The Divisive Decade: When The Center Couldn’t Hold
The 2010s meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but we’ve chosen to label the past 10 years “The Divisive Decade.” The bitter battle over the Iran nuclear deal was a Jewish communal watershed, and the election of Donald Trump has cleaved the community in ways that sometimes feel unfixable.
Even the decade’s terrifying rise of anti-Semitism, a call for unity if there ever was one, has divided Jews along ideological lines. Below is a timeline of some defining moments, and here is a special collection of essays where we asked writers to examine the key Jewish trends of the past 10 years, and ask how we might overcome this polarization.
♦ Rabbi Sholom Rubashkin is sentenced to 27 years in prison in connection with multiple charges at the now-defunct Agriprocessors kosher slaughtering plant.
♦ The expanded National Museum of American Jewish History opens in Philadelphia.
♦ Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz completes his massive translation of the Babylonian Talmud into modern Hebrew.
♦ Elana Kagan becomes the third Jewish justice on the current Supreme Court.
♦ Gilad Shalit, is released after being held captive by Hamas in Gaza for five years in exchange for releasing 1,027 prisoners in what is the largest prisoner exchange agreement Israel ever made.
♦ Lieby Kletzky, an 8-year-old chasidic boy, is murdered by an emotionally disturbed Orthodox man in Borough Park.
♦ Debbie Friedman, Jewish singing superstar, dies at 59.
♦ A fire destroys the building of Kehilath Jeshurun, a landmark Orthodox congregation on the Upper East Side.
♦ Matisyahu, one-time Chasidic reggae singer and rapper, posts a beardless picture of himself, igniting discussions about his religious metamorphosis.
♦ Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav begins a prison sentence for rape.
♦ Gymnast Aly Raisman wins two gold medals at the Summer Olympics in London.
♦ Superstorm Sandy floods Greater New York, inflicting countless damage on institutions in the Jewish community.
♦ Major fighting breaks out in Gaza between Israel and Hamas forces.
♦ The 12th Siyum HaShas completion of the Talmud-reading cycle takes place throughout the world.
♦ Gal Mekel becomes the second Israeli basketball player signed by an NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, but his pro career in the States is short.
♦ Production starts at the massive Tamar natural gas field off of Israel’s Mediterranean coast.
♦ A Pew Research Center study finds that a growing number of Jews in this country define themselves as “nones,” without a religious belief or affiliation.
♦ U.S. and other world powers reach an interim deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
♦ Pope Francis declares that a true Christian “cannot be anti-Semitic.”
♦ Following the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teenagers, serious fighting flares up between Israel and Hamas forces in Gaza.
♦ Six men — including five Jewish worshippers and a Druze officer — are killed during a terrorist attack at a synagogue in the Har Nof section of Jerusalem.
♦ David Blatt, a veteran of pro basketball in Israel, is named head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
♦ Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded first Genesis Prize.
♦ Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sentenced to prison on bribery charges.
♦ Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is released from federal prison.
♦ Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected prime minister of Israel.
♦ Power broker Sheldon Silver, a longtime member of the New York State Assembly, is arrested on federal corruption charges.
♦ A revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway, stars Danny Burstein as Tevye.
♦ A biography of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cements her reputation as “The Notorious R.B.G.”
♦ The controversial Iran nuclear deal goes into effect, widening the divide between the Obama administration and parts of the US Jewish community.
♦ Abe Foxman ends a 50-year run at the Anti-Defamation League, 27 of which were as national director.
♦ Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel dies at 87.
♦ Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres dies at 93.
♦ The political chasm among Jews in the U.S. widens when Donald Trump is elected president. Seven in 10 Jews vote for Hillary Clinton.
♦ Vermont Sen. (and native Brooklynite) Bernie Sanders becomes the first Jewish candidate in history to win a major party presidential primary when he wins in New Hampshire.
♦ Film producer Harvey Weinstein becomes the public face of the #MeToo sex abuse movement.
♦ Israeli actress Gal Gadot achieves superstardom as “Wonder Woman.”
♦ Yona Metzger, former chief Ashkenazic rabbi of Israel, enters prison on a corruption charge.
♦ Bowing to Orthodox pressure, Netanyahu freezes an agreement to allow non-Orthodox worship at the Western Wall.
♦ Shouting “Jews will not replace us,” white nationalists rally in Charlottesville, Va.
♦ Marking a return to the Manhattan neighborhood, the JCC Harlem opens.
♦ The Orthodox Union announces that it will enforce its ban against woman rabbis in member congregations.
♦ Eleven people are killed during a terrorist shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
♦ The Mossad steals a half-ton of nuclear files from an Iran nuclear facility.
♦ Keeping a campaign promise, President Trump moves the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
♦ Actress Natalie Portman declines to attend the Genesis Prize award ceremony in Jerusalem, as a protest against Israeli political actions.
♦ Serious fighting between Israel and Hamas forces flares up in Gaza.
♦ Israeli singer Netta Barzilai wins the Eurovision Song Contest.
♦ “Shtisel,” the Netflix series about a charedi family in Israel, becomes a hit in the United States.
♦ A Yiddish revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” opens Off Broadway.
♦ National elections in Israel twice fail to elect a party that can form a government coalition. Another vote is set for March 2020.
♦ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted on corruption charges.
♦ J. Levine Books and Judaica, the century-old firm with Lower East Side roots, closes its midtown location.
♦ After a decade in the National Basketball Association, Omri Casspi, the NBA’s first Israeli player, returns to Maccabi Tel Aviv.