By Erica Sherman
As diplomatic relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) continue to simmer, one man is coming to Brooklyn to set the record straight. The Institute for Living Judaism in Brooklyn (ILJB) will present a learning session with J.J. Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Forward, the national newsweekly published in association with the legendary Yiddish Daily Forward (The Forvitz). It’s easy to get caught up in an entanglement of hearsay as the deadline for Israel’s disengagement from all of Gaza and parts of the West Bank looms only two months away, and the United States-sponsored “Roadmap for Peace” skids way off-course. Goldberg will try to make sense of these baffling issues with a discussion on “Insider Views of the Middle East” at 4 p.m., May 15 at Congregation Mount Sinai, 450 Cadman Plaza West. The award-winning author of Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment “is well informed on Middle East diplomacy, having covered it as a journalist for decades,” said ILJB President Howard Honigman, Ph.D, and “has worked for decades to better disseminate this information in a lively and clear style.” During the 1970s, Goldberg lived and worked in Israel, serving as an education specialist with the World Zionist Organization in Jerusalem and as an official of the kibbutz movement. He has been immersed in the politics of the Middle East for close to 30 years. Since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, it has been the oft-repeated favorite mantra of the Jewish people fleeing Europe before and during the Holocaust, that, on the agricultural front, they took a barren wasteland and brought its thought-to-be-dead soil back to life, all the while struggling for survival surrounded by their Arab neighbors who didn’t think they belonged there in the first place. “He finds more hawkish views being paid attention to, than is typical of the [Jewish] population,” Honigman notes, but with the tables turned and Israel now being labeled the ‘occupying force’—an imperialistic phenomenon they encountered when Britain occupied the land they wanted to turn into the Jewish state—Goldberg will attempt to unravel the fact from fantasy. However, Honigman, also the founder of the non-denominational learning center, admits Goldberg’s views are “not always a true representation of Jewish opinion, which may lead to more heat than light being shed.” Goldberg, a native New Yorker, whose book was featured on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s “100 most important books of 1996” list, also lived and worked in Israel in the 1970s, and served as an education specialist in Jerusalem with the World Zionist Organization, and as an official of the kibbutz movement. “The only solution,” Honigman says, “is to inform ourselves, rather than ‘cheerlead’ about the depth of the issues and the history of their emergence. J.J. Goldberg, whose devotion to the Jewish homeland is second to no one, is a perfect teacher.” The Institute of Living Judaism aims to promote a more progressive approach to Judaism’s ancient traditions and, in less than a year, has reached out to Brooklyn’s progressive Jewish community and nurtured its already-existing commitment to the modern sensibilities of pluralism and tolerance. The Institute delivers year-round presentations at the various Brooklyn synagogues and Jewish centers it is affiliated with, including Congregation Mount Sinai, Kolot Chayeinu, and the East Midwood Jewish Center, of which Honigman served as president. All classes, lectures and kallot (teach-ins) are taught from a serious and scholarly Jewish perspective by noted speakers, guest lecturers, rabbis and educators from ILJB’s affiliate organizations, all of which represent the broadest possible spectrum of progressive thought and outlook throughout Brooklyn. Classes are held on Sundays, and Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and focus on an expansive range of topics with a progressive edge, including “Torah Topics” and “Ethical Dilemmas for the Modern Jew.” Tax-deductible donations are appreciated. For more information about the Institute for Living Judaism in Brooklyn, call 718-339-0230, email email@example.com or log onto www.iljb.org.