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Arts & Culture

Mimouna! Mimouna!
Friday, May 13, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

What did two million Israelis do when Passover ended this year? As in previous years, they celebrated Mimouna, a Moroccan Jewish holiday that is popularly observed by picnicking, barbecueing, and consuming moufletas (sweet North African pancakes). And what is Mimouna all about? No one really knows.
Agitprop in America Agitprop in America
Thursday, May 12, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The tempest has subsided, and the playwright Tony Kushner will receive his honorary doctorate from the City University of New York after all. After a single trustee convinced the majority of his fellow board members to deny the award on the basis of Kushner's viciously negative pronouncements about Israel, the weight of almost the entire New York cultural apparatus was brought to bear.
Beyond “Religious” and “Secular” Beyond “Religious” and “Secular”
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

What should be the place of the Jewish religion in a Jewish state? There are many putative answers to this question, and the answers have changed over time. When Zionism was still an aspiration, a great blank yet to be filled in, the terms of debate were set by a self-confidently secular dispensation preoccupied with state- and institution-building. In the first few decades of statehood, religion, though state-established, was clearly subservient.
Israel: The Miracle Israel: The Miracle
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by Paul Johnson | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The state of Israel is the product of more than 4,000 years of Jewish history. "If you want to understand our country, read this!" said David Ben-Gurion on the first occasion I met him, in 1957. And he slapped the Bible. But the creation and survival of Israel are also very much a 20th-century phenomenon.
Crimes of Communion Crimes of Communion
Monday, May 9, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Two years ago, a Muslim reporter for the Malaysian magazine Al Islam attended a Catholic mass in Kuala Lumpur with a companion, surreptitiously took communion, and put the wafer in his mouth, only to spit it out later. The May 2009 issue of Al Islam featured a cover photograph of the soggy, partially-eaten wafer—to the horror of local church authorities.
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.
Loving the Jews Loving the Jews
Thursday, April 28, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Five years before Theodor Herzl published The Jewish State in 1896, an American Methodist lay leader named William Blackstone dreamed of the Jewish people's returning to their ancestral homeland and rebuilding their ancient country. Blackstone translated his dream into a petition signed by 400 prominent Americans, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and a future president, William McKinley.
Easter, Passover, and the <i>West Side Story</i> that Wasn’t Easter, Passover, and the West Side Story that Wasn’t
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 by Elliott Horowitz | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Late in 1948, in the early stages of his collaboration with Jerome Robbins on the musical that would become West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein wrote in his diary: "Jerry R. called today with a noble idea: a modern version of Romeo and Juliet set in slums at the coincidence of Easter-Passover celebrations. Feelings run high between Jews and Catholics. . . . "
Not Marc Chagall Not Marc Chagall
Thursday, April 21, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the annals of modernist art, three European Jewish names stand out: Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, and Amedeo Modigliani. A fourth should be added. This is Emmanuel Mané Katz. Born in 1894 to a traditional Jewish family in the Ukraine, he moved to Paris at the age of nineteen to pursue a career as a painter, and there joined the three more fabled artists named above. Together, they have been loosely called "the School of Paris."
Eichmann Goes Digital Eichmann Goes Digital
Monday, April 18, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

This year, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Eichmann trial, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, together with the Israel State Archives, has posted to YouTube an extraordinary series of videos: over 200 hours of courtroom sessions and testimonies in the original Hebrew, German, and Yiddish, as well as a parallel set with English voiceover. What do they tell us?
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Editors' Picks
The Immigration Consensus Noam Sheizaf, +972. While Israeli Arab MKs may never accept the Jewish claim to the land, when it comes to the claims of African illegal immigrants, they stand with the government.
Halcion Days Joseph O’Neill, Atlantic. What happens if you misdiagnose Philip Roth, whose novels proceed like legal arguments with an eye toward personal pathology? You'll get a legalistic argument about the author's personal pathology.
Jews of Yemen, Get Out! Lyn Julius, Times of Israel. The few dozen Jews who remain in Yemen—many incentivized against aliyah by the Satmar movement—insist that Jewish life is good in Tzanaa despite a death toll attesting to the contrary.
Ballpark Figures Jon Paul Morosi, Fox Sports. Through the Law of Return, Israel's national baseball team could recruit a number of established major leaguers.
Morality, Not Theology Meir Soloveichik, Weekly Standard. Mormons trying to talk across doctrinal divides to evangelical Christians can learn from Joseph Soloveitchik's advice on how Jews should—and should not—discuss their faith with Christians.
A Kaddish for Sholem Aleichem Kara A. Kaufman, Moment. How did the Yiddish author want his descendants to spend his yahrzeit? They should "select one of my stories, one of the really merry ones, and read it aloud in whatever language they understand best."
Sacha Baron Cohen Never Forgets Steve Sailer, Taki's. The comedian's four main characters have been parodies of present or past foes of the Jews. At this rate, he might even get around to making a movie mocking the Amalekites.
Wadiya Doin'? J. Hoberman, Tablet. Chaplin's Great Dictator ends with an anti-fascist speech; Sacha Baron Cohen's Dictator breaks the proscenium to make a blunt political statement—about the inequities of American society.
Body Language Arika Okrent, Lapham's Quarterly. Jews tended to use one hand, Italians both. Italians touched their own bodies, Jews touched the bodies of their conversational partners. But as Jews and Italians became American, so did their gestures.
Megalopolis Avital Lahav, Ynet. Is the solution to Israel's housing crisis the creation of a mega-city encompassing much of central Israel?