Author Archives: benganzfried

The Modern-Day Isaiah

By Ben Ganzfried

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (Isaiah 40).

So begins the film, “Making the Crooked Straight,” (airing on April 14, on HBO2) which offers many examples of patients who Dr. Rick Hodes—a modern day Isaiah– has helped in Ethiopia.  The movie provides powerful images and stories of Rick Hodes’ battle against disease, poverty, and despair.  Told from the perspective of Dr. Hodes’ encounters with patients, “Making the Crooked Straight” shows how one man can have a tremendous impact on many lives.

The movie offers many poignant stories.  From the many young kids that Rick Hodes adopted so he could put them on his health insurance plan, to his treatment of young kids with TB of the spine, to the interfaith Shabbat gathering that Hodes hosts in his home—the movie is rife with themes of tikkun olam, menschlakeit, and our shared common humanity. Continue reading

2010 AIPAC Policy Conference Round-Up

By Ben Ganzfried

There were few surprises at the 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference last evening.  The key topics were sanctions against Iran, the unbreakable relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and the fact that friends best disagree quietly.  I was told by a fellow journalist that this year’s policy conference followed the structure of conferences in the past: the evening began with a roll call of the representatives, senators and other policy-officials in attendance, as well as a list of distinguished guests.  I suspect that this conference was also similar to past conferences insofar as it was briefly disrupted by hecklers (who paid an awful lot of money just to yell for two seconds).  At least, the quick reaction of the crowd to cheer these disrupters down suggests that the audience is used to such things. Continue reading

Review of “Among the Righteous”: Arabs who saved Jews in the Holocaust

By Ben Ganzfried

Arab-Jewish relations during the Holocaust are too often viewed as typified by the actions of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who actively worked with Hitler to murder as many Jews as possible.  Challenging this historical outlook, “Among the Righteous” offers a few examples of Arabs who saved Jews during the Holocaust.  Robert Satloff provides powerful individual stories of bravery, courage, and sadness.  Told from the perspective of family stories and first-time interviews, “Among the Righteous” shows how otherwise ordinary Arab men became heroes and saved defenseless Jewish men and women.  What distinguishes the movie is the focus on people who acted out of a sense of humanity rather than adhering to the dictums of the Nazis and their allies in power.  People like Khaled Abdul-Wahab who risked his life to save a handful of Jewish women hiding in the animal shed of his farm.   Continue reading

Religion and the Decision-Making of Supreme Court Justices

By Ben Ganzfried

Robert Barnes’ recent article in the Washington Post entitled “High Court: Does religion still matter” poses the following question: “Does President Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee need to be a Protestant?” in reference to the fact that if Justice Stevens “decides to call it a career after he turns 90 next month, the Supreme Court would for the first time in its history be without a justice belonging to America’s largest religious affiliations.”

In our 2008 election issue cover-story entitled “Religion and the Supreme Court” our interviews with legal scholars elicited the following reflections   Continue reading