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Arts & Culture

To Ransom or Not to Ransom? To Ransom or Not to Ransom?
Friday, June 10, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The PLO's first attack on Israel came when Mahmoud Hijazi and five other terrorists attempted to bomb a water-pump station in southern Israel. Once captured, Hijazi received the second death sentence ever handed down in Israel. Though his sentence was later overturned, the story was far from over.
Before the Law Before the Law
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 by Suzanne Last Stone and Alan M. Dershowitz | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The holiday of Shavuot, which falls this year on June 8 and 9, commemorates the giving of the Law. In video interviews conducted by the Israeli media agency Leadel, the prominent legal scholars Suzanne Last Stone and Alan M. Dershowitz explain the differences between Jewish law and Western law, and how their own interest in the former has informed their careers in the latter. —The Editors
The Forgotten Festival The Forgotten Festival
Monday, June 6, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The holiday of Shavuot, which begins this year on Tuesday evening, is the orphan among Jewish holidays; it is the forgotten festival. Let me count the ways.
We Were the Future We Were the Future
Thursday, June 2, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Few uniquely Israeli institutions have ever held the world's imagination like the kibbutz: a radical Jewish experiment in communal living, social justice, economic egalitarianism, and the reorganization of family life. Indeed, perhaps the most radical innovation of all was the "children's house" (beit y'ladim).
The Anthropology of AIPAC The Anthropology of AIPAC
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Few events in contemporary American Jewish life generate as much passion as the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), held in Washington this year on May 22-24. The best way to view the over 10,000 conference participants may be in terms of a tribe or small society.
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.
The Russian Wave The Russian Wave
Thursday, May 26, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, some one million Jews have come to Israel from the former Soviet Union (FSU), enlarging the country's population by 25 percent and forming the largest concentration in the world of Russian Jews.  They have left their mark in almost every walk of life. And yet, as a group, they are still something of a mystery.
From the Four Corners From the Four Corners
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Are most Jews white? The impression that this is so is partially the result of the calamitous and decimating events of the 20th century, in which the great centers of Europe were lost to Nazi genocide while those of the Middle East and North Africa were lost to Islam.
Holocaust without End Holocaust without End
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Sixty-six years after the end of World War II, the Holocaust remains one of the central puzzles of human history. For Jews, the imperative is clear: to remember and to encourage others to remember. But remember what? Has the earnest dedication of both Jews and non-Jews to seek the meaning of the event and absorb its lessons ended by emptying it of meaning and lessons alike?
The Life of Prayer The Life of Prayer
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Prayer has never been easy, as the Psalmist well knew: "For there is no word on my tongue; You, O Lord, know them all" (139: 4). And even if there are words on the tongue, the results can be distressingly uncertain, or worse: "My God, I call out by day and You do not answer; by night, there is no respite for me" (22:2). It hasn’t gotten easier since then.
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Editors' Picks
Bibi's Burden David Margolick, Vanity Fair. As the Israeli populace—disillusioned with grandiose peace plans, increasingly controlled by the Orthodox—has moved right, Netanyahu has been able to stay in one place: His country has come to him.
Liberty and Espionage Jerusalem Post. The indicted Haaretz reporter Uri Blau is no martyr.  There is plenty of scope for journalists to ply their trade without putting themselves above the law and endangering the entire populace.     
Dr. Seuss's War Andres Jauregui, Huffington Post. While best known for works like The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss "was haunted by the war in Europe," and was a prolific political cartoonist during the 1940s.  Here, a gallery.      
The Yeridah Myth Pini Herman, Forward. The received wisdom has long been that Israel has a problem with emigration. Yet the data shows not only that comparatively few Israelis leave, but also that most come back.
A Jewish Esperanto? Philologos, Forward. According to two encyclopedias, out of an estimated 16 million Jews in the world in 1939, 11 million were Yiddish speakers. But that figure doesn't stand up to closer inspection.
What is the Oldest Known Hebrew Inscription? Biblical Archaeology Society. Four contenders emerge, but the question is not so simple.
The Negev's “First People”? Havatzelet Yahel, Ruth Kark, Seth J. Frantzman, Middle East Quarterly. The Bedouin may be a poor and marginal sector of Israeli society, but this does not transform them into an indigenous nation.
Opportunity for Reform Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal. Now that Israel's courts brought non-Orthodox denominations one step closer to equality, those denominations must prove that they can connect with Israel's public, not just its courts.
High Anxiety Daniel Smith, New York Times. Anxiety isn't a virtue—or if it is a virtue, it's an unpleasant and problematic one. So why do Jews all but celebrate it?
A Life in Rock, and Writing Greil Marcus, Los Angeles Review of Books. "I told my wife about [a conversation with the editor of Rolling Stone] in great detail. And Jenny said, ‘Greil, you've just been fired.' I said, ‘I have?!?'" (20,000-word interview by Simon Reynolds; here, part II, part III, and part IV)