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Arts & Culture

Returning to Pearl Harbor Returning to Pearl Harbor
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, Vernon Olsen was a 21-year-old seaman assigned to mess hall duty aboard the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the calm waters of Pearl Harbor.  At 7:55 that morning, the ship's air raid alarm sounded.
The Evil Inclination The Evil Inclination
Monday, December 5, 2011 by Raphael Magarik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The yetzer hara, usually translated "evil impulse," is an elusive rabbinic concept. The words derive from God's observation in Genesis 8:21 (paralleled earlier in 6:5) that "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."
Look for the Union Label Look for the Union Label
Thursday, December 1, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

With the din from the Occupy Wall Street encampments fading in the early winter chill, it's time to step back and consider the phenomenon as part of the broader history of the anti-capitalist struggle in America.
Jews and Black Baseball Jews and Black Baseball
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Prague has its Altneuschul and Rabbi Judah Loewe, who created the original Golem; Worms has its Raschi-Haus, where the great medieval scholar is said to have studied. And in America, St. Paul, Minnesota has its Temple of Aaron.
Is Judaism a Religion? Is Judaism a Religion?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

There is no end to the conundrums involved in defining what it means to be a Jew. Must a Jew be someone who believes in the Jewish religion, in the way a Christian believes in Christianity or a Muslim in Islam?  That can't be the case, since many devoted Jews are atheists.
Thanksgiving: A Jewish Holiday After All Thanksgiving: A Jewish Holiday After All
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation recommending that Thursday November 26th of that year be devoted "to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be." 
In the Jewish Dark Continent In the Jewish Dark Continent
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Most American Jews descend from ancestors who resided in the Pale of Settlement, the territory from the Black Sea to the Baltic in which Jews were confined by the Czars.  A new book describes one effort to chart that territory.
The New Jewish Sound The New Jewish Sound
Friday, November 18, 2011 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Richard Wagner famously dismissed Jewish music as "mongrelized," a musically incoherent product assembled from many disparate influences. But for many modern Jewish musicians, this "mongrel" character is a point of pride, the feature that allows Jewish music to absorb and reflect the musical experience of the world.
On the Road Again On the Road Again
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The chronically tense relations between the Israeli government and Bedouins in the Negev—where unrecognized villages are built, razed, and built again—are certain to grow even more tense with the Israeli Cabinet's recent approval of a plan that will recognize about half these villages but demolish the other half.
People of the Byte People of the Byte
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Jews have long been the People of the Book. But as computers replace books and possibly libraries, museums, and universities, will they soon be the People of the Byte?
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Editors' Picks
The Novel That Scared Hamas Paul Berman, New Republic. In a bold move, an outspoken critic of Islamism, Boualem Sansal was awarded France’s 2012 Arab Novel Prize.  Then its Arab sponsors cancelled the awards ceremony.
Angels in the Architecture Elin Schoen Brockman, Tablet. Rabbis have tried to enforce the biblical prohibition on graven images.  But, as a new exhibit at the Israel Museum shows, that hasn’t kept Jewish artists from being fascinated by angels.
Scene of the Crime Morgan Meis, Smart Set. Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum was recently robbed of six major paintings—and a minor work by Jewish artist Meyer de Haan.  Was the de Haan theft a mistake?  Or the key to the crime?
Strindberg’s Inferno Brooke Allen, New Criterion. Yes, August Strindberg took some racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic positions.  But at significant moments of his life he vigorously championed both Jews and women.
Hollywood for Haredim Debra Kamin, New York Times. A recent spate of movies by female Haredi directors has exposed secular film-goers to the ultra-Orthodox world—but has also exposed Haredi women to the cinema.
O Pioneers! Hillel Halkin, Jewish Review of Books. They graduated from American colleges, read American literature, and traveled in America.  So, why did these immigrant poets insist on writing in the little-read language of Hebrew?
Kafka’s Trial Matthew Kalman, Independent. The author wanted them burnt and for almost 90 years they have been kept under lock and key; but thanks to an Israeli court ruling, Franz Kafka's papers will soon be open to the public.
Samson the Suicide Bomber? Neil Forsyth, Times Literary Supplement. Milton's Samson Agonistes turns the strongman’s revenge against the Philistines into a holy crusade.  Does that make it an act of terror?
Beer with a Back Story Editors, Jewish Ideas Daily. What happens when Israel’s emerging boutique beer culture intersects with the American trend toward getting to know the food one eats? Lost Tribes Brew happens. The New York-based microbrewery produces beers based on recipes gathered from various remote communities claiming Israelite origins, like India’s Bene Menashe and Ethiopia’s Beta Israel.No doubt, part of this is a gimmick: in order to successfully market an odd-tasting beer brewed by a bunch of Jewish twenty-somethings in upstate New York, you need to have a good story, like one that connects your customer to real or imagined ancient Israelite foodways (note that...
Handel’s Scandal? Marion Lignana Rosenberg, Forward. With his Jewish patrons and Old Testament subject matter, critics long supposed Handel to be a great philo-Semite; but recent research has shown his relationship with London's Jews to be much more complicated.