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American Jewish History

Jews against Zionism Jews against Zionism
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It will come as a surprise to many that the current adamant Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state was once American policy. An even greater surprise is that an American rabbi and the Jewish organization he headed played a major role in the government's articulation of that policy.
Too Many Museums? Too Many Museums?
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Although the paint is still wet on Philadelphia's National Museum of American Jewish History, an announcement has just been made of a planned National Museum of the Jewish People in Washington, D.C., steps from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and not far from two other Jewish museums.
Reconstructing Judaism Reconstructing Judaism
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 by Joseph J. Siev | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

At a time when all three major Jewish denominations in America—Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform—find themselves in a state of deep internal fracture, a fourth and much smaller movement, Reconstructionism, has just voted to create a unified body to coordinate the activities of its lay and rabbinical arms.
The Reluctant Renegade The Reluctant Renegade
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Since its founding, Conservative Judaism in the U.S. has defined itself in sharp contrast to Reform, pursuing a more religiously centrist and Zionist middle course. Its UK parallel, Masorti ("traditional") Judaism, was born as a secession movement from Orthodoxy—inspired by theologian Louis Jacobs.
Jews, Communism, and Espionage Jews, Communism, and Espionage
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the history of the American Left, Jews have been disproportionately represented—disproportionately, that is, relative to their share of the American population. At the extremes, they have also been active participants in what has sentimentally been called the "romance" of American Communism.
Montreal, a Love Story Montreal, a Love Story
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The second International Yiddish Theater Festival, an elaborate ten-day fete whose program ranges from carnavalesque performances to academic symposia, just wrapped up last week in Montreal. What is especially surprising about this celebration is that Montreal is a city with a Jewish population of less than 80,000.
Hebrew School Hebrew School
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 by Allan Arkush | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Samson Benderly, one might say, had crusading in his blood. A direct descendant of Jacob Emden, the zealous 18th-century European battler against Sabbateanism, he spent his youth in Palestine before coming to the United States in 1898 with the aim of becoming a physician.
American Orthodoxy and Its Discontents American Orthodoxy and Its Discontents
Friday, May 27, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A "case study in institutional decay": that description of Orthodox Judaism in America was offered in 1955 by the late sociologist Marshall Sklare. It has long since entered the gallery of scholarly misjudgments, acknowledged as such by Sklare when events turned out to belie his assessment.
Israel and Western Guilt Israel and Western Guilt
Friday, May 20, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"Confront Your Privilege." So reads a "subtly coercive" sign on display at tony American liberal-arts colleges. Why coercive? Because, as Wilfred McClay explains in an illuminating recent essay in First Things, what such signs are really telling the students is, "Feel Guilty."
Do Israeli and American Jews Need Each Other? Do Israeli and American Jews Need Each Other?
Friday, April 29, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Starting in 2005, American readers of the Israeli daily Haaretz noticed something new in its pages: well-informed, jaunty analyses not only of American politics and diplomacy but of American Jews and American Judaism. The paper's correspondent was clearly a native-born Israeli, but, in decidedly un-Israeli fashion, he not only was genuinely interested in understanding American Jewry from within but regularly had insightful things to say about it.
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Editors' Picks
Murder is My Business Elizabeth Greenwood, Guernica. Weegee lived opposite NYPD headquarters, and slept most of the day, rising at night to pack flashbulbs into the trunk of his '38 Chevy and prowl the streets looking for bloodstained sidewalks to photograph.
The First Book Maurice Sendak Ever Illustrated Peter D. Sieruta, Collecting Children's Books. The co-author of Atomics for the Millions asked one of his high school students if he would illustrate the volume. The student agreed to do the artwork in exchange for $100 and a passing grade.
Nobel Nuggets Jay Nordlinger, National Review. There was no Nobel Peace Prize for 1939, because Germany invaded Poland on September 1. (Forty-seven years later, Henry Kissinger would write to Elie Wiesel: "I was not proud of my Nobel, but I am of yours.")
Alma, Tell Us Ilan Stavans, Forward. Did Isaac Bashevis Singer's long-suffering wife write a memoir?
Trailing the Magic Bullet Josh Feinberg, Huffington Post. Permission to treat Christians, entrance quotas, scientific heroes, magic cures, and nursing campaigns: a new exhibit explores the glorious, scandalous history of Jews and modern medicine. (Slideshow)
The Titanic's Kosher Meal Marshall Weiss, JTA. The availability of kosher food on the Titanic sheds light on England's role as a transit point for Eastern European Jews on the way to America.
The Carp in the Bathtub Alan Deutschman, Salon. In the Brooklyn of the writer's youth, they didn't know from ahi tuna, but carp made good pets—and great gefilte fish, too.
Henry Kissinger The Mike Wallace Interview. "What is essential," Kissinger says, is to "have some image for the construction of the free world which is based on other motives than simply defending the world against Communism. We must make clear what we are for rather than what we are against." (Video; 1958)
Mortimer Adler The Mike Wallace Interview. "The kind of capitalism I'm talking about is, I would think, even more revolutionary than Communism." (Video; 1958)
George Jessel The Mike Wallace Interview. On the rumor that the comedian might be appointed ambassador to Israel: "I think if they did, I'd make a very good ambassador." (Video; 1957)