Jewish Ideas Daily has been succeeded and re-launched as Mosaic. Read more...

American Jewish History

Who Needs Denominations? Who Needs Denominations?
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Several weeks ago, an American law professor who serves on his synagogue's search committee for a new rabbi put forward the provocative argument that the process was not only stifling but illegal. The culprit, he wrote, was the highly restrictive role played by national rabbinic bodies.
America and the Jews: Different, or the Same? America and the Jews: Different, or the Same?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 by Jack Wertheimer | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 2004, a commemorative medal marking the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in North America quoted, on one side, from George Washington's letter assuring the Jews of Newport, R.I. of their rightful place in the fledgling republic of the United States; the reverse side portrayed huddled masses of Jews yearning to breathe free; around the outer edge, in Hebrew and English, ran the biblical passage, "proclaim liberty throughout the land."
World Jewish Congress World Jewish Congress
Monday, August 30, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In a show of solidarity with Israel, leaders of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) will be gathering in Jerusalem at the end of the month. Not to be confused with the American Jewish Congress, of which it was originally an outgrowth, or the World Zionist Congress, founded by Theodor Herzl, the WJC is an umbrella group of Diaspora organizations (including the European Jewish Congress, the Latin American Jewish Congress, and others) that defines itself somewhat grandly as "the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people." If you haven't heard of it, there's a reason.
Requiem for a Big Little Magazine Requiem for a Big Little Magazine
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

After eighty-six years, eighty-two in print and the last few in cyberspace, the New Leader, a quintessential American "little magazine," is folding. Like all good publications, it both embodied and analyzed a world of its own, a world worth remembering. 
Thoroughly Modern Matzah Thoroughly Modern Matzah
Thursday, March 25, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

When Jews the world over sit down next week to mark the birth of Jewish history, matzah will figure prominently at the table. Matzah baking is an exacting task; according to traditional law, the entire process, from first kneading to exit from the oven, must be accomplished in 18 minutes flat, with not a speck of leaven in sight. For thousands of years, these specifications and others were laboriously met by hand. Yet this most ancient food has a modern history, too. The first matzah machine was invented in 1838 in France. With rabbinic approval, the technology moved steadily eastward.  The...
Rabbah Rabbah
Friday, March 5, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Several weeks ago, a well-known Modern Orthodox rabbi in New York announced that a learned young woman serving in his synagogue as a teacher, preacher, pastoral counselor, and halakhic guide would henceforth be referred to as "Rabbah"—the feminine form of "Rav," or rabbi.  In thus effectively ordaining Sara Hurwitz as the first female Orthodox rabbi, Avraham (Avi) Weiss set off a firestorm.  The presiding body of ultra-Orthodox rabbis has ruled that Weiss himself must no longer be called Orthodox; the Rabbinical Council of America, an avowedly Modern Orthodox body, may expel him as well.  No stranger to controversy, Weiss has bucked...
Page 7 of 7« First...34567
Editors' Picks
A Tale of Two Synagogues David Gelernter, Jewish Review of Books. Frank Lloyd Wright's sprawling celebration of suburban Judaism echoes the shape of a long-ago building in Poland. And that echo tells us something about the remarkable history of synagogue architecture. (With images)
Poison Ivy Rivkah Blau, Jewish Press. The thriving Jewish communities at America's elite universities seem entirely natural today, until we remember that just fifty years ago the Ivy League was no haven for Jews.
From Slovakia to Flatbush Binyamin Rose, Voz Iz Neias?. The busiest synagogue in Flatbush traces its roots to a bunker in rural Slovakia, where its founder, Yechezkel Shraga Landau, led a community in hiding during the war.
School Ties Jason Diamond, Tablet. The only thing hidden in the resurgence of the quintessentially WASPy American look is a sense of its Jewish roots.
The Frozen Chosen Yereth Rosen, Moment. Roosevelt's plan to resettle Jewish refugees in Alaska came to nothing, as locals doubted that the newcomers could adapt. But unbeknownst to them, Jews had been among Alaska's pioneers.
The Jews Who Fight Back Ezra Glinter, Bookforum. For decades, Chabad struggled to maintain its enclave in a predominantly black neighborhood while keeping control over its own internal frictions. Now, it may have to recalibrate that defensive stance.
A Mask for Janus Margalit Fox, New York Times. For a generation of Reform Jews, the commentary of the recently deceased W. Gunther Plaut heralded a return to Hebrew scripture. But it also made new interpretations permissible.
Blessed are the Bootleggers Allan Nadler, Tablet. While rabbis opposed Prohibition in the name of religious freedom, and many Jews embraced the black market, one Izzy Einstein became the most successful enforcer of dry laws in the country.
The Lost Tribe of New Mexico Irene Wanner, Seattle Times. Straddling the border between Colorado and New Mexico, San Luis Valley is home to Hispano communities, where research shows that almost everyone is related by blood. Jewish blood.
Independent is the New Democrat Ilana Ostrin, American Prospect. Jewish affiliation with the Democratic Party has dropped by ten percent since 2009. This won't hurt President Obama—but may affect other electoral races in 2012.