I remember well President Trump privately saying that if he was a candidate for Prime Minister in Israel, he would beat even his good friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Historically, the Jewish people have always done better when their political leaders have gotten behind their rabbinical leaders. One of the reasons for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s success and longevity has been his respect and rapport with rabbinical leaders. It should not be lost on or forgotten by future prime ministers. It is to Ben-Gurion’s credit that he had a close relationship with first Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook, of blessed memory. It is also a remarkable feat that Ben-Gurion continued the Chief Rabbinate and handed over control of marriages, conversions, divorce, and kashrus after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook envisioned the Chief Rabbinate as a position as follows: “The Rabbanut will have an impact by virtue of its constant efforts to bring people together, to inject a spirit of harmony among all parties and factions, and to strengthen the Torah and its honor in the Holy Land and throughout the world.” It is up to all of us to achieve this lofty goal.
I was in Gush Katif in 2005. It was one of the most magnificent agricultural developments and enterprises in all of Israel. Some of the finest organically grown produce in the world, including The New York Times’ number-one-rated tomato, came from Gush Katif. The pioneering Jewish farmers who worked the land truly made a desert bloom. There were 21 beautiful communities strung together like pearls on a necklace. There were wonderful schools and regal synagogues. They were a sight to behold. It was a dream-come-true like the rest of Israel, and the rebirth of a nation after 2,000 years in exile.
President Trump was spot on when he recently said that “the reason I’m here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden. Because if they did a good job, I wouldn’t be here. And probably, if they did a good job, I wouldn’t have even run. I would’ve been very happy.” He concluded, “I enjoyed my previous life very much, but they did such a bad job, I stand before you as President.”
I have been asked by a number of people to share my thoughts on school openings in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a very challenging and complex subject. Like so much of this trying and unprecedented time, nothing is simple and straightforward. There are no quick fixes or unequivocal paths. Unfortunately, whether we want to admit it or not, we are learning as we go. SARS-CoV2 is a wily and formidable foe. Recriminations and blame are not appropriate at this time. Political leaders can only do so much.