact that young people could escape their parents with a car in ways they never could before.
.. I asked one Amish person why they didn’t use automobiles. He simply smiled and turned to me and said, “Look what they did to your society.” And I asked what do you mean? “Well, do you know your neighbor? Do you know the names of your neighbors?”
.. For the Amish, there are no rules prohibiting new technologies. So typically what will happen is one member of the community will say, “You know, I’m fed up with axes. I’m using the chainsaw.”
So maybe he goes out and begins to use a chainsaw. You might get some stern looks from neighbors, but officially it’s not prohibited. Every six months, the [Amish district councils] sit down and discuss. People are beginning to use chainsaws in our communities: Is this what we want? And then they have a conversation about it.
.. But the Amish said the Sabbath was something they would not change. They would not compromise their day of rest. They worked with local milk wholesalers and arranged to have their milk picked up early Saturday and Saturday night, so they would have Sunday free.
.. One thing it’s taken me awhile to understand is that I don’t think the Amish believe in progress. I don’t think the Amish believe there is a perfect world in the future.
.. It’s pretty crazy if you stop to think about it to realize that car travel is so important to us, that were willing to sacrifice 30,000 to 40,000 lives a year for it.
.. All things being equal, it’s hard to say decreasing infant mortality and radically increasing the life expectancy of people isn’t in some ways good.
I think if you’re like the Amish, it’s not a goal you are going to be working for. You’ll be satisfied with much lower life expectancies.
.. In the 1930s, we ended up as a society deciding that four-year-olds should be the one to blame. We began to train people even before they began to speak about how to cross the street and how to avoid it in the street. We redesigned our world to be safe
.. When sociologists were really diving into the Amish culture in the 1960s and 1970s, 75% of Amish children would decide to become Amish adults. The most recent statistics show that 95% are now choosing to join the Amish Church.
Ivanka Trump Knows What It Means to Be a Modern Millennial
Then there is The Celebrity Apprentice, which just premiered its fourteenth season.
.. Plus, she says, “we have an unbelievable cast who, as my father says, just hate each other. Which is good!”
.. Donald Trump is virtually synonymous with the modern-day concept of branding.
.. The Apprentice made her famous: a 20-something real estate diva. As she herself points out, “Young professionals don’t usually have pop-culture relevance.” She started getting piles of fan mail from girls who wanted to grow up to be just like her.
.. “So, my husband’s idea of a date night somehow always involves me looking at one of his development sites.” Everyone nods knowingly.
.. And that is when she saw that there was a big hole in the market: No one was designing for the young professional woman who wants clothes with more style than Ann Taylor but not as fashion-disposable as H&M.
.. “We are targeting millennials who aspire to have very big careers, but they are also training for marathons or learning French or starting a family. Every aspect of their life is just as important to them as their careers.”
.. Me and my peers, we’re working really hard at being moms and sisters and professionals. There was a previous generation of women who rose through the ranks in an environment when work and life were highly compartmentalized. And I think now, because of technology, we’re always on.
.. It’s about empowerment and redefining what it means to be a woman in this generation.”
.. XiXi, the nanny, who is Chinese and is teaching the children to speak Mandarin.
.. “His own dreams are bold, and I love that in someone,” says Ivanka, “but he’s incredibly relaxed and calm. The world could be collapsing around him, and nothing fazes him. He’s very solution-oriented. Plus it was nice finding someone who is a genuinely good person.
.. “For me, being so close to work is everything. I get here in three minutes and give them a bath, read to them, and put them to bed, and then I go out almost every night right afterward with Jared.”
.. “I would say she is definitely the CEO of our household, whereas I’m more on the board of directors.
.. Jared’s brother, Joshua, has his own venture-capital firm and was an early investor in Instagram.
.. He is also dating Karlie Kloss
.. This gives some sense of the intersecting worlds that Jared and Ivanka travel in: fashion, finance, media, art, real estate, technology, society
.. In some ways they are the twenty-first-century analog to the It Power Couple that her parents were during the go-go eighties.
.. But I would say Jared and Ivanka are centered in a more low-key, contemporary, family way. I think they don’t need to be as sort of . . . out there in the more outlandish eighties way that my parents were.”
.. Two of the people who are often in those smaller groups are Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. “She’s always aware of everyone around her and ensuring that everyone is enjoying the moment,” says Chelsea. “It’s an awareness that in some ways reminds me of my dad, and his ability to increase the joy of the room.
.. “There’s not a lot of bullshit in Ivanka’s life. Living through everything that she saw as a kid, she has a very good filter on what’s real, what’s not, what’s worthwhile, and what’s not.
.. movers and shakers
.. with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”
“Also the ritual for us having Sabbath,” says Jared.
.. “Yeah, we observe the Sabbath,” says Ivanka, sipping her lychee martini. “From Friday to Saturday we don’t do anything but hang out with one another. We don’t make phone calls.”
.. ‘If we’re going to do Shabbos, I’m going to cook.’ She never cooked before in her life, and became a great cook. So for Friday, she’ll make dinner for just the two of us, and we turn our phones off for 25 hours.
.. And for Arabella to know that she has me, undivided, one day a week? We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family.”
.. If I was married to somebody who, even if beneath the surface, didn’t like the fact that I work so hard or didn’t support my ambitions for myself or felt self-conscious about my last name . . . I think it would be very hard to build a solid foundation on that.”
I Used to Be a Human Being
An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too.
By Andrew Sullivan
But the rewards were many: an audience of up to 100,000 people a day; a new-media business that was actually profitable; a constant stream of things to annoy, enlighten, or infuriate me; a niche in the nerve center of the exploding global conversation; and a way to measure success — in big and beautiful data — that was a constant dopamine bath for the writerly ego. If you had to reinvent yourself as a writer in the internet age, I reassured myself, then I was ahead of the curve. The problem was that I hadn’t been able to reinvent myself as a human being.
.. So much of the technology was irreversible
.. At your desk at work, or at home on your laptop, you disappeared down a rabbit hole of links and resurfaced minutes (or hours) later to reencounter the world. But the smartphone then went and made the rabbit hole portable, inviting us to get lost in it anywhere, at any time, whatever else we might be doing. Information soon penetrated every waking moment of our lives.
.. We almost forget that ten years ago, there were no smartphones, and as recently as 2011, only a third of Americans owned one. Now nearly two-thirds do. That figure reaches 85 percent when you’re only counting young adults.
.. 46 percent of Americans told Pew surveyors last year a simple but remarkable thing: They could not live without one.
.. Distractions arrive in your brain connected to people you know (or think you know), which is the genius of social, peer-to-peer media. Since our earliest evolution, humans have been unusually passionate about gossip, which some attribute to the need to stay abreast of news among friends and family as our social networks expanded.
.. A regular teen Snapchat user, as the Atlantic recently noted, can have exchanged anywhere between 10,000 and even as many as 400,000 snaps with friends.
.. This, evolutionary psychologists will attest, is fatal. When provided a constant source of information and news and gossip about each other — routed through our social networks — we are close to helpless.
.. The silence, it became apparent, was an integral part of these people’s lives — and their simple manner of movement, the way they glided rather than walked, the open expressions on their faces, all fascinated me. What were they experiencing, if not insane levels of boredom?
.. Attached to my phone, I had been accompanied for so long by verbal and visual noise, by an endless bombardment of words and images, and yet I felt curiously isolated. Among these meditators, I was alone in silence and darkness, yet I felt almost at one with them.
.. He had escaped, it seemed to me, what we moderns understand by time. There was no race against it; no fear of wasting it; no avoidance of the tedium that most of us would recoil from. And as I watched my fellow meditators walk around, eyes open yet unavailable to me, I felt the slowing of the ticking clock, the unwinding of the pace that has all of us in modernity on a treadmill till death. I felt a trace of a freedom all humans used to know and that our culture seems intent, pell-mell, on forgetting.
.. But of course, as I had discovered in my blogging years, the family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are, in Turkle’s formulation, “alone together.” You are where your attention is.
If you’re watching a football game with your son while also texting a friend, you’re not fully with your child — and he knows it.
Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.
.. By rapidly substituting virtual reality for reality, we are diminishing the scope of this interaction even as we multiply the number of people with whom we interact.
.. A phone call could take longer; it could force you to encounter that person’s idiosyncrasies or digressions or unexpected emotional needs.
.. We hide our vulnerabilities, airbrushing our flaws and quirks; we project our fantasies onto the images before us.
.. GPS, for example, is a godsend for finding our way around places we don’t know. But, as Nicholas Carr has noted, it has led to our not even seeing, let alone remembering, the details of our environment
.. We became who we are as a species by mastering tools, making them a living, evolving extension of our whole bodies and minds. What first seems tedious and repetitive develops into a skill — and a skill is what gives us humans self-esteem and mutual respect.
.. Indeed, the modest mastery of our practical lives is what fulfilled us for tens of thousands of years — until technology and capitalism decided it was entirely dispensable.
.. Has our enslavement to dopamine — to the instant hits of validation that come with a well-crafted tweet or Snapchat streak — made us happier? I suspect it has simply made us less unhappy, or rather less aware of our unhappiness, and that our phones are merely new and powerful antidepressants of a non-pharmaceutical variety.
.. But I was also escaping a home where my mother had collapsed with bipolar disorder after the birth of my younger brother and had never really recovered.
.. how it had made my own spasms of adolescent depression even more acute, how living with that kind of pain from the most powerful source of love in my life had made me the profoundly broken vessel I am.
.. The two words “extreme suffering” won the naming contest in my head. And when I had my 15-minute counseling session with my assigned counselor a day later, the words just kept tumbling out. After my panicked, anguished confession, he looked at me, one eyebrow raised, with a beatific half-smile. “Oh, that’s perfectly normal,” he deadpanned warmly. “Don’t worry. Be patient. It will resolve itself.” And in time, it did.
.. We didn’t go from faith to secularism in one fell swoop, he argues. Certain ideas and practices made others not so much false as less vibrant or relevant.
.. The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.
.. The mania of our online lives reveals this: We keep swiping and swiping because we are never fully satisfied.
.. The hidden God of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures spoke often by not speaking. And Jesus, like the Buddha, revealed as much by his silences as by his words. He was a preacher who yet wandered for 40 days in the desert; a prisoner who refused to defend himself at his trial.
.. The Sabbath — the Jewish institution co-opted by Christianity — was a collective imposition of relative silence, a moment of calm to reflect on our lives under the light of eternity. It helped define much of Western public life once a week for centuries — only to dissipate, with scarcely a passing regret, into the commercial cacophony of the past couple of decades.
.. But just as modern street lighting has slowly blotted the stars from the visible skies, so too have cars and planes and factories and flickering digital screens combined to rob us of a silence that was previously regarded as integral to the health of the human imagination.
.. It’s also hard to explain, it seems to me, the sudden explosion of interest in and tolerance of cannabis in the past 15 years without factoring in the intensifying digital climate. Weed is a form of self-medication for an era of mass distraction, providing a quick and easy path to mellowed contemplation in a world where the ample space and time necessary for it are under siege.
.. If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation. Christian leaders seem to think that they need more distraction to counter the distraction. Their services have degenerated into emotional spasms, their spaces drowned with light and noise and locked shut throughout the day, when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary.