Friday, May 17
Though best remembered today for his political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was also a careful student of music. But his conclusions are undermined by the liturgical music of Ashkenazi Jews. Read More
Tuesday, May 14
In Jewish tradition, the holiday of Shavuot is said to commemorate the giving of the Torah at Sinai. But, as the Talmud often asks, mena hani mili, how do we know this? Read More
Monday, May 13
The Occupy rallies of 2011 were the largest Israel has ever seen. As I looked at the young couples in Tel Aviv protesting the inaccessibility of housing they could call their own, I thought of the land tenure reforms of Leviticus. Read More
Friday, May 10
Strange as it may sound, my idea of Israel did match reality. I’ve never imagined it to be some spotless utopia where everybody knows your name. It is a land haunted by terror and tragedy, fear and doubt. And yet it’s the land where God has chosen to reveal Himself to man. Read More
Thursday, May 9
The artifacts of Jewish cultural history have never looked so freshly inviting or unexpectedly contemporary as in a provocative new exhibition at New York's Jewish Museum. Read More
Wednesday, May 8
In his new book, Rod Dreher insists that communities are difficult to forge in America’s largest cities. But for traditional Jews, the demands of modern capitalism and community are not as incommensurate as Dreher assumes. Read More
Tuesday, May 7
Petitions (kvitlekh) addressed to the 19th-century miracle worker Rabbi Elijah Guttmacher provide something almost never found in hoary Hebrew tomes or official Polish documents: windows into the struggles and secret anxieties of everyday Jews in Eastern Europe. Read More
Monday, May 6
The likely closure of Aderaba, the magazine by, for, and about frustrated Israeli ba’alei teshuvah, demonstrates that the mainstream haredi community is too great to overcome—for now. Read More
Friday, May 3
Ensuring that another Holocaust would never take place was Menachem Begin's paramount concern, even when he was Prime Minister of Israel, pursuing Yasir Arafat in his Beirut bunker. Read More
Thursday, May 2
Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus personally rescued 50 Jewish children from Nazi-era Vienna and brought them home to Philadelphia. A new documentary tells their story—and contrasts it with the apathy shown by their community. Read More
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Boycotting the Boycott Charlie Laderman
. Instead of "respecting” the boycott, Spanish novelist Antonio Munoz Molina accepted the Jerusalem prize saying, "there is in Israel a society that is alive, democratic, pluralistic and open, in which I can recognize myself as a citizen."
Israel's Strongest Union Yoav Limor
, Israel Hayom
. "Simple arithmetic teaches us that contrary to the official announcement on Monday, the defense budget wasn't actually cut by 3 billion shekels. In fact, it was actually increased by 2.5 billion shekels."
Friends Again? Shashank Joshi
. The recent rapprochement between Israel and Turkey has repaired diplomatic ties, but the relationship is not about to be restored to what it once was.
The Samaritan Torah Chavie Lieber
. The Samaritan version of the Torah, recently translated into English, differs from the Masoretic text in 6000 instances—but has far fewer discrepancies with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Nabokov's Jews Benjamin Ivry
. A sympathetic portrayer of Jews in his fiction, Vladimir Nabokov denounced anti-Semitism as "philistinism in all its phases" in both Russia and the United States.
Tuesday, May 14
Voice in the Wilderness Nathan Lopes Cardozo
, Cardozo Academy
. "Avraham found God in the desert and so the people of Israel received the Torah in a place of ultimate authenticity: The Desert of devastating conditions and great opportunities."
A Love Letter from God Jonathan Sacks
, Jewish Press
. "In giving the Torah to Israel, God was not asserting His power, dominance or lordship over Israel. He was declaring His love."
Where Worlds Collide Eli Rubin
. "At Sinai—the Torah tells us—'God descended upon the mountain.' From this point on, man would be able to enjoy a direct relationship with the essentiality of the divine self."
The Theology of Cheesecake Ben Elton
, Jewish Chronicle
. "It is anything but trivial to turn eating cheesecake into a religious experience, it is an example of the Jewish genius."
Monday, May 13
Burial Rights and Wrongs Shlomo M. Brody
. Should Tamerlan Tsarnaev, co-perpetrator of the Boston bombings, have been buried? Jewish law extends burial rights even to the worst criminals and the most ardent enemies of God.
Eichmann's Jews Anton Pelinka
. A new history of the Viennese Jews forced to co-operate with Adolf Eichmann argues that Benjamin Murmelstein, long vilified as collaborator, tried to save Jewish lives wherever possible.
Interfaith Monologue Patrick Morrow
, Jewish Chronicle
. The Church of Scotland's report questioning Israel's right to exist read "as if there had been no Jewish-Christian dialogue since the Second World War."
Next Year in Brooklyn Adam Blitz
. "Should Damascus fall, as many of us believe it will, there remains the very real possibility that there will soon be no trace of a Jewish past in Syria at all."
Beyond Emancipation Robert Fine
. "Mendelssohn insisted that the Haskalah
, the Jewish enlightenment of the 18th century, was about the education and advancement of Jews, not about saving humanity from their allegedly noxious influence."
Friday, May 10
Remembering Geza Vermes Mark Goodacre
, NT Blog
. An authority on the early history of both Judaism and Christianity, Geza Vermes, who passed away this week, translated the Dead Sea Scrolls and revolutionized the academic study of Jesus.
Defrauding Holocaust Survivors Paul Berger
. Three Claims Conference employees have been convicted of fraudulently claiming $57 million meant for Holocaust survivors. But the Claims Conference denies institutional responsibility.
Our Mothers, Our Fathers Thomas Rogers
, New Republic
. A new German miniseries depicting the cruelty of soldiers during World War II shows that "the crimes of the Wehrmacht are no longer a taboo," but "a well-integrated theme in German history."
Rage against the Rebbe Baruch Sterman
, Huffington Post
. The Pshiskhe Hasidim challenged the establishment belief that "only the great and holy Rebbe could bring salvation," maintaining instead that spirituality comes from within.
Bad Education Vigen Guroian
, Imaginative Conservative
. "I try to explain to my pupils that envy is despicable," wrote Martin Buber, "and at once I feel the secret resistance of those who are poorer than their comrades."
Thursday, May 9
Hawking of Arabia Giulio Meotti
, Arutz Sheva
. "Would Professor Hawking ever survive in any Arab country or under the Palestinian autocracy he shamefully defends?"
Whitewashing White Supremacy Ben Cohen
. Delegates at the World Jewish Congress expected Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, to commit to eliminating anti-Semitism from public life. They were disappointed.
The Pleasures of Anti-Semitism Eve Garrard
. "You can’t miss the relish with which some people compare Jews to the Nazis, or the fake sorrow with which they bemoan the supposed fact that Jews have brought hatred on themselves."
Prolonging the Inevitable Natan Slifkin
, Rationalist Judaism
. Private donations to the haredi kollel
system in Israel help to ensure that haredi men never acquire the skills they will need when they are forced to enter the workforce.
Lost Cause? Francis J. Caponi
. A new book argues that the root of the conflict between science and religion is the reductive modern understanding of causality—which many scientists are now rejecting.