Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who is Yair Lapid? Israel Today.

Who is Yair Lapid?

Last week's stunning Israeli elections saw the decline of the Likkud/Israel Beiteinu coalition by nearly 25%, and the advent of Yair Lapid's "Yesh Atid" {"there is a future"} party with a victory of 19 seats out of the 120 in the Kenneset.  The Likkud/Israel Beiteinu, plus other right wing and religious parties won a total of 60 seats, but needed 61 to form a government.  If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to form a coalition with anyone to the left of Lapid, he will certainly lose coalition members from the right wing.  Yair Lapid is suddenly the most influential man in Israel.

Lapid's professional history as a journalist and television analyst is well known.  And his biography as a secular son of a major political figure who founded the now defunct shinui party is also well known.  But with this public a personality, do we know who Lapid really is?

Lapid has an historian's eye on Israel.  He is well versed in the origin and development of the ethos of the Israeli population as well as the economic and social struggles the various constituencies experience.  He is an adept politician who can speak the language of the audience while maintaining a frank agenda of his own.  And he is ambitious to lead, with the confidence of one who firmly believes that his cause is not just correct but just. Like him or not, agree with him or not, he is just beginning in this game and he will be around for a long time.

The following video on YouTube will help you know who he is better.  It is 25 minutes long, but well worth the effort.  English subtitles are provided and, though glossed over in one or two places, the translations are excellent.

Here Lapid goes into the Lion's den: a  highly religious Haredi College audience.  He lays out his understanding of the role of the Haredi population as central to the well being and future of Israel, while insisting in no uncertain terms that they come out of their ghettos (his word) and take responsibility for the well being of all Israelies.  He admits a history of anti-Haredi sentiment in the Zionist cause, yet shows how in every field the Haredi have already won those battles.  As "winners" he challenges the Haredim to consider their role as leaders of the mixed tribes that make up Israel today.

While the video doesn't show the audience's response or questions, it is a fascinating snap shot of this exact moment between Israel Secular and Haredi world views.

Yair Lapid at Kiryat Ono College, in Kiryat Ono, Israel - 10 miles east of Tel Aviv.

Yair Lapid Speaks to Haredi Israelis

Monday, January 28, 2013

Scouting for Equality: Will the BSA get it right at last?

Mr. Wayne Perry, President
Boy Scouts of America 
1325 Walnut Hill Lane 
P.O. Box 152079 
Irving, Texas 75015-2079

Dear Mr. Perry,

As a Rabbi, Charter Organization Head, Cubmaster, BSA Chaplain, Northern New Jersey Council Member at Large, father of 3 cubs, supporter of Friends of Scouting and member of the Jewish Committee on Scouting...

...I was thrilled to hear that the national policy of the Boy Scouts of America on homosexuality may finally be changed to no longer conflict with the Declaration of Religious Principles.  

Just this year my own children's Jewish Day School refused to renew its charter over this issue.  

The morality of homosexuality is informed by the religious community to which a scout, and/or a charter organization belong.  My religion teaches me that homosexuality is a valid creation of God.  The national organization must not abrogate BSA's own Declaration of Religious Principles by vetoing my approval of scouts and scouters in my synagogue's scouting program.

I recognize that other religions, and even other denominations of my own religion, interpret this teaching differently.  That is precisely why the national organization must leave the matter up to the conscience of the individual scout and scouter, or to the house of worship if it is a religious charter organization.

I was sent an e-mail saying that your board is "actively considering an end to their national ban on gay and non-theist members and leaders. Chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs, said Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts'..."

Please confirm that this is true.  

I have, while in the Heart of America Council and here in New Jersey, always said that this is the only policy consistent with scouting's core values of religious diversity in service to God and Nation.  

If we can affirm the priority of the Declaration of Religious Principle in this matter, it will help in my recruitment and my ability to find tangible support for scouting in my region.

I look forward to your timely reply.

Yours in Scouting,

Rabbi Robert L. Tobin

CC: Stephen Gray, Scout Executive NNJC