In American culture, the word “hallelujah” is so associated with Christian prayer and music—and overall rejoicing and jubilation—that people often forget it is originally Hebrew.
In an exclusive interview with Moment senior editor George E. Johnson, Israel Prize-winning journalist Nahum Barnea offers fresh insights on how Naftali Bennett, Israel’s new Prime Minister, will govern and why it may be different in both method and substance from his predecessor and from what people may have assumed based on policy positions and priorities Bennett has espoused as a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner circle. Barnea focuses on how President Biden’s long experience and record in Middle East politics presents opportunities for Israel in the years ahead regarding the region and Iran in particular, and why Bennett will depart from Netanyahu’s approach to seeking allies among Americans in general and among American Jews.
In a world in which any Jew is a potential target of anti-Semitism, it is the most visible Jews who are most threatened. Jews with black hats, with tight curls hanging down below their ears and black coats and women wearing modest head coverings, they are the most vulnerable. Jews in synagogues. In Brooklyn, as in Jersey City and Monsey, violence against individuals in their Hasidic communities is almost an everyday event. If someone wants to do harm to a Jew, Hasidic Jews and their communities are and have become easy targets.
n the 1946 film The Big Sleep, based on the Raymond Chandler mystery of the same name, Carmen—the promiscuous, drug-addicted younger sister of Lauren Bacall’s character—sizes up Philip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart, and asks him, “What are you, a prizefighter?” Bogart responds, “No, I’m a shamus.” “What’s a shamus?” she inquires. “It’s a private detective,” he answers. Yes, Bogart is using the Yiddish version—more popularly spelled “shammes”—of the Hebrew word, “shamash.”
The epigram, “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!” sometimes serves as a tongue-in-cheek synopsis of Jewish holidays: Passover, for example, recounts the original Jewish survival story in an extended banquet punctuated by four cups of wine.
Few Americans have heard of Besa, but Besa is the reason that during the dark days of the Nazi takeover of Albania not a single Jewish citizen of Albania, nor any other Jew seeking refuge in Albania, was turned over to the Nazis or sent to the death camps.