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American Judaism

Back When the Jews Built Like Jews Back When the Jews Built Like Jews
Thursday, March 21, 2013 by Ben Greenfield | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In December 1872, authorities in Florence halted elaborate plans for a grand synagogue and criticized the city's Jews—for not building more Jewishly.
Eizenstat on the Jewish Future Eizenstat on the Jewish Future
Friday, March 15, 2013 by Jerome A. Chanes | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In his new book on the Jewish future, Jewish diplomat Stuart Eizenstat sees Jewish destiny evolving in the friendly competition between the sovereignty of Israel and the pluralism of America.
The Jewish Egyptian Revival The Jewish Egyptian Revival
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Passover marks the day on which God liberated the Israelites from Pharaoh’s rule.   But three millennia after the Exodus, emancipated Jews expressed their national identity by building synagogues in the Pharaonic style.
AIPAC and the Secret Worlds of Peoplehood AIPAC and the Secret Worlds of Peoplehood
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

No cause, force or organization, brings Americans, primarily Jews but also Christians, together like the cause of Israel as managed by AIPAC.
Covering the Bases Covering the Bases
Monday, March 11, 2013 by Michael Arkush | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"Sandy Koufax was not just the greatest left-handed pitcher I ever saw," recalled his biographer, Jane Leavy , at a recent celebration of Jewish baseball.  "He’s also the greatest mensch I’ve ever met in my life."
The Voice That Speaks in My Soul The Voice That Speaks in My Soul
Friday, March 8, 2013 by Susan Taubes | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Echoing Kafka in this 1949 letter of protest to a domineering male, Susan Taubes writes: "I can no more keep to the laws of the Bible than I can cross myself or take the sacrament."
Who’s Sadat?  Or, Defining Israel Literacy Upward Who’s Sadat? Or, Defining Israel Literacy Upward
Monday, March 4, 2013 by David B. Starr | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

American Jewry is becoming less and less well informed about Zionism and Israel.  Can anything be done to reverse this decline?
Purim in a New York Taxi Purim in a New York Taxi
Friday, February 22, 2013 by Viva Hammer | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In reading the megillah together, my brother and I share a special bond of experience, family history played out against the rich backdrop of our people’s history.
Opening the Gates of Judaism Opening the Gates of Judaism
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by Motti Inbari | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Given the demographic and spiritual decline among “biological” Jews in America, if we want to keep Judaism alive, we must do something that we haven't done for 2000 years: proselytize.
Denominational Delusions Denominational Delusions
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 by Andrew Apostolou | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

With synagogues closing, congregations ageing, and the non-Orthodox majority dwindling, American Jews are caught in a crisis. Yet no one is tackling the root of this problem: intermarriage.
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Editors' Picks
Evading the Synagogue Tax Rachel S. Harris, Sh'ma. Young Jews are increasingly reluctant to pay synagogue membership fees.  But they are paying for other kinds of Jewish affiliation.
Still, Small Voice Rick Jacobs, Jewish Week. "Rationalists, such as Maimonides, and mystical poets, such as Judah Halevi, agree that at the end of the journey there is silence—that silence is the ultimate connection." (Interview by Alfredo Borodowski)
Kashrut in America Timothy D. Lytton, Jewish Review of Books. In 1986, a jar of herring in vinegar brought America's government-backed kosher regulation to its knees—and heralded the rise of the private kosher certification agency. 
Orthodox Surging in America . . . David Brooks, New York Times. "The families stuffing their groceries into their Honda Odyssey minivans in the Pomegranate parking lot represent a challenging counterculture. Mostly, I notice how incredibly self-confident they are."
. . . at Israel’s Expense Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post. "At a time such as this, when aliyah is dwindling, it is incumbent upon every Orthodox Jew in America and elsewhere to look in the mirror and ask himself with unadorned honesty: Where do I really belong?"
The Orthodox Go to Washington Yair Rosenberg, Tablet. Offering sessions aimed at Orthodox rabbis for the first time, this year's AIPAC conference reflects a broader trend of engagement in the political process by the Orthodox community.
America's Rabbis Bounce Back Steven Windmueller, eJewish Philanthropy. Twenty years ago, America’s communal elites curtailed the rabbis’ influence.  But with Orthodoxy’s new assertiveness, rabbis are shaping American Judaism again. 
Did Sondheim Destroy the Musical? Kate Wakeling, Jewish Quarterly. Broadway musicals were once the bastion of Jewish acculturation in America.  But, in his musicals, Jewish composer Stephen Sondheim swapped assimilation for alienation.
America's New Jewish Secularism Barry A. Kosmin, Ariela Keysar, Washington Post. A new book says that American Jews, free of previous generations’ pressure to assimilate, are producing a vibrant secular Jewish culture whose continued growth "seems assured."
Speaking Jewish Sarah Bunin Benor, Kavvanah. "American Jews speak a Jewish language comparable to Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Greek, and many other Diaspora languages." (Interview by Alan Brill)