Will Warren Take the Lead?

With Biden fighting to stay on the right side of Trump’s Ukraine scandal and Bernie Sanders recovering from a heart attack, Warren’s path to the candidacy seems more likely than ever. Is she the Democrats’ new front-runner?

Biden’s media whisperers are smart to get a strategic narrative out there to counter the evidence that he’s losing ground to Warren. But he also needs to ensure he doesn’t get embarrassed in Iowa and New Hampshire. However much you spin, the real world still turns according to its own impervious rhythms.

…the thought experiment that imagines Bernie Sanders as an ineffectual President has already granted him an achievement that eluded his predecessor: winning the Presidential election. While media pundits and political operatives want to downplay this possibility, his adversaries, including the wealthiest Americans and the leaders of the Republican party, are preparing themselves for the worst.

Although the 2020 US presidential candidate has been campaigning relentlessly and making steady gains in the polls over the past few months, her current success may be thanks in part to the troubles of others, not just her tireless efforts to win over American voters.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for some of Warren’s fellow 2020 presidential contenders, most notably the current commander in chief, Donald Trump.

Will Senate Republicans Turn on Trump?

With control of the House, the Democrats have the final word on whether or not to impeach President Trump. When it comes to removing him from office, however, it’s the Republican-held Senate which matters. Would Senate Republicans ever vote against Trump?

With his party controlling the Senate, and Republican base voters still strongly supporting him, Trump appears to be insulated against removal from office. This is a reminder that political realities are as important as any other factor, if not more so, in the decision to remove a president charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors.” While many argue that this is a perversion of the founders’ vision, the founders themselves were unsure about the effectiveness of impeachment and removal.

What was implausible is now possible. If the vote were held in secret, says Republican strategist Mike Murphy, 30 Republicans would vote today for impeachment. Former Republican senator Jeff Flake puts the likely number at 35.

… it is possible that if this impeachment inquiry starts to look worse and worse for Trump, then it’s not at all unreasonable that these most endangered of incumbents could break away in an attempt to save their own political careers.

What Challenges Face Israel in the Next Year?

During the High Holiday season, Jews confront the year gone by and look forward to the year ahead. For Israel, it has been nothing if not an intense year in terms of politics. What are the Jewish State’s biggest challenges going forward?

Israel’s Jewish population is united in the belief that Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. Beyond that, though, there are deep divisions among secular Jews, the ultra-­Orthodox, and the religious Zionists, and the conflict shapes political arguments over Israel’s future as a democracy… Both secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews feel the other group is trying to impose its values on them.

Failing to form a government, Netanyahu is required to return the mandate back to the President, who may then ask Gantz to try to form a new government. The failure of the latter would precipitate another election—the third in less than a year. Given the prevailing political conditions, a third election is not likely to produce significantly different results. What Israel needs is an overhauling of its absurd political system, which only encourages the mushrooming of small parties.

Netanyahu’s detractors want him to be labeled a felon, humiliated and marched to jail not necessarily to tarnish the legacy of the country’s longest-serving prime minister—as it indeed would—but, in the terminology of politically correct culture, to “cancel” it.

The problem with this effort is that it has conflated legitimate concerns about having anyone, no matter how successful, stay in such a leadership role so long with partisan and ideological criticism of Netanyahu.

Did Amber Guyger Deserve to Be Forgiven?

Amber Guyger, an off-duty police officer who shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, in his own home after entering his apartment under the impression that it was her own, was convicted of murder. In an emotional statement, Jean’s brother, Brandt, offered his forgiveness to Guyger and embraced her. The judge in the case also hugged Guyger and gave her a bible. Was this a beautiful expression of forgiveness? Or an undeserved display of sympathy for a killer?

Compassion personified? Forgiveness in action? Unconditional love for a fellow human regardless of circumstances? Possibly all of these admirable, yet elusive qualities. Such aspiring attributes are casually talked about in our unforgiving society, but rarely demonstrated publicly. Grace is usually a noun, not a verb.

Forgiveness isn’t an easy pill for me to swallow. As a writer, it could be the actual word that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s because had it not been “for” one’s actions then I wouldn’t be forced to “give” you, the transgressor, a grace you’ve proven undeserving of.

State District Judge Tammy Kemp embracing a tearful Guyger is more problematic, of course. Particularly after some of her rulings for the defense, a big ol’ hug is not what impartiality looks like. Good thing I’m not a judge or I’d be hugging all of the murderers, but really, she shouldn’t have. Still, caught off guard by Guyger hugging her first, the judge behaved like a person, and I can’t blame her for that, either. “Forgive yourself,” she told Guyger.

Just as hate leads to more of the same, so does letting go of it.

What’s the Problem with Doing “Fiddler” in Yiddish?

An off-Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” is receiving some backlash (below) for being staged in Yiddish. But what could be so controversial about Yiddish?

Jews worked hard to revive Hebrew… We should celebrate our identity and our power of self-determination by learning our own ancient language, not a makeshift one that we pieced together from various countries to which we were exiled. Yiddish is the very definition of a people without a home.

There was once a war between Yiddish and Hebrew… But didn’t it all end long ago? Aren’t we in a different age, one which celebrates the multiplicity of Jewish culture, and not part of a zero-sum game between two Jewish languages? [.] Yiddish is no more a “makeshift” language than English. Yiddish contains within it a millennia of Jewish life in Europe; yes, some of it recalls bad times, but balanced by long periods of unprecedented stability and creativity.

It is almost as if “Fiddler on the Roof” (1964) were being restored to some primal form. And though Russian and English translations are projected on sides of the stage, they are often unnecessary. When Tevye—the dairyman who regularly argues with God and quotes Scripture—dreams of being a wealthy man and sings “Ven ikh bin a Rotshild,” can anyone doubt the meaning? In fact, so virtuosic is Steven Skybell in that role that he often needs no language at all for us to feel his character swerve from ironic mockery to righteous anger to heartbreak.

Do We Need to Fast on Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday night as Jews all over the world begin their fasting, which will last until sundown on Wednesday night. Here are three takes on the significance of fasting to the Jewish day of atonement.

My first attempts at fasting, then, were mostly failures. While Mom was away at Yizkor, it became a game: Who would be the first to succumb? Who would idly slip her finger into her mouth after swiping the cream cheese from its silver foil wrapping to the plate? Who would cut the kugel and slurp from the knife the illicit joy of butter, noodles, and crushed corn flakes?

In this time of self-reflection and introspection, we are encouraged to approach and apologise to those we may have wronged, forgive those who might have wronged us and to vow to do better in the coming year. If being in a synagogue all day and fasting helps achieve this, then it is important. If being in synagogue all day and fasting does not, then one should investigate other means.

…the practice of fasting enables us to be more present, to seek out that spark of goodness, of sanctity. Deep within the soul of every person exists a higher consciousness, a Divine light. Regardless of how far a person has fallen into the abyss, this spark continues to burn; it is inextinguishable.

However, pleasure can distract us from going deeper. So for one day a year, we let go.

Gmar Chatima Tova from the Daily Roundtable

We hope our readers have a meaningful Yom Kippur and we wish an easy fast to those who will be fasting. We will return on Thursday October 10th.

Today’s Hot Issues

Will Warren Take the Lead? Will Senate Republicans Turn on Trump? What Challenges Face Israel in the Next Year? Did Amber Guyger Deserve to Be Forgiven? What’s the Problem with Doing “Fiddler” in Yiddish? Do We Need to Fast on Yom Kippur? Gmar Chatima Tova from the Daily Roundtable