Legislation to extend Israel’s national maternity-leave policy is well on its way to approval. The Knesset voted overwhelmingly to grant new mothers six months unpaid leave — the first 14 weeks of which are paid. That’s a far cry from the norms in America, particularly in Jewish communal workplaces.
The story in this week’s Forward about the $12.25 million gift from a group of donors to a Jewish day school near Boston arrives at the end of this trying, tumultuous year with several important messages.
As of this writing, it seems as if the “public option” in health care reform may go the way of other well-intentioned but ultimately futile attempts to persuade America to live up to its promise. In other words, nowhere.
The initial statement was troubling. The subsequent clarification didn’t help. Israel’s justice minister, Yaakov Ne’eman, may not be hastening the “Talibanization” of his country, as some allege, but his assertion that Jewish law should be privileged and restored to its “former glory” bespeaks an attitude that can have no place in the governance of a democratic state.
A year ago, there was a pervasive sense that the crisis caused by Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion fraud was more than just a financial debacle, it was a deep breach of trust, an embarrassing window into how Jewish America had lost its way in its too-eager embrace of wealth and easy success. Madoff, we discovered, had many enablers. So now the question is whether we have learned anything to reform our collective behavior and shore up the Jewish values and governmental oversight that should have stopped this scheme in its tracks. The answer isn’t heartening.