The American Dream is one of upward mobility, but also sideways movement. The aspiration to greatness comes with a rhetoric of self-sufficiency that causes people to move along and start again, rather than navigating existing structures. Not only was the founding event of the United States a secession, but the most traumatic moment in American history — the Civil War — was also a failed attempt at the same thing. From Woodrow Wilson’s ‘Splendid Isolation’ to the libertarian Tea Party movement, the United States has tended to view government involvement as an intrusion and to laud those who start afresh over those who try to improve what already exists.
Roseanne Barr is on a mission. For anyone who has watched her on television over the past few decades it won’t come as a surprise that her mission involves empowering women, but it might be more surprising that twin prongs of strategy involve teaching Jewish women to meditate and running simultaneously for President of the United States and Prime Minister of Israel, on a two-for-one campaign. As a tangential part of that campaign, she and her sister Geraldine will be at the Isabella Freedman Jewish retreat center for a Jewish Women’s Weekend from September 23 to 25, running some programs during the introspective month of Elul. The Forward’s Dan Friedman spoke to Roseanne about kabbalah, politics and the soul of the Jewish people.
Punk begat ska and ska begat a rainbow. Two-Tone, New Romantic and a slew of pop artists shone out of the darkness of early Thatcher Britain with lyrics and beats that ran the gamut from escapist to confrontational. Many bands have been discussed in print and film, but no one has yet noted the surprising similarities and radically different paths of two male duos, formed thirty years ago from the flotsam of the ska movement. They charted different paths. But both paths took them to the pop charts.
Perhaps it’s for the best that an itinerant Yiddish storyteller did not design the new buildings on the World Trade Center site. But the grandson of one, Daniel Libeskind, is strongly channeling his grandfather as he oversees the implementation of his master plan for the site.
ORIGINALLY PUT ONLINE SEPTEMBER 14, 2001
At a utopian moment in Isaiah the Bible looks forward to a time when we turn our “swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.” The tragedy of the attack on the World Trade Center was perpetrated by people, from whatever religious tradition, who did exactly the opposite. Instead of taking instruments of war and making them tools to provide food they looked at the thousands of planes making domestic passenger flights in the USA every day, saw them all as potential missiles, and acted on that vision.
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