Winning Hearts & Minds...

A pre-Shabbat greeting from Keith Krivitzky... There have been two recurring themes on my mind this week.

The first pertains to this article on 15,000 young Gazans completing terror training camp. Have you seen this article from times of Israel? Click to read. It was the most troubling thing I read this week…a terrorist version of the Hunger Games for youth in Gaza. I don’t blame the kids (heck, I played manhunt as a kid) – but, is this what happens when a whole society of fanatics reproduces itself? I don’t mean to be glib, but in an age when extremism and fanaticism seems to be sexy and is going gangbusters in terms of recruitment, how do we combat that? I am not sure cutting off the head or containment, as our US strategy with airpower seems to be, will work in the long term. What’s the strategy for winning hearts and minds here?

And on a related note, re: Israel and its detractors... This week I have also seen several jihad music videos extolling the virtues of killing others. Plus this terror games story. There is something to be said for how Israeli songs talk about peace, while extremist songs glory killing. Again – you can’t make peace with that. This is something we should be showing/sharing with those supporting BDS and making unilateral concessions, because unless we address this core concern there will never be peace.

The second thought that has been on my mind is, in some ways, no less troubling. It is the notion I shared before about how our younger generation of Jews isn’t stepping up for Israel not because they don’t know enough or haven’t been trained in advocacy – it’s because they don’t know what they believe in or appreciate how they belong to this larger Jewish family/people. I shared this last week, and there are a lot of issues bundled into this larger observation, but one conclusion has been rattling around in my head this week – namely that our community and institutions are failing if this is the outcome we are producing. This should be prompting us to take a fresh and even more urgent look at Jewish education approaches, how we engage families, and what outcomes our Jewish institutions aim for.

We have been starting to do that as part of our shift at the Federation (now in the heart of NJ), but this needs to be internalized much more broadly. Put another way – and potentially picking a fight – what good is having a synagogue-based educational culture focused on bar/bat mitzvahs as an outcome, when these kids don’t wind up knowing what they believe in or where they belong? Why do we continue down this path...and what’s an alternative approach. More food for thought/discussion/back and forth.

With that, enjoy these reads before the Superbowl:
• If you didn’t see this, please read: Reflections on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Related to the issue above
• A sobering assessment: Netanyahu vs Obama on Iran
Torah insights on combating evil
And what those who do know where they belong have to be prepared to do, from the NY City Council

Hope to see you at these upcoming events:
A special Beneath the Helmet premiere for teens on February 7th!
• A Journey to CUBA. Save the date: December 16-21, 2015. Contact for more details.
• Also, let me know if you are going to the AIPAC conference in DC; we are looking to arrange a special reception for our folks.

With that, best for a cold Shabbat Shalom.


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