Our most popular stories from 5781

As 5781 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at our 10 most popular and relevant stories

As a new Jewish year begins and the Jewish year of 5781 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at our 10 most popular and relevant stories.

The news changes quickly and it’s easy to lose track of what happened in an entire year (let alone week!), so we want to press pause and rewind: This past year saw a continuation of the pandemic, the terrible tragedy at Meron, fighting between Israel and Hamas, controversy over Sheikh Jarrah, the inauguration of Naftali Bennett and Israel’s new government… to name just a few events.

Let’s all hope it’s a shana tova u’metukah (good and sweet year) in 5782!

1. Can Israel and American Jews stay together?

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A poll released in July by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 25% of American Jewish voters agreed that Israel is an apartheid state, and 22% agreed that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. We explored the relationship between Israeli and American Jews: how did we get to this point and where do we go from here?

2. Remembering Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Our 10 favorite quotes and teachings

We were deeply saddened by the passing of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks zt’l in November 2020 — and we still are. We asked our team at OpenDor Media to share their favorite quotes and teachings from Rabbi Sacks. Here are 10 inspiring ideas we will always remember him for.

3. Sheikh Jarrah: The story behind the story

How did a small neighborhood in East Jerusalem lead to such a big crisis? We unpacked the complex history of Sheikh Jarrah and how what started thousands of years ago is playing out in real time today.

4. What will relations between the US and Israel look like under President Joe Biden?

Leading up to the inauguration of then President-elect Joe Biden, we asked Mohammed Dajani Daoudi, Yossi Klein Halevi, Sara Hirschhorn and Gil Troy — all experts in the world of politics, history and the U.S.-Israel relationship — for their predictions about the new administration’s Israel policies. What will relations between the U.S. and Israel look like under President Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett?

5. Unpacking the new Israeli government

An Arab Islamist, a self-described “right-wing” religious Jew, and a centrist former newscaster walk into a Tel Aviv hotel around midnight. It sounds like the setup of a good (or bad) joke, but it was in fact the scene that created Israel’s new coalition government.

6. How to respond to the Meron tragedy

Following the terrible tragedy in Meron, Israel, we offered thoughts and reflections from our team on this disaster. The Jewish response of yefashfesh b’maasav (examining our own actions) is an empowering shift we can all make in a time of tragedy. We may not always have control over the events and tragedies that befall us, but we can control our next steps.

7. Israel’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout: Successes and controversy over access for Palestinians

(Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israel administered first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to more than 10% of its population in just two weeks, leading the world in vaccinations per capita. Just as the Jewish State was receiving praise for its impressive vaccination campaign, criticism emerged over access for Palestinians. Is Israel or the Palestinian Authority responsible for providing vaccines to Palestinians?

8. Did Jonathan Pollard safeguard Israel or betray America?

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Jonathan Pollard, the American Jew who served 30 years in prison for spying for Israel, arrived in the Jewish State in December 2020, after completing his parole. We unpacked Jonathan Pollard’s story and why he is regarded as a hero by some Jews and a traitor by others.

9. Five educational themes from the Israeli TV series “Valley of Tears”

Did you watch the Israeli HBO series “Valley of Tears” about the Yom Kippur War? We unpacked five educational themes from this fascinating show.

10. Ben & Jerry’s: Has criticism of Israel reached a tipping point?

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In July, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it was ending its sales of ice cream in the West Bank. Is Ben & Jerry’s just the latest company to boycott Israeli settlements — a continuation of the longstanding BDS campaign which started in 2005 — or is this boycott somehow different?

Bonus: Behind the scenes of Shtisel: Is it accurate?

Since the show’s premiere in 2019, Shtisel has captivated the hearts and minds of Jews and non-Jews alike. With the long-awaited return of the series to Netflix, we unpacked everything you need to know about Shtisel, answering your behind-the-scenes questions and whether another season might be in the works.

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