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Current Affairs

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 by | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Against a background of sharp disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem, the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee winds down today. On Monday, the 7,500 delegates—Jews, Christians, African Americans, as well as European and Canadian activists—heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declare that the United States would tell Israel the "truth" when "difficult but necessary choices" had to be made. Today, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama. Delegates from all 50 states planned to spend Tuesday on Capitol Hill speaking with their respective Senators and Members of Congress. But what is AIPAC, and what...
Rabbah Rabbah
Friday, March 5, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Several weeks ago, a well-known Modern Orthodox rabbi in New York announced that a learned young woman serving in his synagogue as a teacher, preacher, pastoral counselor, and halakhic guide would henceforth be referred to as "Rabbah"—the feminine form of "Rav," or rabbi.  In thus effectively ordaining Sara Hurwitz as the first female Orthodox rabbi, Avraham (Avi) Weiss set off a firestorm.  The presiding body of ultra-Orthodox rabbis has ruled that Weiss himself must no longer be called Orthodox; the Rabbinical Council of America, an avowedly Modern Orthodox body, may expel him as well.  No stranger to controversy, Weiss has bucked...
Are We One? Are We One?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The hate-fest known as "Israeli Apartheid Week," now taking place in cities around the globe, is bound to affect the morale of Diaspora Jews, if in different ways. Some may be induced to lower their pro-Israel profile, others to dissociate themselves from the Jewish state and its policies, still others to affirm their solidarity ever more resolutely. We have come a long way since the 1967 Six-Day War. Before that watershed event, Diaspora Jewish life was not noticeably animated by a vigorous commitment to Israel's cause. But the country's spectacular victory in war, in tandem with the energies released by the...
New Communities New Communities
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Recent years have seen a surge of new Jewish communities: experiments in communal living like Moishe House, urban kibbutzim in Israel's inner cities, back-to-nature programs combining organic farming, kashrut, and "eco-justice," and, perhaps most notably, independent minyanim in the U.S., Israel, and elsewhere.  These last—communities focused principally or exclusively on prayer—shun not only the formality and organizational heft of most synagogues but also the labels and authority of denominational Judaism.  Some of the most prominent have been created by Orthodox Jews seeking to make room for greater participation by women; others comprise young people experimenting with their own forms of...
Tablets Tablets
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A few days ago, Apple released yet another new device aimed at integrating words written, spoken, and seen, and freeing them from the limitations of time and space. It joins an array of other products making texts and audio-video materials available as never before. Is anything being lost here? The Talmud declares: "Written words should not be spoken, and spoken words should not be written." What the rabbis specifically sought to impress on Jewish minds was the difference between the Written Torah, fixed, immutable, divine, and the constantly accreting commentaries known as the Oral Torah, spontaneous, dynamic, human yet also somehow partaking of...
Abortion: Is There a Jewish Perspective? Abortion: Is There a Jewish Perspective?
Thursday, December 10, 2009 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Controversy over the Obama administration’s proposed overhaul of American health care has dwelled in part on the issue of public subsidization of abortion. Although the bill passed by the House upheld the status quo and banned such subsidies—to the dismay of its liberal supporters—the subject has not faded from sight. Amid the turmoil, little attention has focused on the question of abortion itself, its moral and ethical status. Is there a distinctive Jewish view of this matter? In practice, to judge by survey results and voting patterns, Jews hold the most permissive “pro-choice” views of any group in the American population,...
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Editors' Picks
How Not to Win the Jewish Vote Michael Medved, USA Today. The notion that candidates win backing in the American Jewish community based primarily on support for Israel is groundless.
Court Jew Allison Hoffman, Tablet. "I don't think there's any Jewish issue that doesn't have [his] fingerprints on it," said legendary litigator Nathan Lewin's new partner—his daughter Alyza.
Edifice Complex Robert I. Evans, Avrum D. Lapin, eJewish Philanthropy. Strategies for consolidating the many over-built, under-programmed Jewish organizations.
Settlements Redux Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations. Obama's new proposal to cope with the issue of construction in Israeli settlements is precisely the policy that Bush hammered out with prime ministers Sharon and Olmert.
Pledges and Gag Rules Jonathan S. Tobin, Contentions. While the cause of Jewish unity is noble, a new "National Unity Pledge for Israel" is clearly intended to shut down accountability on the issue from those in power.
Sex, Drugs, and Tourism Philip Getz, Jewish Review of Books. Birthright Israel has spent $600 million treating more than 260,000 young Jews to educational tours of Israel. Will it change the trajectory of Jewish life in the Diaspora?
Otherwise Occupied Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism. Occupy Wall Street protesters are trying to prevent their movement from turning against the Jews—but they may come head-to-head with an old, hard truth about anti-Semitism.
Bad Bans Brad Hirschfield, Washington Post. By banning bans on circumcision, California now drives the debate about this issue underground, where it will fester among the most hostile opponents of the practice.
Obama's Advice for Your Rabbi Tevi Troy, Wall Street Journal. Just in time for the High Holy Days, the White House is giving rabbis political talking points to take to the pulpit.
Movin' On Up Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post. Not only did immigration to Israel increase by 19 percent over the past year, but the profile of aliyah is getting younger and better educated.