Archives for category: Opinion

New Voices 2.20.14 Figure skating to Schindler's List

If Lipnitskaia’s performance is inappropriate, then anything other than straightforward facts about the Holocaust, according to these commentators, should be forbidden.

If art is meant to force its viewers to struggle with complex emotions, what is the difference between Spielberg’s use of Schindler’s List to make money and Lipnitskaia’s use of the movie’s theme to win points? Would these same commentators condemn Everything is Illuminated, a Holocaust movie that also contains some of the most brilliant comedy I’ve ever seen? Should libraries pull Phillip Roth’s Plot Against America off the shelves for altering the history of the Holocaust? Should Ballet Austin have shut down Light, a ballet that showcased the beauty of humanity and its suffering during the Holocaust? Should American University, my school, have shut down a children’s musical about the Holocaust (of which I was a cast member) because it originally had a song about cheese?

When did political correctness force us to lose our humanity, our ability to recognize art for what it is: defiance of people like the Nazis who preferred a world of hatred and death?

Read the rest of my take at New Voices. 

If you read my piece for New Voices comparing my experience as a Jew in Costa Rica and Israel, you weren’t the only one.

A number of bloggers read it as well and were not impressed. Some of it reached near libel and/or anti-Semitism. Read the responses for yourself. 

The home page of New Voices featuring the my blog post.

The home page of New Voices featuring the my blog post.

Shortly after my blog post went live, the Costa Rica Star responded (I think?) and confirmed my critique of their earlier article about me (I think?).

Screenshot of my story on the New Voices home page

It was hard being Jewish. There were no Shabbat dinners or daily prayers in my life, so I felt Jewish a grand total of three times in Costa Rica. I had to seek out spiritual enlightenment, and that usually only happened within the walls of the synagogue.

That stood in stark contrast to Israel, where being Jewish was pervasive and, by extension, easy. Everything around our hotel on the Kinerret closed on Shabbat, forcing time for reflection and relaxation. Kosher food is bountiful. Hebrew is omnipresent.

But I felt just as Jewish at services at B’nei Israel as I did when I was surrounded by it in Israel. 10 hours in a shul in Latin America was as spiritually fulfilling as 10 days in the Holy Land.

Read the rest of my reflection on my travels at New Voices.

Zach Cohen at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism.

Me at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism.

I have no plans to leave the Jewish community. I believe in God, I believe in our collective responsibility to repair the world and my second trip to Israel last month solidified my complex love for the Holy Land.

But by alienating me and other patrilineal Jews, the Jewish community risks our departure from a community that is shrinking every day.

See the rest of my essay at, a blog dedicated to covering interfaith marriages and relationships.

UPDATE: March 7 at 1:07 a.m.

A recent discovery: The essay was also syndicated to The Jewish Journal in Massachusetts North Shore area. h/t to Judy Matfess, finance officer of The Jewish Journal and, coincidentally, my roommate’s mother.