As Jan. 1 fast approaches, publications and institutions nationwide have turned to that favorite end of year pastime — the composing of lists. For the most part, this is a celebratory endeavor, with editors, reviewers and community leaders compiling their favorites among the past year's exertions, whether in politics or culture or some other public pursuit.
There exist, of course, other lists diametrically opposed to these — the worst dressed men or women in the country or perhaps a grouping of stinkeroo motion pictures. But for the most part, Top 10 compilations generally refer to the finest works or feats created or executed in the past 12 months.
That was why reading the Anti-Defamation League's recent press release highlighting the "Top 10 Issues Affecting Jews in 2010" came as such a shock. It was such an unremitting downer.
"The Obama Administration's efforts to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism, the drumbeat of Israel delegitimization, the stubborn potency of global anti-Semitism, Iran's unyielding march toward nuclear weapons, and the fallout from the Gaza flotilla affair were among the top issues," read the first paragraph of the annual list.
"For much of the year there was a glimmer of hope that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would finally get off the ground, and yet our hopes diminished with each passing week …," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"Meanwhile, the unrelenting global assault against Israel's legitimacy continued apace, with calls for divestment and sanctions against the Jewish state and efforts to undermine Israel's credibility in international forums and at the United Nations."
Few would doubt that these are grave issues that all committed Jews must grapple with, especially the existential threat from Iran and the continuous effort to deligitimize Israel by a number of groups, many of them, sadly, commandeered by young Jews.
But reading such a list might lead one to believe that there's nothing but gloom and doom in the Jewish world. To modify this no doubt sobering but lachrymose view of things, we would like to posit a list to be read alongside ADL's important compilation.
We would like to acknowledge all of those Jews who delve each week into the beauties of their religion through the vehicle of Torah, whether at shuls or in study groups. We would like to drink a toast to all those Jews, especially the Israelis, who continue to contribute to the greater good of humanity via the many new feats of technology and invention they continue to create. We would like to tip our hat to the Jews worldwide who continue to speak out against injustice wherever they see it. And we would like to salute Jews as a people who continue to put so much stock in education and bettering their minds.
We could go on and on, but we think you get the idea. A happy and healthy to everyone.