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Arts & Culture

Order in the House Order in the House
Monday, February 27, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

On a bad day, Israeli parliamentarians have been known to hurl water at political adversaries, denigrate immigrant MKs' Hebrew accents, and even bow their heads in the memory of Palestinian suicide bombers. On a good day, they mostly go about the nuts-and-bolts crafting of bipartisan legislation for the benefit of all Israelis.
Evil Genius Evil Genius
Thursday, February 23, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Very little anti-Semitic literature is new; most of its tropes seem ageless, continually recombined and updated by haters reacting only dimly to their actual circumstances. Few anti-Semitic works exhibit literary or lesser, sociological gifts. The one exception is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Anatomy of Life and Death The Anatomy of Life and Death
Thursday, February 16, 2012 by Armin Rosen | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 2010 the New York Review of Books published a now-famous essay by former New Republic editor Peter Beinart, who argued that liberal Zionism was on the decline in Israel and that the "American Jewish establishment" was partly to blame.
The Signal-to-Noise War The Signal-to-Noise War
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A "signal-to-noise" ratio compares the power of a transmitted signal to that of the accompanying background noise. In the war of words between Israel and Iran the noise-to-signal ratio is so high that it is an almost overwhelming task to decipher what's going on.
Mensch in the Moon Mensch in the Moon
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 by Josh Gelernter | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Right now there are two Americans aboard the International Space Station, and their only way home is to hitch a ride in the Russians' Soyuz capsule, a ramshackle remnant of the 1960s. There's no space shuttle to bring them home because the shuttle's been retired; also retired are plans for an American return to the moon.
Jewish Ethics, from Ancient Bible to Modern Bus Jewish Ethics, from Ancient Bible to Modern Bus
Monday, February 13, 2012 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The next time someone tells you that ethical behavior doesn't need a foundation in religious teaching, step onto an Israeli bus (it doesn't have to be the gender-segregated variety) or open a mass-circulation Israeli newspaper and see how religion puts Jewish ethics on steroids.
In God They Trust? In God They Trust?
Thursday, February 9, 2012 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Stick an average alumnus of the Israeli public school system into a synagogue during morning prayers, and chances are they would be bewildered. Even if they could recollect an arid Bible class they had to endure long ago, what good would it do them? They'd still be lost.
From New Year to Arbor Day From New Year to Arbor Day
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The holiday of Tu Bishvat ("the fifteenth of Shvat") falls this year on Wednesday, February 8. What are its origins, and when and why did it become incorporated into the calendar as the Jewish "Arbor Day"?
The Dangerous Mr. Nelson The Dangerous Mr. Nelson
Monday, February 6, 2012 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Eric Nelson is a danger to academia. You would not think so from his background. He is the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University. He has had a proper education, at Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge.
The Pale God The Pale God
Friday, February 3, 2012 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Imagine God not as a benign force infusing the universe with love and sustaining it with mercy, and not as a stern judge smiting sinners from on high with his cosmic zap-gun, but as a grandfatherly figure, kind but, truth be told, somewhat out of it, sitting in a corner, tolerant of the various paths his children have chosen.
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Editors' Picks
Frankincense Resurrected Matthew Kalman, Times of Israel. 1,500 years after the last frankincense tree disappeared from the Holy Land, Dr. Elaine Solowey has grown the first shoots of the tree whose sap was worth more than gold.
The Scrolls Go Digital , Telegraph. Thanks to a two-year collaboration between the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google, the Dead Sea Scrolls are now online.
The View from the Hudson Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe. Cartoonist Saul Steinberg was a Romanian Jew, an escapee from Fascist Italy, and a man whose wry art helped define modern America.
Out of the Closet Josh Glancy, Jewish Chronicle. “Some Jews are beginning to grasp a fact that Britain's Asian and black communities have known for years: we're a minority, maybe that can actually be quite cool.”
Magnitizdat Sophie Pinkham, Paris Review. The samizdat literature that helped undermine the Soviet Union had a musical counterpart: bootlegged prison songs from the gulag, some mythologizing the Jewish gangsters of Odessa.
Exit, Voice, and Loyalty Robert Kuttner, American Prospect. Refugee scholar and political economist Albert Hirschman, who died this week, taught that consumers must do more than vote with their feet if they want a civil society.
Found in Translation Yehuda Amichai, New Republic. Robert Alter's new translations of a selection of Yehuda Amichai's poems breathe fresh life into the work of one of Israel's literary giants.
A Writer's Story Nathan Englander, Chicago Tribune. “When I set out to write my Argentina book,” recalls Nathan Englander, “I was going to write a Jew-free novel.”  But “the Jews, they just got in everywhere.” (Interview by Kevin Nance)
Jewish Jocks David Davis, Los Angeles Review of Books. A new collection of essays about 50 Jewish sports stars tries to show that Jews have made a considerable contribution to American athletics.  But does it protest too much?
Brubeck’s Jewish Music Dave Brubeck, Moment. Dave Brubeck, who died this week, was not Jewish.  But through his jazz, he played an important role in healing the rift between Jews and African Americans. (Interview by Howard Reich)