Last nite the shiur(class) in Talmud that I have been teaching to physicians in Good Samaritan Hospital-Suffern, held a siyum(festive celebration-honoring the completion of a tractate in Talmud) on tractate Taanit.
Our guest speaker Rabbi Yisrael Gottlieb of Cong Bais Torah(Suffern) beautifully pointed out that 68 years ago on Nov 8, the Nazis believed they were destroying forever Jewish texts and scholarship on Kristalnacht.Yet here we were 22 individuals from varying religious streams,celebrating the sanctity and spirituality of our sacred texts.
Incidentally this is the second siyum we celebrated,having previously completed Baba Metziah after 17 years of weekly study.
Gov. George Pataki has an exploratory committee in Iowa looking toward a Presidential run in '08.After the way he left the NY State Republican Party ,he should be ashamed to enter the national political scene.
I recall a number of years ago that an old friend Sen. Conrad Burns,the Montana Republican who just lost his seat,saw me on the Senate subway.As a non-lawyer,he came over to thank me for a young intern that the OU had supplied him for the summer.The intern,who later went to Yale Law School,each evening used his talmudic skills(among other skills) to prepare a series of questions for his boss (Burns) for the daily impeachment hearings of a federal judge,who was subsequently convicted of bribery.
That judge,ran for Congress and today(when the Dems take over) we the people will be subject to his chairmanship of the House Intelligence subcommittee.His name Alcee Hastings.
I wrote a few weeks ago, that if the Republicans lose,they have only thenselves to blame.
The new Congress has an opportunity to tighten lobbying rules,including the use of overseas travel by members and staff.Entitlements should go out the window. Tax reform should be a bipartisan effort,as well as social security reform.It is amazing that all the time that the President talked about optionally placing some of ones social security funds in equities,we never saw a simple chart to prove that the average American would benefit at retirement by the rise of the markets over time.
The big problem with the Democrats aside from some of their policies,is the effects of seniority.Almost all the new chairmen have been elected from safe liberal seats,and in industry would be coming up to retirement.Hopefully the newer,more moderate members will act as a brake on these new chairmen.
It is nice to see Tom Lantos,a holocaust survivor as new Chairman of he International Relations Committee.In previous years,when Dave Obey was Appropriations Chairman,it was a difficult time for the pro-Israel community.Of course now there is minimal foreign aid in the budget for Israel compared to then.
How this election will affect the U.S.-Israel relationship has been the question most asked of me since Tues.In the short run,it will be basically unchanged.
From my point of view it is the reaction of the American people to conflict that colors the future.We love a war that we can win in two weeks.The TV and media inflame the populace, so that each casualty and misstep adds to the pressure to withdraw.Thank goodness we didn't have cable TV in WW11 or we we might have lost our nerve and our freedom.
Israel has to realize that America is not a given as an ally should the need arise to quickly destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities. Ephraim Sneh now deputy defense minister, and a voice with experience in that role, has again pointed out that this is a real possibility if the Zionist dream is to endure.